Doctor says he thinks James Holmes knew he was doing something wrong when he killed 12 people
Defense asks for mistrial but judge dismisses request
Holmes and William Reid talked for 22 hours in 2014, two years after the killings
In an initial meeting with a psychiatrist two years after killing 12 people at a Colorado movie theater, James Holmes told the doctor he sometimes had tears and regrets over the shooting.
The interview between Holmes and Dr. William Howard Reid, recorded on video in late July 2014, was played to the jury in Holmes’ murder trial on Wednesday.
It is part of 22 hours of sessions the two had after the Mental Health Institute of Pueblo selected Reid to question Holmes and evaluate his psychiatric state.
During that first discussion the doctor asked about Holmes’ family. Holmes said he and his parents had an emotional meeting when they came to visit him.
Holmes said he was told his mother broke down when she was leaving but he didn’t cry.
“Do you ever get tears in your eye?” Reid asks in the video.
“Um, yeah, sometimes,” Holmes replies.
“What brings tears to your eyes sometimes?” Reid asks.
“Just regrets,” Holmes says.
“Can you tell me a little more?” the doctor asks.
“Usually it’s before I go to sleep,” Holmes says.
“Uh, about the shooting,” Holmes says.
Reid says they’ll talk about the night of the shooting at another time and asks Holmes more questions about his personal life.
Reid tells the jury he had nine sessions with Holmes that each lasted 1½ hours to 3 hours. The interviews do not indicate Holmes’ mental state around the time of the shooting, he said.
Reid was one of two psychiatrists to examine Holmes after he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was chosen by the hospital where Holmes was taken after his plea, not by the prosecution or defense.
Doctor: Holmes was legally sane on July 20
Earlier, when Reid was being questioned by District Attorney George Brauchler, he said Holmes was mentally ill, but on July 20, 2012, he was legally sane when he took the lives of a dozen people and wounded scores more.
“My opinion is that he did not – is that, whatever he suffered from – it did not prevent him from forming the intent and knowing what he was doing and the consequences of what he was doing,” Reid said.
It was a head-turning moment because Brauchler hadn’t asked the psychiatrist specifically about his opinion of Holmes’ sanity but was questioning him about Colorado standards for forming an opinion on a defendant’s mental state.
Defense attorney Daniel King asked to approach the bench and requested a mistrial, because he believed the wrong standard was being applied. He also asked for Reid’s comment to be stricken from the record.
Judge Carlos Samour denied his request but after lunch reviewed the law with the jury.
Brauchler began the second part of his questioning by asking the doctor whether Holmes could recognize his actions were wrong on the day prior and on the night of the shootings. This time Reid answered succinctly.
Asked if Holmes met the criteria for mental illness, Reid said, “Yes.”
Asked if Holmes had the capacity on that night to know right from wrong, Reid said, “Yes.”
Asked if Holmes, had the capacity to act after deliberating, Reid said, “Yes, it is.”
Then Brauchler, who has to prove to the jury that Holmes was legally sane during the two days in question, asked if Holmes met the definition of legal sanity. Reid again answered simply, “Yes.”
Because the doctor’s testimony and showing the video is expected to take several days, it will be next week before the defense can cross-examine him.
Holmes, 27, a former doctoral student in neuroscience, is standing trial on charges of capital murder and other offenses. He is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 more. He faces 165 counts. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
Holmes admits to the shootings but has said he was suffering “a psychotic episode” at the time.