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Entries in James Holmes (46)

Friday
Aug242012

Prosecutor: Accused Aurora Shooter James Holmes Made Death Threat in March

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Suspected Colorado shooter James Holmes allegedly told a classmate in March 2012 that he wanted to kill people and "that he would do so when his life was over," according to a court document filed by prosecutors that was unsealed Friday.

The document was filed after Holmes' defense team tried to quash prosecutors' request for his educational records. Prosecutors argued that the documents are relevant to the investigation of the crime.

"The defendant had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people in March 2012, and that he would do so when his life was over," district attorney Carol Chambers wrote.

The 24-year-old Ph.D. student is accused of a mass killing in which he sprayed three weapons' full of ammunition into a crowded movie theater during a midnight premiere screening of the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, on July 20. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, as measured by number of people shot.

Holmes was charged with 24 counts of first degree murder, two counts for each of the people he is accused of killing. He was also charged with 116 counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of possessing an explosive device and one count of violent crime. He faces a total of 142 criminal charges.

Holmes failed his graduate school oral exams in June 2012 and was denied access to the school "after he made threats to a professor at the school," Chambers wrote. Holmes began buying his guns at the end of May.

He subsequently began the process to "voluntarily withdraw" from his program and was in the process of completing that withdrawal when the shooting occurred, the document said.

"After he was denied access to the CU-Denver Anschutz campus he began a detailed and complex plan to obtain firearms, ammunition, a tear-gas grenade, body armor, a gas-mask, and a ballistic helmet, which were used in the commission of the murders and the attempted murder," the prosecutor wrote.

In a Thursday court appearance, prosecutors went before a Colorado judge to make their case for why they should have access to Holmes' school records.

The judge has not yet decided if he will allow the school records to be used as evidence. A gag order had been placed on all parties in the case to prevent them from discussing any details of the case.

Attorneys are also waiting for the court to decide whether the contents of a package Holmes mailed to Lynne Fenton, his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, can be used as evidence. Fenton is expected to testify at Holmes' next court date, scheduled for Aug. 30.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug132012

Most Colorado Shooting Documents to Remain Sealed

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(AURORA, Colo.) -- The judge overseeing the case of alleged mass murderer James Holmes has ruled that most of the documents generated during the investigation into the shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater will remain sealed for now.

The ruling is a defeat for media companies that sought to have the documents made public.

But Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester is allowing 34 selected documents to be released, including the “register of actions,” essentially an index of all court activity in the case so far.

Other documents that could shine new light on Holmes’ alleged motives or planning for the July 20 shooting rampage, such as affidavits, search warrants, subpoenas or arrest warrants, however, will remain secret.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued last week that releasing any documents now would compromise the ongoing investigation and deny Holmes his right to a fair trial. Media attorney Steve Zansberg argued last week that the public “is completely in the dark about what is going on in this judicial proceeding.”

Both sides are expected to square off Thursday at a hearing to determine whether a notebook that Holmes apparently mailed to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton can be admitted as evidence or protected by doctor-patient confidentiality.

As ABC News’ Mark Greenblatt has reported, Fenton made contact with a University of Colorado police officer to express concern about her patient’s behavior in the weeks before the rampage.

In a separate order issued Monday, Judge Sylvester clarified that a gag order limiting pretrial publicity will remain in effect.

Prosecutors allege that Holmes opened fire at a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 58 injured.

Holmes was charged July 30 with 142 counts in all, including first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

James Holmes Faces Eviction as Lawyer Seeks Insanity Defense

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(AURORA, Colo.) -- On the day when lawyers for James Holmes declared their client to be mentally ill, the accused Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooter's landlord said Thursday he wants Holmes out of his apartment.

Holmes has been jailed since the July 20 shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded, but an attorney for the landlord who filed papers on Wednesday says the former neuroscience doctoral student technically remains a tenant at his Aurora apartment.

The landlord's wants to kick out Holmes because he alleges that Holmes "murdered numerous individuals, materially and substantially damaged the premises and booby-trapped the premises substantially endangering property and person."

Furthermore, Holmes has to get whatever personal possessions he has left in the apartment or otherwise, they'll be kicked to the curb.  Given that a scenario like that would create a riot by souvenir collectors, it's expected other arrangements will be necessary.

Meanwhile, Holmes' defense team says it needs more time to evaluate the accused shooter's alleged mental illness, which will involve talking to prosecutors and investigators.  Holmes faces 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first degree murder and 116 counts of attempted first degree murder.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug092012

Victims Upset University Didn't Act on James Holmes' Psychiatrist's Concerns

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Attorneys for James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting, said Thursday in court that their client is mentally ill, but the biggest question for Holmes' victims is whether the massacre could have been prevented in the first place.

Jansen Young lost her boyfriend Jon Blunk in the July 20 shooting in Aurora, Colo. Blunk sacrificed his own life to shield her from the barrage of bullets. Young called him "a hero," and said he pushed her to the ground while covering her body with his own.

Now, three weeks after losing her boyfriend, Young is speaking out for the first time to Nightline about warning signs the University of Colorado may have missed. Reportedly, the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes expressed concerns about his behavior to others nearly six weeks before the shooting.

"I think if someone could have said six weeks beforehand, 'This man is a danger,' maybe me and a lot of others could still have our loved ones," Young said.

Holmes, 24, is a former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado. Sources told ABC News that Dr. Lynne Fenton made contact with a university police officer in early June, during the time she grew concerned about his behavior. KMGH-TV previously reported Fenton reached out to other members of the school's threat assessment team to express concerns with Holmes. But it appears the university never acted on those concerns.

"I think that they messed up," said Jennifer Seeger, who came face-to-face with Holmes that night. "They could have stopped somebody. They could have had the possibility of saving lives."

The university has repeatedly declined to comment on who Fenton reached out to, citing a gag order issued by a court. However, university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery confirmed to ABC News that the university has retained independent legal counsel to represent both Fenton and a university police officer.

Fenton would have had to have serious concerns to break confidentiality and reach out to the officer or others, sources said. Under Colorado law, a psychiatrist can legally breach a pledge of confidentiality with a patient if he or she becomes aware of a serious and imminent threat that their patient might cause harm to others. Psychiatrists can also breach confidentiality if a court has ordered them to do so.

Fenton was not just the suspect's psychiatrist. ABC News first discovered she was also one of the key authors of the university's policy on threat assessment.

On June 10, Holmes announced he intended to quit the prestigious Ph.D. program at the university. The university confirmed he was still enrolled when the shooting occurred a month and a half later. ABC affiliate KMGH-TV previously reported the university's threat assessment team never met to discuss Holmes and chose not to intervene while his paperwork for withdrawal was in motion.

"Under those circumstances, most well-trained threat assessment teams would have gone into action," said Barry Spodak, a threat assessment expert. "It's hard to imagine why they wouldn't go into action when they have received those kinds of reports."

Gerry Shargel, a renowned criminal defense attorney based in New York, said the University of Colorado could find itself in legal trouble for missing warning signs.

"Simply reporting it and wringing the hands and saying, 'Well there's nothing we can do about it because he is no longer a problem for the University of Colorado,' I think, will fall short when you look at the responsibility," he said.

If true, the University of Colorado will not be the first school to find itself in hot water for not doing enough to help troubled students.

Jared Loughner, who shot Rep. Gabby Giffords and 18 others in an Arizona parking lot, was a Pima Community College student. Loughner had several run-ins with faculty members and students. Campus officials even told him to get a mental health evaluation or not return.

Seung-Hui Cho, the student who murdered 32 people and wounded 25 others in a shooting at Virginia Tech, was also known to university authorities. Before Cho attacked the campus, multiple people reported his disturbing behavior to officials. The university has since settled several lawsuits with the victims' families.

Now, in Colorado, another set of young victims and families are left to pick up the pieces. Young said that all she thinks about is how much she misses her boyfriend, Blunk, and is having trouble understanding how the man charged with killing him was able to go so far.

"Even if it wasn't about [Holmes] being the university's problem, they should be involved because, you know, he was the entire city of Aurora's problem and now it's the world's problem," Young said.

She expressed hope that other colleges and universities around the nation will learn from her loss and take fast action when hearing about a troubled student in the future.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug092012

James Holmes Expected at Hearing over Unsealing Court Documents

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- James Holmes, the man accused of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., last month, is expected to be in court Thursday for a hearing to address the media's motion to unseal court documents and make them public.  

The judge will also decide whether to reduce a gag order that prohibits the University of Colorado, police and attorneys from making comments on the case.

Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others when he allegedly opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. 

On July 30, he was charged with 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first degree murder and 116 counts of attempted first degree murder.

In addition to discussing the court file and gag order on Thursday, attorneys for both the prosecution and defense "can bring up anything else related to the case,” a court administrator told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug062012

Exclusive: Psychiatrist for 'Dark Knight' Shooting Suspect James Holmes Contacted Police Before Massacre

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- The psychiatrist who treated suspected movie theater shooter James Holmes made contact with a University of Colorado police officer to express concerns about her patient's behavior several weeks before Holmes' alleged rampage, sources told ABC News.

The sources did not know what the officer approached by Dr. Lynne Fenton did with the information she passed along. They said, however, that the officer was recently interviewed with an attorney present by the Aurora Police Department as a part of the ongoing investigation of the shooting.

Fenton would have had to have serious concerns to break confidentiality with her patient to reach out to the police officer or others, the sources said. Under Colorado law, a psychiatrist can legally breach a pledge of confidentiality with a patient if he or she becomes aware of a serious and imminent threat that their patient might cause harm to others. Psychiatrists can also breach confidentiality if a court has ordered them to do so.

"For any physician to break doctor-patient confidentiality there would have to be an extremely good reason," said Dr. Carol Bernstein, a New York University psychiatrist and past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

Bernstein has no specific knowledge of the Holmes case and spoke in general terms.

"Confidentiality is a key part of the doctor-patient relationship," she said. "It is central to everything we do."

ABC news and affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver first reported Wednesday that Fenton had contacted other members of the university's threat-assessment team about her concerns. The university-wide, threat-assessment team reportedly never met to discuss Holmes after he announced his intent to withdraw from the University nearly six weeks before the July 20 shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured.

University of Colorado spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery declined to comment on what, if anything, the university police officer might have done with information provided by Fenton, citing a court-issued gag order preventing her from confirming or denying any information related to Fenton or the investigation.

In a written statement to ABC News, however, the university said campus police officers are "frequently involved" in meetings of the university's Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment (BETA) team.

The statement went on to say that police involvement with threat assessment "could include security matters, badge access, background checks, wellness checks, criminal investigations and referrals and outreach to other law enforcement agencies."

An attorney for Fenton declined to comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug022012

Romney Meets With Aurora Shooting Victim

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(GOLDEN, Colo.) -- Mitt Romney met with a victim of the Aurora tragedy this morning prior to his event in Golden, a city just over 25 miles from the spot of the deadly movie theater shooting two weeks ago.

Romney told the crowd at a grassroots event there that he met with McKayla Hicks, a survivor who was hit by a bullet in the theater next door to the shooting, calling her a “Colorado girl with a big heart.”

“Across the country people are thinking about Aurora and the tragedy there and the lives that have been lost and the lives changed. We love you and we pray for you.  You’re in our hearts and you’re in our prayers,” Romney said to the crowd.

Romney is the first presidential candidate to hold a campaign event in the state since the shooting on July 20.

President Obama visited with victims of the shooting and their families, as well as local law enforcement officials, on July 22 in Aurora.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Psychiatrist Called Threat Team About James Holmes

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect James Holmes came to the attention of the threat assessment committee at the University of Colorado but no further action was taken because he left the school more than a month before the attack that killed 12 and injured 58, sources told ABC News.

ABC News has learned that Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes, 24, at the school, was also a key member of the university's threat assessment team. The group of experts were responsible for protecting the school from potentially violent students.

KMGH-TV, ABC News' affiliate in Denver, reported exclusively that, according to sources, by early June, Fenton had informed other members of the team about her concerns regarding Holmes.

But on June 10 -- three days after Holmes bought an assault weapon and added it to his already growing arsenal -- he suddenly told the university that he was dropping out of the neurosciences doctoral program with no explanation.

KMGH-TV reported last week that he'd purchased the weapon hours after failing a key oral exam.

On Monday, Holmes was charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Each death carried two separate murder charges, one for showing premeditation and one for showing extreme indifference to life. Both of the charges carry the death penalty as a possible sentence.

Sources have told KMGH-TV that the threat assessment team never had a formal meeting and never intervened, believing that it had no control over Holmes once he'd left the university. Documents uncovered by ABC News show that Fenton also wrote the school's policy on threat assessment.

Michael Carrigan, chairman of the CU board of regents, told KMGH that he did not know if Holmes had ever been discussed by the threat assessment team. "It's the first I'm hearing about this," he said in a phone interview.

A CU spokeswoman declined comment to KMGH on Fenton or any BETA team actions, citing a gag order.

Don Elliman, the university's chancellor, said last week that "to the best of our knowledge, at this point, we did everything we think we could have done."

But experts said Wednesday that Holmes' departure should have been a red alert.

"You know, I think that's the signal that you should intensify your efforts, not walk away," said Barry Spodak, a threat assessment expert. "Under those circumstances, most well-trained threat assessment teams would have gone into action."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Colorado Shooting Document Altered Online

University of Colorado Denver/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- A court document filed last week by attorneys for accused mass murder James Holmes – revealing he was a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia – has been altered online with that key information blacked out.

In the original version of the document posted Friday, public defenders said the 24-year-old Holmes “was a psychiatric patient of Dr. Fenton and his communications with her are protected.”

However, the Colorado state court posted a new version online Tuesday, with the section describing Holmes’ relationship to Fenton blacked out.

The change was first reported by Jeremy Meyer at the Denver Post. Messages to two court spokesmen were not immediately returned to ABC News Wednesday.

The “communications” mentioned by the defense document refer to a notebook that Holmes mailed to Dr. Fenton that was seized by police from a university mailroom on July 23 before it could be delivered to Fenton.

Sources confirmed to ABC News the notebook may contain writings about Holmes’ alleged attack. Holmes’ attorneys argue the existence and contents of the notebook have been improperly leaked to the news media. They also contend the notebook is privileged between Holmes and Fenton, and should not be allowed in his criminal case.

Making the change now may be tough. The document was included in news reports around the world and unredacted clean copies of the motion are available all over the Internet.

Prosecutors say Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theater during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., on July 20. Twelve people were killed, 58 were injured. On Monday, Holmes was charged with 142 criminal counts, including first degree murder and attempted murder.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Aurora Shooting Suspect James Holmes Charged with 24 Counts of Murder

James Holmes appears in court in this artist's sketch, Mon., July 30, 2012. (ABC News)(AURORA, Colo.) -- Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes was charged with 24 counts of first degree murder today, two counts for each of the people he is accused of killing during an alleged shooting spree at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20.

The 24-year-old PhD student is accused of a mass killing in which he sprayed three weapons' full of ammunition into a crowded movie theater during the midnight premiere screening of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Today, he was officially read his charges in Aurora District Court. Each death carried two separate murder charges, one for showing premeditation and one for showing extreme indifference to life. Both of the charges carry the death penalty as a possible sentence.

Holmes appeared in court wearing a maroon colored jumpsuit, his hair still dyed an orange-pink color, and his loopy mannerisms similar to his first appearance in court. Throughout the hearing, Holmes' eyes sporadically grew wider as he raised his eyebrows, stared blankly around the room, and then stared down into his lap. He spoke once, when the judge asked him whether he wanted to waive his right to a preliminary hearing within 30 days, answering simply, "Yes."

[ COLORADO SHOOTING: VIEW THE 40-PAGE CHARGING DOCUMENT ]

Holmes was also charged with 116 counts of attempted first degree murder, as well as one count of possessing an explosive device and one count of violent crime. The suspect faces a total of 142 criminal charges.

Prosecutor Carol Chambers asked the judge to read aloud the various penalties associated with each count, including possibilities of prison time, life in prison, even death. Holmes was quiet while the penalties were read.

Prosecutors will have 60 days from the date of the arraignment to decide if they will seek the death sentence for Holmes.

This was the second time Holmes has appeared in court. His first appearance in court on July 23 raised questions among some observers about his mental competency. The suspected shooter appeared dazed with his head drooping at times.

The judge also heard arguments today about a package Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, Lynne Fenton. Holmes' attorneys filed a motion Friday demanding that the court "immediately produce all discovery pertaining to the seizure of the package."

The Arapahoe County District Attorney's office, representing the state, filed an objection to the motion and asked that it be denied. The DA said that the motion by Holmes's attorneys was "based on certain factual assumptions that are not established by evidence and that the People believe are of dubious validity, if not outright incorrect."

A decision on the arguments was not reached, though prosecutors were ordered to turn over the notebook to defense attorneys.

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