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Holmes' parents pen letter pleading for him to be spared from death penalty in theater shooting case

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Posted at 7:38 AM, Dec 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-19 08:57:18-05

James Holmes' parents are pleading for him to be spared the death penalty in his trial for killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others inside an Aurora movie theater.

They are also asking that their son be allowed to reach a plea deal and avoid a trial altogether.

"We love our son, we have always loved him and we do not want him to be executed," they wrote. "We also decry the need for a trial."

The letter, which was sent to RTV6 sister station 7NEWS after it was originally quoted by their partners at The Denver Post, is the first public statement from Robert and Arlene Holmes since the July 2012 shooting.

READ: Statement from Holmes' lawyer | Full letter from Robert and Arlene Holmes

"Our family has not given interviews to the media because we do not want coverage of ourselves," they wrote. "We mourn the deaths and the serious injuries and emotional trauma of the others who were in the theater. The focus should be on the injured and their healing."

Holmes' parents assert that it would be morally wrong to condemn their son to death. They cite the Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights and the National Alliance on Mental Illness in support of their argument that the death penalty would be immoral.

"He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness."

The parents, who have frequently attended their son's hearings in Arapahoe County District Court, argue, "He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness."

Holmes entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the case and has been evaluated twice at a state mental hospital. The results of those evaluations have remained secret.

If he is found not guilty by reason of insanity, Holmes would be sent to an institution for the mentally ill for the remainder of his life. 

But, with jury selection for Holmes' trial scheduled to begin in January, Holmes' parents also "decry the need for a trial."

They argue that a lengthy trial could be avoided if prosecutors accept a guilty plea and agree to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

"We believe the government should not pursue killing the mentally ill. The quest for a death sentence for our mentally ill son can stop today and everyone would be spared needless pain," the Holmes' said in an additional quote provided by their lawyer.

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MORE | IMAGES: The changing looks of Aurora movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes