Prosecution changes course in Holmes case

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AURORA | Prosecutors have abandoned their effort to review a notebook that accused theater shooter James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist.

Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said in court Thursday that because Holmes’ lawyers are likely to pursue an insanity defense, prosecutors will have access to the notebook sooner or later anyway. That makes haggling over whether the notebook is privileged communication — Holmes’ lawyers say it is, prosecutors say it isn’t —  an unnecessary and possibly lengthy fight.

The prosecution’s reversal meant Thursday’s hearing, which was expected to last much of the day as prosecutors called witnesses in an attempt to persuade Judge William Sylvester that they should have access to the notebook, lasted just more than an hour.

Holmes appeared in court seated next to his lawyers throughout Thursday’s hearing. His long dyed-orange hair had been cut since his last hearing, leaving only short-cropped dark brown hair.

He faces more than 100 charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder for the July 20 shootings that left 12 dead and 58 wounded in the Century Aurora 16 theater.

Also Thursday, prosecutors charged Holmes with 10 additional counts of attempted murder, and altered some others. Charging documents were heavily redacted and it wasn’t clear why prosecutors added some charges and changed others.

 

Issues raised at hearing in Colo. mass shooting 

The man suspected in Colorado’s movie theater shooting appeared in court Thursday as prosecutors gave up their fight to see a notebook he sent to a university psychiatrist, saying they didn’t want to delay proceedings.

Other matters argued by prosecutors and defense attorneys at the hearing, but not ruled on by Arapahoe County District Judge William B. Sylvester included:

— A prosecutor’s request to obtain a palm print from James Holmes to compare it with a partial palm print found on the inside of an exit door at the theater, as well as an additional DNA sample.

Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said technicians could not compare the palm print with standard fingerprints. It was unclear why prosecutors sought an additional DNA sample.

Defense attorney Daniel King objected, saying prosecutor’s request for “non-testimonial evidence” is unreasonable.

— A defense attorney’s request for sanctions against prosecutors for “reckless disregard for the truth.”

King said that prosecutors made unsupported allegations in court and in documents that Holmes made “threats” and was “banned” from the University of Colorado, Denver, where he was a graduate student in the neuroscience program.

King asked the judge to temporarily lift a gag order so he could issue a statement to the media on Holmes’ behalf regarding the matter.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said she provided documents to Holmes’ defense team that support the allegations.

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