World Bulletin/News Desk
A former University of Colorado graduate student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in a shooting rampage at a Denver-area movie theater last week had been under the care of a psychiatrist who was part of a campus threat-assessment team.
The disclosure came in court documents filed on Friday by lawyers for James Holmes, 24, who is accused of opening fire last Friday on a packed showing of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
The defense attorneys, in their request to an Arapahoe County district judge, are seeking a court order requiring prosecutors to turn over the contents of a package that Holmes sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton and was later seized by investigators.
"Mr. Holmes was a psychiatric patient of Dr. Fenton, and his communications with her are protected," the filing said.
Fenton, medical director for student mental health services at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, provides medication and psychotherapy for grad students in addition to her teaching duties, according to a school website.
A professional biography of Fenton posted on the site said she had conducted research on schizophrenia, including a two-year grant to work in the schizophrenia research department of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2008 to 2010.
Fenton is also a member of the campus-based "behavioral assessment and threat assessment team," which helps faculty and staff deal with "individuals who may be threatening, disruptive or otherwise problematic," according to that group's website.
It could not be ascertained if Fenton was caring for Holmes under the threat-assessment program or under routine counseling she provided to students on campus.
Under Colorado law, mental health professionals cannot be held liable in civil suits for failing to predict a patient's violent behavior unless it involves a "serious threat of imminent physical violence against a specific person or persons." When such a threat is made, the mental health professional is required to take action, which may include notifying those targeted or a law enforcement agency.
Fenton could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment, and a spokeswoman for the University of Colorado medical school declined to comment, citing restrictions under a gag order issued by the judge presiding over the case.
The university, where Holmes had been enrolled as a doctoral student of neuroscience, confirmed earlier this week that a suspicious package was delivered by mail on Monday and that it was "immediately investigated and handed over to authorities within hours."
Fox News has reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement source close to the investigation, that two packages were sent by Holmes to a psychiatrist on the faculty of the University of Colorado, and that one contained a notebook detailing the shooting scenario. According to Fox News, the notebook contained hand-drawn illustrations of stick figures shooting at other stick figures.
The defense motion accuses the government of leaking information to the media in defiance of a gag order, thereby jeopardizing Holmes' rights to due process and fair trial by an impartial jury. It says his lawyers will request a hearing to determine "appropriate sanctions for this misconduct."
Prosecutors, responding to the discovery motion, disputed various elements of media accounts as being erroneous, suggesting that anyone who had provided information to Fox News and other outlets lacked real knowledge of the case.
"These factual errors lead (the government) to believe ... that the media is getting information from hoaxers, fraudsters, or maybe from nobody at all by creating fake 'law enforcement sources' out of whole cloth," prosecutors said in their filing.
Formal charges against the suspect, who dyed his hair bright orange and was said by authorities to have referred to himself as the Joker - Batman's comic book archenemy - are expected to be filed in court on Monday.
The judge in the case, William Sylvester, set a hearing on the defense discovery motion to be held as part of Monday's proceedings. Sylvester also said he would consider a pleading by news media organizations to make public court documents the judge has sealed in the case.
Arrested within minutes of the shooting rampage at his car in the theater's parking lot, Holmes is being held in solitary confinement in the local jail.
In addition to charges stemming from one of the worst outbursts of U.S. gun violence in recent years, he is accused of wiring his apartment with enough explosives to have leveled the entire building if they had been detonated.
The apartment house was evacuated when the booby traps were discovered. But the explosives were later safely dismantled and removed by authorities, and Holmes' neighbors began returning to their homes on Wednesday night.
The latest disclosures about the suspect came to light as mourners attended the third funeral in as many days for one of the victims of the shooting rampage, this one for an 18-year-old high school graduate, Alexander J. "AJ" Boik," who was bound for art college in the fall.
Aurora's Queen of Peace Catholic Church was filled with hundreds of mourners, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and a contingent of Aurora police officers and firefighters.
Boik was one of the youngest among 12 people, aged 6 to 51, killed in the hail of gunfire early last Friday, just after midnight. Of the 58 wounded, 12 remain hospitalized, including five in critical condition.
67 Kashmiri students who cheered for Pakistan's cricket team were charged with sedition after cheering for Pakistan in a cricket match.
Earlier today, Libya officially received Saadi from neighboring Niger where he had been hiding since the collapse of his father's regime in 2011.
The government said it had referred the bill to interim president Adly Mansour for endorsement.
The Arab diplomatic source attributed the Saudi plan to a recent diplomatic standoff with Qatar.
Dozens of foreign female activists had hoped to mark the International Women Day, which is marked on March 8 of every year, in the Gaza Strip.
The head of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, accused Iraq's federal government of oppressing Kurdish identity by cutting federal funding for civil servants
Obama and administration officials emphasized that the U.S. sanctions could be adjusted or additional steps taken as Russian behavior changed.
Tymoshenko called for Britain and United States, as signatories of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum which guaranteed Ukraine's territorial integrity
Canada is home to a sizeable Ukrainian diaspora and the Conservative government has strongly condemned Russia's actions in Crimea
The OPCW official said there were seven "hardened" aircraft hangars and five underground facilities and "none of them have been destroyed"
Interpol uses red notices to inform its 190 member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual by a judicial authority.
A motorcycle driver and a member of the National Guard killed in the same place by a sniper
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council that there are more than 650,000 people internally displaced in CAR due to the conflict, over 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone
No concrete decisions were announced after the Paris meeting beyond vague promises of help with security.
"The Egyptian ambassador to Qatar will not return to Doha at the moment," a cabinet statement said.