CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A mental health expert testified that the Aurora movie theater shooting gunman "appeared authentic" while making bizarre statements in November 2012.
Russell Martens was in charge of housing and mental health care in the Arapahoe County Jail and met with James Holmes multiple times. He testified Wednesday that he met with the defendant during the first few days of his incarceration to see if he needed anything or had any questions.
James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 others in the July 20, 2012 shooting. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
On July 29, 2012 Martens noted that the gunman was lying down and seemed distressed.
"Looks like he was concerned about someone who was perhaps yelling on the other side of the [medical area]. Apparently he heard someone yelling earlier. Yelling for help," Martens stated. "I believe there was some person detoxifying from alcohol."
During cross-examination, Martens confirmed the gunman asked him about the inmate he heard on July 29.
"He asked you, 'Did you help that person who was yelling for help?'" Prosecutor Richard Orman said.
Martens also confirmed that the gunman appeared annoyed and dismissive with him on July 29.
A few days later, on July 31, Martens went back to check on him.
"He knew who he was, he knew where he was, he knew the time," said Martens. "He had normal eye contact with me."
Martens said the gunman's behavior changed in mid-November 2012, a time when the defense argues his mental health condition was exacerbated.
Martens saw him on Nov. 11, 2012, after he was placed on suicide watch.
"I was assessing his needs, whether he was suicidal," Martens said. The gunman was in a "rubber cell" at the time.
When Martens asked if the gunman knew why he was on suicide watch, the gunman said, "I'm scared of what I will do."
When Martens asked what he meant, the gunman said, "I'm trying to keep it all together."
Martens asked the gunman why he had fallen back in his cell.
"He said, 'I do not know that you are real.'"
Martens asked how he could help the gunman understand that he was real. The gunman replied, "If you shook my hand." Martens explained that was not permitted by deputies.
Martens said he believed the gunman was answering honestly.
"He appeared authentic. He showed what approved to be fear or nervousness based on his facial expressions and his trembling voice."
Martens checked on the gunman again on Nov. 12, 2012.
"He was lying naked on his left side near the door," Martens testified.
"He appeared to be confused," Martens said. "He appeared to have difficulty responding to questions."
Prosecutors wrapped up their cross-examination by asking about multiple dates when Martens described the gunman as calm and coherent.