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James Holmes moves closer to death penalty verdict

James Holmes with orange hair Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Holmes seen during his first court appearance on 23 July, 2012

Convicted mass killer James Holmes has moved one step closer to the death penalty after jurors rejected a defence appeal for leniency.

The same jury found Holmes guilty of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.

Holmes' mitigating factors, including mental illness, do not outweigh the crime, the jury determined on Monday.

Now the proceedings move to the third and final phase of the sentencing where victims will make impact statements.

Victims and their relatives will soon have the opportunity to tell the court about how Holmes' crimes have affected their lives.

During the second phase, Holmes' family and childhood friends shared memories of him as a loving child who became more isolated as he grew up.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Jansen Young, who saw her boyfriend Jonathan Blunk killed in the cinema, could testify during the third sentencing phase

Both Holmes' parents took the stand during sentencing to plead for his life.

"I didn't realize that his loudest cry for help was his silence," Arlene Holmes, James' mother, told court prosecutors.

During his trial, defence lawyers argued, unsuccessfully for Holmes to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

But instead the jury of nine women and three men convicted him on all 165 counts of murder, attempted murder, and possession of explosives.

The jury will next determine in the coming days whether the 27-year-old should be executed by lethal injection.

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