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Colorado prosecutor will seek death for accused shooter in Batman rampage

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AURORA, CO (NBC) -- Prosecutors said Monday that they will seek the death penalty for James Holmes, the man accused of gunning down 12 people and wounding 70 at a Batman movie last summer in Colorado.

George Brauchler, the district attorney for Arapahoe County, had already rejected an offer from the defense to let Holmes plead guilty and serve a life sentence.

Judge William Sylvester of the Colorado circuit court entered a plea of not guilty for Holmes last month after his lawyers said they were not ready to plead. The judge left the door open for lawyers to mount an insanity defense.

The two cases in the legal case fought in public last week. After the defense made its offer, Brauchler said in a filing that Holmes' lawyers were only trying to generate sympathy for their client.

The only conclusion, the prosecutor wrote, "is that the defendant knows he is guilty, the defense attorneys know he is guilty and that both of them know that he was not criminally insane."

Holmes' lawyers have said that jailers determined he was a danger to himself and needed a mental evaluation, and that he was held for several days in a psychiatric ward, sometimes in restraints.

He surrendered to police within minutes of the July 12 shooting rampage at a midnight screening of the movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver.

At his first court appearance, Holmes had stark, red-orange hair and wore a blank stare. He has since appeared more stable and natural-looking. He showed up in court last month with a bushy beard.

The hearing Monday was set to begin at 11 a.m. EDT. Legal observers have pointed out that the two sides could still reach a plea deal later, even as prosecutors seek to put Holmes to death.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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