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Killer's attorneys tasked with showing human side of murderer

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There were only three of us journalists in the courtroom today, so we sat in the front row like the public watchdogs we are: the Denver Post’s John Ingold, Julie Gauthier of CBS, and me. Things were more loose than usual, but we were still surprised when, before the judge arrived, Tamara Brady called out to us over the railing that separates us. “What is mitigation?”

She never never evah talks to us – EVAH! So we wrangled three passable garbled answers which amounted to “Humanization of the defendant.” Kristen Nelson nodded to us over her shoulder as she took a bite of a salad she brought in a plastic container. “You’re partly right,” she said and held up an index finger as if she had more to say. She didn’t, but everyone laughed. I’m pretty sure I saw the defendant chuckle.

mi-ti-GA-shun – noun – the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something.

During the three sentencing phases in the coming weeks, the gunman’s lawyers will show a human side of him calling a former college roommate from UC Riverside (this man studies the Monarch butterfly — pretty cool), several teachers and family friends, one of whom has the initials “S.Z.” (It’s all very mysterious). But the people I really want to hear from are his parents and, most of all, his sister, Chris. In a clear voice today in court, Holmes gave Judge Carlos Samour at least 25 yes and no answers to questions about whether he understood the instructions he was hearing, and then said clearly, “I don’t want to testify.”

Holmes was found guilty last week by the 9 woman 3 man jury.  They will be back Wednesday to begin listening to the sentencing arguments.  During this next phase the jury will decide if he deserves the death penalty.

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
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