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Colorado cinema shooter jailed for life

Colorado cinema shooter James Holmes has been formally sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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The sentencing on Wednesday came more than three years after he carefully planned and executed a merciless attack on hundreds of defenceless moviegoers who were watching a midnight Batman premiere.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. had no other sentencing option after a jury earlier this month did not unanimously agree that Holmes should get the death penalty.

The judge issued his sentence after two days of testimony from survivors of the attack, including emergency workers who responded to the shooting.

Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others in the ambush on July 20, 2012. He was convicted of first-degree murder and 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder, as well as an explosives charge.

Colorado prisons officials will determine where Holmes will be incarcerated after an evaluation that includes his mental health.

Holmes, who has been diagnosed with varying forms of schizophrenia, could wind up in the corrections department’s mental hospital, the 250-bed San Carlos Correctional Facility in Pueblo.

He also could be transferred to an out-of-state prison.

Holmes moved from California to Colorado in 2011 and entered a prestigious postgraduate neuroscience program at the University of Colorado.

He dropped out after a year, by which time, he was well into planning the attack and stockpiling ammunition.

In July, the jury rejected Holmes’ insanity plea, finding he knew right from wrong, but couldn’t unanimously agree on the death penalty.

Prosecutors subsequently said one juror refused to sentence Holmes to death, apparently swayed by defence arguments that he suffered mental illness.

To the end, Holmes’ lawyers blamed the massacre on his schizophrenia and psychotic delusions.