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Jacob Holmes, Jr. Found Guilty in 2009 PA Slaying of Miguel Aponte, Jr.
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Thread: Jacob Holmes, Jr. Found Guilty in 2009 PA Slaying of Miguel Aponte, Jr.

  1. #1
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Jacob Holmes, Jr. Found Guilty in 2009 PA Slaying of Miguel Aponte, Jr.




    Death penalty sought against Easton man

    By Riley Yates
    The Morning Call

    Northampton County prosecutors will seek the death penalty against an Easton man accused of gunning down another man inside a downtown bar, charges that were brought after an alleged accomplice began cooperating with authorities.

    Jacob Holmes Jr., a nephew of boxing legend Larry Holmes, put others in grave risk of death in 2009 when he opened fire inside Easton Cafe, the district attorney’s office said in a death-penalty notice filed Tuesday.

    Holmes is charged with the homicide of 24-year-old Miguel Aponte Jr., who was shot repeatedly by a masked gunman who entered the crowded bar through the backdoor, according to testimony.

    “There were a bunch of customers that had to dive away for their lives,” said First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck. He said some were “inches” from the shooting.

    “They were all standing right there where Miguel Aponte was killed,” Houck said. “They were all right there at the bar.”

    The notice was filed as Holmes, 37, was arraigned at the county courthouse by Judge Michael Koury Jr. Holmes, who was shackled and handcuffed in a red prison jumpsuit showed no reaction as Koury detailed the capital charges.

    Matthew Goodrich, one of three public defenders who represented Holmes at the hearing, had no comment afterward. Holmes’ father, Jacob Holmes Sr., who has long asserted his son’s innocence, also declined comment.

    The junior Holmes was publicly named as a suspect in 2013, but wasn’t charged until this summer, after self-admitted accomplice Franklin Barndt implicated him to investigators.

    Barndt is serving 16 to 42 years in state prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit homicide in Aponte’s death. Barndt, 40, acknowledged serving as the lookout and the getaway driver, and to getting rid of the murder weapon afterward.

    Prosecutors have said Barndt was offered no deals in exchange for his newfound cooperation. Last year, Barndt and his lawyer reached out on their own to authorities, police say, with Barndt incriminating Holmes when he was re-interviewed by investigators.

    Authorities allege Holmes killed Aponte on March 30, 2009, in revenge for a prior shooting.

    In 2006, Holmes’ friend, 23-year-old Jason Oliver of Easton, was slain outside a Wilson strip club. Holmes was wounded by gunfire that night.

    Aponte’s friend, John Logan Jr., pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, and Aponte was initially also charged with homicide. But Aponte ended up admitting only to lesser charges, including weapons offenses.

    Pennsylvania permits capital punishment in cases of first-degree murder in which at least one of 18 aggravating circumstances — including the risk of death to others — are present. Jurors must unanimously agree that a death sentence is appropriate for it to be imposed.

    Tuesday’s death-penalty notice also contained a second aggravating circumstance: that Holmes was allegedly illegally carrying a firearm when Aponte was killed.

    Pennsylvania is under an execution moratorium, which Gov. Tom Wolf declared in 2015. Just three men have been put to death in the state in the modern era of capital punishment, and all three were volunteers who dropped legal challenges to their sentences.

    http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/m...219-story.html

  2. #2
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    Judge won't dismiss statements made in Jacob Holmes Jr. murder case

    Court also allows D.A. to consider death penalty

    By Edward Sieger
    WFMZ Allentown

    EASTON, Pa. - A Northampton County judge has refused to suppress statements made to police by the suspect in the deadly 2009 Easton Café shooting.

    The judge also rejected the defense’s request to take the death penalty off the table and find a new venue for the homicide trial that’s slated for February 2019.

    Jacob Holmes Jr. is accused in the fatal shooting of Miguel Aponte inside the Easton Café in March 2009. Authorities arrested the nephew of boxing legend, Larry Holmes, in August 2017 after the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office had empaneled a grand jury to investigate the homicide.

    Investigators have alleged that the shooting stems from a 2006 altercation between Holmes and Aponte outside a Wilson Borough strip club.

    Defense attorney Brian Monahan asked Northampton County Judge Michael Koury to suppress statements Holmes allegedly made to an Easton police lieutenant investigating the case and a detective who processed Holmes after his arrest.

    Darren Snyder, a detective with the Easton Police Department, testified before Koury last month that he processed Holmes at police headquarters after his arrest in Bethlehem Township on Aug. 15, 2017.

    Snyder said he fingerprinted and photographed Holmes before taking him to central booking at the county prison.

    Under questioning by First Deputy District Attorney Terry Houck, Snyder testified that Holmes told him during processing, “I had nothing to do with it. It was over some street (expletive.)” Snyder said no one else was with him and Holmes in police headquarters at the time.

    Monahan questioned whether Snyder told Holmes that he was being charged with homicide. Snyder testified that he didn’t speak with Holmes about the pending charges.

    When asked why Holmes would then say what he did, Snyder responded that he didn’t know.

    “He just said it,” Snyder testified.

    Easton police Lt. Matthew Gerould was the arresting officer in the Holmes case. He testified that he contacted Holmes in April 2010 to discuss possible threats made against him. The two spoke briefly the following day, and Gerould said he told Holmes he’d like to speak with him regarding the rumored threats and the 2009 fatal Easton Café shooting.

    Gerould testified that Holmes was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in an unrelated case less than two weeks after speaking with him on the phone. Gerould said he arrived at the district judge’s office about 15 minutes before Holmes’ hearing and asked if he’d be willing to talk.

    Holmes reportedly agreed to speak briefly with the lieutenant in a conference room. In response to questioning by Houck, Gerould said the two spoke for less than 10 minutes and that Holmes was free to leave at any time.

    Holmes reportedly said that he had heard about the Easton Café shooting, but that he had been at home all night. Gerould testified that Holmes acknowledged knowing Barndt but said he neither saw him, nor called him that night.

    In August 2017, Easton police set up surveillance at Holmes’ employer off Route 191 and took him into custody without incident.

    Gerould testified that he told the suspect that police had a warrant for his arrest and that he was being arrested for homicide. Holmes allegedly said he couldn’t believe that he was being arrested and that Gerould knew he didn’t do it.

    Gerould said Holmes wasn’t told he was being arrested for the Easton Café shooting.

    The defense argued that any statements made by Holmes should be suppressed as a violation of his Miranda rights.

    The judge found that Holmes was not in custody during the brief April 2010 discussion with Gerould, nor was he told that he was a suspect in Aponte’s death, according to the judge’s ruling. Aponte was free to leave at any time as he stood next to an unsecured conference room door, while Gerould sat at a table, the judge found.

    As for the comment Holmes reportedly made to Gerould immediately following his arrest, the judge found that the suspect was in custody. But there is nothing prohibiting police from informing a suspect of the charges against, and Holmes was not being interrogated at the time, according to the ruling.

    And the judge found that any comments Holmes made to Snyder were not elicited by the detective who was merely processing the suspect.

    The defense asked for a change of venue, arguing local media coverage has been “sustained, pervasive and inflammatory,” making it difficult to seat a fair and impartial jury from Northampton County. Monahan in his motion cited several media reports and comments made by prosecutors to the press.

    While the defense highlighted the “most inflammatory portions” of the press coverage, the reporting has been “factual and objective in nature,” according to the judge.

    And while coverage included the guilty plea of Holmes’ co-defendant and his grand jury testimony implicating Holmes, no reports referenced any kind of confession attributed to Holmes, the judge wrote in his decision.

    Holmes’ trial is not a “truly extraordinary” case and his relationship to a former heavyweight boxing champ does not raise his status to that of a “public figure,” according to the ruling.

    Prosecutors filed notice to seek the death penalty based on two aggravating circumstances: that the shooting created a grave risk to others and that it was committed while perpetrating another felony, specifically carrying a firearm without a license.

    The judge ruled that prosecutors have provided some evidence that Holmes allegedly fired at Aponte, who was surrounded by at least five other patrons.

    The judge ruled on and denied a handful of other defense motions, including allowing the use of hearsay testimony during the preliminary hearing and whether prosecutors made their prima facie case allowing the matter to go on to county court.

    http://www.wfmz.com/news/lehigh-vall...case/728142485
    Last edited by Moh; 04-12-2018 at 04:19 AM. Reason: Spacing
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  3. #3
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    Trial date set in Easton death penalty case

    By Sarah M. Wojcik
    The Morning Call

    The man accused of a 2009 homicide in a crowded Easton bar will head to trial on Nov. 2, where he faces the death penalty if convicted.

    The trial date for Jacob Holmes Jr., charged in the killing of Michael Aponte Jr., was set following a lengthy conference where Northampton County President Judge Michael J. Koury Jr., Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck and Holmes himself expressed exasperation for delays in the case.

    When a new mitigation specialist hired by the court for the defense predicted she could be ready for trial by October 2021, because of coronavirus-related delays, Holmes balked. The 39-year-old wore a red prison jumpsuit and medical-style mask and stood in front of a podium during a video call from the Northampton County Jail.

    “Not at all. I’m not sitting here for that long,” Holmes said shaking his head. “That’s crazy. I’ll be here 4½ years."

    Holmes, the nephew of boxing legend Larry Holmes, was charged in 2017 with the 2009 slaying. He considered forfeiting a jury trial and having Koury try the case instead — a move that would have spared him the death penalty. But last year, he changed his mind and decided to move forward with the jury trial.

    Houck said the commonwealth also wanted an earlier trial date, but would comply with the November date as long as it remained firm.

    “I don’t want the goal posts constantly moved, Your Honor,” Houck told Koury.

    The judge agreed. He warned Holmes’ defense counsel, Brian Monahan and Matthew Goodrich, that he won’t stand for any more delays in the case, indicating earlier they were responsible for slowing the case.

    “I am not going to continue it indefinitely," the judge said. "This case has been pending for some time. Mr. Holmes has been in jail for some time. He has a right to a speedy trial.”

    Holmes is accused of gunning down Aponte on March 30, 2009, at the Easton Cafe on Northampton Street in downtown Easton. Authorities say Aponte, 24, was shot multiple times by a masked gunman who entered the crowded bar through a back door.

    The Northampton County district attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty because the shooting put many lives in danger as bar patrons "inches" from the gunfire were forced to "dive for their live," according to Houck.

    It took years to crack the case open, in part because the brazen killing left many too frightened to come forward with what they knew, according to police. Holmes lived locally and was not on the run. Investigators said they persistently probed the crime and eventually received enough witness cooperation to begin putting together a case.

    Holmes was named as a suspect in the slaying in 2013, but wasn't charged until August 2017.

    Authorities say a second interview with the man who pleaded guilty to being the lookout for the shooting helped lead to the charges against Holmes. Franklin J. Barndt, who also helped dispose of the handgun, agreed to speak again with investigators in 2016 with new information.

    Barndt was offered no plea deals for his cooperation, authorities say. He was able to provide incriminating information about Holmes, identifying him as the man who tied a white T-shirt around his face just prior to the killing. Barndt said he saw Holmes knock on the bar door and fire the gun as Aponte crumpled to the floor.

    Authorities allege Aponte’s slaying was revenge for a 2006 killing outside a Wilson strip club, where Holmes was wounded and his friend Jason Oliver, 23, was killed.

    Aponte’s friend John Logan Jr. pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, and Aponte was initially also charged with homicide. But Aponte ended up admitting only to lesser charges, including weapons offenses.

    https://www.mcall.com/news/police/mc...gqa-story.html
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    DA: ‘Old-fashioned, cowardly execution.’ Defense: ‘No real direct evidence.’ Death penalty trial opens for accused shooter Jacob Holmes

    By Peter Hall
    The Morning Call

    Jacob Holmes Jr. appointed himself judge, jury and executioner for an alleged accomplice in the 2006 murder of his friend, Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck told jurors Tuesday in the opening of Holmes’ death penalty trial.

    Houck said jurors in the trial will hear that Holmes was the shooter who entered a downtown Easton tavern through a back door in 2009 and gunned down Miguel Aponte Jr., who had served time in connection with the killing of Jason Oliver outside a Wilson strip club three years earlier.

    “There was no defense for Miguel Aponte. No chance to argue his case. No chance to go before a jury. Just an old-fashioned, cowardly execution,” Houck said.

    Holmes, a nephew of boxing legend Larry Holmes, put other patrons at the Easton Cafe on Northampton Street at grave risk of death when he opened fire on Aponte, Houck said. That in addition to Holmes’ alleged use of an illegal weapon in the shooting are aggravating factors that led prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

    Defense attorney Brian Monahan suggested the case against Holmes is largely circumstantial, with little forensic evidence. He asked jurors to consider the credibility and motives of the prosecution’s witnesses, who include a self-proclaimed accomplice in Aponte’s murder.

    Although Holmes was publicly identified as a suspect in 2013, it took police years to charge him because the brazenness of the crime left many too frightened to say what they knew, according to police.

    Franklin Barndt stepped forward in 2016, two years after he started serving a prison sentence for conspiracy to commit criminal homicide in Aponte’s killing, and offered investigators the evidence they needed to charge Holmes.

    Monahan suggested to jurors that Barndt is not credible, noting his extensive criminal history and record of escaping from prison.

    “We believe that whatever the commonwealth sets out to show, Mr. Barndt will turn out to be a liar in this case,” Monahan said.

    Barndt is serving 16-42 years in state prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit homicide in Aponte’s death. Barndt, 43, acknowledged serving as the lookout and the getaway driver, and to getting rid of the murder weapon afterward.

    Monahan told jurors that Easton police and state police were unable to uncover any physical evidence that tied Holmes to the shooting. Divers combed the bottom of the Delaware River where Barndt claimed to have dumped the gun used to kill Aponte, but they found only a rusty revolver that didn’t match the ammunition used in the shooting.

    “There’s no real direct evidence that Mr. Holmes shot anyone. This is a circumstantial case,” Monahan said.

    Holmes, 40, was charged with criminal homicide and conspiracy in 2017 based in part on Brandt’s statements to police and telephone records that back up his account. Other witnesses include an ex-girlfriend of Holmes who told police he confessed to the killing, and Brian Oliver, the brother of the victim in the 2006 shooting, Houck told jurors.

    Houck said Brian Oliver’s testimony would be particularly damaging for Holmes. Brian Oliver told investigators Holmes came to him on the anniversary of Jason Oliver’s death when they were both inmates at Northampton County Prison. Holmes hugged Brian Oliver and told him, “I took care of business,” Houck said.

    Prison security video backs up Brian Oliver’s account, Houck said.

    When he was shot, Aponte, 24, was less than 90 days out of prison for role in the 2006 killing. Aponte left behind his fiancee and infant child.

    Another man, John Logan, was sentenced to 40 years behind bars for third-degree murder in Jason Oliver’s killing.

    Retired Wilson police investigator William Crouse testified Tuesday that he took Holmes’ statement after the 2006 shooting, in which Holmes was also wounded in the hip and leg. Crouse said Holmes was able to identify Aponte as the man with the gunman who killed Jason Oliver outside C.R. Fannies in Wilson but he knew Logan only by a nickname.

    Wilson police Sgt. Jason Hillis testified he spoke to Holmes at Easton Hospital immediately after he and Jason Oliver were shot. Hillis testified Holmes told him that he didn’t know the name of the person who shot him but said, “if I see him I will recognize him and I will get him.”

    Crouse testified Aponte was initially charged with criminal homicide and conspiracy in Jason Oliver’s killing, but the charges were reduced when police realized they didn’t have evidence to support them. He was sentenced to 2½ to three years in prison for carrying a firearm without a license, evidence tampering and reckless endangerment.

    “The C.R. Fannies killing was avenged,” Houck said in his opening statement. “He couldn’t get John Logan, but Miguel Aponte would do just fine.”

    Pennsylvania permits capital punishment in cases of first-degree murder in which at least one of 18 aggravating circumstances — including the risk of death to others — are present. Jurors must unanimously agree that a death sentence is appropriate for it to be imposed.

    Pennsylvania is under an execution moratorium, which Gov. Tom Wolf declared in 2015. Just three men have been put to death in the state in the modern era of capital punishment, and all three were volunteers who dropped legal challenges to their sentences.

    https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/...n7u-story.html
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    - Rev. Richard Hawke

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  5. #5
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    Man convicted in 2009 murder; jury to mull death penalty

    A northeastern Pennsylvania jury has convicted a man of 1st-degree murder and conspiracy in what prosecutors called a revenge slaying more than a decade ago.

    The Northampton County panel deliberated for about 4 hours Tuesday before convicting 39-year-old Jacob Holmes.

    The panel must now decide whether the defendant should be executed or should spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors said the Easton resident shot 24-year-old Miguel Aponte in 2009 out of revenge for the 2006 murder of a friend.

    Defense attorney Brian Monahan argued that the prosecution case was based on unreliable witnesses and cited a lack of fingerprint or DNA evidence.

    (source: Associated Press)
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Deliberations on death penalty in 2009 café murder slated

    EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A northeastern Pennsylvania jury is expected to begin deliberations Monday on whether a man convicted in what prosecutors called a revenge slaying more than a decade ago should be sentenced to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole. The Northampton County panel convicted 40-year-old Jacob Holmes Jr. of first-degree murder and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he shot 24-year-old Miguel Aponte at least five times in the back after forcing his way into the back door of the Easton Café in 2009. Prosecutors said he was seeking revenge for the 2006 murder of a friend. Aponte had been released from prison on charges related to the slaying.

    https://wbng.com/2020/12/20/delibera...murder-slated/
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    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    Jury deadlocks on death penalty, Jacob Holmes Jr. to serve life in prison

    A Northampton County jury convicted the 40-year-old last week of first-degree murder in the death of Miguel Aponte

    By Edward Sieger
    WFMZ

    EASTON, Pa. | The Easton man convicted in what authorities called a revenge killing more than a decade ago inside the Easton Cafe will spend the rest of his life in prison after a Northampton County jury deadlocked Monday on whether to impose the death penalty.

    Jurors convicted Jacob Holmes Jr. last week of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the 2009 shooting of Miguel Aponte. The jury reached its verdict following five days of prosecution testimony and less than three hours of deliberations.

    Shortly before 8 p.m., the jury foreperson notified the judge that after “vigorous debate” the jury would not be able to come to a unanimous decision on either life or death.

    Jurors agreed that Holmes was illegally carrying a firearm during the homicide, one of the aggravating factors to be considered for the death penalty. But some jurors found there were mitigating factors that outweighed the aggravating factor, leaving them deadlocked, according to a note to the judge.

    As a result, Northampton County President Judge Michael Koury dismissed the “hopelessly deadlocked” jury that was unable to sentence Holmes to either life in prison without an opportunity for parole or the death penalty. He dismissed the jury and agreed to impose a life sentence on Holmes.

    The judge deferred sentencing, however, until 10 a.m. Feb. 23, when Holmes is also scheduled to be sentenced on the conspiracy to commit murder charge. Despite the life sentence, Holmes also faces another 20 to 40 years on the conspiracy charge.

    Holmes' co-defendant, Franklin Barndt, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence.

    Defense attorney Brian Monahan said he was not surprised by the jury deadlocking on the death penalty given the facts of the case.

    "This is a nasty business. There are no winners here," he said. "One man is dead, and one man will spend the rest of his life in prison."

    Northampton County District Attorney Terence Houck praised the jury for its work during the death penalty phase of the trial. Jurors put a lot of hard work into deliberations, which lasted longer than the guilt phase of the trial, he said.

    "It was obvious that it was a tough decision for them," Houck said.

    It was clear that jurors had a real difference of opinion on whether to sentence Holmes to death or life in prison, Houck said, and he wasn't going to question the fact they were deadlocked after hours of deliberations.

    "I have no issue with it," Houck said.

    The death penalty phase of the case began last Friday with opening statements and witness testimony. The defense offered testimony Monday from a mitigation specialist, and jurors heard closing arguments. Deliberations began about 4 p.m.

    Authorities maintain Aponte's murder stemmed from a 2006 beef at the C.R. Fanny's strip club in which Holmes was shot and his friend killed.

    Before closing arguments, the defense called mitigation specialist Juandalynn Taylor to testify. Mitigation specialists are used in death penalty cases to advocate for a client’s life and are asked to help the court understand a defendant’s background and mental health or developmental disorders.

    Taylor testified as to Holmes’ history of drug and alcohol abuse and family background, including domestic violence and his father’s own drug use all of which she deemed a “checklist for dysfunction.” And she noted the death of his mother who she described as Holmes’ “rock.”

    But Houck reminded the jury of how Holmes drove from the South Side of Easton, grabbed a hidden gun, covered his face and slipped into a back door to kill Aponte. And he asked jurors not to believe any of the “psychobabble” about his upbringing to mitigate his responsibility.

    “Holmes is a killer,” Houck told the jury. “And he killed in a thought out and deceitful way. It wasn’t because of some type of mental issue.”

    Calling Holmes a “murdering, remorseless, coward,” Houck asked jurors to give serious consideration to whether the defense offered evidence that truly justifies life in prison instead of the death penalty. Or were the defense witnesses just meant to tug at their heartstrings, he said.

    The defense asked the jury to consider Holmes’ age at the time of the shooting as a mitigating factor. But Holmes was 28 years old, a grown man, when he killed Aponte, not a teen trying to make a name for himself on the streets, Houck said. And if you’re not responsible for your actions at age 28, are you responsible at 29 or 30, he asked.

    “You see the absurdity of this, I’m sure,” Houck told the jury. “The idea is to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.”

    Every tear shed and every sleepless night experienced by Aponte’s family falls at the feet of Holmes, Houck said. There are plenty of people who come from disadvantaged homes and turn out to be good parents and lead productive lives, he said. And Holmes shouldn’t benefit from the fact that miraculously no one else was killed, when he started firing in the tiny confines of the Easton Café, according to the prosecution.

    “The callous disregard for human life is what you should consider,” Houck said.

    Holmes decided in 2006 outside C.R. Fanny’s that he was going to avenge his friend’s killing, Houck said. This is a case in which a term of life in prison isn’t enough, he said.

    “Don’t give him what he desires, give him what he deserves,” Houck said.

    Monahan told the jury that he wasn’t going to offer a recitation of the facts of the case. Jurors found the facts and found Holmes guilty, he said. But as he did in his opening statements of the penalty phase, Monahan reminded the jury of the gravity of the decision they were about to make.

    “It’s a serious, somber moment,” he said. “Your decision is a decision that will weigh heavily upon you for the rest of your life.”

    There was nothing compassionate about the victim’s killing, the defense said. But if the jury decides to impose the death penalty, some jurors may ask themselves later in life whether they did the right thing, Monahan said, arguing that the mitigating factors were applicable.

    The defense’s experts concluded that Holmes will benefit from life skills classes, substance abuse programs and the structure prison will offer, Monahan said. But make no mistake that sitting in state prison for 30 years or more might in fact be a worse fate than death, he said.

    “We’re asking that you spare him, so that every day for the rest of his life Mr. Holmes thinks about the dastardly thing he did to Mr. Aponte,” Monahan said.

    https://www.wfmz.com/news/area/lehig...824dd4cc8.html

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