DA Rejects James Holmes Offer to Plead to Life Without Parole

There will be a hearing Monday in the James Holmes Aurora shootings case. Monday is the date by which the District Attorney is expected to announce whether he will seek the death penalty. According to a recent defense filing republished by the Denver Post, Holmes offered to plead guilty before his arraignment earlier this month and accept a sentence of life without parole.

Prosecutors dispute the defense made an "unconditional" offer to plead guilty and object to the defense referencing its "purported" offer in a court pleading. It appears from the DA's response that they wanted information from Holmes before deciding whether to take the death penalty off the table. The DA says Holmes has refused to provide the requested information, thus it does not consider his offer to be a true offer. I don't get the state's position at all. [More...]

A defendant always has the right to plead guilty to all charges, without any obligation to provide information to the prosecutor. If he chooses to do so, there is no "plea deal." It's a straight-up plea which does not require acquiescence or permission of the prosecutor.

In this case, because of the potential for the death penalty, which the state has not yet stated it will seek, the defense obviously won't plead blindly to all charges. They could be subjecting their client to a death sentence. So the defense made an offer to the prosecution: Holmes will pleads guilty to all charges and accepts life without parole if the state will refrain from seeking the death penalty.

How is that not an offer?

If the state is not willing to accept the offer as proposed, it can reject it. The state can also counter with different or added terms. If it does either of these, or refuses to respond at all, it means there is no deal, not that an offer wasn't made.

Here, the state says it could not weigh whether to accept Holmes' offer unless Holmes first provided information. Since providing information wasn't part of Holmes' offer, in effect, the state rejected his offer and proposed a counter-offer: If Holmes first provides us with information, we will agree to consider whether to forego seeking the death penalty in exchange for a guilty plea to all charges and a sentence of life without parole. After receiving this information, maybe we'll agree and maybe we won't.

The state is proposing that Holmes relinquish his right to remain silent and share information in exchange for the state's mere consideration of his offer. It should just admit it rejected Holmes' offer and stop with the word games.

The Denver Post, in a editorial, says the state should accept the offer. I agree.

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  • Display: Sort:
    As a strong supporter of the death penalty (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by me only on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:27:40 PM EST
    even I am concerned about the relative stupidity of the DA.  What a colossal waste of money on the part of the state.  Take the deal and be done with it.

    You betcha. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:08:31 AM EST

    Perhaps the best reason to keep the death penalty on the books is to obtain a LWOP plea and avoid a trial and nearly endless appeals. The DA should graciously accept victory.

    I'd like to close this chapter... (4.75 / 4) (#3)
    by magster on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:51:44 PM EST
    save some taxpayer money and move on to gun control and more effective mental health treatment. Seeking the death penalty will be a drawn out re-traumatizing circus.

    Sigh (4.67 / 3) (#4)
    by Dadler on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:16:25 PM EST
    Let him plead and let every family member who wants to have their say at sentencing do so. To expect some pleasant, easy resolution to an act of mass murder is, in a word, nuts. Human beings are far too emotionally based for such robotics. We can merely deal as best we can, do the best we can, and hold the authorities to as high a standard as we can. Emotions, as we should all know by now, can easily become more powerful than laws. This occurs when people expect too much or too little of both the law and each other.

    Maybe the injured and immediate families (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:20:16 PM EST
    of decedents  did not agree to life w/o parole unless they are permitted to see some identified documentary evidence.

    Since the case is (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:46:10 PM EST
    The State vs James Holmes it is the Prosecutor`s, and only the Prosecutor's, job to play God.

    The D.A.'s office represents the People of the (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:38:16 PM EST
    the State of Colorado.  The prosecutor previously said he/she would consult with the victims before the D.A.'s office decides whether to charge the death penalty.  Of course, the D.A. is not bound by the wishes of the victims.  

    Understood (none / 0) (#6)
    by NYShooter on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 07:57:27 PM EST
    However, from your post it was not clear that the family's input would be advisory, not binding.

    he says in his response that (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:48:38 PM EST
    they have already done that (link provided above)

    Every known victim nnd family member of a victim-numbering over one thousand-has been contacted directly and repeatedly by the People to discuss the possible dispositions of this case.

    He is a new DA elected in November. He says of his own efforts:

    As of the hearing scheduled for April 1, 2013, the District Attorney himself will have had direct contact and consulted with every victim related to the twelve murdered victims to
    specifically discuss their input on the possible dispositions of this case, including life without the possibility of parole and death.

    There is no description of how persons (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:48:32 PM EST
    contacted responded as to whether the prosecution should seek the death penalty or not.

    The defense publication of their own offer seems.intended to evoke sympathy from the jury ahead of trial, if their is a trial.