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Psychiatrist begins testifying in defense of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes

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CENTENNIAL, Colorado — A nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes' defense Monday and is expected to testify that he was legally insane when he killed 12 people at a crowded Colorado movie premiere.

Dr. Raquel Gur has evaluated such killers as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Jared Loughner, who shot and killed six people and wounded 13 more near Tucson, Arizona, in 2011.

Gur stunned prosecutors Monday when she said she wasn't board-certified in psychiatry or psychology. But she was qualified as an expert witness after defense attorneys said she had extensive clinical experience.

Asked how many psychotic people she had interviewed in her career, Gur said, "too many to count." But she rarely handles criminal cases.

PHOTO: In this image taken from video, accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, second from left, listens to testimony by Dr. Raquel Gur, right, during his trial, in Centennial, Colo., Monday, July 6, 2015. Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes' defense Monday. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, second from left, listens to testimony by Dr. Raquel Gur, right, during his trial, in Centennial, Colo., Monday, July 6, 2015. Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes' defense Monday. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool)

Holmes' defense asked Gur to evaluate him in the months after the July 2012 shooting. Gur is head of the neuropsychiatry program at the University of Pennsylvania medical school.

Gur will return to the stand Tuesday, and her testimony will be contentious. Prosecutors have already said some statements Holmes made to Gur conflicted with those he gave to other examiners. Her findings also differ from those of two court-appointed doctors who studied Holmes in the months and years after the shooting and found him legally sane at the time of the attack.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors argue he methodically planned the shooting, which also injured 70 people. They are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes' lawyers have called to the stand jail workers and doctors who described his sometimes bizarre behavior after the shooting.

Gur's testimony could be critical for Holmes' defense. One psychiatrist called by the defense has said Holmes was insane, based largely on a two-hour interview with Holmes four days after the shooting. No other defense witness has demonstrated that Holmes was incapable of knowing right from wrong at the time of the attack — Colorado's threshold for an insanity verdict.

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