Theater shooting DA: Psychiatrists agree ‘that guy was sane’

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The district attorney in the Aurora theater shooting case claimed James Holmes, the admitted gunman in the July 2012 shooting, was sane in opening statements Monday.

George Brauchler cited the psychological evaluations made by both state-appointed psychiatrists.

“Both of them say the same thing, that that guy was sane when he tried to murder all those people in that theater,” said Brauchler, the district attorney for the 18th District.

The gunman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was sane, a case Brauchler pushed in his opening statement.

“Four-hundred people filed into a box-like theater to be entertained," Brauchler told the jury. “And one person came there to slaughter them.”

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In his allotted two hours, Brauchler intertwined details about the gunman's life and plans in the months leading up to the July 20, 2012, shooting with stories about the lives and plans of the 12 victims who lost their lives in the theater.

Brauchler's rhetoric was often colorful. And it was that way right off the bat.

"Through this door is horror. Through this door of bullets, blood, brains and bodies," Brauchler began. "Through this door is one guy who felt as if he had lost his career, lost his love life, lost his purpose. Through this door is a guy who came to execute a plan not just in his heart or in his life, but for two and a half months in his mind.”

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The gunman's plans allegedly began months before the shooting, when Brauchler said he lost hope after his girlfriend broke up with him and he began failing in school.

Braucler discussed the gunman's email correspondences, his interviews with state-appointed psychiatrists and the contents of the infamous notebook in which the gunman recorded his thoughts.

Brauchler said the gunman had admitted to a “long standing hatred of mankind” and an “obsession to kill,” which he had possessed since childhood.

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The DA said the gunman had seen a school counselor and told her he had homicidal thoughts, but no plans to act on them. However, his journal claims that he intentionally misled those psychiatrists.

“‘She would have locked me up. … I wouldn’t be able to kill people,’” Brauchler read from the writings.

The gunman told psychiatrists he believed committing mass murder would make himself feel better and increase his self worth.

The gunman originally thought about serial murder, biological weapons and bombs before settling on mass murder, Brauchler said. He almost considered an airport instead of a movie theater, but didn’t want his act to be mistaken for a message of terrorism.

"The message?" Brauchler asked. "There is no message."

Brauchler talked extensively about each detail of the gunman's plans, from buying the firearms and body armor to booby-trapping his apartment with homemade explosives.

His booby trapped apartment was meant to draw first responders away from the theater, helping the gunman to escape, along with $280 in his pocket and tire spikes in his car.

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The DA broke up his timeline with pictures and stories of each of the victims killed in the shooting, bringing those stories together in the final moments of his statement by telling the jury about the victims’ injuries and deaths in graphic detail.

Brauchler's final anecdote centered on Ashley Moser, the then-pregnant mother of Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the 6-year-old girl who died in the shooting.

“When the shooting starts, she reaches for her daughter, tries to force her to the ground, but she collapses because she’s been shot and paralyzed and she miscarries that baby," Brauchler said. "And the little six year old, Veronica Moser -- that guy shot her four times,” Brauchler said.

Brauchler refused to show certain graphic photos, saying those fatal injuries should only be viewed once.

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