Prosecutors: Shooting suspect threatened professor
DENVER (AP) – The suspect in the deadly Colorado theater attack threatened a professor and was banned from his university campus shortly before one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, prosecutors said Friday, raising more questions about why campus police didn’t report his actions to outside authorities.
The revelation conflicts with the university’s statements that James Holmes was denied access to non-public parts of the campus because he had withdrawn from school.
Holmes faces 152 charges in the July shooting at a midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie that killed 12 people and injured 5. His lawyers argue he is mentally ill, raising the possibility that Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
The name of the professor Holmes threatened has been blacked out. Prosecutors say the professor reported the threats to the university. In court testimony Aug. 30, University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, a professor at the school, said she contacted campus police after meeting with Holmes on June 11.
University officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
After weeks of secrecy surrounding the case, most of the documents filed in court were released to the public Friday. But they failed to answer several key questions, including what, if anything, the University of Colorado did once he reportedly threatened people there.
Just minutes before the shooting, Holmes tried unsuccessfully to call Fenton, defense attorneys have said.
Holmes also mailed a notebook to Fenton that reportedly contains descriptions of a violent attack, attorneys said. The package wasn’t discovered in a university mail room until after the shooting.
Defense attorneys don’t want the notebook to be used as evidence, saying it’s protected by doctor-patient privilege. Prosecutors have said the doctor-patient relationship ended on June 11, weeks before the attack, when Fenton last saw Holmes professionally.
In other court documents, defense attorneys say the prosecutors’ allegations are false, based on university statements. The university has said Holmes was denied access to non-public parts of the campus because he had withdrawn from school.
In court, prosecutors raised the prospect that Holmes was angry at the failure of a once-promising academic career and stockpiled weapons, ammunition, tear gas grenades and body armor as his research deteriorated and professors urged him to get into another profession. After the theater shooting, Holmes’ apartment was found rigged with explosives.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said Holmes failed a key oral exam in June, was banned from campus and began to voluntarily withdraw from the school.
Not all documents are included in those released Friday. Judge William Sylvester kept from the public documents that contain privileged information, an arrest affidavit that contains details of the investigation and subpoena and search warrant requests that contain address and names of witnesses.
P. SOLOMON BANDA
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