Colorado theater gunman knew right from wrong, psychiatrist says

"[A mental disorder] not stop him from forming the intent and knowing what he was doing and the consequences of what he was doing," psychiatrist Dr. William Reid testified Thursday.

By Doug G. Ware
Colorado theater gunman knew right from wrong, psychiatrist says
Aurora, Colo., movie theater gunman James Eagan Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 70 others on July 20, 2012, during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." His attorneys argue that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. Photo: UPI / University of Colorado / Handout Image

CENTENNIAL, Colo., May 28 (UPI) -- The man who opened fire inside a Denver-area movie theater three years ago and killed a dozen people was able to determine right from wrong prior to the attack, a state-appointed psychiatrist said in court Thursday.

As the capital murder trial of James Eagan Holmes enters its fourth week, prosecutors are trying to argue that the defendant was able to decipher between right and wrong when he planned and carried out the attack on the Aurora, Colo., theater around midnight on July 19, 2012, during an early screening of The Dark Knight Rises.


Holmes has admitted to being the gunman, but his attorneys have argued that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. Considering the defense claim, psychiatrist Dr. William Reid's opinion regarding Holmes's mental capacity is viewed as critical testimony in the case.


"Whatever he suffered from, it did not stop him from forming the intent and knowing what he was doing and the consequences of what he was doing," Dr. Reid said in court Thursday.

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The psychiatrist's remarks solicited an objection from defense attorneys, who possibly believed the doctor's comments violated rules set previously by Judge Carlos Samour regarding what Reid could and could not say, CBS Denver reported.

Also scheduled in Holmes's trial Thursday are videos of Dr. Reid interviewing the gunman at a mental hospital following his arrest. The footage will be shown in parts rather than in one long viewing, as defense attorneys wanted.

Earlier this week, jurors heard passages from Holmes's personal journal, in which the defendant wrote about selecting the target for his rampage. In one entry, he mentioned the movie theater as opposed to Denver International Airport due to its "substantial security," ABC News reported Thursday.

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Defense attorneys, however, have also used the gunman's journal to highlight what they argue are mental health deficiencies.

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"That's my mind. It is broken. I have tried to fix it," Holmes wrote of a so-called "obsession to kill" in the journal, which was read in court by defense attorney Daniel King.


Holmes, 27, entered the Cinemark Century 16 theater complex in Aurora wearing tactical gear and armed with firearms and gas grenades, police said. About 30 minutes into the film, he opened fire -- dressed nearly head-to-toe in bullet-resistant clothing.

Holmes began shooting a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, killing 12 people and wounding 70 others. About 400 people were inside the theater at the time of the attack, and police said one of the bullets even wounded three people in a theater next door. Holmes was arrested in his car a few minutes after the attack ended.

Shooting victim Jarell Brooks has said he believes Holmes was perfectly sane during the assault.

"I don't buy [the insanity claim] at all," he told ABC News. "He chose to do what he did."

Some commentators have argued that the mass confusion incited by the gunfire may have led to additional deaths in the theater. Some witnesses have said they were hesitant to leave the theater, even when told to evacuate, because of erroneous reports that a gunman was in the theater lobby.

If convicted, Holmes could face the death penalty.

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