CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — James Holmes said his “mind was kind of falling apart” and he began to have homicidal thoughts months before he killed 12 people and injured 70 others in a Colorado movie theater, according to a video excerpt presented Friday at his murder trial.
Holmes told a state-appointed psychiatrist in the videotaped interview that he had contracted mononucleosis in late 2011 and became depressed and lacked energy partly because of a breakup with a girlfriend in early 2012.
“My mind was kind of falling apart,” he told Dr. William Reid in the interview at a state mental hospital two years after the July 20, 2012, theater attack in Aurora. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Asked by Reid whether he ever thought about hurting or killing himself, Holmes replied: “No.” Asked about killing other people, Holmes said: “Yes.”
However, Holmes did say he associated depression with suicidal thoughts and added: “I kind of transferred my suicidal thoughts into homicidal.”
District Attorney George Brauchler interspersed some five hours of the recording with questioning of Reid, helping to frame what jurors heard.
Reid told jurors he thought Holmes was struggling to protect himself from tumultuous emotions during the 22 hours of interviews that jurors are expected to see and was not trying to hide anything from prosecutors.
Again and again in the video, Reid pressed Holmes to describe his feelings, often eliciting answers of one word or succinct sentences. Reid, for example, asked him how it felt to take pictures of himself posed in body armor with weapons.
“I didn’t feel anything,” Holmes said. “Except that I’d be remembered by those pictures.”
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple charges of murder and attempted murder. If jurors rule in his favor, he would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital, and likely spend his life there.
Colorado law defines a defendant as insane if he or she was so mentally diseased or deficient at the time of committing a crime as to be incapable of telling right from wrong, or of being able to form a culpable state of mind.
Prosecutors are trying to show that Holmes knew right from wrong at the time of the attack. They are seeking the death penalty.
Reid testified Thursday that following the exam, he determined Holmes was legally sane at the time of the shooting.
Holmes told Reid that he wondered before the attack if he was under FBI surveillance because “I was going to commit a crime.” He said he had hoped he would be “locked away before I did it.”
Under questioning by Brauchler, Reid said the comments suggest “he knew that he was doing something wrong or was planning something wrong.”
Holmes’ attorneys have yet to question Reid.
On screen, Reid did the vast majority of talking, asking the defendant about a wide range of topics, including faith, his parents, his preference for being alone, books he liked and childhood nightmares. In court, Holmes did not glance at the camera but stared straight ahead, swiveling lightly in his chair.
Holmes said faith was important to his mother but that he was “never really a believer.” Asked about his parents’ relationship, he said he “could see love between them” and that he also felt loved.
He said he sympathized with the character Lennie Small, a troubled migrant worker in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” He said he suffered nightmares as a child and sometimes experienced a catatonic state, a “frozen feeling.” He preferred to live alone in an apartment at college.
In a segment shown Thursday, Holmes told Reid he sometimes cries before he goes to bed because he regrets the shooting.
This week, prosecutors introduced into evidence a notebook in which Holmes methodically weighed pros and cons of a theater attack and included notes on his mental condition.
Holmes also wrote about how he liked to keep his distance from psychiatrists and therapists who treated him: “Prevent building false sense of rapport. Speak truthfully and deflect incriminating questions. Oddly they don’t pursue or delve farther into harmful omissions.”
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