by Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
Prosecutors handling the mass murder case against suspect James Holmes plan to use a series of text messages sent to a fellow student as evidence against the University of Colorado graduate program dropout.
Documents released Friday by the Arapahoe County District Court showed that Holmes sent a series of text messages to an unidentified colleague before the July 20 shooting spree at a suburban Denver movie complex in Aurora. Twelve Century 16 theatergoers were killed; another 57 were wounded.
Details of the text messages were not revealed in a batch of court filings released Friday under a long-standing request by several media organizations, including Gannett, parent company of USA Today. Key information, such as Holmes' arrest warrant and other details surrounding his arrest -- other than his birthday (Dec. 13) and height and weight (5'11, 160 pounds) -- remain sealed.
But the text messages could show Holmes' state of mind leading up to the shootings and back the Aurora Police assertions that Holmes' actions were premeditated.
Holmes, 24, purchased several weapons after dropping out of the university's doctoral program June 10, three days after failing a final exam. Following the shootings, Holmes was arrested outside the theater, where police recovered two Glock semi-automatic pistols, a semi-automatic shotgun and a military assault rifle with a high-capacity ammunition drum.
Most of the documents released by court Friday were heavily redacted, eliminating names of potential witnesses, evidence, even victims of the shooting massacre and the psychiatrist Holmes' defense team has enlisted to help their case in preparation for a possible insanity defense. The psychiatrist was identified only as an "expert witness.'' But even his resume was redacted before it was released publicly.
Chambers' office also requested the names of shooting victims -- originally released publicly in July -- be redacted after an unidentified person attempted to fraudulently file documents on behalf of victims and potential witnesses.
Although much of the information in the court documents had come out at several public court hearings, the documents revealed intense legal wrangling between Arapahoe County Prosecutor Carol Chambers and Holmes' defense team, led by Public Defender Daniel King.
In one filing, King's team argued against police obtaining additional DNA evidence, fingerprints and a mugshot from Holmes, saying he had submitted following his arrest. Presiding Judge William Sylvester sided with prosecutors.
In another filing, King's team sought court sanctions against prosecutors for alleging Holmes had been banned from the University of Colorado's Denver campus for making threats against an unnamed professor, which King's team said didn't happen. (A university spokeswoman has previously said that Holmes' access to the campus ended after he informed the school he had dropped out June 10.)
In a subsequent ruling released Friday, Presiding Judge William Sylvester denied King's request for sanctions.
The bulk of the court documents center on access to a notebook Holmes sent University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, who had treated Holmes for undisclosed matters. Holmes' attorneys, who have maintained the information is privileged under doctor-patient confidentiality, said in court previously that Holmes suffers from undisclosed mental issues. One media report shortly after the shootings, citing unidentified police sources, said the notebook contained plans and drawings of a mass shooting. The contents of the notebook remain sealed.
Holmes' attorneys have said Holmes tried to contact Fenton on the day of the shooting. Fenton has testified that she last had contact with Holmes on June 11. She also said was not aware of the contents of the notebook, which was found in a university mail room on July 23.
Prosecutors have dropped their request for access to the notebook.