Attorneys: Theater Shooting Suspect Is Mentally Ill

James Holmes Was Present During Court Hearing

Attorneys for accused movie theater shooter James Holmes mentioned three times during a Thursday afternoon court hearing that he is mentally ill, laying the base for an insanity defense.

They mentioned the issue once when the defense argued it had not received all the evidence in the case.

"We cannot begin to assess the nature and depth of Mr Holmes' mental illness until we receive full disclosure, " defense attorney Daniel King said.

Defense attorneys said they had 2,677 pages of discovery, which includes reports from crime scene officers but they had no photos and no video from the district attorney's office.

The second mention of mental illness was during an argument about unsealing documents requested by the media. Nearly all the court documents in this case are under a sweeping gag order.

The defense said Holmes sought help from Dr. Lynne Fenton for mental illness and when her name showed up in one of the motions released to the public, it "caused problems."

The defense also argued that if the court releases the Registry of Action, or synopsis of the minutes or notes from all the hearings, the titles of certain hearings or documents related to the hearings could reveal more about his mental illness, which the defense did not want.

Victims Stare At James Holmes In Court

Clad in a red jumpsuit with his hands shackled, James Holmes sat in the courtroom Thursday not saying anything or doing anything of note, according to 7NEWS Reporter Marshall Zelinger, who was in the courtroom.

His hair was red and orange and he had grown a brown mustache and thick "mutton-chop" sideburns. He looked up and around at the lights early on in the hearing, then when the prosecutors were talking, Holmes looked down. When his defense team was talking, he looked at the judge, Zelinger said.

There were several victims in the courtroom as well.

Pierce O'Farrill, whose arm was in a sling, sat silently, taking in the proceeding.

Shane Medek, Micayla Medek's brother, stared at Holmes during the entire 80-minute hearing and on occasion learned forward aggressively toward the suspect. Micayla Medek was one of the 12 who was shot and killed inside the movie theater on July 20.

"I wanted to make eye contact. I wanted him to look me in the eye 'cuz I know he didn't look none of the victims in the eye ... I've been here a few times before and he's never made eye contact and today he did," Shane Medek said.

"He kind of gave me a little smirk as well, and I liked it, I like it. I'm glad he knows that I’m going to be here every time to make sure he's going to pay one way or another," Medek said.

"Whether it's going to be sitting in his mental hospital drugged up on pills or, hopefully, the death penalty ... I would love to be right there when he gets that injection. I hope he looks me in the eye that day," Medek said.

Medek said he wasn't too impressed with Thursday's hearing.

"All we hear about is media this and what the media gets. When are we going to start talking about this dude and what's going to happen to him and the consequences of what he did? ... And they keep talking about fairness in there? Come on, man. How does he get fairness? Where's our fairness? Where's my sister's fairness?"

"You know when you see a train wreck and then you can't stop looking at it? It's kind of like that. I was really, I couldn't keep my eyes off of him," said Taryn Dirito, who was inside the movie theater but was not hurt.

She said she went to court "just to see if I feel like he's competent …I want closure for myself to see if he's actually competent."

Dirito said she doesn't believe the insanity defense, saying that she rolled her eyes when Holmes' defense attorneys brought up the issue of mental illness three different times.

News Organizations Seeking Court Documents

News media organizations, including 7NEWS, went before a judge on Thursday to seek access to court documents in the case.

The news organizations are also asking the judge to scale back a sweeping gag order that bars the University of Colorado from releasing details about Holmes, who was a PhD student in the neuroscience program.

Holmes is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting, which occurred during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie.

The July 20 shooting left 12 people dead and injured 58 others at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora.

Steven Zansberg is the Denver lawyer representing the news organizations.

He told Colorado Public Radio's "Colorado Matters," the court should have the burden of proving releasing court documents would cause harm to the police investigation.

Zansberg said releasing court documents allows the public to see that justice is being done and to observe the process.

"Public scrutiny tends to make everyone involved in the process pay attention and act honestly," he told the station.

Former prosecutor and adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver, Karen Steinhauser, told the station unsealing documents during an active investigation could harm prosecutors' ability to build a case against Holmes.

Steinhauser said as prosecutors continue to interview witnesses, it will become increasingly difficult to prove that the statements given are the witnesses' own knowledge versus something they may have heard in the media.

"People then, they are still in the process of trying to interview; would learn of some detail and some information, it might be difficult then to try to show that this witness was giving the information based on what they knew versus what they learned from reading [news reports]," Steinhauser said.

She added that opening the court file could taint the jury pool against Holmes.

Zansberg said prosecutors don't need to find a jury that's ignorant of the shooting.

"I'm not sure we could find 12 such people in Colorado," he said.

Prosecutors need only find 12 jurors who will uphold their oath to decide guilt or innocence based off the evidence that is presented in court, Zansberg said.

7NEWS also learned in court Thursday that there is a motion that the defense would like a confidential expert to be present during forensic testing but it's not clear for what kind of forensic testing, since all information has been sealed.

Holmes' next hearing will be held on Aug. 16 at 1:30 p.m. The hearing will pertain to doctor-client confidentiality -- to determine if there was privilege between Dr. Fenton and Holmes, if so when it began, if it lapsed and whether the contents of the package Holmes sent to Fenton would be privileged.

"It would be nice to resolve this privilege issue," said 18th Judicial District Chief Judge William Sylvester.

The deputy district attorney said Thursday that hundreds of people have yet to be interviewed for the first time or to be re-interviewed. Until the investigation is completed satisfactorily, the DA's office said it doesn't want to release the majority of the documents related to the case.

"We just need more time," a deputy district attorney said, saying that this could be largest investigation the state has ever seen.

He argued there may be a time to release more information but now is too early in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and the integrity of the judicial process.

Holmes' attorney agreed, saying the defense wants to keep most documents sealed because they need to file reports with specificity and they don't need to dance around issues by hiding information from the media.

If we have to leave names out or allude to certain issues, it complicates things, the defense argued.

Zansberg said, "The public has a right to know what the parties are doing and arguing in between public hearings."


Information from,|Transparency_On_Trial

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