'Don't Kill Him,' Woman Yells in Aurora Guman's Sentencing

'Don't Kill Him,' Woman Yells in Aurora Guman's Sentencing

File photo of James Eagan Holmes. (Reuters)

Los Angeles: A woman was jailed for three weeks for contempt of court on Thursday after shouting "Don't kill him!" at jurors deciding whether to pronounce a death sentence on "Batman" theater gunman James Holmes.

The woman was escorted out of court by security in Centennial, Colorado, where the jury is considering the second of three stages which could lead to Holmes' execution over the July 2012 massacre.

"Don't kill him! Don't kill him!" she shouted, interrupting prosecutor George Brauchler, who is seeking the death sentence for the slaughter which left 12 people dead and 70 injured.

The shouting was caught on video footage of the sentencing phase, although cameras did not actually show the woman being taken out, as lawyers and the jury looked on.

Judge Carlos Samour has repeatedly warned spectators and others in the courtroom to refrain from showing excessive emotion, for fear of unduly influencing the 12-person jury who will decide Holmes' fate.

Prosecutors are pressing for death for Holmes -- who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity -- in the sentencing phase of the trial, which started last Wednesday, two days after the anniversary of the July 20, 2012 rampage.

Holmes was found guilty earlier this month of opening fire on a packed screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, in a meticulously planned attack during which he wore body armor and used tear gas to prevent victims from escaping.

The sentencing phase of the trial, which began in April, comprises three stages. The jury takes them one by one -- progressing to the next phase depending on their finding in the previous one.

In the first phase, the jurors agreed with prosecutors that the crimes included at least one aggravating factor. These include killing a child under 12, and acting in a "heinous, cruel, or depraved manner."

With that proved, the defense has been presenting its case for mitigating factors, which could include that Holmes's ability to tell right from wrong was significantly impaired, or that he was under particular duress.

Only if they reject the defense case do jurors move on to the third and final phase, to decide whether the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the death penalty is the appropriate sentence.