CENTENNIAL, Colo. >> Another state-appointed psychiatrist testified Monday that Colorado theater shooter James Holmes was mentally ill at the time of the deadly attack but still knew it was wrong.
Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, the first psychiatrist to interview Holmes after the shooting, told jurors that Holmes was depressed but sane when he opened fire in 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70 at the suburban theater.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his attorneys say he suffers schizophrenia and couldn’t tell right from wrong during the attack.
"Someone could have a chronic mental illness and they’re not psychotic all the time," Metzner told jurors. "His planning of the shooting was well thought out, and it was thought out in a manner to delay getting caught."
Holmes’ attorney pressed Metzner to concede that Holmes’ plan doesn’t necessarily mean he was sane.
"The fact that someone has the ability to plan doesn’t mean that in and of itself they’re not psychotic, correct?" lawyer Dan King asked. Metzner agreed.
Metzner stood by his diagnosis that Holmes was sane on the day of the shooting and pointed out several factors that went into his conclusion:
— Holmes researched police response time to other mass shootings and wore body armor to the attack, meaning he knew someone would try to stop him;
— Holmes warned a friend to avoid contact with him, anticipating media scrutiny of his associates;
— Holmes bought ammunition for the attack online and in separate shipments so he didn’t arouse suspicion;
— Holmes told Metzner he listened to loud, driving music through headphones during the attack so he would not feel any connection to his victims. "It was his psychological attempt to divorce himself from considering the morality," Metzner explained.
— Holmes said he wrote his feelings in a notebook and sent it to a therapist in advance so mental health professionals could understand people like him and keep them from committing similar crimes.
"It’s another important component in my opinion about he had the capacity to tell right from wrong," Metzner testified.
Metzner said Holmes was psychotic, with symptoms that included his delusion that killing other people would increase his self-worth and help him recover from depression. But people with delusions can still tell right from wrong, the psychiatrist said.
"I thought his judgment was clinically impaired, despite having the capacity to judge right from wrong," Metzner testified. "He was so depressed he was willing to do anything that would make him feel less depressed, even if it meant going to jail."
After Metzner interviewed Holmes, Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. ordered a second mental evaluation, agreeing with prosecutors that Metzner’s examination was incomplete. The other court-appointed psychiatrist, William Reid, testified last week that he, too, found Holmes mentally ill but legally sane.
Holmes told Metzner and Reid that he still had homicidal urges more than a year after the shootings.
In a hearing outside jurors’ presence, Samour agreed with defense attorneys that jurors should not hear about Holmes’ "continuing, chronic, homicidal thoughts" because it might improperly influence their judgment.
Samour noted, however, that the statements could come up during any sentencing phase.
Reid previously testified that Holmes still believes that killing people will increase his self-worth.