James Holmes case: Why the delay in ruling about CU educational records?

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

At a hearing last Thursday related to the James Holmes/Aurora theater shooting case, Judge William Sylvester said he hoped to rule by Monday about whether prosecutors should have access to the suspect's University of Colorado educational documents. However, a decision on that matter hasn't been made public at this writing, one day before the next scheduled court session is slated to tackle the key question of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Our Melanie Asmar was in the courtroom last week as members of the 18th Judicial District DA's office argued that they should be able to peruse what she describes as "about 100 pages of Holmes's educational records, which likely include his application, grades, e-mails and documents related to Holmes terminating his relationship with the university." Holmes attorney Daniel King countered by maintaining that prosecutors are on a "fishing expedition," adding, "It's irrelevant what the motive is."

In the end, Asmar wrote, "Sylvester asked both sides to file additional arguments by noon [Friday], and said he will rule by Monday." At publication time, however, the most recent document posted on the 18th Judicial District web page related to the Holmes matter pertains to rules for media covering the August 30 hearing, set to take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Arapahoe County Justice Center. See it below.

No information has surfaced thus far about why Sylvester didn't hit his announced Monday target date for a decision about the educational records. But in the interim, there's been a dust-up between the DA's office, headed by the controversial Carol Chambers, and the University of Colorado.

At the Thursday hearing, prosecutor Karen Pearson said that in June, Holmes was banned from the Anschutz Medical Campus, where he had been a neuoroscience student, for making threats. This claim was reinforced by the release of a DA's office document asserting that Holmes had threatened a professor and said he'd wanted to kill people prior to being denied access to the campus.

But a CU Denver spokeswoman disputed the ban claim, saying Holmes's key card access had been terminated because he was in the process of withdrawing from the university, not due to threats. Hence, he no longer was able to get into restricted areas such as labs, but he was still allowed to visit any other public portions of the campus.

Is Chambers' office spinning evidence to lay the groundwork for disputing an anticipated insanity defense on behalf of Holmes, who was under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton? If so, it's hard to imagine Judge Sylvester being pleased. The eyes of the world are on this case -- one possible explanation for why he didn't rule as stated on Monday. No doubt he wants to be absolutely certain he gets everything right, and if it takes a little more time to do so, that's fine.

Here's the aforementioned document about coverage of tomorrow's hearing.

James Holmes Case: Media Logistics for August 30 Hearing

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes banned from CU for threats month before theater shooting."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.