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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Jurors struggled to hold back tears Tuesday as a grieving father described how he returns now and then to the Colorado theater where his son was murdered.

Tom Sullivan’s voice wavered as he described how his family looks for the very spot where his son Alex was killed while celebrating his 27th birthday and first wedding anniversary.

“We go up and we sit in Alex’s row, and we’re sitting in row 12, and we leave seat 12 open for Alex,” Sullivan said. “We sit next to him.”

District Attorney George Brauchler said such testimony reinforces that death is “the only appropriate sentence” for James Holmes for murdering 12 people and trying to kill 70 others at the premiere of a Batman movie three years ago.

Defense attorney Rebekka Higgs’ voice cracked as she insisted that the crimes were caused by the psychotic breakdown of a mentally ill young man. She said life without parole is the morally appropriate response, and warned the jurors that “each of you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your lives.”

“We will ask that you not answer death with death,” Higgs said.

Amanda Medek testified that she still can’t enter a movie theater. She recalled frantically searching hospitals before officers appeared at her parent’s home with a picture of her little sister, Micayla. “All I remember is my knees buckling and slamming into the concrete floor,” she said.

Judge Carlos Samour told jurors not to be swayed by the emotional nature of the testimony. “Your decision must reflect your individual reasoned moral judgment,” he repeated.

The same jurors who will decide whether Holmes gets life without parole or a lethal injection already rejected his insanity plea.

Brauchler said their final deliberations may begin as early as today.

Print Headline: Theater shooting jurors hear grieving dad

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