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Closing arguments in Aurora theater shooting trial begin this week

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Posted at 10:36 AM, Jul 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-13 10:41:23-04

The jury for the trial of the man accused of shooting and killing 12 people and injuring 70 others inside a Colorado movie theater will receive instructions today as closing arguments begin Tuesday.

James Holmes is the defendant, and he chose not to testify, according to TheDenverChannel.com, which has extensively covered the trial that began 11 weeks ago. 

Aurora Movie Theater Shooting: Ongoing Coverage

Defense attorneys for the Aurora movie theater gunman rested their case last week, and in a surprise move, the prosecution will not be calling a rebuttal witness, according to TheDenverChannel.com.

The announcements came following about 45-minutes of video evidence and brief testimony from an investigator who works for the public defender.

The first of the two segments showed the defendant running into a wall and then smearing something -- presumably feces -- on himself as he sat naked in a jail cell. The second showed him in a hospital room, naked and writhing on a bed as guards or nurses repeatedly return to cover him up.

Those videos came from November of 2012, a time that the defense's experts say the gunman's mental illness became exacerbated. The prosecution's only cross-examination was to confirm aloud that those videos came four months after the shooting.

Thursday, the defense concluded the long testimony of Dr. Raquel Gur, a court-admitted expert who testified that the gunman was legally insane at the time of the shooting. She was the second doctor to provide that opinion for the defense.

James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 others in the Century 16 Theater on July 20, 2012. Prosecutors contend that whatever the clinical diagnosis, the defendant should be considered legally sane under Colorado law.

Not guilty by reason of insanity is called an "affirmative defense" that asks the jury to conclude the defendant either didn't know right from wrong or couldn't form the mental state required for intent of the crime.

If the jury finds in favor of that plea, the gunman would be indefinitely committed to a mental hospital. If they find him guilty, however, the case will move to a penalty phase where prosecutors will make a case in favor of the death penalty.

Gur said Thursday that she didn't "think (the defendant) was going through a deliberate process" when he was preparing for and completing the shooting -- his "mission.

She also testified that the defendant made every effort to not have homicidal delusions, manifestations of the mental illness, intruding in his mind. However, she said, the "mission" overcame his desire to get well.

In all, two psychiatrists have been admitted as experts to speak in favor of the defense's theory and two have spoken in favor of the prosecution. Public defenders have also presented testimony from doctors who saw and treated the defendant in the months after his arrest, with a focus on November 2012, when they say his mental health condition became exacerbated.

One more psychiatrist, Dr. Phillip Resnick, was expected to be called as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution prior to closing arguments. However, DA George Brauchler announced Friday that he will not be calling that doctor. 

TheDenverChannel.com's Phil Tenser contributed to this report.

 

 
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