Doctor who found Holmes insane didn't watch much of video
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 testified Friday that 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.
During a scathing cross-examination of Dr. Jonathan Woodcock, District Attorney George Brauchler suggested that jurors and others in the courtroom who had watched all 22 hours of Dr. William Reid's interview with Holmes, in which he talked at length about his planning and preparation for the shooting, probably had observed him longer than Woodcock had.
Woodcock 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. Brauchler pointed out that Woodcock didn't talk to Holmes about the crime or his preparations for the shooting in either interview and already turned in 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. He also acknowledged that he did not question Holmes about his notebook.
Woodcock said that he thought Reid had used some suggestion in interviewing Holmes. He said he reviewed Reid's report based on the interview and did not find anything that would have changed his own conclusion about Holmes.
Woodcock said that he did not return a telephone call from a jail psychiatrist who wanted to consult with him about possible medication for Holmes soon after the shooting because he said he was not his treating physician. Brauchler suggested that could have been part of a strategy to leave Holmes' condition untreated to cause a dramatic outbreak later.
Woodcock was one of the first witnesses called Thursday as the defense opened its case in an effort to show Holmes was legally insane at the time of the attack.
He testified that Holmes was suffering from severe mental illness that made him "tremendously emotionally flat," which may have masked the extent of his problems from classmates and friends. Holmes believed that if he told people about his plans to kill strangers, he would be required to carry out the action, Woodcock said.
Prosecutors in Colorado bear the burden in insanity cases, so Brauchler is seeking to quash any doubt that Holmes planned and carried out the shooting, while knowing it was wrong.
Reid and another court-appointed doctor who interviewed Holmes in the weeks and months after the shooting found him mentally ill but capable of knowing right from wrong — Colorado's definition of legal sanity.
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.
Before the shooting, Woodcock said Holmes was clearly distressed by the worsening symptoms of his mental disorder, which brought anxiety and pushed him to drop out of his stressful neuroscience program at the University of Colorado-Denver.
Holmes told the doctor he began experiencing problems as early as middle school. He started thinking of killing other people as a way to ease the discomfort of his own suicidal thoughts, Woodcock testified.
But Brauchler said any mental problems did not seem to affect Holmes' life substantially. In response to the prosecutor's questions, Woodcock said he did not know Holmes had been going to the gym regularly or had not missed many classes.
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