Colorado Shooting Suspect Allegedly Threatened Professor

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

The suspect in a deadly movie-theater attack threatened a professor at the University of Colorado before the shooting, according to prosecutors.

In court documents released Friday, prosecutors say the threat was why the school revoked James Holmes's access to campus, The university has said Mr. Holmes was barred from nonpublic parts of the campus because he had withdrawn from school.

In the court documents, the name of the person Mr. Holmes allegedly threatened has been blacked out. Prosecutors say the professor reported the threats to the university and Mr. Holmes was denied access to the campus.

In other documents, defense attorneys say the prosecutors' allegations are false, based on university statements.

The documents also revealed that the defense has a psychiatry expert on its team and plans to use him as an expert, giving further insight into a possible insanity defense by Mr. Holmes.

Mr. Holmes, 24, faces 152 charges in the July 20 shooting at an Aurora movie theater during a special midnight showing of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." The attack killed 12 people and injured 58 others.

Defense attorneys say Mr. Holmes is mentally ill and that he sought the help of a university psychiatrist before the shooting, raising the possibility that Mr. Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

In court, prosecutors raised the prospect that Mr. Holmes was angry at the failure of a once promising academic career and stockpiled weapons, ammunition, tear-gas grenades and body armor as his research deteriorated and professors urged him to get into another profession. Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said Mr. Holmes failed a key oral exam in June, was banned from campus and began to voluntarily withdraw from the school.

Information in the case gleaned from previous court documents includes confirmation that Mr. Holmes sent a package to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton. In the document, defense attorneys Daniel King and Tamara Brady described Dr. Fenton as Mr. Holmes's psychiatrist, although prosecutors have said their doctor-patient relationship ended on June 11, weeks before the attack. The package contains a notebook that reportedly includes descriptions and drawings of an attack, but Dr. Fenton said she never saw the notebook.

Previous documents also contained information from prosecutors that Mr. Holmes spoke with another student in March about killing people "when his life was over."

Prosecutors and defense attorneys had asked that court documents be sealed to preserve an ongoing investigation and to protect Mr. Holmes's right to a fair trial. Judge William Sylvester ordered that some information in the documents be blacked out to protect the identities of witnesses. Documents that won't be released include an arrest affidavit, which contains information about the investigation, as well as requests for search warrants and subpoenas.

In his order, Judge Sylvester noted that some information contained in court documents had been divulged in court and placing limits on what is released balances the public's First Amendment rights to see the court file with prosecutors' and defense attorneys' concerns.
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