Defense wants video barred of Holmes violating jail rules as jury selection continues

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CENTENNIAL | Lawyers for James Holmes say that despite repeated requests for videos of Holmes behind bars, they didn’t get an 11-minute surveillance video from September 2012 showing him violating jail rules until just last month.

What exactly the video shows has not been released. During an at-times testy hearing Monday morning, Arapahoe County Undersheriff Louie Perea, who oversaw the jail in 2012, said the video shows Holmes likely violating a jail rule while in a holding cell on Sept. 20, 2012. He said whatever Holmes did raised some concerns about officer safety.

But, under orders from Judge Carlos Samour Jr. not to discuss the contents of the video, Perea didn’t go into detail about what Holmes did.

He said whatever Holmes did is fairly common among inmates in the jail and people being held in the back of a police cruiser and could have been a violation of jail rules, though jailers didn’t pursue any disciplinary action against Holmes.

“It is not, unfortunately,” he said when asked if the conduct was uncommon. “It is something several inmates do.”

The defense is asking Samour to bar the video from being shown at trial, arguing that the late disclosure unfairly hurts their case. 

Holmes’ lawyers said Monday they asked the jail to save any video of Holmes a few days after the July 20, 2012, shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater and again in November 2012. 

But jail staff didn’t turn over the videos and instead allowed many to be destroyed after prosecutors said they no longer needed jailers to record Holmes 24 hours a day.

Perea said this video was only saved because he thought it could be used to help train future deputies. He said it had not been used for training yet and had instead stayed in his office under lock and key because of the gag order in the case. Perea said he would wait until the trial was over to use the video for training purposes.

Prosecutors don’t dispute that the jail should have turned the video over sooner, but they say the prosecution should not be punished for the jail’s mistake.

Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said that while prosecutors work closely with the sheriff’s office and some from the sheriff’s office assisted Aurora police the night of the shooting, they are not the primary investigatory agency so their mistake is not the prosecution’s.

Samour is expected to rule on the defense’s request to bar the video at a later date.

Holmes appeared in court Monday wearing a white shirt and gray dress pants. He sat quietly throughout the hearing.

Monday marked the 15th and final day of the initial phase, during which prospective jurors fill out a lengthy questionnaire. The initial phase was supposed to last through this week, but Samour said it had gone so smoothly he could end it a few days early.

Samour said he wants the second phase of jury selection to move quickly, and he will crack down on the prosecution and defense if they don’t keep pace.

Samour said he will be a “stickler” about the 20-minute time limit for each side and wants both sides to question jurors in less than the time allotted.

“Just because you have 20 minutes does not mean you should use 20 minutes,” he said.

The second phase of jury selection will start Wednesday morning with the first six prospective jurors reporting for individual questioning.