Mass Murderer Prosecutor|Can’t Rattle Doctor

     DENVER (CN) – Accused mass murderer James Holmes’ prosecutor on Thursday grilled a defense psychologist on why he didn’t interview Holmes’ family or friends before writing a clinical report on him.
     The defense is presenting its claim to the jury that Holmes was insane when he killed 12 people and wounded 70 at the midnight premiere of a Batman movie on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. If convicted, Holmes could be sentenced to death.
     On Wednesday, another defense expert , Dr. Rose Manguso, who also administered tests to Holmes, told the jury that she did not believe Holmes was faking his mental illness.
     On Thursday, Dr. Robert Hanlon, a clinical neuropsychologist, said under questioning from the prosecutor that he would have preferred to be able to interview Holmes’ family, but Holmes’ attorneys asked him not to.
     Hanlon administered several tests to Holmes after the massacre, gauging his IQ, memory and cognitive speed.
     Holmes’ public defender Dan King followed up District Attorney George Brauchler’s question of why Hanlon had not interviewed Holmes’ family or friends by asking: Doctor, Mr. Brauchler asked you some questions at the beginning about how you approached your examination and the things that you included … and didn’t include in your report. Do any of those things make your test results somehow invalid?”
     Hanlon said, “No.”
     Brauchler raised the issue again, asking Hanlon about a previous case he had worked on, Missouri vs. Robert Driscoll, also a capital murder trial.
     “You were asked to conduct a neuropsychological evaluation,” Brauchler said of the 1986 case. He read Hanlon his own testimony that he had spoken to “Gloria, Mr. Driscoll’s mother, and Amanda, a friend,” and a few others.
     Hanlon said he remembered two of those interviews.
     Brauchler reminded Hanlon of the answer he had given when asked why he had conducted the interviews: “To try to obtain information from as many sources as possible.”
     Addressing the jury, Brauchler continued: “That did not happen here, correct?”
     After receiving an affirmative answer, Brauchler continued: “Because you weren’t permitted to do it, correct?”
     Hanlon said he “would have preferred to have access” to documentation and contact information that would have allowed him to speak to people who knew Holmes, but that the defense had asked him not to.
     A juror then submitted a question: “Why wouldn’t you stand by your belief and tell the defense that it was something you needed to do?”
     Hanlon said: “I do think there is important information to be gained from that. I requested to be able to contact family members and interview them. As a result of being told that I would not be allowed to do that, I chose to proceed despite the fact that I was not able to review family members. It was not ideal for me, but I capitulated to that situation.”
     Attorney King asked about the “practice effect,” in which a person who has taken a capability test will perform better the second time he takes it.
     “If we have a full-scale IQ of 123 and within that 1-2 year period, the test is given again, the practice effect should mean that his IQ should go up, right?” King asked.
     Hanlon agreed.
     “[Holmes] should have a higher score because he’s taken the test before,” King continued. “But in reality he got a lower score, is that right?”
     Hanlon agreed: “Yes.”
     King asked: “If we eliminate the practice effect altogether and just look at the raw numbers, 123 [to] 116, is that still a statistically significant change in a man in his early twenties?”
     Hanlon agreed.
     King asked if the drop in Holmes’ IQ score, coupled with the alleviation of Holmes’ depression after being on antipsychotic medications, indicated a schizoaffective disorder.
     “I believe it’s a reflection of pathology,” Hanlon said.
     “And that pathology is psychopathology, right?” King asked.
     Hanlon said that was “correct.”
     Brauchler asked whether Holmes’ practice effect could have resulted from “inaccurate” software, as the software calculated the practice effect up to 82 days between tests. Holmes took the two tests about 600 days apart.
     “What you’re telling us is you used an inaccurate tool in your report, fair?” Brauchler asked.
     “I don’t believe it was inaccurate,” Hanlon said. He cited research that suggests the effect should not change between 82 days and 600, as it could last up to four years. “I think it is an applicable tool to use.”
     The defense resumes its case Monday, before the jury and Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour Jr.

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