The defense team offered a guilty plea in exchange for life without parole for the infamous Colorado theater gunman. But, prosecutors declined the offer and have publicly announced that they will seek the death penalty as punishment for the man who killed 12 people and injured 70 while they watched a late-night showing of a Batman film.
The prosecution’s determination to seek the death penalty was made in part based on the wishes of those who survived the horrific tragedy, their families and the families of those who did not walk out of the theater. It is still possible, however, that a plea may be negotiated before the capital trial begins, possibly next year.
The shooter’s defense team is still considering whether an insanity defense is the best criminal defense strategy in this case.
Does North Carolina Have A Death Penalty?
Yes, and according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, more than 1,000 people have been sentenced to death in North Carolina since 1910, when the state took over executing convicted criminals. The number of death sentences in North Carolina appears to be in decline. There were no death sentences made in 2012 and only three in 2011.
The last execution in North Carolina occurred in 2006; there were 152 people on death row in this state as of December of last year. The death penalty can only be imposed on those who have been convicted of committing 1st degree murder in North Carolina.
But, the tide may be changing in North Carolina. According to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, more people in North Carolina are in favor of repealing the death penalty, leaving life without parole as the strongest punishment for those convicted of first degree murder. Even more of those polled supported repealing the death penalty if the person convicted had to work to pay restitution to the family of his or her victim while serving a life sentence.
Source: The Washington Post, “Prosecutors say they will seek death penalty against Colorado theater shooting suspect,” April 1, 2013