Prosecutors in the US state of Colorado said Tuesday they will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 12 people in a crowded cinema in July last year.
"For James Holmes in this case, justice is death," district attorney George Brauchler told a court in Centennial, where the 25-year-old Holmes is expected to go on trial in August.
Holmes is accused over the July 20 massacre at a midnight screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, which revived America's long-running debate about gun control.
Witnesses said Holmes threw smoke bomb-type devices before opening fire randomly with weapons, including an AR-15 military-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-caliber pistol.
Last week defense lawyers filed an unexpected motion offering that Holmes would plead guilty, in return for the prosecution not pressing for the death penalty, but agreeing to a sentence of life in prison without parole.
But prosecutors shot back within 24 hours, accusing the defense of trying to negotiate a plea deal in public, in violation of a gag order on the horrific case.