Taping Of James Holmes Sanity Exam Mulled In Court, Trail Date Set
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – The judge in the Colorado theater-shooting case said Tuesday that he will rule this week on whether a psychiatrist will be allowed to video-record the second sanity evaluation of defendant James Holmes.
The psychiatrist testified by phone that video provides a more accurate and complete record than handwritten notes.
“It also allows better attention by me to both the patient and the interview,” said the psychiatrist, whose name has not been released.
Defense attorneys objected to video, saying state law doesn’t authorize it and that some research shows it affects patients’ responses. They also noted that Holmes’ first evaluation was not video-recorded and that the state mental hospital, where the exam will be conducted, generally does not use video.
The psychiatrist countered that the research cited by the defense dealt with a different type of examination under different circumstances.
He said he has recorded scores of examinations and that his experience shows the benefits of video outweigh any disadvantages. The camera would be unobtrusive, he said.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack on a suburban Denver theater. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
He appeared in court Tuesday with a closely trimmed beard and neatly combed hair. He said nothing aloud.
His parents also attended the hearing, but Holmes did not appear to acknowledge them. His mother, Arlene, sat with a paperback book titled “Bible Prayers for All Your Needs.”
Holmes underwent a sanity evaluation last summer, but the judge ruled it was flawed and ordered another to be done this summer.
The key conclusion of the first exam has not been made public – whether Holmes could tell right from wrong at the time of the shootings.
An evaluation is mandatory for defendants who plead insanity under Colorado law, but it is not the final word. Jurors decide whether a defendant was insane, and the evaluation is a key piece of the evidence they consider.
If Holmes is found insane, he will be committed to the state hospital indefinitely. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison.
Earlier Tuesday, the judge tossed defense subpoenas for the disciplinary records of two Aurora police officers listed as potential prosecution witnesses.
Prosecutors have said both were found to have made untrue statements in other investigations, and the defense said that could weaken their credibility. Prosecutors have said they are unlikely to call the officers as witnesses.
The judge also heard testimony on whether to allow an expert on metals to take the stand at the trial, and defense lawyers questioned the reliability of gunshot-residue analysis. The judge did not say when he would rule on allowing either of those types of evidence at the trial.
Holmes’ trial is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 8. The judge was expected to confirm that date Tuesday.
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