Family members and friends of the Aurora movie theater gunman will not be allowed to ask jurors to spare his life, the judge overseeing his murder case ruled Friday.
Prosecutors had asked Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour to prevent supporters of James Holmes from testifying at trial about their opinions on the death penalty, which prosecutors are seeking against Holmes. While family and friends will be allowed to give testimony about Holmes’ character, Samour agreed with prosecutors that opinions about the death penalty will not be allowed.
Survivors of the shooting and victims’ families will also not be allowed to tell jurors whether they think Holmes should be executed, Samour noted in his order.
"Since victim impact witnesses may not opine about the proper sentence," Samour wrote in the order, “defense witnesses likewise should not be heard on what sentence the jury should impose.”
The order was one of three Samour issued on Friday dealing with the kinds of things jurors can hear at the trial — which is now set to begin in October and could last months.
The two other orders deal with information gleaned during the independent psychiatric exams of Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. In one order, Samour ruled that jurors should not hear any evidence that was used to determine Holmes is currently mentally competent to stand trial.
In a second order, Samour ruled that statements Holmes made during the exams can be admitted at trial, so long as jurors are instructed only to consider the statements when deciding whether Holmes was sane at the time of the crime. Defense attorneys had argued that jurors would likely be tempted to think about the statements when deciding whether to sentence Holmes to death.