At Trial, Holmes Defense Highlights Psychotic Episode

June 30, 2015
Photo: James Holmes sketch, looking down, Aurora theater shooting trial
A courtroom artist's sketch of James Holmes.

A psychotic episode James Holmes suffered after the Aurora theater shooting continued to be a focus for his defense team Tuesday. Holmes has pleaded not guilt by reason of insanity in the deaths of 12 people.

About four months after the shooting, Holmes began acting strangely in jail. At one point, he put meat between two paper cups and ate it like a sandwich. He ran his head into the wall. He fell backwards off his bunk, telling one of the guards he did it to protect them. He was sent to Denver Health for treatment.  

Dr. Elizabeth Lowdermilk, a psychiatrist at Denver Health, testified Holmes was hearing voices at the time. 

"He reported several voices, one that he described as sounding like it was coming from behind the wall," she said. 

On cross examination, the prosecution noted that this psychotic episode could have been caused by the stress of being in jail and facing a death penalty trial for killing 12 people. 

Prosecutors previously called two court-appointed psychiatrists who believe Holmes was sane at the time of the attack.