Tuesday, July 22, 2014
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Defense attorneys in the Colorado theater shooting case pleaded Tuesday for more time so they can interview a psychiatrist who conducted the first sanity evaluation of defendant James Holmes, but a judge stuck by a Dec. 8 trial date.
Holmes' lawyers did not say why they want to speak to the psychiatrist, nurses and others who had contact with Holmes during the evaluation last summer.
They said they cannot finish the interviews and other tasks by the final pretrial hearing in November and the trial in December.
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. would not budge. The trial has already been delayed three times, and Samour appeared intent on avoiding another postponement if possible.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack on a suburban Denver theater. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes had a closely trimmed beard and neatly combed hair in court Tuesday. His mother, Arlene, also attended, carrying a book titled "Bible Prayers for All Your Needs."
State crime analyst Carol Crowe testified at the hearing that she found gunshot residue on swabs taken from Holmes' skin but said the tests cannot confirm he fired a gun, only that he came in contact with residue.
Crowe testified that her equipment drifted out of calibration while she was testing the samples, but she said the results were still acceptable.
The defense wants to keep Crowe from testifying at Holmes' trial. Samour did not say when he would rule.
Samour also heard testimony on whether to allow the psychiatrist who will conduct Holmes' second sanity evaluation to video-record his interviews with Holmes. Samour said he would rule this week.
Defense attorneys objected to video recording, saying state law doesn't authorize it and some research shows it affects patients' responses. They also noted that Holmes' first evaluation was not video-recorded.
The psychiatrist, testifying by phone, said video provides a better record than handwritten notes. The psychiatrist's name hasn't been disclosed.
He said his experience shows the benefits of video outweigh any disadvantages.
Samour ordered the second sanity evaluation to be conducted this summer after ruling the first was flawed.
The key conclusion of the first exam — whether Holmes could tell right from wrong at the time of the shootings — has not been made public.
The evaluation is not the final word on whether Holmes was insane. Jurors will make that determination, but the evaluation is a key piece of the evidence they will consider.
If Holmes is found insane, he would be committed to the state hospital indefinitely. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison.
Samour tossed out defense subpoenas seeking the disciplinary records of two police officers listed as potential prosecution witnesses.
Prosecutors said both were found to have made untrue statements in other investigations, and the defense said that could weaken their credibility. Prosecutors have said they are unlikely to call the officers as witnesses.