Psychiatrist Fights Videotape Sanity Exam
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) - The second psychiatrist to examine accused mass murderer James Holmes defended his preference to videotape Holmes during a sanity examination in a court hearing on Tuesday.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more during the midnight premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. He is charged with more than 160 felony counts including murder and weapons charges.
Prosecutors indicated they will seek the death penalty.
Tuesday was day one of two set aside to discuss motions filed by the defense. Today, attorneys argued over a motion filed by the defense to preclude the latest psychiatric evaluator from videotaping Holmes' sanity examinations.
The defense objected to the psychiatrists claim stating that "the law does not provide for such a procedure and Mr. Holmes was not on notice that this was a possible consequence of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity," the motion states.
During the hearing, the psychiatrist testified over the phone in court to hide his identity. Defense attorney Tamara Brady asked the evaluator whether a study that showed videotaping a psychiatric interview could negatively affect a patient's response to the examination had an effect on his preference to videotape the exam.
"I see a number of differences between the study that is cited and the one that is suggested," the evaluator said. "The examination would be a real examination than one for experimental purposes."
The psychiatrist also pointed out that the people evaluated in the study were screened and were accepted if they did not have a major psychiatric issue. He also said there are more benefits to videotaping the exam than just taking notes.
"It is accurate and more complete," he said. "It offers a better flow of the interview with less distraction."
Brady tried to counter the psychiatrist's argument by offering a statement from the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo which claims they found that the impact of videotaping has not been proven to be positive or negative. The psychiatrist claimed he did not see how this would affect his evaluation.
"This is a very unusual case for the hospital, I don't see the comparison," he said.
The prosecution asked the evaluator whether he has noticed any negative effects of having a camera in the room. The psychiatrist replied that he has not seen negative effects but it could be possible that there were effects that he did not see.
Judge Carlos Samour said he would issue a ruling on the matter in "the next couple days."
Attorneys will continue arguments tomorrow over two motions filed by the defense to exclude chemical and ballistic expert testimony from the trial. The trial is set for December.