Defense highlights Holmes' comments to psychiatrist

AP News
Posted: Jun 05, 2015 6:40 PM

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Defense lawyers on Friday highlighted comments made by Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to a court-appointed psychiatrist that appeared to show Holmes' thinking was irrational and that he was unable to stop himself from firing into a crowd at a screening of a Batman movie.

Defense attorney Daniel King spent a few hours cross-examining Dr. William Reid and showed brief excerpts from the hours of videotaped interviews jurors already have seen.

"The videotape speaks for itself, and the jury can evaluate this," King said, underlining that jurors will have the final decision no matter what experts say.

Reid interviewed Holmes two years after the July 2012 attack and concluded that, whatever mental illness Holmes had been suffering, he was legally sane when he killed 12 people and wounded 70 others during the midnight movie.

The footage shown Friday included an exchange in which Holmes says he did not want to go to jail but made no plans to escape after the attack.

King also showed an exchange in which Reid questioned Holmes on why he stopped seeing a therapist weeks before the shooting. Holmes said his plan to carry out the attack "overruled the treatment."

"I don't know why it dominated. But it did," he told Reid.

Prosecutor George Brauchler asked Reid whether Holmes's mental illness would have made it impossible for him to distinguish right from wrong or form the intent to kill after deliberation and planning — the definition of legal insanity.

"It did not interfere with that in my opinion," Reid testified.

When questioned by King, Reid acknowledged it would have been better to have interviewed Holmes closer to the time of the attack.

Reid said the most relevant time to consider Holmes's mental state would have been during the shooting, just before and just after. In the interviews, Reid asked Holmes to think back to those times.

Reid also reviewed recordings of police interrogating Holmes immediately after the attack, and had discussions with and reviewed the notes of therapists who had encountered Holmes earlier, including a defense expert who determined Holmes was legally insane.

The expert is expected to testify later in the trial.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The defense questioning appeared to be intended to prepare jurors to consider other opinions, including those of psychiatrists hired by the defense to evaluate Holmes.