To tears and quiet sobs from the families of the 12 people he shot dead, a Colorado jury sentenced madman James Eagan Holmes to life in prison, without parole for the 2012 massacre at a packed multiplex.
The death penalty phase of the case against Holmes ended without the unanimous vote needed to put a convict to death.
"We ended our deliberations when one absolutely would not move," a juror, who only identified herself as "juror 17," said, and two others were "on the fence."
"I don't know if they could have been swayed or not."
The same jury last month found Holmes, 27, guilty of 24 counts of capital murder -- two for each victim in the July 20, 2012 mass shooting during a midnight showing of a new Batman film.
That verdict was a rejection of his insanity defense. Still, his lawyers argued again in the penalty that Holmes should not be put to death because he is mentally ill.
And juror 17 said that was what weighed on the lone hold-out: ""I think primarily it was the mental illness."
It took 11 minutes to read the penalty verdicts on all 24 counts.
FAMILIES' NEW AGONY
Some family members quietly bolted for the doors as it became clear there would be no death penalty.
Others sat their in shock. Gasps and sobbing could be heards as each life sentence was announced.
Among them was Ashley Moser, who melted in her wheelchair.
Moser was paralyzed by Holmes' bullets and her 6-year-old daughter Veronica was killed.
"We always knew this was a possibility," Veronica's grandfather, Robert Sullivan, said later.
“He’s still living and breathing,” he told reporters. “Our loved ones are gone.”
Among the many law enforcement officials who showed up to support the families at the courthouse in Centennial, CO, was Aurora Police Chief Nicholas Metz.
He, too, expressed anger.
"There will never be closure for these families, for these victims," he said. "They will carry the scars. They will carry the pain."
Not everyone was upset Holmes will live.
“Thank you, jurors, for letting reason and not emotion guide you in your decision,” said Joran Ghawi, whoses 24-year-old sister Jessica was slain.
“A death sentence, to which I am vehemently opposed, [would] result in automatic appeals, millions of more dollars, and additional anguish.”