By Keith Coffman
DENVER, June 1 (Reuters) - A psychiatrist testified on Monday that Colorado theater gunman James Holmes chose a midnight screening of a movie to commit mass murder because he believed there would be fewer children present.
Court-appointed psychiatrist William Reid, who made the comments during questioning by a prosecutor in a capital case now in its sixth week, said Holmes also indicated he was sorry when he learned a young girl was among the dead.
"He said that he didn't want to kill children," Reid said Holmes told him of the late-night attack.
A coroner has testified that the girl, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6, was shot four times.
Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the July 2012 rampage that killed 12 moviegoers and wounded 70.
His defense attorneys have said the one-time neuroscience doctoral candidate suffers from schizophrenia and was not in control of his actions when he opened fire inside a Denver-area multiplex during a viewing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."
Prosecutors say Holmes planned and carried out the massacre because of his "longstanding hatred of mankind" and plan to seek the death penalty if he is convicted.
Reid, who interviewed Holmes nine times over 22 hours last year, testified last week that in his opinion Holmes had serious psychiatric issues but was sane when he opened fire.
In clips of the interviews with the psychiatrist shown in court on Monday, Holmes recounts details of his thought process leading to the massacre, including taking target practice in preparation for the shooting, which he referred to as his mission.
Holmes said he had no experience with firearms before he bought two handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. He chuckled and said he was "a terrible shot" even after multiple trips to a shooting range to familiarize himself with the weapons.
He also told Reid he was aware of media coverage the case generated and described news reports as biased.
"They didn't get it from my perspective," he said, adding they ignored the "psychological reasons." He said he went on the spree because the alternative was suicide.
Asked whether he identified with other mass killers, Holmes said all had mental problems and violent delusions but added he did not study other killings for "improvements to their methods." (Editing by Cynthia Johnston)