US & Canada

Aurora suspect James Holmes should be executed, say prosecutors

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Media captionDefence lawyers for Mr Holmes are expected to argue he is not guilty because he was legally insane at the time of the shootings

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing 12 people last July at a cinema in the US state of Colorado.

On Friday, prosecutors rejected an offer from James Holmes to plead guilty in order to avoid execution.

The 25-year-old is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the attack in Aurora, one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

Dozens were wounded in the attack at a midnight showing of a Batman film.

"It's my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes justice is death," Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said at Monday's hearing, which the accused attended.

Mr Holmes' parents sat holding hands in the public gallery.

Legally insane?

Prosecution and defence lawyers have agreed that it will take longer to bring Mr Holmes' case to trial, now that the suspect could face the death penalty.

The trial had been scheduled for August; now a judge has pushed it back to February 2014. But defence lawyers urged the court not to rush to trial.

"They are trying to execute our client and we will do what we need to do to save his life," defence lawyer Tammy Brady told ABC News. "We are asking the court not to rush this."

Last week, prosecutors argued that the defence motion for a guilty plea was not valid as a plea deal, but correspondents say such an agreement could still be reached before the case goes to trial.

Mr Holmes' defence lawyers were expected to argue he is not guilty because he was legally insane at the time of the 20 July shooting.

But investigators say the former neuroscience graduate student had stockpiled weapons and ammunition ahead of the attacks.

He allegedly also booby-trapped his flat to explode, in an apparent bid to distract police from responding to the cinema during the shooting.

Victims and their families said they did not welcome the thought of a lengthy trial.

Pierce O'Farrill, who was shot three times in the attack, told the Associated Press news agency: "All of us victims would be dragged along potentially for years. It could be 10 or 15 years before he's executed.

"I would be in my 40s and I'm planning to have a family, and the thought of having to look back and reliving everything at that point in my life, it would be difficult."

Bryan Beard, whose best friend Alex Sullivan was killed in the attack, spoke of his joy at the prosecutors' announcement.

"I had a huge adrenaline rush,'' he told the Associated Press at the courthouse. "I love the choice, I love it, I love it... I hope I'm in the room when he dies."

In March, Colorado introduced new gun legislation to impose limits on the size of ammunition magazines and expand background checks for gun buyers.

The law bans the type of magazine investigators say was used to fire dozens of bullets in just a few seconds during the Aurora shooting.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday to highlight the bill as part of a campaign for national gun control measures in the wake of a mass shooting at a primary school in December, in the state of Connecticut.