CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A defense psychiatrist who found James Holmes was insane when he killed 12 people in an attack on a suburban Denver movie theater spent Friday answering a barrage of questions, including more than two dozen from jurors about his methods.
Dr. Jonathan Woodcock, one of the first defense witnesses to take the stand, interviewed Holmes four days after the July 20, 2012, shooting to determine if he was competent to stand trial and then again earlier this year when he was asked by the defense to testify on Holmes’ sanity.
He said Holmes was so delusional and psychotic as a result of deep-seeded mental illness that he was unable to tell right from wrong when he opened fire on the theater — Colorado’s standard for an insanity verdict.
Woodcock spent two days answering attorneys’ questions before jurors asked more than 30 of their own.
In response to their inquiries, Woodcock reaffirmed his conclusion that Holmes was insane. Holmes’ delusions finally rendered him unable to tell right from wrong when he texted a friend “floodgates open now,” and warned her to avoid him, Woodcock said.
District Attorney George Brauchler noted that Holmes sent the text message more than a week before the shooting, but months after he began amassing a weapons arsenal that included the guns used in the attack.
During scathing cross-examination by Brauchler, Woodcock said he made his decision without reviewing all of his medical records and after only watching a fraction of hours of interviews with a court-appointed doctor who came to the opposite conclusion.
Brauchler suggested that jurors and others in the courtroom who had watched all 22 hours of Dr. William Reid’s interview, in which Holmes talked at length about his planning and preparation for the shooting, had observed him longer than Woodcock had.
Brauchler pointed out that Woodcock didn’t talk to Holmes about the crime or his plans for the shooting in either interview and already completed a report concluding he was insane before the second, one-hour interview.
Woodcock said he watched about 30 minutes of Reid’s interview and read about 100 pages of the 650-page interview transcript because he didn’t have time to view it all. He also acknowledged that he did not question Holmes about the spiral notebook in which he scrawled plans for the massacre.
But, pressed further by defense attorney Daniel King, Woodcock said he reviewed Reid’s report based on the interview and many other records and evidence and did not find anything that would have changed his own conclusion about Holmes.
Prosecutors in Colorado bear the burden of proof in insanity cases, so Brauchler hopes to quash any doubt that Holmes fit the state’s definition of legal sanity.
Under the prosecutor’s questioning, Woodcock acknowledged that he didn’t ask about or remember key details, such as why Holmes wore head-to-toe body armor, why he bought tear gas or that he used steel-piercing bullets.
“I don’t remember,” Woodcock said. “It’s all really irrational.”
If jurors find that Holmes was insane, Holmes would be committed to a state mental hospital indefinitely. Prosecutors are asking jurors to convict him and sentence him to death.
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