James Holmes Threatened Professor Before Aurora Theater Shooting, Prosecutors Say
DENVER (AP) -- The suspect in a deadly movie theater attack in Colorado threatened a professor before the shooting, leading the university to ban him from campus, prosecutors said in court documents released Friday.
The name of the person Holmes threatened has been blacked out. Prosecutors say the person reported the threats, and Holmes was denied access to campus "as a result of these actions." In other documents, defense attorneys say the prosecutors' allegations are false, based on university statements.
The University of Colorado has said Holmes was denied access to non-public parts of the campus because he had withdrawn from school. After weeks of secrecy surrounding the case, most of the documents filed in court were released to the public on Friday.
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 claim Holmes is mentally ill and sought the help of a university psychiatrist before the shooting, raising the possibility that Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
In court, prosecutors raised the prospect that 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 Holmes failed a key oral exam in June, was banned from campus and began to voluntarily withdraw from the school. Key information in the case gleaned from previous court documents includes:
-- Confirmation that Holmes sent a package to CU psychiatrist Lynne Fenton. In the document, defense attorneys Daniel King and Tamara Brady described Fenton as Holmes' psychiatrist, although prosecutors have said that 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 Fenton said she never saw the notebook.
-- Information from prosecutors that Holmes in March spoke with another student 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 protect Holmes' right to a fair trial. Sylvester ordered that some information in the documents that will be released have information 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, Sylvester noted that some information contained in court documents had been divulged in court and placing limits on what's released balances the public's First Amendment rights to see the court file, and prosecutors' and defense attorneys' concerns.