Judge orders release of records in Colo. shooting
DENVER (AP) – The new judge overseeing the Colorado theater shooting case on Thursday ordered the release of documents related to the arrest of suspect James Holmes.
District Judge Carlos Samour said in an order that the arrest and search warrant affidavits could be unsealed, responding to a request by media organizations including The Associated Press.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys had raised concerns about releasing the documents. Prosecutors said they were worried about the privacy of victims and witnesses if the records were released. Attorneys for Holmes said they didn’t want to hurt his chances for a fair trial.
Samour said much of the information already is public.
Samour took over the case earlier this week after the previous judge, who had sealed the documents, removed himself. Judge William Sylvester handed off to Samour on Monday, saying prosecutors’ decision to seek the death penalty against Holmes meant the case would take up so much time that he couldn’t carry out his administrative duties as chief judge of a busy four-county district.
Sylvester had said he was reluctant to release the documents before the preliminary hearing, when prosecutors laid out evidence for him to decide whether Holmes could be brought to trial.
That hearing was held in January, with investigators giving the names and injuries of every theater victim in graphic detail.
Witnesses testified that Holmes spent weeks amassing an arsenal and planning the attack. They also said he set up an elaborate booby trap in his apartment designed to explode at the same time the theater attack occurred miles away.
Media organizations said there has been a “wealth of information already made public in the proceedings thus far.” They argued there was no basis for the documents to remain sealed.
With the preliminary hearing over, Samour said lawyers failed to show that releasing the records would cause any harm, or that keeping the documents sealed would prevent any harm.
Holmes last week offered to plead guilty in the July 20 attacks that killed 12 and injured 70. Prosecutors rejected that offer and announced Monday they would seek the death penalty.
CATHERINE TSAI and DAN ELLIOTT
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