Theater Shooting Defense Attorneys Wrapping Up Friday

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Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes sits in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo., on June 4, 2013. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP)
Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes sits in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo., on June 4, 2013. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP)

Attorneys for Colorado theater shooter James Holmes are expected to wrap up their case Friday, and jurors could start deliberating next week on the central question in the trial: Whether Holmes was legally sane when he unleashed the attack that left 12 dead and 70 injured.

Defense lawyers have spent two weeks trying to convince jurors that Holmes was insane and should be sent to the state mental hospital indefinitely. They called two psychiatrists, both hired by the defense, who evaluated Holmes and concluded he was incapable of telling right from wrong and was therefore legally insane.

Prosecutors argued he was sane and should be executed. They called two court-appointed psychiatrists who told jurors they evaluated Holmes and concluded that he could distinguish right and wrong, even though he was mentally ill.

Jurors will decide whose opinions they trust more when they retreat to a conference room inside the brick-and-glass Arapahoe County Courthouse and begin working their way through 166 counts against Holmes, mostly murder and attempted murder.

Deliberations could start Wednesday.

On Friday, defense lawyers plan to call one more witness, show jurors video clips of Holmes from a jail surveillance camera, and then rest their case.

District Attorney George Brauchler will then make a rebuttal case, taking up to a day. Closing arguments are tentatively set for Tuesday.

Holmes slipped into a suburban Denver theater on July 20, 2012, and opened fire with a shotgun, an assault rifle and a semi-automatic handgun as more than 400 people watched a midnight premier of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

The psychiatrists testified that Holmes had schizophrenia and suffered from a delusion that by killing others, he somehow absorbed their value and improved his self-worth.

But the court-appointed psychiatrists told jurors that despite his illness and delusions, Holmes still understood that what he was doing was illegal and violated society's standards of right and wrong - and therefore he doesn't meet the legal definition of sanity.

One of the defense psychiatrists, Dr. Raquel Gur, told jurors that Holmes' schizophrenia and delusions overwhelmed him.

"The severe defect in his brain, in his mind, rendered him not capable of distinguishing right from wrong by societal standards," she said Wednesday.

On Thursday, Holmes told Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. he will not testify in his own defense. After the jury had been sent home for the day, Samour told Holmes the Constitution gives him the right to decide whether or not to take the stand and then asked what he wanted to do.

"I choose not to testify," Holmes said in a clear, firm voice.


This segment aired on July 10, 2015.


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