CRIME

Parents of theater shooting suspect James Holmes plead for him to be spared death penalty

  • FILE - In this March 12, 2013, file photo, Robert and Arlene Holmes, the parents of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes, arrive at district court for the arraignment of their son in Centennial, Colo. Robert and Arlene Holmes are asking that their son not receive the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in January 2015, for the 2012 attack in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

    FILE - In this March 12, 2013, file photo, Robert and Arlene Holmes, the parents of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes, arrive at district court for the arraignment of their son in Centennial, Colo. Robert and Arlene Holmes are asking that their son not receive the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in January 2015, for the 2012 attack in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Arlene Holmes, center, is consoled as she leaves the courtroom after a pretrial readiness hearing in the murder trial of her son, James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo. Robert and Arlene Holmes are asking that their son not receive the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in January 2015, for the 2012 attack in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Arlene Holmes, center, is consoled as she leaves the courtroom after a pretrial readiness hearing in the murder trial of her son, James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo. Robert and Arlene Holmes are asking that their son not receive the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in January 2015, for the 2012 attack in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Robert Holmes, far right, father of theater shooting suspect James Holmes, walks to a pretrial readiness hearing, in Centennial, Colo. Robert and Arlene Holmes are asking that their son not receive the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in January 2015, for the 2012 attack in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Robert Holmes, far right, father of theater shooting suspect James Holmes, walks to a pretrial readiness hearing, in Centennial, Colo. Robert and Arlene Holmes are asking that their son not receive the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in January 2015, for the 2012 attack in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)  (The Associated Press)

The parents of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes are pleading for him to be spared the death penalty.

In a letter to The Denver Post published Friday, Robert and Arlene Holmes say their son is not a monster but "a human being gripped by a severe mental illness." They say that they have spent every moment of the two years since the shooting thinking about the victims and their families and friends.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 attack. Jury selection is scheduled to start Jan. 20.

His parents say a plea deal that would put him in prison for the rest of his life would keep everyone safe and avoid a traumatic trial.