Suspected gunman James Holmes
Suspected gunman James Holmes AFP file

The suspected gunman in America's Aurora theater massacre may plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, lawyers cited by local media said Wednesday.

James Holmes, 25, is due in court Monday for a hearing at which prosecutors are expected to say whether they will seek the death penalty for the mass shooting in July, which left 12 people dead.

"Mr Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," the lawyers wrote in a court filing Wednesday, cited by The Denver Post.

"It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty."

The defense attorneys are seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole, and say the case could be concluded next week if the plea deal is accepted. Prosecutors have not indicated whether they will accept the offer, according to the Post.

The prosecution has yet to accept the deal because "it may choose to pursue the death penalty," according to the two-page filing cited by NBC television affiliate 9NEWS.

Lawyer Daniel King could not immediately be reached for comment.

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 on gun control.

Witnesses said Holmes threw smoke bomb-type devices before opening fire indiscriminately with weapons, including an AR-15 military-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-caliber pistol.

Earlier this month, a judge entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of Holmes and set a court date in August for him to stand trial over the horrific massacre. At that time, his lawyers said they were not yet ready to enter a plea, the AFP news agency reported.

Colorado currently has three convicted prisoners on death row, but has not executed anyone since 1979, according to the news agency.