CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – A nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes’ defense Monday and is expected to testify that he was legally insane when he killed 12 people at a crowded Aurora movie premiere.
Dr. Raquel Gur has evaluated such killers as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Jared Loughner, who shot and killed six people and wounded 13 more near Tucson, Arizona, in 2011.
Gur stunned prosecutors Monday when she said she wasn’t board-certified in psychiatry or psychology.
“There is nothing in there about you being forensically trained or an expert in forensics, psychiatry, neurology or psychology degree with that,” District Attorney George Brauchler said to Gur.
“I am not forensically trained and never wish to be,” Gur responded.
But she was qualified as an expert witness after defense attorneys said she had extensive clinical experience.
Asked how many psychotic people she had interviewed in her career, Gur said, “too many to count.” But she rarely handles criminal cases.
Holmes’ defense asked Gur to evaluate him in the months after the July 2012 shooting. Gur is head of the neuropsychiatry program at the University of Pennsylvania medical school.
Gur will return to the stand Tuesday, and her testimony will be contentious. Prosecutors have already said some statements Holmes made to Gur conflicted with those he gave to other examiners. Her findings also differ from those of two court-appointed doctors who studied Holmes in the months and years after the shooting and found him legally sane at the time of the attack.
“The jury has to look at how he was in that period of time shortly after the events occurred to decide whether he truly was insane at the time,” CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors argue he methodically planned the shooting, which also injured 70 people. They are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes’ lawyers have called to the stand jail workers and doctors who described his sometimes bizarre behavior after the shooting.
Gur’s testimony could be critical for Holmes’ defense. One psychiatrist called by the defense has said Holmes was insane, based largely on a two-hour interview with Holmes four days after the shooting. No other defense witness has demonstrated that Holmes was incapable of knowing right from wrong at the time of the attack – Colorado’s threshold for an insanity verdict.
Gur met with Holmes closer to the time of the theater massacre than the psychiatrists appointed by the court.
– By Sadie Gurman, AP Writer
CBS4 staff contributed to this report.
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