The 12-member jury finds that his actions are heinous enough to warrant execution

Credit: Andy Cross/The Denver Post/AP

A jury has found James Holmes eligible for the death penalty.

It’s the first step towards possibly execution for Holmes, who opened fire in a crowded movie theater during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. He was convicted of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder last week.

Arapahoe County Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. read the jury’s decision from a jury form. “The defendant committed the offense of murder in the first degree in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner,” he read, glancing up at Holmes, who refused to meet his gaze.

Twelve people died and another 58 were injured in the shooting. Holmes, 27, now faces either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Holmes’ attorneys are expected to argue argue that life in prison without parole is an appropriate sentence. They could call his parents, a college roommate, and former neighbors to testify about his alleged mental illness.

A final decision could be rendered next week.

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