Holmes made 'threats' before shootings
24 August 2012, 09:00
Centennial — The former graduate student accused in a
deadly mass shooting at a cinema had failed a key exam six weeks before
the rampage, made threats and was banned from his college, prosecutors
said on Thursday.
University of Colorado Denver spokesperson
Jacque Montgomery later disputed that James Holmes was banned from
campus but confirmed that a criminal background check was done on him
before the 20 July attack.
She said a court gag order prevented her from discussing who requested the check, who performed it, and who saw the results.
statement was believed to be the first explicit public confirmation
that a check had been done on Holmes' background before the shootings.
did say that campus Police Chief Doug Abraham was referring to that
background check when he said at a 23 July news conference that Holmes
had only a minor infraction on his record.
She said Holmes'
access to restricted areas on campus was cancelled because he left his
programme in June, not because of threats.
made their new claims on Thursday against Holmes in their effort to
persuade a judge to allow them access to 100 pages of education records
subpoenaed from the university, where Holmes had been a neuroscience
The university turned over the documents last week, but Holmes' lawyers moved to keep them sealed.
Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson told the judge that Holmes was
stockpiling ammunition, body armour and explosives at his apartment and
at the university while he was flunking out.
Gaining access to
the records, she argued, would establish motive by showing what Holmes
hoped to accomplish at CU and the "dissatisfaction with what occurred in
his life that led to this".
The judge said he would rule in time for the next hearing in the case, scheduled for 30 August.
is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 58 in the shooting
during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie. He has not issued a
plea and remains held without bail.
prosecutors' account presented a sharply different picture of Holmes'
departure from CU from that provided by university officials in the days
after the shooting.
Pearson did not elaborate on the nature of
the threats during the hearing, nor did she disclose the source of the
information. But she said that professors had urged Holmes to get into
another profession and that his research had been deteriorating.
are seeking Holmes' university application, his grades, course
schedules, e-mails concerning Holmes, and anything concerning his
termination or withdrawal from the school in June.
"What's going on in the defendant's life at the time is extremely relevant to this case," Pearson said.
lawyer Daniel King objected to the release of the records, calling the
prosecution's request a "fishing expedition that needs to be stopped".
appeared more engaged in the hearing than previous court appearances.
His walk was more deliberate when he came into the courtroom. Rather
than staring blankly ahead, he looked at the judge for most of the
Before a gag order was issued, the university had said campus police had no records on Holmes.
officials also said Holmes lost access to university buildings after
his 10 June withdrawal because his student access card was shut off, not
because of threats or any other safety reason.
The university also said in writing there were no documents related to the decision to bar Holmes from the campus.
say they need the university documents to gain access to a notebook
reportedly containing violent descriptions of an attack. The notebook
reportedly was in a package Holmes sent to university psychiatrist Lynne
King has said the notebook is protected by a
doctor-patient relationship. King claims that Holmes is mentally ill and
had sought out Fenton for help with that illness.
Fenton is expected to testify at the 30 August hearing.
Trial over sanity
said prosecutors want to establish whether Fenton was Holmes'
psychiatrist at the time he sent the package to her, and if she was,
whether the notebook was meant for therapy, which wouldn't be protected
under the doctor-patient privilege.
Former Denver Deputy District
Attorney Karen Steinhauser said arguments over the records show both
sides are gearing up for a trial over Holmes' sanity.
it's not a question of who did this," Steinhauser said. "They know that
the only possible defence is that he was not sane at the time."
records don't have the same legal protection as communication between a
doctor and patient. Steinhauser said the records might help prosecutors
establish that Holmes implicitly waived his right to privacy if he
talked about some of the same things he spoke to his doctor about.
records released by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a
school Holmes considered attending, contained a letter of recommendation
that described Holmes as having "a great amount of intellectual and