James Holmes' notebook takes center stage in Monday hearing

Hearing was rescheduled after reported head injury

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. - After 14 members of law enforcement denied leaking information about the notebook James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist, Holmes' defense said they would subpoena the reporter who wrote the story about it.

Fox News reported that Holmes sent a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people to a University of Colorado psychiatrist before the July 20 attack. Fox News also reported that the notebook contains violent images and notes.

7NEWS has never confirmed the contents of the notebook and none of the testimony in court Monday revealed what it actually contained.

The package containing the notebook was addressed to Dr. Lynne Fenton, who had treated Holmes and who became so concerned about him that she called the University of Colorado Police Department asking for a background check on Holmes. On the same day, about six weeks before the shooting, Dr. Fenton made a series of calls to members of the University threat assessment team, also known as the BETA team, concerned about Holmes being a possible threat.

Currently, the notebook, burnt cash and anything else found in the package from Holmes is being kept in six sealed evidence packages by the Aurora Police Department.

The campus police department learned of the package on July 22, two days after the shooting, through a phone call from Dr. Robert Feinstein, a professor and Practice Director of the University of Colorado Hospital's Psychiatric Outpatient Department. According to the testimony, Feinstein said Dr. Lynne Fenton had received a call from Holmes' public defender asking for the package to be returned. At that point, it had not been delivered.

The search for the notebook began on July 23. It involved FBI agents, campus police, mail room employees and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

"Our directions were to look for any packages addressed to Lynne Fenton, Robert Feinstein or sent from James Holmes," said CU-Denver Police Commander James Myrsiades.

Testimony explained that prior to the discovery of the package containing the notebook, another item was found under Dr. Fenton's door that attracted investigator's attention. It turned out to be an unrelated packet of records related to someone else.

The package from Holmes was x-rayed after it was found in the mailroom, the testimony explained. Afterward, it was put into a sealed vent hood and Adams County bomb technician Deputy Denzel Lukens cut it open while using the rubber gloves attached to the vent hood.

Inside he found the now-infamous notebook and some burnt currency. Lukens said he tested it for biological agents and explosives, but did not read any of the contents.

CU Police chief Doug Abraham testified that he was the first person to touch the package after it was cleared by the bomb squad. Defense attorney Daniel King asked if he wore gloves and the chief replied that he did not. When asked why, he said, "Because I was careless."

A detective flipped through the notebook, according to testimony from Abraham. The chief said he could see something was on the pages, but not clearly.

The detective who flipped through the notebook was Alton Reed. He testified that his intent was to separate the burnt currency from the notebook.

Jason McDonald, of the Aurora Police Department, stood on Reed's other side. He said that he was only able to see enough to know the pages weren't blank.

After all 14 people testified that they didn't leak information to the media and didn't know who did, public defender Jana Winter said she would subpoena the reporter. Prosecutor Rich Orman seemed skeptical that it would be successful and cited Colorado's shield law.

 

Monday's hearing

Monday's appearance is the one that had to be rescheduled from last month, after Holmes was sent to a hospital Nov. 13.

Holmes reportedly rammed his head into the floor and wall of his cell at the Arapahoe County Jail.  His attorneys have only said it was not as simple as a migraine and could not be quickly resolved.

7NEWS reporter Marshall Zellinger described Holmes as having fuller hair and a bushier beard.

Holmes' parents were also present at the hearing.

 

Trial preparations

Attorneys said they've shared over 30,000 pages of discovery and about 400 CDs or DVDs of data in preparation for Holmes' trial. The defense said they haven't yet read half of the documents and asked the prosecution for a list of witnesses who would be appearing at a preliminary readiness hearing on Jan. 2.

The prosecution said they'd supply such a list by Wednesday.

Prosecutors also said Monday that they are ready for the preliminary hearing that is currently scheduled for Jan. 7. Approximately 75 victims or family members are flying in for that hearing, they said.