Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes case: Defense drops sanction request over strange second mug shot

Attorneys for accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes have answered the question we posed last week in this headline: "Should law enforcement be punished for releasing strange new mug shot?" The answer is no -- at least according to Holmes's lawyers, who were the ones asking for the punishment in the first place. They filed a notice yesterday that they're withdrawing their request after talking with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's department distributed the new mug shot on September 20, the same day Holmes showed up in court with a new buzz cut that ditched his orange-dyed hair. In a motion filed on October 2, Holmes's attorneys argued that the sheriff's department "leaked" the photo to the media, which violated the judge's order to limit pre-trial publicity. Because cameras aren't allowed in the courtroom, they argued that "the public would not have had access to an image of Mr. Holmes but for this leak."

Holmes's attorneys asked for a hearing "to investigate the circumstances under which this photograph of Mr. Holmes was taken and its purpose, the party responsible for distributing the photograph to the media, and what sanctions are an appropriate response to this violation." The judge granted their requested and scheduled it for tomorrow.

But now Holmes's lawyers say the issue "has been rendered moot."

What did the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department say to the defense? Sheriff Grayson Robinson would only tell us that his office "visited with" the public defender's office to discuss the issue, and based on their conversation, Holmes's attorneys decided there was "no value or merit to moving forward."

Robinson added that his department took a second mug shot of Holmes "because his appearance changed," necessitating a second photo for security reasons. Robinson said he released the photo to the media because he got a request for it.

Continue reading for the defense's notice about the mug shot, and to see both mug shots of Holmes.

2012-10-10 Notice Re D-018

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes case: DA brushes off call for sanctions, suing victims denied theater access."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar