CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Prosecutors continued a blistering attack Wednesday on the accuracy and thoroughness of a second defense expert who concluded James Holmes was so mentally ill he couldn’t tell right from wrong when he carried out a deadly attack at a Colorado movie theater.
Dr. Raquel Gur will return to the stand Thursday to face more questions from District Attorney George Brauchler, who has challenged her credibility and accused her of taking incomplete notes on her interviews with Holmes.
Gur is head of neuropsychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania medical school and is the star witness for Holmes’ defense team.
Despite Brauchler’s grilling, Gur stood by her conclusion that Holmes suffers schizophrenia and delusions and met the legal definition of insanity at the time of the July 20, 2012, attack, which killed 12 and injured 70.
Gur’s testimony is crucial to the argument Holmes should be found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital. But Brauchler, who is seeking the death penalty, suggested Gur came to a hasty conclusion about Holmes’ mind.
Brauchler disputed the accuracy of her notes and suggested a phrase she attributed to Holmes — “call for action” — came not from Holmes but from a book she’d written. An agitated Gur called that unlikely.
Brauchler later argued Gur didn’t follow up on Holmes appearing to see a hallucination or ask him what it was he saw.
“I’m not a fool!” Gur replied, disagreeing with his assertion.
The judge interrupted Gur at least three times to tell her to answer Brauchler’s questions instead of disputing his assertions.
Gur interviewed Holmes for 28 hours over two years — more than any other psychiatrist — and studied the spiral notebook where he scrawled elaborate plans for the massacre. She acknowledged to Brauchler that she wrote a report about her conclusions after the first 13 hours of interviews.
Brauchler noted Gur’s report contained at least one inaccuracy and no mention of Holmes’ breakup with his girlfriend and first love, which prosecutors consider a major catalyst for the shooting.
She acknowledged one conclusion in her report may have been unclear but denied trying to mislead anyone. Her report said Holmes now considers his theory of increasing his own self-worth by killing others is “crazy,” but she meant to say he simply understands that other people think it is irrational but still believes it himself.
Another psychiatrist called by the defense, Dr. Jonathan Woodcock, testified two weeks ago that he, too, found Holmes insane at the time of the attack. Gur said Wednesday she could not remember whether she had reviewed his findings before writing her own report.
In Colorado, prosecutors bear the burden of proving sanity beyond a reasonable doubt, so Brauchler is trying to quash any suggestion that Holmes was insane when he opened fire on the theater.
Two court-appointed psychiatrists who studied Holmes in the months and years after the shooting found him legally sane at the time of the attack.
In two days of questioning by defense lawyer Daniel King, Gur said Holmes’ thoughts about killing other people had become an uncontrollable storm in his mind in the months before the shooting.
This story has been corrected to change word in quote to “fool,” not “idiot.”
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