Judge agrees to keep secret two documents in movie theater shooting case

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - The judge overseeing the movie theater shooting case has agreed to a prosecution request to keep two of their documents secret.

District Court Judge Carlos Samour agreed to suppress a supplemental response to a defense motion requesting the court prohibit testimony about crime scene reconstruction, including analyses of blood spatter or bullet trajectory, according to an order dated August 20. The second secret document will be a request for more time to file another response to a defense motion requesting the court ban testimony about evidence regarding firearms, ballistics and toolmark identification.

James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to opening fire with three firearms in a crowded movie theater on July 20. The attack killed 12 people and injured 70 others.

A gag order issued at the outset of the case prevents law enforcement and attorneys from making many statements about the case or sharing evidence, but most of the written motions, replies and orders have been part of the public record. Even redactions, the removal of certain words or phrases in public versions of a document, have been rare.

Samour's order does not hint at why he decided to allow the prosecution to keep the two filings secret, but he does write that he "believes that the defendant would concur with the People's request."

A register of actions documenting all the progress in the case is usually posted on Fridays. It should indicate when the prosecution has filed their documents, even if the court keeps them suppressed.

All previous documents related to these two issues remain public and are posted in the cases' online archive.

The two original defense filings reference several of the same legal precedents and both center on a demand that the scientific techniques used to generate expert opinions about the crime scene be determined to be admissible before being introduced at trial. To date, however, the prosecution's responses have not included any actual description of the techniques or resulting opinions.

On July 2, the prosecution wrote that they were anticipating receipt of a report from an FBI lab. It is unclear if that report has been received, but it should also appear on the register of actions if a copy is submitted to the judge.

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