First indication prosecutors will seek death penalty in Aurora theater case revealed

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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. -- The strongest indication yet that prosecutors in Arapahoe County will seek the death penalty against Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes came Thursday.

FOX31 Denver learned that Arapahoe County is hiring the man considered to be Colorado's top death penalty prosecutor.

Dan Zook is a retired Assistant District Attorney from Colorado Springs.

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler couldn't speak specifically about the Holmes case, but he told FOX31 Denver hiring Zook makes perfect sense.

"To bring somebody on board your team who has the career experience and really expertise that Dan has in achieving justice on the most complex, complicated and frankly high profile cases around... you're doing your community a service."

Holmes' lawyers are expected to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of their client at his next hearing scheduled for March 12.

"If he's insane then he will not be subject to any sentencing but if he's convicted of 12 counts of first degree murder this crime is so very premeditated expect the DA to seek capital punishment," says legal analyst and former Denver Chief Deputy D.A. Craig Silverman.

Criminal defense lawyer Dan Recht says, "Clearly the defense is going to plead insanity given Mr. Holmes clear mental illness and the prosecution is going to indicate that they are going to seek the death penalty."

Prosecutors will then have at least two months to announce whether they will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 12 people in July 2012.

But with so many victims and so much disagreement over death penalty laws, most observers agree a plea agreement to put Holmes away for life is the most likely outcome.

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