Sanity is the Issue|in Mass Murder Trial

DENVER (CN) – Accused mass murderer James Holmes’ attorneys on Friday cross examined a psychologist who believes Holmes was not insane when he killed 12 people and wounded dozens at the midnight premiere of a Batman movie.
     Dr. William Reid, one of the first experts to draw the line between Holmes’ diagnosis of schizophrenia and his culpability in the 2012 mass shooting, testified that he did not feel Holmes’ mental delusions “interfered” with his ability to know the difference between right and wrong.
     Prosecutors used Reid to bolster their argument that Holmes’ insanity defense should not spare him from a death sentence.
     Holmes’ defense team, headed by Public Defender Dan King, spent Friday asking Reid about the “delusional disorder” Reid acknowledges Holmes may have, and suggesting that those disorders are enough indicate Holmes is unstable enough to be inculpable.
     Holmes’ peculiar beliefs and behaviors strongly indicate a delusional disorder, characterized by the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, his attorneys say.
     They claim that during Holmes’ first months under observation, before he was properly medicated, he showed symptoms of psychotic delusion, including refusal to eat and drink from fear of being poisoned, visual hallucinations such as shadows dancing around him, and a paranoid behavior called “thought broadcasting” – the belief that others can hear his thoughts.
     “I’d say random colors like red blue green to get them to stop listening to my thoughts,” a transcript of one of Holmes’ interviews with therapists states.
     But Reid held fast to the opinion he had given to George Brauchler, the lead prosecutor representing the victims, who asked Reid if he believed Holmes was legally sane during the murders.
     Reid responded: “Without meaning to usurp the jury’s job, and it’s a tough job, I believe so.”
     Holmes’ attorneys told the jury that delusional disorders can manifest as schizophrenia later on – and that schizophrenia can be genetic. Holmes has three relatives who have been diagnosed with disorders on the schizophrenia spectrum.
     One of the relatives, Holmes’ paternal aunt Betty Holmes, who was his father’s fraternal twin, started receiving treatment for a “schizoaffective disorder” in 1983, after she began experiencing hallucinations, psychotic symptoms, and suicidal thoughts.
     Schizophrenia, the defense team said, typically begins to worsen in adolescence and the early twenties. Betty Holmes began exhibiting her symptoms at 19. Holmes was 24 when he was arrested after the massacre.
     “The question is not whether Mr. Holmes’ mental illness affected his thinking, but to what extent,” King said. “Absent his mental illness, we wouldn’t be here at all.”
     The defense will provide their own expert who will testify that Holmes was legally insane at the time of the shooting. Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, a University of Colorado psychiatrist who is the first court-appointed psychiatrist to testify in Holmes’ case, was to appear in court Monday.

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