Dr. William Reid tells the jury that Holmes knew right from wrong at the time of the attack.
Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty

Was James Holmes sane when he opened fire in a crowded movie theater in July 2012? The psychiatrist who treated Holmes says he was.

In court on Thursday, Dr. William Reid says that the shooting was intentional. “Whatever he suffered from, it did not stop him from forming the intent and knowing what he was doing and the consequences of what he was doing,” Reid told the 12-member jury.

Reid spent more than 22 hours talking with Holmes after the attack that killed 12 people and injured more than 70 others.

District attorney George Brachler asked Reid if he believed that Holmes had the capacity to distinguish right from wrong at the time. “Yes,” Reid replied.

Brachler then asked if Holmes met the legal definition of sanity at the time of the 2012 attack. Again, Reid answered yes.

The defense strongly objected to the line of questioning and argued for a mistrial. Judge Carlos Samour denied the request.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorney wants him to be remanded to a psychiatric facility instead of prison.

His Detailed Plans

As the trial has progressed, Holmes’s mental health has been on center stage. On Wednesday, prosecutors introduced his journal in which he wrote disjointed ramblings about philosophy and theology. Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, also wrote detailed instructions on how to kill innocent people. On one page, he scrawled the question “Why?” over and over.

In the journal, Holmes worked through the best venue for a mass murder. He wrote “airport or movie theater,” before deciding that the airport had “substantial security. Too much of a terrorist history. Terrorism is the message.”

“The message is, there is no message,” he scrawled in the notebook. “The causation being my state of mind for the past 15 years.”

His Mental State

In a prayer book published earlier this year, Holmes’ mother, Arlene, claimed that her son is mentally ill.

“I thought what my son did was completely insane,” she wrote. “He did what no sane man would do. But the law says a man who knows murder is wrong, then murders anyway, is sane. How can a juror say he was sane or insane?”

In the next few days, the prosecution is expected to release several videos of Holmes’ psychiatric interviews, in the hopes of convincing the jury to find him guilty.

If he’s convicted, Holmes faces the death penalty.

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