The Latest: Colorado theater shooting jury reaches key decision in 1st step of sentencing

The latest in the sentencing phase of the Colorado theater shooting trial (all times local):

12:53 p.m.

Jurors in the Colorado theater shooting have decided if the death penalty can be considered for James Holmes.

Their decision was expected to be announced early Thursday afternoon. They began deliberating Wednesday.

If jurors conclude the crime was cruel enough that execution is warranted, the defense will try to convince them that there are other reasons Holmes should be sentenced to life in prison, including that he is mentally ill.

If they decide against the death penalty, Holmes would automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Jurors convicted Holmes last week of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack on a suburban Denver theater. They rejected the defense argument that he couldn't tell right from wrong because of his mental illness.