Published November 29, 2015
James Holmes’ mother gave emotional testimony Wednesday at her son’s sentencing trial, saying she would have been “crawling on all fours” to get to him had she known his plans to open fire in a crowded movie theater.
Arlene Holmes broke down at the start of her testimony, telling jurors sitting in court every day has been “very difficult and painful and tragic.”
Holmes added that her son's campus psychiatrist never told her that he had homicidal thoughts when she called in June 2012 and revealed that he was quitting therapy and dropping out of school.
"We wouldn't be sitting here if she had told me that," Holmes' mother said. "I would have been crawling on all fours to get to him. She never said he was thinking of killing people. She didn't tell me. She didn't tell me. She didn't tell me."
Holmes’ father, Robert, told jurors earlier Wednesday his son was “not a violent person” until “the event” – a phrase he used several times to refer to the July 20, 2012 shooting during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" that left 12 people dead, and 70 others injured.
Arlene Holmes said she was shocked to find out her son used a gun in the movie theater attack because the family “never had guns in the house,” telling jurors “When I heard I thought how does he even know how to use a gun?”
She also complained that the University of Colorado psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, didn't respond to a message seeking more details about her son.
Fenton had testified earlier that she had called Holmes' parents, overriding her concerns that she was violating her client's privacy, because she was trying to decide whether he posed a danger to himself or others.
A campus security official had offered to detain him for an involuntary hospital mental health commitment, but Fenton declined, in part because, she said, the parents told her he had always been withdrawn.
"Schizophrenia chose him; he didn't choose it and I still love my son. I still do," Arlene Holmes said.
Death sentences must be unanimous. While the jury has already decided that Holmes was legally sane at the time of the attack, his defense is hoping at least one juror will agree that his mental illness reduces his moral culpability so much that he deserves a life sentence instead.
Fox News’ Jennifer Girdon and the Associated Press contributed to this report.