Twelve more people have been identified as victims of the July 20 Aurora theater shooting. Recently released court documents show that prosecutors are charging alleged shooter James Holmes with 24 more counts of attempted murder -- two for each new victim -- bringing the total charges against him to 166. Among the most notable new names: Katie Medley, wife of seriously wounded comic Caleb Medley, who gave birth to their son shortly after the attack.
The documents include the victims' names; their identities were previously redacted from paperwork released to the public. Their names are on view in the documents below.
There may be two more, as well. Documents show that prosecutors replaced two previously identified victims' names with different names, including that of Katie Medley's.
The documents don't indicate why prosecutors decided to delete the previous victims' names -- Jay Jenkins and Bonnie Kate -- and replace them. However, we previously reported that Bonnie Kate Pourciau may have been listed in the original charging document twice, once as Bonnie Kate and once as Bonnie Pourciau.
The released documents are the result of a ruling by Judge William Sylvester granting several media outlets' request to make public the names of victims and witnesses in the case. Some were already public: On July 30, Sylvester released a list of charges against Holmes, which included the names of seventy victims. At the time, Holmes was charged with 142 counts: 24 counts of murder, 116 counts of attempted murder, one count of possession of an explosive device and one sentence enhancer for a crime of violence.
In September, prosecutors added ten more charges and were granted permission to amend seventeen of the original 142 charges. However, victims' names were blacked out in the publicly released documents. We speculated that the amendments were to correct misspellings of victims' names, but information about the new charges was redacted.
In October, prosecutors added another fourteen counts of attempted murder and amended another five previous charges. Once again, victims' names weren't released.
At a court hearing on October 11, media lawyer Steve Zansberg noted the inconsistency. He also argued that while at least one victim suffered identity theft by a person who filed court motions under the victim's name, that's "far too speculative a concern to warrant blanket closure of all victim's names."
Prosecutors and defense attorneys objected to releasing the names, arguing at that hearing that the media was harassing victims. The defense also complained that dealing with media requests was taking time away from their work on the criminal case. Sylvester delayed ruling on the issue to give both sides a chance to file additional arguments.
In his ruling, Sylvester references an affidavit filed by Holmes's lawyers that says witnesses have been reluctant to speak with defense attorneys due to the media's behavior.
"Defendant states that 'victims and witnesses have been repeatedly intimidated by the intense media scrutiny this case has engendered,'" he writes, "and cites instances where reporters have 'contacted witnesses and threatened to release their names in connection with personal or sensitive information unless they agreed to submit to an interview.'"
Sylvester also references an allegation from prosecutors that "many of the victims and witnesses in this case are reluctant to speak to the District Attorney's Office because they are fearful that the members of the District Attorney's Office are actually media representatives posing as members of the District Attorney's Office." However, Sylvester notes that no victims or witnesses have filed affidavits outlining their concerns.
He concludes that despite "the unusual and relentless media attention in this case, the investigation and proceedings in this case should, whenever possible, conform to the rules and usual practices of any other criminal case." Victim and witness names are not usually redacted, he reasoned, so they shouldn't be in this case either.
Sylvester also agreed to release the curriculum vitae for Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist Holmes saw when he was a student at the University of Colorado and to whom he mailed a package that was discovered after the shooting. Fenton's CV is already in the public domain, Sylvester notes, and would not harm the case. However, he declined to release the CV of Dr. Patrick Fox, referenced in a court document as the defense's expert witness.
He also denied a slew of requests to release other documents, including arrest warrants, search warrants and probable cause affidavits, noting that disclosing those documents would be "imprudent" given that a preliminary hearing in the case hasn't happened yet. That hearing was originally scheduled for November but will now be delayed until January or February. Sylvester also declined to release "facts and information" related to the contents of the package Holmes sent to Fenton, noting that the defense has requested a hearing to determine who "leaked" information about the package to the media.
But Sylvester did release un-redacted versions of nearly forty other documents, which can be viewed on the 18th Judicial District's website. This post features several of them.
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