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Jury Finds James Holmes Acted With Malicious Intent As Penalty Phase Continues

James Holmes was found guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting 12 people inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012. The jury will now move to considering the death penalty or life without parole.

Last updated on July 23, 2015, at 5:04 p.m. ET

Posted on July 23, 2015, at 3:16 p.m. ET

Andy Cross / AP

A jury on Thursday unanimously agreed with prosecutors that James Holmes acted with deliberate and malicious intent when he opened fire inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others.

The aggravating factors move Holmes closer to a possible death sentence as the jury turns its attention to the second of three penalty phases.

Holmes was convicted earlier in July of first-degree murder for the shooting massacre.

Among the factors the jury will also consider are his mental health and family life when they consider assigning him the death penalty or a life sentence without possibility of parole.

During phase two of the trial, the defense asked jurors consider Holmes' mental health while deliberating his sentence.

"We're going to ask you for your compassion, your understanding, and your mercy," Tamera Brady, Holmes' defense attorney, said in her opening statement. "All that aggravation was born of disease, and we don't kill people for being sick."

The defense called several witnesses from Holmes' school and childhood to the stand, each of them helping to paint a picture of a portion of his life, be it social, academic, and personal.

Suzanne Jimenez Diaz, who worked at Holmes' elementary school, said he never got in trouble — except for one rowdy game of tackle football involving several of the fifth grade boys.

"He was a normal kid, very popular, very bright," she said.

By the time he reached high school, teacher Tom Oliver said he was standoffish and uncomfortable in social situations.

"It was not easy to get to know him," Oliver said. "He was pretty invisible in my class."

Defense attorneys have argued that Holmes suffered from a schizophrenic spectrum disorder that worsened as he grew older, culminating in a psychotic episode at the time of the shooting.

Jurors must deliberate three times in total to determine if they want to sentence Holmes to death or life in prison, the Denver Post reported.

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