|James E. Holmes|
DENVER, United States, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Lawyers defending Colorado mass murderer James Holmes this week began the difficult job of proving the Ph.D. candidate was insane when he ripped hundreds of bullets into a movie theater audience, killing 12 people and wounding 70 others.
Their task will be difficult because two key psychiatrists already testified Holmes is mentally ill, but was not legally " insane" three years ago when he planned and executed one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history. If found "insane," Holmes' " not guilty by reason of insanity" plea will be upheld and he will spend the rest of his life incarcerated and avoid the death penalty.
The defense's first psychiatrist, who called Holmes "insane," endured a blistering cross-examination Friday by lead prosecutor, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler.
Dr. Jonathan Woodcock interviewed Holmes twice, the first time just four days after he unloaded three guns into a packed theater watching a midnight premiere of a Batman movie at a Denver multiplex on July 20, 2012.
Brauchler slammed Woodcock's minimal experience as a "key witness" compared to considerable courtroom qualifications from other psychiatrists who interviewed Holmes for much lengthier times.
Previously, two court-appointed psychiatrists testified, after a combined 47 hours of interviews, that Holmes knew right from wrong and showed extreme indifference to the murders, legal criteria that prove he was sane at the time of the shooting.
If found sane, Holmes faces execution, an outcome favored by a majority of the victims and their families. Holmes faces 166 counts of murder and attempted murder.
Woodcock testified that Holmes was not aware of his actions that night, denting the prosecution's ironclad position that Holmes methodically orchestrated the mass murder, booby-trapped his apartment, and knew exactly what he was doing. "(Holmes) didn' t have an independent awareness," Woodcock told the packed courtroom Friday, and, "his behavior was, in my opinion, determined by this delusional system."
Brauchler criticized Woodcock for not videotaping the two, one- hour 2012 interviews, and for not reviewing other psychiatrists' sessions with Holmes, critical toward better understanding the shooter and determining his sanity. The district attorney suggested the jury and others in court knew more about Holmes than Woodcock, because he hadn't seen the lengthy psychiatric interviews shown in court.
Woodcock received more than 30 questions from the jury on Thursday and Friday, more than any other witness in the trial thus far.
The prosecution has maintained that Holmes is a misanthrope who carried out the massacre as a vendetta on society because he failed in school, lost his girlfriend, and his purpose in life.
Holmes was a brilliant student academically until attending graduate school in neuroscience at the University of Colorado's campus east of Denver in 2011.
Holmes' defense team, led by Tamara Brady, Don King and two skillful women attorneys, say Holmes has struggled with schizophrenia his entire life, that it peaked in the weeks leading to the massacre, and that he was not in control of his actions.
Woodcock told the court that Holmes had thoughts of killing people since he was eight, his family has a deep, lengthy history of schizophrenia, and he was "delusional" at the time of the killing.
Brauchler had Woodcock admit he didn't talk to Holmes much about the crime, or his plans for the shooting, and had already written a report saying Holmes was insane before the second, short interview.
The district attorney, picked to run as a powerful Republican political candidate in the future, presented a thorough, convincing eight-week case that concluded last week.
Prosecutors called more than 200 witnesses to the stand, including first responders, survivors, bomb experts, and crime scene technicians, who painted graphic, gruesome images of the crime scene in an emotional appeal to jurors.
The defense says its case will last through next week, a quarter of the time taken by the prosecution.
Source: Xinhua, Peter Mertz, June 28, 2015
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