Aurora detective assigned to manage evidence in James Holmes murder case full-time

AURORA, Colo. - A detective with the Aurora Police Department is assigned to work full-time managing the evidence for the James Holmes murder trial, according to a pleading by the prosecution that called the task "unprecedented."

At this point, the prosecution says it has provided the defense with more than 37,000 pages of documents and 436 optical storage disks of various formats. Those disks contain audio, video, photographs, business records, computer forensic reports and laboratory files.

Holmes is accused of opening fire with multiple weapons inside a crowded movie theater on July 20 during a midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed, 58 were wounded and 12 others were hurt escaping the theater.

In the Aurora Police Department, Detective Chris Fanning was assigned to work full-time organizing all of the evidence in the case.

"This is the only case where the Aurora Police Department has ever assigned a detective to the duties of full-time discovery management," prosecutor say in court papers.

Fanning works with an electronic documents management system called VERSADEX and a Digital Media Management System. He also creates spreadsheets of each piece of evidence entered into those systems, which were provided to both the prosecution and defense.

As a means of quality control, the pleading says, a crime analyst was assigned to review and cross-reference all of the reports in the VERSADEX system. That analyst did find some missing reports, which are being sought out by another detective.

"In summary, the Aurora Police Department has undertaken an unprecedented effort at quality control in the discovery process," the document says.

The prosecution's pleading, designated P-39, was filed on Tuesday in response to a verbal order issued by Judge Carlos Samour in court on April 10. The document asks for clarification about the judge's requirement that the prosecution certify in writing that the District Attorney's Office comb through all the "files" of every agency involved in the investigation to confirm that the defense gets everything they have a legal right to get in the discovery phase.

The prosecution asks for a clarification about what the court meant by "files," since the case involves a variety of evidence types on paper, CD-ROM disks, DVD disks, Blu-Ray disks and hard drives. They also suggest that the court doesn't have the authority under Colorado law to require them to read, listen or watch everything in all of those formats to compare it to the copies provided to the Defense in discovery.

In addition to all of the evidence provided to the defense during the discovery phase, the prosecution's document says the defense will be granted access to the property in the police department's evidence section in late April or early May. At that time, they will be able to inspect and copy any documents being held.