Forensic Evaluation

Introduction and Reason for Referral
Mr. Holmes is a 28-year-old single male who is currently in Colorado State Penitentiary. Mr. Holmes was arrested on July 20, 2012 as Aurora Colorado police responded to the scene. The Arapahoe Country District Attorney indictment included the following; 24 counts of Murder in the 1st Degree, 116 counts of Attempted Murder, two counts of possession of a deadly weapon, and possession or control of an explosive or incendiary device. Following his arrest, Holmes was held in solitary confinement at the Arapahoe Detention Center. Mr. Holmes’s is being represented by his attorney Mr. Daniel King. Mr. King requested a forensic evaluation to be preformed in order to assist in addressing Mr. Holmes’s mental state at the time of the alleged offense. This evaluator is being retained by the defense in order to evaluate James Eagan Holmes and their plea of Not Guilty by Mental disease or defect.

According to New York state penal law § 40.15 Mental disease or defect, in order to be found lacking criminal responsibility at the time of an offense due to a mental disease or defect, it is an affirmative defense when the defendant engaged in the illegal conduct, they lacked the substantial capacity to know or appreciate the nature and consequences of such conduct, or that such conduct was wrong.

Course of Evaluation

Ethical Considerations
The examiner explained to Mr. Holmes that his attorney requested this evaluation. Mr. Holmes was also informed that the results of this examination are not confidential and can and will be used in his legal proceedings for the charges of his current arrest. The nature, extent, and purpose of the examination had been fully disclosed to Mr. Holmes prior to the administration of the test, before the evaluation had begun. The examiner informed Mr. Holmes that the nature of the examination focuses specifically to his thinking at the time of his arrest. The examiner again expressed what the nature of the evaluation, including the purposes and limits to confidentiality throughout the course of the evaluation in order to remind the client of that information. Mr. Holmes signed the consent form and agreed verbally in order to proceed with the administration of the evaluation.

Instant Offense

Alleged Shooting
The Aurora Police department arrested Mr. Holmes at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado for the following: 24 counts of Murder in the 1st Degree, 116 counts of Attempted Murder, and possession or control of an explosive or incendiary device.
According to the responding officers, they fled to the scene after receiving 911 calls around 12:39 am, during the midnight showing of The Darknight Rises. According to witnesses at the scene said that first Holmes entered the theatre at the beginning of the showing. Witness reports state that he sat in the front and within about 18-20 minutes into the movie he got up from his seat and exited through one of the right theatre doors towards the parking lot. After investigation it was discovered he left the door propped open with a plastic table cloth holder before it is believed he went to his car and changed into his protective gear and retrieved his guns before returning to the scene. Once he walked through the doors witnesses say that they saw a man dressed in “head to toe ballistic gear” which included a ballistic helmet, gear that protected his neck, throat, his legs, and groin, as well as a gas mask and black gloves. One witness named Jordan Crofter, 19, recalled, “He walked in so casually.” It was stated by several other witnesses at the scene that he propped open the door and threw two canisters of gas mask into the audience down the isles and once the cans exploded Holmes began firing into the crowd. Some witnesses’ statements also reveal that Holmes said something such as “ I am the Joker”, and that his hair was dyed red or that he was perhaps wearing a wig. Police disclosed later that he used a 12-gauge shotgun, AR 15 rifle, and at least one of two .40- calliber handguns at the scene.

Witnesses state that that after shooting the semi automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which is believed to have malfunctioned, he paused and reached for his handgun and began firing once again. It was reported in several cases that there was at least one pause throughout the attack. At the end of the attack there had been 12 confirmed deaths and at least 70 people wounded. The police believe that if his semi automatic gun did not breakdown there would have been many more fatalities at the scene. It was disclosed later that crime scene investigators found evidence of 240 ballistic impacts. According to the testimony of Maria Pettolina, a crime-scene investigator with the Aurora Police Department, they found evidence of 65 rifle shots, six shot gun shots, and five .40-caliber hand gun shots which add up to a total of 76 shots being fired in that Aurora movie theatre on that day.

Around 12:45am on that same day, police state that they found Holmes behind the theatre, next to his car, a white Hyundai. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oats stated that Holmes surrendered to the police within seven minutes of the first 911 calls. Jason Oviatt, the officer who found Holmes outside of the movie theatre, said at first he believed that Holmes might have been a fellow officer judging by his militant clothing. He then recognized Holmes’s behavior as odd, “He was sort of vacant. He was very relaxed. He was very calm and sort of disconnected… not displaying any outward emotion or any outward sign of real engagement in what’s going on.” Oviatt also reported that when the police questioned Holmes, he stated that he did not have any apparent problems at all with answering any inquiries. Another officer at the scene,

Aaron Blue, recalled that when he asked Holmes if he was in possession of any weapons he answered with “I have four guns. I have improvised explosive devices, and they wont go off unless you set them off.” After being arrested and placed in the car Sergeant Stephen Redfearn made a statement stating that the suspect moved around a lot in the police vehicle, which he reported made him feel nervous. He also shared how he was struck by how Holmes appeared to remain “very interested” in what was going on.

Alleged Explosives
Upon apprehension, Holmes informed police that he had explosives in his university medical center apartment unit at 1690 Paris St. Police reported that his apartment was booby trapped with a trip wire at the front door that if opened or touched an explosion would go off that included flammable liquid. Chief Oates shared that the apartment was so extensively booby-trapped and that there was “I see an awful lot of wires. Trip wires. Jars full of ammunition. Jars full of liquid. Some things that look like mortar rounds.” It was reported that within the apartment there was about 30 gallons of gasoline, 30 hand held grenades, and a control box. Reportedly, there were 16 bowling ball-like bombs, 11 soda bottles filled with gasoline which police say were intended as an accelerant for the explosion. Napalm filled pickle jars were also found along with white gunpowder that was dispersed across the entire apartment. Neighbors described loud techno music coming from the apartment around midnight on the night of the shootings. It is believed that Holmes planned for the police to respond to a noise complaint at his apartment, trip the wire and set off all the bombs within the building. In addition, investigators found a remote that were intended to trigger off a blast and a RC toy car that was placed next to a dumpster. Holmes also had a radio that was playing loud music set up in order to bring some attention to the toy car in hopes that someone would play with it to set of the bombs. The apartment was described like a “bachelor pad”, red satin sheets on the bed, and beer in the fridge, on the fridge there was a provocative poster with a female bending down with the crude saying, “why beer is on the bottom shelf”. Investigators reported it being messy and disorganized.

Months Prior to the Alleged Instant Offense
In May of 2012, James Eagan Holmes purchased tear gas grenades. It was reported from that time to about July 14th 2012, Holmes legally bought nearly 6,300 rounds of ammunition, his four guns that included: a 12-guage shotgun, a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, and two Glock .40 caliber pistols. Chief Oates said “ with that drum magazine, he could have gotten off 50,60 rounds, even if it was semiautomatic within one minute.” The guns that were purchased were obtained legally, the background checks according to the law were followed. Also, Holmes reportedly bought ballistic protection clothing, bomb-making material, handcuffs, and beam laser lights.

Relevant History
Family/Social Relationship History
James Eagan Homes was born on December 13, 1987 in San Diego California. Holmes was the son of Arlene and Robert Holmes. He had one younger sibling, a sister named Chris Holmes. He grew up in a town called Oak Hills near Castroville California until the age of twelve where it was reported that he moved back to San Diego.

According to reports Holmes had “a childhood to envy.” Holmes was an exceptionally bright young man. His parents were intelligent, it is believed he inherited their brains, his father who was reported as being a retired scientist and mathematician and his mother a registered nurse. His parents were described as stoic and built a family culture on academic achievements and strength as opposed to weakness. Often the family attended church and practiced community service. Holmes had strong family ties. His father said that his son was “an excellent kid” and was planning to go visit his son August of 2012 to see how he was doing out in Denver where Holmes attended his graduate classes. Chris, Holmes’s sister, stated that growing up their childhood was wonderful. She stated that her parents were extremely supportive, attending all of their games and practices, and that they were actively involved in their children’s lives. She described her brother as someone who “always had her back” and whom she knew loved her he was always gentle with her and their family dog.

According to reports, Holmes played soccer, ran cross-country during his childhood, and was the one of the top players in a video game called Warcraft III. Holmes despite all of his achievements and successes reportedly stayed to himself not wanting to be in the spotlight. Holmes did not stand out more often blending into the background; he was shy, quiet, and described as being “nerdy”. Some of his peers and neighbors shared that he was a nice kid. One aspect about Holmes that was present throughout reports was that he was “socially awkward.” There were no reports of any violence throughout his lifetime; he never picked fights and was seemingly never angry.

After the family’s move back to San Diego, Holmes’s mother remembers a change in her son. She recalls how he began to withdraw socially into his video games and it was reported that she even went door-to-door in an attempt to find a play date for her son. Arlene Holmes shared that her efforts were to no avail and the neighborhood children were not very welcoming. His mother said that she began feeling “guilty that she couldn’t make him happy.” Even though he was a part of sports teams in school his coach reported him being very uncomfortable around others. “He was of us, and not of us”, his coach later stated. In college, he was described as having a few friends in the honors program but was not very outgoing, usually enjoying staying in as opposed to going out.

Holmes began graduate school at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. According to reports he “couldn’t handle the social interactions required for lab work and presentations.” During this time, Holmes, was dumped by his first girlfriend, another biology student at his University. . Gargi Datta, Holmes’s first girlfriend shared that she ended the relationship because she felt “distant”. She said that she felt as though he liked her more than she liked him. Datta also shared that “he told corny jokes that make people uncomfortable. His jokes fell flat in person.” Reports say that their relationship did not last very long, only a few months before she ended it. Which some speculate to be part of the “trigger” that might have set James Eagan Holmes off to conduct his alleged offenses. Another interesting fact was that police shared, unlike most young adults, apparently Holmes did not have much of a social media “foot print” there was no twitter, facebook, nor tumblr, just a single myspace photo. It was clear Holmes did not have a vibrant social life and did not participate in most social facets that many of his peers were involved in.

Education/Occupational History
As stated above Holmes was an exceptionally gifted young man. In fifth grade his teacher reported him and another student completing all of their work early they passed their time by building a website for his elementary school and stated that he was a “renaissance child.” He was reported as being a prodigy top of his class as he excelling through his academics. Holmes graduated from Westview High School in San Diego and applied to and got into the University of California, Riverside. He completed his undergraduate college career in 2010 with the highest honors, a neuroscience degree, and was a member of a few honors societies. Holmes worked as a counselor for underprivileged children in Los Angeles the summer of 2008, which fell right in line with his parents and their values of community service. The chancellor, Timothy P. White said, “ Academically, he was at the top of the top.” One graduate school recommendation letter stated that Holmes “takes an active role in his education, and brings a great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity into the classroom.” There were no reports from his summer job or his undergraduate campus of him having any disciplinary issues during his college career.

The summer after he had graduated his mother stated that she insisted that he get a job after spending most of his summers staying up all hours of the night and sleeping in during the day. He obtained employment at a pill factory. His co-workers shared that he often had an “odd, faraway expression.” Holmes would stare off into space and very rarely communicated with his co-workers he would not respond when addressed but would give a smirk if asked if he was okay. Holmes was waiting for acceptance letters into his top choices of graduate schools. The first round of applications remained unsuccessful, finally the second round of graduate letters arrived. The University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora granted him his acceptance into their program. Reports say that this is where there was a second significant shift for Mr. Holmes. Holmes began attending classes, some of which included one that touched upon a whole multitude of topics regarding mental illness, depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse and other related topics. Academically he began to have difficultly. This was unusual for the gifted young man who was always at the top of his class. Reports state that that spring he did not perform well on his comprehensive exam and later failing another exam. He began withdrawing from his classes and the program and then dropped out entirely about a month before the shootings.

Psychiatric History
Holmes’s Attorney King stated that in 1999 Holmes attempted suicide and his mental state began to deteriorate since age 11. There was evidence of mental illness running through his family. His father had a twin sister who was hospitalized previously for schizoaffective disorder. King also shared that Holmes’s father suffered from psychosis himself. Holmes went and saw psychiatrist Margaret Roth, after being urged by his girlfriend to get help. Reports reveal that in a text message Holmes disclosed to his girlfriend at the time that “Killing is considered evil by society.” Roth, he labels as an evaluator, but later he revealed in his computation notebook that after scheduling and seeing Margret he shared that he was referred to a psychiatrist and that there were signs of him having what he explains was either anxiety or depression (diagnosis unknown) which he speculated was in order to avoid stigmatization. Roth later stated that Holes was “the most anxious person I have ever seen.” Holmes began seeing Lynn Fenton, a clinic psychiatrist from the University of Colorado. He writes in his journal, that he was “immediately prescribed antidepressants (fast acting benzos, long lasting SSRIs- sertaline) sertaline primarily. Anti depressant not anxiolytic.” Holmes reportedly saw about three of the campus clinicians before committing the alleged offense. One clinician stated that she contemplated placing Holmes under involuntary mental health hold. She opted out due to the rationalization that he did not display all of the characteristics that would suggest he needed to be committed that he was “borderline”, and that it would only “inflame” him. Holmes reportedly warned a friend to stay away from him because he was “bad news” a few weeks before the alleged offense. Eventually, Holmes dropped out of therapy around the time he withdrew from his classes.

Holmes sent his computation notebook to former psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, a day before his alleged mass murder. Inside the notebook there was a whole host of information and a glimpse into “a broken mind.” There were pages filled with his thoughts and personal diagnoses, homicidal thoughts, and extremely detailed plans to execute his homicidal fantasies exactly how the offense took place in real life. Holmes attempted to self diagnose his “mind of madness” with disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD (chronic), aspergers/autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, body dysmorphic disorder, borderline, narcissistic, anxious, avoidant, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, psychosis, chronic insomnia, adjustment disorder, and pain disorders. Within his notebook he provided valuable information in an attempt to provide evidence to make sense of his various symptoms he suffered from in a section labeled “symptoms attributed to self diagnosis.” Holmes wrote that he was experiencing catatonia, “developed recently, often lasts for 3-5 hours in the middle of the day.” He also shared that would urge himself in the mornings to just “get up, you must get up.” Holmes spoke of isolationism, removing himself from social settings, “being around others is tiring with no apparent reason. Perhaps just an extreme form of introversion… Avoid social interactions 99% of the time, will not initiate a conversation… inability to communicate what I want to say although I can understand it.” This further drives the point home that he did not feel comfortable around others which reports say may have attributed to him to commit mass murder. Holmes once stated to a clinician “I kind of transferred my suicidal thoughts into homicidal.” This was evident by the scribbling in his notebook that reflected his idea of human capital. That for every one life he took added value to his life. On the day of the shooting, Holmes revealed that right before he walked into the movie theatre on the day of the offense, he called a mental health hotline in a last ditch effort to “stop the mission” and cease his plan before it was too late.

At the end of his list of symptoms he has a subdivided section that states “ and lastly the last escape, mass murder, obsession onset > 10 years ago.” He goes on and shares that his mind is broken and he has attempted to repair it. Suicide was his first attempt at being able to rehabilitate his broken mind. Then he turned to studying neuroscience to be able to make sense of why he was “so different”. Holmes grew tired of trying to mend his broken mind and eventually succumbed writing “there is one more battle to fight with life. To face death, embrace the longstanding hatred of mankind and over come all fear in certain death.” Thus on the subsequent pages he begins to strategically work out how to execute his plan. Holmes also explains “the ripple/butterfly effect & unity.” On the page he scribbles “Any action or lack of action ripples throughout the entire universe at a given space time.” That all beings are part of the universe and there is no difference between life or death. Holmes had a grand idea of human capital and the philosophy of life. He told one psychologist that one his theories was the
“alternative to nuclear winter.” It consisted of “every two people you kill, you’re allowed one child.” Holmes also discussed in an interview after his arrest that he saw shadows called “flickers” in the corners of his eyes. Holmes went on “the images were fighting each other with axes and guns.” He also reported hearing voices but stated that the voices “were talking about him from another room.” There are writings and drawings that carefully map out every minute detail of an effective plan. Holmes uses a checks and x’s as well as a pro’s and con’s system to determine which piece of the homicidal puzzle will fit in and create the most flawless design for execution. Not a single part of his plan was left out. Holmes was meticulous.
Behavioral Observations

Test Findings

Evaluation Findings
Mr. Holmes’s attorney, Mr. King requested that a Forensic Evaluation should be conducted in order to examine Mr. Holmes’s mental state while the alleged offense was taking place.

It is my opinion that at the time of the alleged offense Mr. Holmes, although he was suffering from a psychiatric disorder, did in fact understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of his actions as well as that his actions were wrong. This opinion is based on the information that was provided through the history of Mr. Holmes prior to the alleged incident that took place. There was a lot of evidence that suggested that Mr.
Holmes did in fact suffer from some mental illness in the extreme aversion to others and the extreme urges for him to get out of bed. Holmes symptoms fit with the diagnosis of Schizotypal disorder. According to the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), published by the American Psychological Association, in order to be diagnosed with this disorder the individual must display a “pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more of the following: 1. Ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference)

  1. Delusions of reference
  2. Unusual perceptual experiences
  3. Odd thinking and speech
  4. Suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
  5. Inappropriate or constricted affect
  6. Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar
  7. Lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  8. Excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.

Holmes displayed several of these characteristics, which is evident throughout his history. First of all, he obviously showed delusions of reference, which would include his seeing “flickers” of axes and gunmen, as well as hearing voices from another room.
Secondly, it was self reported that he would spend hours looking in the mirror, he felt as though there was something wrong with his ears, his nose, which was “often drippy and leaky”, as well as his “cock” which he said he “suffered an accident as a child.” This goes hand in hand with the unusually perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions.
Thirdly, his odd thinking and speech such as him believing he was figured out the “alternative to nuclear winter” and his ideas of the value and meaning of life, it is obviously over elaborated. This speech may also be an indication through his difficulty in talking to others and creating meaningful relationships without been seen as “odd” or “eccentric”. Holmes has extensive evidence in the Criterion A6 where he displays inappropriate or constricted affect, he would stare off into space and not be able to answer when being spoken to and having a “faraway” look in his eyes. There was a great deal of information that explains Criterion A8 which is lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives. Holmes had close family ties but was unable to create and maintain long lasting relationships with others outside his family circle. Lastly, Holmes does most certainly identify with Criterion A9, excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self. There was a pattern throughout all the reports including Holmes’s self report that stated that he felt extremely uncomfortable around others and preferred to isolate. It served as a basis for a lot of his unusual behavior and might have fueled his extreme hate for others.

As for understanding right from wrong, there is substantial evidence that shows that Holmes was aware of his actions. Holmes wrote in his notebook extensively his understanding of “the butterfly effect” that every action has a reaction. This means that he knew that his actions also had a reaction and taking others lives would result in the outcome of him being arrested. Holmes did not resist arrest and it was almost like he was waiting for the officers to take him into custody, which further can explain that he knew what he was doing was wrong and he would be punished. Holmes made a phone call right before he began the attack in order to be “talked out” of committing the offense, and he warned his friends to stay away from him because he was “bad news.” Every move that Holmes made was carefully and meticulously thought out in his notebook. There were many times during the process that Holmes could have sought help and stop his actions. Holmes writes in his book that he knew something was wrong with him and his “broken mind” and that he just gave up trying and gave in. A person who is considered

sane would not be able to stop themselves and not understand and identify that their actions would have a negative reaction which further explains my opinion of Holmes possessing a mental illness but does not qualify to not be held responsible for his actions according to New York state penal law § 40.15 Mental disease or defect. Holmes at the time of the crime knew that his conduct was wrong and knew the nature and consequences of his actions.

Bennett, D. J., Ogloff, J. P., Mullen, P. E., Thomas, S. M., Wallace, C., & Short, T. (2011). Schizophrenia disorders, substance abuse and prior offending in a sequential series of 435 homicides. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 124(3), 226

  1. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01731.x

Leong, G. B., & Silva, J. A. (1995). A psychiatric-legal analysis of psychotic criminal defendants charged with murder. Journal Of Forensic Sciences, 40(3), 445-448.

Swartz, C. M. (2010). Psychotic depression or schizophrenia. Psychiatric Annals, 40(2), 92-97. doi:10.3928/00485718-20100127-05

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and
statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC:Author.

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