Theater shooting gunman James Holmes knew what he was doing, says doctor who performed sanity exam

Posted at 2:04 PM, May 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-29 09:12:35-04

According to a state-appointed psychiatrist, the Aurora movie theater shooting gunman knew what he was doing as he planned and carried out mass murder on July 20, 2012. In response, defense attorneys moved for a mistrial but were denied.

Dr. William Reid took the stand Thursday to begin a testimony that will last for several days, as prosecutors plan to show the jury about 22 hours worth of video recorded during the second of two court-ordered sanity evaluations.

The sanity evaluations were ordered because James Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injury 70 others inside the crowded movie theater.  The court ordered the second evaluation after finding the first one completed by Dr. Jeffrey Metzner was "incomplete and inadequate."

After Reid's credentials, education and accolades were detailed for the jury, he was asked to summarize his opinion of the defendant.

He answered, "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."

Testimony was immediately interrupted by a request from the defense to approach District Court Judge Carlos Samour with an objection. After the discussion, Samour dismissed the jury for lunch and said he would consider the objection during the 90-minute recess.

When he returned to his courtroom, Samour explained that he believed District Attorney George Brauchler's question and Reid's answer were both consistent with Colorado law and legal precedent. He revealed the defense had motioned to strike the comment from the record and suggested a mistrial should be declared, however Samour denied both requests. 

After all that was resolved, and jurors were asked to make plans to stay for an extra half hour, Brauchler played the first excerpt from Reid's interview. In it, the gunman sat in the center of the frame, wearing a blue jumpsuit and a beard. 

Dr. Reid spent the time, nearly two hours, asking questions about the gunman's schooling, social life and family. More often than not, the responses he got were short and unrevealing.

Dr. Reid on seeing his mother: "Did you get a tear in your eye?"

Gunman: "Nope."

Dr. Reid: "Do you ever get tears in your eyes?"

Gunman: "Sometimes."

Dr. Reid: "What brings tears to your eyes sometimes?"

Gunman: "Ah, just regrets."

Dr. Reid: "Can you tell me a little more?"

Gunman: "Usually it's before I go to sleep."

Dr. Reid: "Regrets about?"

Gunman: "About the shooting."

Only a few questions in this introductory interview, however, dealt directly with the shooting.

Dr. Reid: "Do you know how [your parents] first found out about the shooting?"

Gunman: "They were called."

Dr. Reid: "Do you have any idea how they reacted?"

Gunman: "They contacted lawyers, tried to get a lawyer for me."

Dr. Reid: "How do you think they reacted about it inside?"

Gunman: "That they were troubled by it."