James Holmes' attorneys complain about DA redacting cellphone texts suspect sent to aquaintance

Defense wants to review uncensored phone texts

AURORA, Colo. - Defense attorneys for the man accused in the Aurora theater shooting object that prosecutors obtained text messages from the cellphone of an acquaintance of James Holmes, but only gave the defense heavily redacted copies.

In court papers released Monday, defense attorneys said, "Many of the redactions made by the prosecution render the (phone text) information provided unintelligible to the defense."

Ironically, defense attorneys blacked out most of the paragraph in which they complain about prosecutors heavy censorship of the phone records.

Last month, Arapahoe County prosecutors said in court papers that an unnamed witness who was a "colleague" of Holmes at the University of Colorado campus in Aurora possessed text messages that Holmes sent to the witness's cellphone. The witness agreed to be interviewed by Aurora police and the FBI and to let investigators retrieve Holmes' text messages from the cellphone, prosecutors said.

Both prosecution and defense agree that most of the information from the cellphone is irrelevant to the case.

Yet, because government computer forensics technicians were unable to retrieve only text messages related to Holmes, they downloaded "all of the content" from the witness's cellphone without first informing the witness, defense attorneys said in court papers.

Prosecutors write in court papers that the 2,275 pages of records from the cellphone include the witness's personal contact list, photographs, "privileged communications" with the witness's therapist and thousands of text messages, "many of them highly personal."

The defense said that prosecutors should have sealed the records and let a judge decide what information was relevant to the case.

Yet, because prosecutors have reviewed all the cellphone's contents, defense attorneys say they're entitled to examine it, too.

Defense attorneys said they will abide by a protective order and not share the information with Holmes.

Defense attorneys said they spoke with the witness who said that Assistant District Attorney Lisa Teesch-Maguire said that prosecutors were reading personal information from the cellphone and that the witness "should be concerned about the defense gaining possession of this information."

Defense attorneys said they were told that Teesch-Maguire told the witness that "the defense would misuse this (personal) information and would harass (the witness's) friends and family of they obtained it."

The defense attorneys said the prosecutor told the witness that the District Attorney's Office would redact "all information is believed to be problematic before turning over the contents of (the) phone to the defense."

Attorneys said the defense is "highly sensitive to (the witness's) concerns and does not wish to invade (the individual's) privacy unnecessarily." But the defense stressed that Holmes' has a constitutional right to due process under the law and to confront any evidence against him.

The defense suggests that one of its attorneys and a prosecutor could review the unredacted cellphone records together to ensure that there's nothing relevant to the case that the defense should be provided.

Print this article Back to Top