James Holmes case: Prosecutors given access to his school application, police records
Prosecutors in the James Holmes case can access Holmes's application to the University of Colorado, documents relating to his withdrawal from the neuroscience program just weeks before the Aurora theater shooting and campus police records they say they "probably" have, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester has ruled.
However, they won't be given documents that contain information from Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist who was seeing Holmes and who testified in court that she contacted university police with concerns about "a patient."
Holmes, 24, is charged with killing twelve people and injuring at least 58 others in a shooting rampage at a July 20 midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora.
"The People have acknowledged that they 'probably have campus police records, but [they] don't know that for sure,' as the university has been cautious in releasing records related to" Holmes, Judge William Sylvester writes in a ruling on view below.
"If the University of Colorado Police Department has a law enforcement investigation file about (Holmes), that information is likely relevant," he continues -- with the exception of information gleaned from Fenton.
"Dr. Fenton has indicated that her communications with Officer Whitten at the University of Colorado Police Department might have breached the statutory privilege held by" Holmes, Sylvester writes. Whitten has been identified in media reports as Officer Lynn Whitten. In 2011, the UCD Advocate student newspaper wrote a profile of her. "Meet the cop who'd rather not arrest you," it said, noting that she teaches self-defense to women.
"Regarding document CU 000277," Sylvester writes, "the Court is still unclear whether the quotations written in the notes of Officer Whitten were from Dr. Fenton and therefore, the Court will not release that document in an abundance of caution."
Prosecutors subpoenaed a multitude of documents from the university, including Holmes's application, class schedule, grades, police records, records relating to his building access and "all documents from the University of Colorado Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team," which Fenton reportedly alerted about Holmes.
The documents shed light on what was going on in Holmes's life at the time of the July 20 shooting, prosecutors say. At a hearing on August 23, prosecutor Karen Pearson said Holmes failed his oral board exams in June and was told by his professors that he should perhaps find a different path. She said those events are "very much relevant to what happened afterward" -- including that he bought guns and rigged his apartment with explosives. Pearson also said Holmes was denied access to the school after he made threats, though CU has said Holmes's access was restricted because he was withdrawing.
Holmes's defense attorneys have argued that prosecutors' subpoenas are a "fishing expedition" and they should be denied access to the documents they're seeking.
Sylvester did deny access to several documents sought by prosecutors, including documents in his registrar file other than his application to the university and his class schedule. "The details of (Holmes's) courses and studies are not facts of consequence regarding the events of July 20, 2012," Sylvester writes. He also denied access to voicemails of "parties" who "seemingly had professional relationships" with Holmes, though it's unclear if prosecutors asked for those or any other voicemails.
Read Sylvester's ruling below.
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