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Aurora Victim's Mother: James Holmes 'Butchered' My Daughter

Jessica Ghawi's mother said she refuses to have sympathy for Holmes, whom attorneys say suffers from mental illness.

The mother of a young woman killed in the Aurora movie theater massacre said Wednesday that she refuses to have sympathy for admitted gunman James Holmes, whom defense attorneys claim suffers from mental illness.

"This could all be over tomorrow if he would plead guilty and get it over with. But they've already made it very clear that they're not willing to do that. So we get to sit through this kind of thing, walk through this hell, every day," said Sandy Phillips, mother of Jessica Redfield Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster who died in the July 2012 shooting during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers say schizophrenia overtook his mind to the point where he didn't know right from wrong, and have sought sympathy from jurors as they weigh whether he was legally insane when he killed 12 people and injured 70 more.

"It's extremely hard when you hear that you're supposed to have empathy or sympathy for the person that butchered your children. I can't do it. I won't do it," Phillips told reporters. "I will be here every day to remind every one of you that it's about our children and our loved ones that we're killed in there."

Jessica GhawiReuters file

In an eerie coincidence, Ghawi, a blogger, had written about narrowly escaping a shooting in a Toronto food court a month before she was killed in the Aurora shooting. It was her final blog post before her death.

If the jury finds Holmes was insane, he would be committed indefinitely to a state mental hospital. If he is convicted of the 166 counts that he faces, including murder charges, the jury could sentence him to death.

"There is no justice. They could give us our children back — that would be justice. Can't do that," Phillips said.


— Elizabeth Chuck and Jack Chesnutt