Colorado theater shooting judge denies mistrial over video

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MGN Online

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – The judge in the Colorado theater shooting trial rejected defense attorneys’ second request for a mistrial Wednesday over video shown in court of a psychiatrist’s interview with gunman James Holmes.

Holmes’ lawyers argued that a portion of the video played Tuesday amounts to compelled testimony because in it a psychiatrist asks Holmes to describe his actions during the July 2012 attack that killed 12 people and injured 70 others.

Judge Carlos A. Samour denied the motion, saying that court-ordered sanity exams require questions about the crime and that the defense should have objected earlier.

The videotaped evaluation was conducted nearly two years after the shooting and after Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.  Samour earlier denied a motion from the defense seeking a mistrial after the psychiatrist, Dr. William Reid, testified he believed Holmes was mentally ill but legally sane at the time of the attack.

In footage shown Wednesday, the psychiatrist asked Holmes about what he felt when he thought about the shooting afterward. Holmes replied, “I guess I don’t feel anything.”

Defense attorneys say schizophrenia distorted Holmes’ sense of right and wrong and that he should be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital.

Prosecutors argue Holmes should be convicted and executed. They say he doesn’t meet Colorado’s definition of insanity: Unable at the time a crime is committed to tell right from wrong or unable to form the intent necessary to commit a crime because of a mental disease or defect.

In the portions of the 22 hours of interviews jurors have seen so far, Holmes sits still and speaks evenly, betraying little emotion. He has told Reid he worried he was being followed by the FBI as he planned what he referred to as a crime, called himself a murderer and said he hoped on more than one occasion he would be stopped. He even lingered outside the theater for a moment or two and dialed a mental health hotline. But his phone call to the crisis line was disconnected after 9 seconds.

Prosecutors have interspersed portions of the video with questioning of Reid, an attempt to frame the interview for jurors.

Wednesday, Reid asked Holmes about his feelings shortly before the shooting, when he was struggling in aspects of a competitive neuroscience graduate program.

“Nobody cared if I stayed in the program or not,” Holmes said. Reid presses for his reaction, and Holmes responds with a series of one-word answers: “bad,” ”under-appreciated,” ”outcast,” ”anxiety.”

Prosecutors have hinted Holmes’ motive was anger over personal and academic failures. He has repeatedly told Reid anger did not influence him. Reid has told jurors Holmes seemed to be determined in the interview not to face or discuss troubling emotions.

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