Defense attorneys in the Aurora theater shooting case have subpoenaed information that a witness has suggested University of Colorado officials may be trying to hide.
In a heavily redacted motion made public Monday, defense attorneys ask the judge overseeing the case to review the records in private to determine if they are favorable to the defense’s case.
The redactions to the motion are so dense that it is not possible to determine what kind of records are being sought from the University of Colorado.
In the motion, the defense says the witness “is an important prosecution witness” who “was repeatedly interviewed by law enforcement agents” in the weeks following the July 2012, attack on the Century Aurora 16 theater. According to the defense motion, the witness “believed that the University had secreted his (redacted) records because of his connection to the case.”
James Holmes was a neuroscience student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus before withdrawing from school about a month prior to the shooting.
The defense in the Aurora movie theater shooting case, still angered over an apparent law enforcement leak of information about a crucial notebook, has asked the judge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.
In a motion filed last week but not made public until Monday, the defense says Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour could also prevent several police officers from testifying at trial or throw out the death penalty as an option in the case because of the leak. The new motion comes after the defense’s efforts failed to put Fox News reporter Jana Winter — who broke the story about the notebook — under oath to testify about her sources.
In its motion, the defense says gunman James Holmes “will be the one to bear the consequences of the government’s violations of the pre-trial publicity order and the law” if no further action is taken.
The fight over who told Winter about the notebook is one of the longest-running battles of the court case. Five days after the July 2012 shooting that killed 12 and wounded many more, Winter reported that a notebook Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist just prior to the attack contained violent images and plans for an attack. She cited two unnamed law enforcement officials.
Defense attorneys said the leak was a violation of the gag order in the case and filed a motion for sanctions that resulted in multiple officers who saw the notebook being quizzed under oath. When none of the officers admitted to being the source of the leak — or, even, of seeing inside the notebook well enough to read the words on the page — Holmes’ attorneys tried to put Winter on the stand.
The effort ended in May, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a New York court ruling that found Winter was protected by that state’s reporter shield law. Samour then denied the long-pending motion for sanctions.
The new motion claims the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, “has failed to employ its resources to vigorously pursue the source of the leak or identify any perjured testimony despite the serious issues at stake.”
The defense says a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the leak. It also suggests tossing out the death penalty or excluding the officers who have previously testified about the notebook — which includes one of the case’s supervisory detectives — from testifying at trial.
Contrary to what some people believe, James getting “kicked out of school” was not a motivation or a catalyst for the shooting. James wasn’t getting tossed out. He was being given more chances. It’s true that James began the process of voluntarily dropping out, though.
In my opinion, mental illness caused James to struggle with his studies. James’ poor performance in school was a symptom of his mental illness, NOT the cause of the shooting,
According to Colorado law, a person must be "An imminent threat to themselves or to others" to be placed on a 72 hour psychiatric hold in the state of Colorado.
Isn’t it strange that Fenton did not feel that James fit the criteria, when shortly (possibly) after James’ arrest and (definitely) after James’ hospitalizations in Nov, 2012, Jame qualified to be held and subsequently (perhaps involuntarily) medicated, (not to mention restrained - involuntarily, I’m sure) under Colorado law?
The following includes information on a) involuntarily holding someone because of a psychiatric condition and/or b) administering psychiatric drugs, c) restraining them (as James was in Nov, 2012) involuntarily because of an emergency situation.
I doubt James deteriorated that rapidly after his arrest. I think he was a ticking time bomb and that Fenton didn’t pick up on all the signs.
Overview of 27-65 C.R.S: Care and Treatment of the Mentally Ill Act
This is the one time I kinda disagree w/ the defense (though I completely understand the position they wanted to take and their reasoning as to why).
I do think the psychiatrist should be able to tape James. Coming from my own training in mental health, I have been required to video tape clients, and you’d be surprised by the amount of subtle clues you may miss from a client while in session (body language, facial expressions, movements, verbal cues, affect, etc.).
You want to be truly present with your client, so having to pay attention to all these details at once is overwhelming and, if you ask me, impossible. It’s too many things to focus on at one time.
It helps 100% to go back and refer to a taped session in order to really review the nuances of your client’s behavior, words, cues, and mannerisms.
I had a practice session with a fake client once and I was stunned by some of the cues I had missed because I was focused more on her words and dialogue. Reviewing the tape later made me see things in a different, more enhanced, and much clearer light.
If this doctor is truly ethical, this can actually benefit James. And if James truly is/was sick (which, IMHO, is a no-brainer), these video sessions will help, and not harm his case. Promise.
I fully agree with your assessment here. I think the best way for the doctors to fully evaluate James, is through a very extensive, thorough examination. If that means tape recording the sessions, then so be it.