Judge wants 1 more Holmes' case detective questioned before ruling if Fox reporter must name sources

Jana Winter wrote story about Holmes' notebook

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A judge in the Aurora theater shooting case said he wants to question another police detective before he considers ordering a Fox News reporter to reveal anonymous law enforcement sources who leaked information about a notebook that accused killer James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist. The judge also ordered the reporter be present next week for that hearing.

Jana Winter, a New York-based reporter, cited two unnamed law-enforcement officials in a FoxNews.com report where she wrote that Holmes had mailed  Dr. Lynne Fenton a notebook with drawings that foreshadowed the July 20 theater attack, which killed 12 and injured 70.

Holmes' lawyers contend that law enforcement officials violated a judge's gag order by speaking to Winter. The defense wants Winter to identify her sources for the story and is requesting sanctions against any officials involved in the leak.

During a Monday hearing, Winter's attorney told Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour that Holmes' defense attorneys had not done all they can to independently identify the officials who leaked the notebook information.

Winter has invoked the protection of the Colorado Shield Law, which could allow her to keep her sources confidential. The shield law requires the defense to show the leakers' identities "cannot be obtained by any other reasonable means" -- except compelling Winter to name her sources.

Winter never took the stand Monday.

During a December hearing, attorneys and the judge questioned 14 law enforcement officials involved in the investigation in an effort to determine if any of them leaked the notebook information.

Aurora Police Detective Matthew Fyles was called back to the stand Monday, because he had only been asked previously if he had revealed anything about the notebook to the news media. Fyles had answered no to that question.

On Monday, Fyles testified that he had learned through a phone call from a detective about the package Holmes mailed just before the theater shooting. The package was sent to Dr. Fenton at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Fenton had treated Holmes, who was a neuroscience graduate student at CU, until he said he was leaving the program just before the shooting rampage.

Fyles said he was told the package contained the notebook, some currency and a sticky note with a symbol on it. Asked if he knew what was inside the notebook, Fyles said he was only told it contained an "unknown number of pages" with "unknown writing."

Fyles said he gave that same information to a meeting four days after the shooting to a meeting that involved Aurora Police Department leadership and members of his division, but said no one in that meeting discussed the contents of the notebook.

The one detective who remains to be called is the one who informed Fyles about the package. He has also testified he was not the one who leaked the information to the media, but attorneys pointed out he was never directly asked if he spoke about the contents of the notebook to anyone else.

That detective will be called to court on April 10 and quizzed about that subject.

Judge Samour said he was reluctant to make a decision without further inquiry, because Winter will face a difficult choice if he orders the reporter to reveal her sources.

One the one hand, if Winter names who gave her the information, the reporter is going to be burning her sources in "one of the most high-profile cases ever," the judge said. The judge acknowledged that decision could potentially harm her reputation as a journalist.

On the other hand, if she refuses to reveal her sources, she could face up to six months in jail for contempt of court, the judge added.

"Before presenting her with such a choice, I'm going to make the (defense) jump through all the hoops" to show they've done all they can to identify who leaked the information, Samour said.


Print this article Back to Top