James Holmes’ parents, Arlene and Robert Holmes, watched as their son was found guilty of murder in the Colorado movie theater massacre on Thursday.

Arlene And Robert Holmes Believe Their Son Is Mentally Ill

Holmes faced 165 separate charges with regards to the Colorado massacre, which occurred in 2012 when Holmes entered a movie theater armed with over 700 rounds of ammunition, killing 12 and injuring 70. After a three-month trial, a jury declared Holmes guilty in court on Thursday, and his sentencing will begin next week, during which a jury will determine whether or not Holmes will be sentenced to death or a life in prison.

Both Arlene and Robert remained silent throughout the trial, which they attended daily, sitting quietly behind their son. Reporters are not allowed to contact them when they are on court grounds, and lawyers for the couple are screening requests from the press. The last time they spoke publicly was in March, after Arlene self-published her short prayer journal, started after the massacre. In her book, titled When the Focus Shifts, Arlene wrote prayers for the victims and their families and detailed her own guilt as the mother of a killer.


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“That’s some of the guilt we have… that we didn’t recognize he was ill and needed treatment,” Arlene told a San Diego County newspaper at the time of her book’s release.

Robert and Arlene’s family history of mental illness was detailed in court as part of the defense’s attempt to show that Holmes was legally insane, suffering from schizophrenia. If he had been found insane and therefore not guilty on Thursday, he would have been sent to carry out a sentence in a mental hospital. According to Holmes’ public defender Daniel King, Arlene’s father, Holmes’ grandfather, was diagnosed with psychosis and Robert’s father, Holmes’ other grandfather, also grappled with mental illness, as does his twin sister, who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

“[Jurors] cannot divorce the mental illness from this case or from Mr. Holmes. Because the mental illness caused this to happen. Only the mental illness and nothing else,” King said in his final argument.

In December, Robert and Arlene wrote a plea for their son published by The Denver Post, expressing their belief that their son was legally insane at the time of the massacre and should not be sentenced to death.

“We do not know how many victims of the theater shooting would like to see our son killed. But we are aware of people’s sentiments. We have read postings on the Internet that have likened him to a monster. He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,” they wrote.

The jury will reconvene on Wednesday to begin the penalty phase.

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