James Holmes – Colorado theater shooting

Associated Press
This file photo provided on Sept. 20, 2012 by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office shows James Holmes. Holmes, the suspect in a deadly movie theater attack in Colorado, threatened a professor before the shooting, leading the university to ban him from campus, prosecutors said in court documents released Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Arapahoe County Sheriff, File)

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The time has come for jurors to hear whether James Holmes should be executed for killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater. But even if they choose death, Holmes could spend the rest of his life in prison awaiting capital punishment that never happens.

Colorado has executed only one person in nearly half a century, and just three people sit on the state's death row. The man closest to seeing his death sentence carried out was granted an indefinite reprieve in 2013 by the state's Democratic governor, who said he had doubts about the fairness of the state's death penalty system.

The same jurors who convicted Holmes of 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in his July 20, 2012, theater attack must soon decide whether he should pay with his life. The sentencing phase of his trial begins Wednesday. (AP)

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