James Holmes case: Doctor who did mental evaluation had "unfair bias," prosecutors say

Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, via NAMI.
Prosecutors in the Aurora theater shooting case say the mental evaluation conducted on suspect James Holmes contains "numerous deficiencies," and they allege that the doctor who performed it, Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, had "an unfair bias." They'd like Holmes to be re-examined by two experts that they've chosen.

Those are among the revelations contained in an order (on view below) issued by Judge Carlos Samour. The judge will hold a hearing on the prosecution's request, but the public won't be allowed to attend.

The hearing is scheduled to start on January 27, 2014. Four experts are expected to testify and their testimony will likely consist of the most detailed information revealed in court thus far about Holmes's mental health. But Samour has decided that the information also has the potential to prejudice prospective jurors and thus, has closed the proceedings to the public, the victims of the shooting and the media.
Andy Cross/Denver Post
James Holmes in court in June.
Holmes is accused of killing twelve people and injuring seventy more by opening fire at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora on July 20, 2012. This past June, the 26-year-old former University of Colorado neuroscience student pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

In a court filing in July of this year, Holmes's defense attorneys admitted he was the gunman but said he was "in the throes of a psychotic episode when he committed the acts that resulted in the tragic loss of life and injuries sustained by moviegoers."

Holmes subsequently underwent a sanity evaluation at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo to determine three things: whether he is competent to stand trial, his sanity on the date of the offense and how any mental disease he may suffer affects any mitigating factor in the death penalty law. The evaluation was conducted by Metzner, a University of Colorado psychiatrist who has written about mental illness and the prison system.

Samour's order, which is dated December 20, says that Metzner's 69-page report about Holmes's sanity concludes that Holmes is competent to stand trial. However, prosecutors are contesting Metzner's findings related to Holmes's sanity on the date of the offense and how any mental disease he may suffer affects any mitigating factor in the death penalty law. Samour's order does not say what those findings were.

Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Phillip Resnick
But it does say that prosecutors want Holmes to be re-evaluated by two experts of its choosing: Dr. Kris Mohandie and Dr. Phillip Resnick. According to their curricula vitae (also on view below), Mohandie is a California psychologist who works with the FBI and local police departments, and Resnick is an Ohio psychiatrist and a professor at Case Western Reserve University. Both have consulted on numerous criminal cases.

Many of Mohandie's previous cases involve murders of police officers and suicide-by-cop. But his curriculum vitae shows that he has testified at many trials where the defendant claimed to have mental health issues and has conducted several sanity evaluations.

Resnick has consulted on several high-profile cases, including those of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. In 2006, Resnick testified that Texas mother Andrea Yates was insane when she drowned her five kids, and a jury agreed. He's also taught workshops, given presentations and written articles on the insanity defense, according to his curriculum vitae.

Metzner, Mohandie, Resnick and another expert to be called by the defense, Dr. Robert Hanlon, are expected to testify about about "myriad details" from Metzner's evaluation of Holmes, as well as the contents of a notebook that Holmes mailed to CU psychiatrist Lynne Fenton just hours before the shooting, according to Samour's order.

Samour writes that while he believes the media plays an important watchdog role when it comes to criminal court proceedings, allowing the media to report on the testimony given at the January hearing could impair Holmes's right to a fair trial.

"Publicity of the contents of the hearing will inevitably infect a large portion of the jury pool with factual information directly relevant to the main question at trial and one of the primary issues during any capital sentencing hearing: the defendant's mental health on the date of the offenses charged," Samour writes. The concern, he adds, is that prospective jurors "will form preconceived notions about the case."

The hearing is expected to last up to four days.

Continue to read Samour's order, as well as the curricula vitae of Mohandie and Resnick.

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John Pinnick
John Pinnick

How is it that THE MASSES OF SOCIETY want this guy dead and yet the system is still dragging it's feet? Sick of this system.


Metzger has admitting rights to the University of Colorado.  I think this, coupled with his residency, might lead the DA to believe that anything he opines would be suspect.  As an analysis that did not lead to agreement with the department, could lead to friction on his job.  And while tons of people would never corrupt their opinion to keep things smooth for themselves, there are always those who will.  Okay don't want to punch me in the nose, Metzger, or defense, but it's true.  So you can keep this idea in mind, while realizing the Case Western Reserve psychiatrist did his residency at University of Colorado!  

Frankly, I'd want no one who had any connection to University of Colorado to work on this case!  It looks corrupt!  

As for that other fella, the one who has a listing in, I think that's also a bad choice.  He works on suicide by cop, and police homicides.  Did James kill himself by cop?  Nope.  Did he kill a police officer?  Nope. So, why choose this guy? It's like this guy one day up and said:  "I want to be a police psychologist!"  So could you or I if we had a psychology degree!  He's successful in what he does.  But, to my view this is a blatant attempt to charm the jury.  He's on tv, for pete's sake!  

Kris Herzberger Potter
Kris Herzberger Potter

How could he be in the throes of an episode when he planned this attack for months...buying guns, explosives, and booby trapping his apartment so?

Kat Wolff
Kat Wolff

But Holmes is competent to stand trial. He planned EVERYTHING he did.


there is only 1 question....

do we kill him or do we cage him

that is all

his attorneys have admitted he was the gunmen . . i say let him rot...

Brandon Archuleta
Brandon Archuleta

This is bs. Justice is a matter of who has the best lawyer. In a high profile case like this, there is only a lawyer who wants "rock star" credibility, someone who can find any loop hole in the law to get a psychopath off the hook for blatant mass murder. If for any reason, James Holmes is given the luxury of being found insane, It is my hope that he is dealt with accordingly in the after life. As much as I try to have compassion for a tortured soul... all I can say is "Fuck you James Holmes, burn in Hell"

Tyler Custer
Tyler Custer

Why are we arguing to keep this guy alive. We are only promoting the fact that it is ok to do this. This guy has zero value, and he should be made an example.

davebarnes topcommenter

This is why you just don't go for the death penalty.

No one is actually executed, but the taxpayers get to spend (waste) million$ on funding both sides forever.


Interesting, it's the DA who is seeking "rock star" credibility, using a television psychologist.  Why not just call Dr. Phil?


When you kill people who kill people, you become one of those people who kill people.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@davebarnes ... besides the major premise fails, since Death is NOT a Penalty.

Death ENDS Suffering, ipso facto.




I guess, but what is insanity?  Any pent-up anger and anxiety of any loser can be called insanity.  This 'insanity' concept has got people fooled into believing it excuses him.

Hold him completely responsible and bring the hammer down all the way.



Yeah, the delusion that he's important enough to mean the death and destruction of OTHER lives he didn't give a shit about.

He created the delusion, and calling it a disorder doesn't make him any less than 100% at fault and 100% responsible for what he did.



No, it's not the same.  You're forgetting the distinction between crime and punishment.  By your logic, jailors are all just kidnappers and abductors because they are holding people against their will.

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