James Holmes case: Doctor who examined theater shooter felt "blindsided" by bias claims

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Andy Cross/Denver Post
The judge in the Aurora theater shooting case has ordered gunman James Holmes to undergo a second mental evaluation by a different psychiatrist. Holmes was first examined last summer by Dr. Jeffrey Metzner. But prosecutors alleged that Metzner's evaluation contained "numerous deficiencies" and that the doctor himself had an "unfair bias." Last Wednesday, Judge Carlos Samour ruled that Metzner's evaluation was indeed "inadequate." Samour's written ruling also contains several other interesting facts.

Among them:

  • Metzner has a contract with the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, where Samour ordered Holmes to undergo a mental evaluation subsequent to his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Due to a conflict of interest that Samour does not describe in his order (on view below), the CMHIP psychiatrists could not perform the evaluation themselves. So they hired Metzner, who has consulted at CMHIP since 1979.
  • Metzner was given more than 51,000 pages of materials, hundreds of DVDs and hundreds of CDs containing evidence in the case to review as part of his evaluation. That review took approximately one hundred hours.
  • Because of a typo in the index of DVDs, Metzner "did not review some of the defendant's relevant e-mail communications until two weeks after the examination was completed."
  • In addition to reviewing the evidence, Metzner interviewed "numerous witnesses," including "mental health professionals who have interacted with" Holmes.
  • Metzner interviewed Holmes for 25 hours.
  • After the evaluation was complete and Metzner had written his report, prosecutors asked to speak with him. Although Samour's order doesn't say what that discussion entailed, it does say that Metzner was "surprised" by it. According to the order, he testified at a closed-door hearing in January that he felt "blindsided" and "set up" by the prosecutors, who used what he told them to allege that he had an "unfair bias." Metzner didn't feel the meeting was "fair" since he wasn't informed of its purpose ahead of time.
  • Although Samour found that Metzner was not biased at the time of the evaluation, he writes in his order that Metzner is biased now. "At this time, Dr. Metzner appears to view the prosecuting attorneys as adversaries," Samour writes. Metzner testified that he "didn't trust" the prosecution and refused to meet with them prior to the January hearing, though he met with Holmes's defense attorneys three times.

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NAMI
Dr. Jeffrey Metzner.
Given that, Samour ruled that Metzner will not perform the second evaluation. He writes that Metzner "was defensive" at the hearing as he "attempted to justify his examination" of Holmes; Samour suspects that given another chance to evaluate Holmes, Metzner would be unable to "resist the temptation" to prove that his initial findings were correct.

But Samour isn't allowing the doctors suggested by the prosecution to do the evaluation, either. Prosecutors wanted Holmes to be evaluated by Kris Mohandie, a psychologist who works with the FBI, and Phillip Resnick, a psychiatrist who "has been involved in just about every high-profile homicide case this country has seen" in recent decades, Samour writes, including those of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Continue reading for more on Samour's decision.


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2 comments
Gary Gordon
Gary Gordon

I thought the headline meant Holmes was examined by Doctor Who.

Anthony Shaeffer
Anthony Shaeffer

I feel this is a waste of taxpayers money. Put him in general population and let the prison system take care of him.

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