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James Holmes Got 'A's, but Called 'Second-Rate Student'

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Newly obtained college records for suspected mass murderer James Holmes highlight a perplexing disconnect between a student who appeared to have remarkable academic ability, and the now 24-year-old accused of the most extensive mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes is charged with opening fire on July 20 inside an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, murdering 12 people and injuring 58 others attending a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.  He has not entered a plea.

College transcripts obtained Wednesday by ABC News show that while attending the University of California Riverside, Holmes earned almost all "A" grades, graduating with "high honors" in June 2010.

In subjects including biology, chemistry, economics and Spanish, Holmes received "A+" grades that helped him earn a 3.94 GPA.

In one philosophy class taken in the winter of 2010, titled "Ethics and the Meaning of Life", Holmes got an "A."

According to at least one former associate, however, Holmes' apparent book smarts did not translate to real-world ability.

"He was not an exceptional mind," said John Jacobsen, a former researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., where Holmes was an intern in 2006.

Jacobsen recalled giving Holmes an experiment to be conducted on a computer.  According to Jacobsen, Holmes failed.

"He was a second-rate student.  Not very good at all," Jacobsen told ABC News.

A phone call to Holmes' attorneys -- who are under a strict court-imposed gag order preventing them from talking about the case -- was not returned to ABC News.

In court, Holmes' public defenders repeatedly have suggested that their client is mentally ill.  Court documents reveal Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist while he was a graduate student at the University of Colorado.

Holmes' U.C. Riverside transcripts and other records were sent to ABC News and other news organizations from the University of Kansas in response to a Kansas Open Records Act request.  Holmes submitted the transcripts as part of his application to the University of Kansas PhD. program in neuroscience.

According to the application, three U.C. Riverside staffers wrote letters on Holmes' behalf, including director of student affairs Kathryn Jones and professors Khaleel Razak and Edward Korzus.  Emails and phone calls requesting comment were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio