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(DENVER) — Friends of Aurora shooting victims applauded prosecutors’ decision Monday to seek the death penalty for James Holmes, with one friend saying he wanted to be in the room if Holmes is executed.

“I don’t know if it’s painful. I want him dead. I just want to be there in the room when he dies,” Bryan Beard said outside the Colorado courthouse. “He took one of my friends from this Earth. Death equals death.”

Beard’s close friend Alex Sullivan was one of the 12 people killed in the shooting on July 20 last year. It was Sullivan’s 27th birthday.

Prosecutors from the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office said at a hearing Monday in Aurora, Colo., that they will seek execution for Holmes if he is convicted.

“For James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” District Attorney George Brauchler said in court.

A couple of victims’ relatives cried. Holmes’ parents were also in court. He looked at them when he came in. After the announcement, Holmes’ father nodded his head and put his arm around his wife.

Brauchler said his office has reached out to 800 victims and that he had personally spoken with relatives of 60 victims who died and were injured. Brauchler said he didn’t speak to anyone about the decision.

“They are trying to execute our client and we will do what we need to do to save his life,” public defender Tammy Brady said. “We are asking the court not to rush this.”

Holmes was swiveling back and forth in his chair during the discussion of the trial date.

Judge Carlos Samour, the case’s new judge, set the trial date for Feb. 3, 2014, but the date could change if the defense finds it is not ready early next year.

Holmes’ defense attorneys said on Wednesday that he was willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison in order to avoid death row. But prosecutors rejected the offer and criticized the defense for what prosecutors called a “calculated” move for attention.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding at least 58 when gunfire erupted in an Aurora theater last July during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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