Therapist: Suspect had disorder

Austin Holzer

A Colorado therapist who tested 15-year-old Austin Holzer said the young man accused of the murder of Mesa County Deputy Sheriff Derek Geer suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Richard Mottern also wished Holzer, “Good luck,” as he left Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley’s courtroom on Tuesday, after sparring with prosecutors who questioned his diagnosis.

Holzer, who was 17 years old when he shot Geer to death on Feb. 8, is asking Gurley to reverse the decision to prosecute him as an adult on a charge of first-degree murder. He is now 18.

Mottern, a psychotherapist, testified that testing he conducted at the request of Holzer’s mother, Danielle Anderson Bottoms, in 2013, showed Holzer in the 99th percentile for hyperactivity, attention problems and feelings of inadequacy, all signs of ADD or ADHD.

Mottern conducted two tests aimed at determining whether patients suffer from ADD or ADHD. He refers those who show symptoms to their family physicians for treatment.

Holzer appeared to listen to the testimony, speaking frequently to his public defenders and writing on a legal pad and on a manila envelope with his right hand, which was unshackled for the hearing.

He also twisted in his swivel chair and apparently doodled or stared at the ceiling at one point when attorneys for both sides and Gurley discussed an issue at the bench.

Mottern wrote a letter to Holzer’s parents, who were separated. He never heard from the father and spoke one more time with the mother, but Holzer never returned for more testing, which Mottern said was necessary to determine appropriate medicines for Holzer.

He never learned until his testimony that Holzer had been arrested in connection with a sexual assault and was unaware until he was contacted by the public defender’s office that one of his patients had been arrested in connection with the shooting of a law enforcement officer.

He also didn’t know that a psychologist had ruled out ADHD in Holzer’s case, he testified.

“Not all individuals who have ADHD kill people,” prosecutor Trish Mahre said in questioning him.

“Correct,” Mottern responded.

If prosecuted as an adult, Holzer could be released by the Division of Youth Corrections at age 21, possibly as early as age 20 1/2. He faces a sentence of life if prosecuted as an adult.


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