CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Attorneys for Colorado theater gunman James Holmes pointedly questioned a psychiatrist Thursday on whether he did enough to diagnose and treat Holmes before the deadly attack.
In the most heated exchange of the two-month trial, defense attorney Rebecca Higgs suggested Holmes’ symptoms and statements were more worrisome than Dr. Robert Feinstein indicated in his earlier testimony.
Higgs capped off the confrontation by intimating Feinstein hadn’t done enough.
“And who was it who told him you couldn’t fix him?” she asked. “It was you, Dr. Feinstein.”
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“I didn’t say we couldn’t fix him,” Feinstein shot back. “I said we couldn’t fix him without his cooperation.”
Feinstein met with Holmes twice in May and June of 2012, just weeks before Holmes slipped into a packed suburban Denver theater during a midnight showing of a new Batman movie and opened fire. Twelve people died, 58 were wounded by gunfire, and 12 were hurt in the scramble to escape.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his lawyers want him to be committed to the state mental hospital. Prosecutors argue Holmes was sane and should be convicted and sentenced to die.
Holmes had sought help from another psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, in March 2012 because he said he was having homicidal thoughts and anxiety. Fenton testified that she called in Feinstein to help because she had trouble building a workable relationship with Holmes.
Both Feinstein and Fenton testified that Holmes never let on that he was carefully plotting the attack — buying weapons, drawing maps and taking reconnaissance photos — and planning an elaborate diversion by booby-trapping his apartment.
“We had no doubt he was withholding information,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein said he and Fenton were more worried about whether Holmes was having a psychotic breakdown than about his potential for violence, and that they didn’t have the legal grounds to ask police to detain Holmes under a psychiatric hold.
A psychiatric hold also would have broken up the doctor-patient rapport they were attempting to build with him, Feinstein said.
“But sometimes it is important to break that when the safety of your patient is of concern to you?” Higgs said.
“Of course,” Feinstein replied.
“And sometimes it is important to break that when the safety of others is of concern to you?” she said.
“Of course,” Feinstein said again.
Earlier Thursday, Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. ruled that jurors will be allowed to hear emotional details from Ashley Moser, who was paralyzed and had a miscarriage in the attack and whose 6-year-old daughter was killed.
Samour also ruled that prosecutors can briefly show jurors a photo of the 6-year-old, Veronica Moser-Sullivan.
Holmes’ lawyers had asked Samour to severely limit Moser’s testimony, saying it would unfairly bias the jury because the details are so heart-wrenching.
Samour said Moser could testify that she was excited to be pregnant, and that she left Veronica with a baby sitter earlier on the day of the shootings while she got an ultrasound scan.
She also can testify that when she took Veronica to the theater, she was under the mistaken impression that the movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” was a cartoon.
Samour agreed to bar some testimony, including Moser’s last words to her daughter. He also limited the details she could relate about her struggle to recover, including relearning how to use a spoon and go to the restroom.
Moser is expected to testify Friday as prosecutors wrap up their case.
Defense lawyers are scheduled to begin their case June 25. They told the judge they need two weeks.
Associated Press Writer Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to this report.