Closing arguments to begin in Colorado theater shooting case
CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) — Attorneys in the Colorado theater shooting trial have one last chance to convince jurors that gunman James Holmes was either a cold, calculating killer or a man so overcome by psychosis that he could no longer tell right from wrong.
Closing arguments in the first phase of Holmes’ death penalty trial are scheduled for Tuesday, nearly three years to the day since he slipped into a midnight movie premiere and opened fire, killing 12 and wounding 70 others.
That Holmes, now 27, was the lone gunman was never in doubt. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, setting the stage for the death penalty trial that included many survivors of the attack on July 20, 2012.
It will be up to the jury to decide whether prosecutors met their burden of proving Holmes was legally sane at the time.
Prosecutors will paint Holmes as a meticulous killer who knew exactly what he was doing when he methodically planned his assault to assuage his failures in graduate school and romance.
They will focus on the testimony of two state-appointed forensic psychiatrists who evaluated Holmes months and years after the shooting and determined that, despite severe mental illness, he was capable of knowing right from wrong and therefore legally sane under Colorado law.
Holmes spent months amassing an arsenal of weapons and body armor. He kept a spiral notebook in which he scrawled detailed plans for the massacre, weighing which auditoriums in the theater complex would allow for maximum carnage.
Defense attorneys will present Holmes as a struggling neuroscience student who was on the brink of mental collapse well before he acted on increasingly powerful delusions that told him to kill. They called to the stand mental health professionals who analyzed Holmes and found him suffering an array of illnesses, from schizophrenia to full-blown psychosis.
Their strongest witness was Raquel Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert who interviewed Holmes for 28 hours and declared him legally insane. The shooting wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Holmes’ psychosis, Gur said.
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