CRIME

Colorado theater shooter gets life without parole; death penalty would have been uncertain

  • Dave Hoover, center left, whose nephew A.J. Boik was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre attack, embraces Caren Teves, whose son Alex was also killed, as Teves' husband Tom, left holds an umbrella, after a jury failed to agree on whether theater shooter James Holmes should get the death penalty Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Dave Hoover, center left, whose nephew A.J. Boik was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre attack, embraces Caren Teves, whose son Alex was also killed, as Teves' husband Tom, left holds an umbrella, after a jury failed to agree on whether theater shooter James Holmes should get the death penalty Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dave Hoover, center left, whose son A.J. Boik was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre attack, embraces Caren Teves, whose son Alex was also killed, as Teves' husband Tom, left holds an umbrella, after a jury failed to agree on whether theater shooter James Holmes should get the death penalty Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Centennial, Colo.  Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Dave Hoover, center left, whose son A.J. Boik was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre attack, embraces Caren Teves, whose son Alex was also killed, as Teves' husband Tom, left holds an umbrella, after a jury failed to agree on whether theater shooter James Holmes should get the death penalty Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)  (The Associated Press)

  • Lonnie, second from right, and Sandy Phillips, right, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre attack, hold each other as they listen to District Attorney George Brauchler, left, speak with members of the media after a jury failed to agree on whether theater shooter James Holmes should get the death penalty Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Lonnie, second from right, and Sandy Phillips, right, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre attack, hold each other as they listen to District Attorney George Brauchler, left, speak with members of the media after a jury failed to agree on whether theater shooter James Holmes should get the death penalty Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)  (The Associated Press)

The life sentence delivered by a divided jury to Colorado theater shooter James Holmes for murdering 12 defenseless moviegoers averts an uncertain path to execution in a state that has put only one man to death in nearly a half-century.

Colorado rarely carries out capital punishments. Only one man in the state has been put to death since 1967.

Still, many observers figured this notorious mass-murder would be the exception that proved the rule. Prosecutors refused a pre-trial plea deal that would have kept him behind bars for life, calling Holmes the personification of evil and saying that death was the only appropriate response.

The verdict means Holmes will remain behind bars forever, averting an appeals process that would have taken decades of public hearings and millions of taxpayer dollars to resolve.