By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
Denver, CO-- Prosecutors handling the mass murder case against suspect James Holmes plan to use a series of text messages sent to a fellow student as evidence against the University of Colorado graduate program dropout.
Documents released Friday by the Arapahoe County District Court showed that Holmes sent a series of text messages to an unidentified colleague before the July 20 shooting spree at a suburban Denver movie complex in Aurora. Twelve Century 16 theatergoers were killed; another 57 were wounded.
Details of the text messages were not revealed in a batch of court filings released Friday under a long-standing request by several media organizations, including Gannett, parent company of USA Today. Key information, such as Holmes' arrest warrant and other details surrounding his arrest -- other than his birthday (Dec. 13) and height and weight (5'11, 150 pounds) -- remain sealed.
But the text messages could show Holmes' state of mind leading up to the shootings and back the Aurora Police assertions that Holmes' actions were premeditated.
Holmes, 24, purchased several weapons before dropping out of the university's doctoral program June 10, three days after failing a final exam. Following the shootings, Holmes was arrested outside the theater, where police found him in his car and recovered two Glock semi-automatic pistols, a semi-automatic shotgun and a military assault rifle with a high-capacity ammunition drum.
Although some information in the newly released court filings had surfaced earlier at several public court hearings, the documents revealed intense legal wrangling between Arapahoe County Prosecutor Carol Chambers and Holmes' defense team, led by Public Defender Daniel King.
In one filing, King's team argued against police obtaining additional DNA evidence, fingerprints and a mugshot from Holmes, saying he had submitted following his arrest. Presiding Judge William Sylvester sided with prosecutors.
And while some 60 documents were made public, most were heavily redacted, eliminating names of potential witnesses, key documents such as arrest warrants and subpoenas, even the name of the psychiatrist Holmes' defense team has enlisted to help their case in preparation for a possible insanity defense. The psychiatrist was identified only as an "expert witness'' and the resumÃ© redacted.
Chambers also requested the names of shooting victims -- originally released publicly in July -- be redacted after an unidentified person attempted to fraudulently file documents on behalf of victims and potential witnesses.
The bulk of the court filings center on access to a notebook Holmes sent in mid-July to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, who had treated Holmes for undisclosed issues. Holmes' attorneys have maintained the information is privileged under doctor-patient confidentiality, According to a July Fox TV report citing unidentified Aurora police sources, the notebook contained plans and drawings of a mass shooting.
Holmes' attorneys have said that Holmes suffers from undisclosed mental issues and that he tried to contact Fenton minutes before the shootings. But Fenton has testified that she last had contact with Holmes on June 11. She also said was not aware of the contents of the notebook, which was found in a university mail room on July 23.
Among court filings released Friday, Chambers said that Holmes' had "threatened" a university official - whose name was redacted - and was subsequently banned from the University of Colorado's Denver campus. ( A University of Colorado spokeswoman previously said that Holmes' access to the campus ended after he informed the school June 10 that he was dropping out).
King's team later sought court sanctions against Chambers for contending Holmes had been banned from the campus, saying the allegation was untrue. In a subsequent ruling, Sylvester denied King's motion for sanctions.
Prosecutors have dropped their request for access to the notebook.