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Colorado Theater Shooting

Co shooting victims

Twelve people were killed in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater during a special midnight screening of the Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20.  The suspect, 25-year-old James Holmes, faces 166 charges, including murder, attempted murder and weapon offenses.  Police said Holmes was dressed head to toe in protective tactical gear and unleashed bullets from an AR-15 rifle, a 12-guage shotgun and a .40-caliber pistol.

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. – A judge has accepted a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity by Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes.

Judge Carlos Samour advised Holmes of the decision during a hearing Tuesday. When asked if he had any questions about the 12-page advisement outlining the terms of the decision, Holmes said, “No.”

Holmes faces murder, attempted murder and other charges in connection with the July 20 attack during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises at an Aurora movie theater. The assault killed 12 people and left 58 others wounded.

The judge’s decision resolves the debate on whether Holmes should be allowed to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers first asked for the change of plea in early May, but questions arose over the constitutionality of Colorado’s laws for the insanity plea.

Under state law, defendants who plead insanity must have a psychiatric evaluation at the state mental institute. That evaluation could take months.

Holmes’ trial is expected to start in February, but the evaluation and other complicated legal issues surrounding the case could result in delays.

Holmes had previously offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence if prosecutors dropped the death penalty in the case. In April, prosecutors announced that they would forge ahead with the death penalty.

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (CNN) — A judge said Monday there is good cause to let Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

But Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said he will not rule until other matters are resolved, possibly later this month.

Previously, a judge entered a standard plea of not guilty for Holmes, who faces charges in the July 20, 2012, shooting spree in Aurora that took the lives of 12 people and wounded dozens more at the premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Holmes had offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars if authorities would spare his life, but prosecutors in Arapahoe County announced a month ago they would seek the death penalty.

Holmes’ attorneys announced last week they wanted to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, and Samour responded by giving them an opportunity Monday to show they had good cause for the change.

Samour ruled Monday that they did, after the defense attorney Daniel King said in court that defense experts have made a diagnosis supporting the plea.

King did not specify what that diagnosis was.

Holmes’ trial is scheduled to begin in February. It is expected to last about four months.

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(CNN) — Attorneys for accused Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes filed their intent to plead not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of their client.

Holmes is accused of masterminding a mass shooting on July 20, 2012, during a showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed.

He faces 166 charges, including murder, attempted murder and weapon offenses. Police said Holmes was dressed head to toe in protective tactical gear and had an arsenal that included an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-caliber pistol. Investigators said he had acquired nearly 1,000 bullets or shotgun rounds.

Federal agents have said the 25-year-old former University of Colorado doctoral student planned the attack for months. His trial is scheduled to begin next February. If convicted, Holmes faces the death penalty.

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By Jim Spellman

DENVER (CNN) — The journalist who first reported about a notebook that James Holmes allegedly sent his psychiatrist before last year’s horrific theater massacre could face jail time for not revealing her sources.

FoxNews.com reporter Jana Winter has been subpoenaed by Holmes’ attorneys to testify on Wednesday, but on Monday Judge Carlos Samour Jr. put off a ruling on whether Winter must reveal her source.

Winter has indicated that she has no plans to identify who told her the notebook from the accused Colorado movie theater gunman was, as she reported, “full of details about how he was going to kill people.”

“My reputation as a journalist will be irreparably tarnished among my colleagues and perhaps more importantly my future sources,” Winter wrote in a March affidavit.

Days after the July 20 theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, Winter scored a major scoop on FoxNews.com, reporting about the existence of the notebook.

“The parcel may have sat unopened in a mail room for up to a week before its discovery Monday (July 23), a law enforcement source told FoxNews.com,” Winter’s July 25 article stated.

She cited a source who said the notebook contained “drawings and illustrations of the massacre.”

At the time of the article, the judge in the case had issued a so-called “gag order” barring officials from speaking to reporters about the case.

Other media, including CNN, later reported on the existence of the notebook sent by Holmes to Dr. Lynne Fenton, the University of Colorado psychiatrist who had treated him. It has since been discussed in open court, though the contents have not been revealed.

Samour said Monday he will not rule on the Winter issue until it is decided whether the notebook is admissible as evidence. If it is not admissible because it is privileged doctor-patient communication, then the credibility of the police officers who handled the notebook may be irrelevant to the case and not rise to the level required by Colorado’s shield law for forcing journalists to testify.

But if Winter is ordered to reveal her source and does not, she could be found in contempt of court and jailed.

Fenton contacted police in June, a month before the massacre, and told them she had treated Holmes and he “had stopped seeing her and had begun threatening her via text message,” according to a search warrant affidavit.

Fenton could face lawsuits that blame her and the school for improperly handling Holmes’ treatment.

Holmes is charged with numerous counts of first-degree murder for allegedly opening fire inside a movie theater, killing 12 people and wounding dozens more at the premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Federal agents have said the 25-year-old former University of Colorado doctoral student planned the attack for months. His trial is scheduled to begin in February 2014. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Holmes’ attorneys have filed a series of motions and hearings in an attempt to find out who leaked the information about the notebook, calling to the stand all the police and bomb technicians who had access to the package. All have said they did not speak to any reporters about the package.

Within hours of its discovery, a judge ordered the package to be sealed and it has not been viewed by anyone since.

Saying they have exhausted all other avenues to identify the leaker, defense attorneys subpoenaed Winter. She appeared in court last week on the same day prosecutors said they would pursue the death penalty against Holmes, although she did not testify.

Fox News declined to comment on the case or make Winter available for interviews, and an e-mail to Winter’s attorney at Fox News went unanswered. The gag order is still in place, barring the defense team from commenting.

Winter and her attorneys have tried to fight the subpoena. The New York-based journalist made it clear in last month’s affidavit that her credibility is at stake if she were to reveal her sources.

“I will be unable to function effectively in my profession and my career will be over,” Winter wrote. “This is not an exaggeration – it is a provable certainty.”

She also said she has been subjected to threats on the Internet by supporters of Holmes.

Derigan Silver, who teaches media law at the University of Denver, expressed concern that Winter’s case could have a chilling effect on investigative journalism and that journalists may be reluctant to pursue challenging stories that rely on confidential sources.

“As a journalist, you ask yourself, ‘Do I sit in front of Britney Spears’ house and snap some pics or do I cover this really important story and maybe go to jail,’” he said.

Silver argued that investigative journalism is in the public interest and Winter’s case should be a rallying point for everyone interested in a free press.

“If people want good important stories, we have to stand up for the reporters doing those stories,” he said.

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by Ben Brumfield and Lateef Mungin

(CNN) — When James Holmes’ psychiatrist warned campus police at the University of Colorado how dangerous he was, they deactivated his college ID to prevent him passing through any locked doors. After a deadly movie theater assault a month later, the question of what else could have been done hung in the air.

Papers released by prosecutors Thursday are allowing a peek into the troubled mind of the alleged Aurora theater killer. They roughly trace his path from abandoning psychiatric treatment to amassing guns, clips and nearly 1,000 high-caliber or high-power bullets.

Dr. Lynne Fenton told university police that Holmes talked about killing people.

The warnings didn’t stop the spray of gunfire weeks later, on July 20, 2012, that took the lives of 12 people and wounded dozens more at the premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

It is unclear what was done with Fenton’s information.

He threatened his psychiatrist

Along with the collection of firearms that police turned up with search warrants prosecutors have released, they found a Batman mask, a movie ticket receipt and detailed photos of the theater. Holmes also had “numerous photos” of himself with his hair dyed fire orange.

Fenton, who works on the medical campus, contacted police in June about Holmes, according to a search warrant affidavit.

“Dr. Fenton was advising that she had been treating Holmes, and that Holmes had stopped seeing her and had begun threatening her via text message,” the affidavit said.

Holmes mailed her a frightful package. Inside were $400 in burned $20 bills, a sticky note with an infinity sign, and a spiral notebook containing a placard. Written on it: “James Holmes, Of Life,” according to the documents.

Despite her warning and on top of the torment she’s already endured, Fenton could face more than a dozen lawsuits that blame her and the school for improperly handling Holmes’ treatment.

At least 14 people have filed legal documents indicating they are planning to sue the University of Colorado Denver and Fenton for negligence.

A long, deadly list

The prosecution documents released Thursday give a macabre portrait of the arsenal Holmes acquired before the alleged shooting:

– Nearly 1,000 bullets or shotgun rounds; he had ordered at least six packages from Bulkammo.com at the end of June. — Two semi-automatic pistols, one with a laser sight — An assault-type rifle — A shotgun — Multiple ammunition clips — A 90-round magazine — A magazine carrier — Paper targets — Materials to booby trap his apartment — Multiple cellphones and computers — Black army boots — A black coat — A black combat helmet — A gas mask

The next pretrial hearing in Holmes’ case is scheduled for Wednesday.

With numerous counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons offenses, the former doctoral student in neuroscience faces a total of 166 charges.

Prosecutors, who made the documents public, want the death penalty.

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From Hunter Parsons

(CNN) — Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes despite his offer last week to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding a death sentence.

“It is my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said.

The decision comes less than a week after defense attorneys filed documents saying Holmes had offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Prosecutors took the defense to task for publicly offering it, saying they hadn’t been given enough information to even consider such a deal.

“Not only improper, but grossly improper,” prosecutors said in a Thursday court filing. “For the intended purpose of generating predictable publicity.”

Holmes faces 166 counts of murder and attempted murder for last year’s shooting at an Aurora movie theater that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.

Attorneys on both sides are under a gag order, leaving case watchers to divine tactics from court documents.

“Prior to arraignment, Mr. Holmes made an offer to the prosecution to resolve this case by pleading guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison, without any opportunity for parole,” the documents filed by the defense team read.

Last month, a judge entered a standard plea of not guilty for Holmes, who is accused in the July 20 shooting.

In the documents filed Wednesday, his attorneys said they were still exploring a mental health defense, “and counsel will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defenses at a trial or sentencing proceeding, as necessary.”

Federal agents have said the former University of Colorado doctoral student planned the attack for months.

Authorities say Holmes booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, then traveled to the movie theater armed with the weapons, tear gas and body armor planning to kill audience members during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Witnesses who spoke to CNN said the gunman roamed the theater, shooting randomly as people tried to scramble away or cowered between seats.

CNN’s Jim Spellman, Ed Payne and Dana Ford contributed to this report.

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By Jim Spellman and Lateef Mungin

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (CNN) — A judge on Tuesday entered a standard plea of not guilty for James Holmes, the man suspected in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, after he and his attorneys said they were not ready to enter a plea.

In court documents, Holmes’ attorneys had suggested that they might enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting rampage at the theater that left 12 people dead and 58 injured on July 20, 2012.

Holmes’ sanity was expected to be a major issue at Tuesday’s arraignment; his attorneys still may enter an insanity plea but it would be subject to the judge’s approval.

Holmes’ parents sat holding hands during the hearing but didn’t react to the judge’s decision. They were seated directly across the aisle from wheelchair-bound shooting victim Caleb Medley and his wife, Katie, who delivered their baby shortly after the shooting.

The hearing was delayed about 30 minutes because Holmes’ attorney Daniel King was late. He attributed it to traffic caused by unexpected snowfall — a weather system that surprised many journalists in the courtroom, as well.

When King asked Judge William Blair Sylvester for a delay of the arraignment, there were audible sighs from the side of the courtroom where shooting survivors and victim families sit. When the judge declared that he would move forward with the arraignment, one man held his hands in the air in a “hallelujah” gesture.

Prosecutors say they will make a decision on whether it not to seek the death penalty against the 25-year-old Holmes at a hearing April 1.

But an insanity plea could make such a move harder, said David Beller, an attorney who is not connected to the case.

“There are a few reasons they wouldn’t go for the death penalty; the most important one being his mental state,” Beller said. “The Supreme Court, and really society, has been very clear: We don’t execute people who are mentally ill.”

The reaction

Family members of some of those who died in the shooting say they would be unhappy with an insanity defense.

Jessica Watts, whose cousin was killed, said she does not believe Holmes is insane.

“Absolutely not. This was months and months of planning and thousands of dollars spent on his part in order to pull this horrific night off,” she said.

Federal agents have said Holmes began buying guns in May 2012, two months before the attack. He allegedly built an arsenal of two Glock handguns, an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and 6,295 rounds of ammunition.

In addition, authorities contend, the former University of Colorado doctoral student dyed his hair fiery orange and apparently visited the AMC movie theater, taking photographs of hallways and doors, two weeks before the shooting.

The defense

According to the Colorado Bar Association, an insanity defense refers to “a person who is so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act is not accountable.”

If Holmes’ enters such a plea, he would waive all medical confidentiality and will have to turn over the name of any doctor or psychologist who may have treated him, according to Colorado law.

“If he enters the not guilty by reason of insanity plea, he’s going to be examined by state doctors and any statement he makes to those state doctors are given to the prosecution for potential use later,” Beller said.

On Monday, a judge ruled that Holmes will also have to agree to be drugged by doctors to assess his condition if he enters an insanity plea.

Earlier this month, Holmes’ lawyers tried to have Colorado’s insanity defense laws changed.

The attorneys asked the judge to rule parts of the state’s insanity defense laws unconstitutional.

Among other issues, they cited the requirement that a defendant “cooperate” with examining psychiatrists as a violation of the defendant’s privilege against compelled self-incrimination.

The charges

Holmes is charged with a total of 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges.

Authorities say he booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, then traveled to the movie theater armed with four weapons, tear gas and body armor planning to kill audience members during a screening of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.”

Witnesses who have spoken to CNN about the shooting have said the gunman roamed the theater, shooting randomly as people tried to scramble away or cowered between seats.

Among the 41 calls to 911, one stands out. In the 27-second call, at least 30 shots can be heard amid the chaos.

At his preliminary hearing in January, police who responded described hellish scenes inside the theater and described finding Holmes, dressed in body armor, standing outside, seeming “detached from it all,” according to Officer Jason Oviatt.

At the conclusion of the brief hearing, the father of one of the victim’s shouted out, “Rot in hell, Holmes.”

Holmes’ trial date has been set for August 5.

Jim Spellman reported from Colorado; Lateef Mungin wrote from Atlanta.

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(CNN) – The judge overseeing the case against suspected Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes agreed to delay arraignment in the case to allow defense lawyers more time to pore over 30,000 pages of evidence and hundreds of DVDs and CDs.

The arraignment — a formal reading of charges by the court and, frequently, the entering of a plea by the defendant — had been scheduled for Friday after Judge William Sylvester ruled Thursday that prosecutors had provided sufficient evidence in the preliminary hearing for the case to proceed to trial. The preliminary hearing ended Wednesday

Sylvester said he was concerned Holmes’ case could be headed for appeal if he moved too quickly with the arraignment. That step is now scheduled for the week of March 12.

Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in the July 20 shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater that left 12 people dead and scores injured.

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James E. Holmes was ordered to stand trial Thursday on charges he killed 12 people and wounded dozens more in a shooting rampage at a midnight screening of a “Batman” movie last summer.

By Casey Wian

Jim Spellman and Michael Pearson

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (CNN) — So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.

This is the scene Aurora police Officer Justin Grizzle said he encountered moments after entering the theater where, according to authorities, 25-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people in a July 20 shooting rampage.

Grizzle testified Monday on the opening day of the preliminary hearing for Holmes, who is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.

The 13-year veteran wiped away tears while describing his efforts to rush badly wounded victims to the hospital in his police cruiser, including shooting victim Ashley Moser and her husband, who wanted Grizzle to turn around and head back to the theater.

“He was shot in the head somewhere. He kept asking where his … daughter was,” Grizzle said. “He opened the door and tried to jump out.”

Grizzle said he had to drive and hold the man by his shoulder to keep him in the car.

The girl the man was seeking, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was among those killed in the shooting at a midnight showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.” Veronica’s mother, Ashley, faces a long recovery after being paralyzed in her lower half and miscarrying after the shooting.

The preliminary hearing that began Monday is designed to show a judge that the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial. Prosecutors are calling scores of witnesses and outlining their evidence in the case. The hearing could go on for days.

A gag order imposed by the judge in the case has limited the flow of information about the attack. However, a source said Holmes allegedly went out a rear exit door, propped it open and gathered his weapons. He then returned to the theater and tossed a canister inside before opening fire, the source said.

Screaming moviegoers scrambled to escape from the gunman, who shot at random as he walked up the theater’s steps, according to witnesses.

It was a scene “straight out of a horror film,” said Chris Ramos, who was inside the theater.

While none of the four law enforcement witnesses who testified Monday offered insight into a possible motive for the shooting, some new details emerged.

Police Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard said Holmes stopped the theater door from locking by using a small piece of plastic commonly used to hold tablecloths onto a picnic table. Jonsgaard also said he spotted a a shotgun and a large drum magazine that appeared to be to jammed on the floor of the theater.

Holmes’ attorneys are expected to argue that their client has “diminished capacity,” a term that, according to the Colorado Bar Association, relates to a person’s ability or inability “to make adequately considered decisions” regarding his or her legal representation because of “mental impairment or for some other reason.”

After the hearing, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester will determine whether there is enough evidence for Holmes to stand trial.

Security was tight at the hearing. Spectators had to pass through a metal detector and then were searched again before entering the courtroom. At least nine armed officers stood guard inside, some of them scanning the audience packed with reporters and victims’ family members.

Holmes appeared expressionless during the hearing and did not speak. His bushy hair and long beard contrasted with the bright red hair and close-cropped looks he sported during previous appearances.

During portions of the hearing, family members of victims held one another, sobbing.

Earlier in Monday’s hearing, police Officer Jason Oviatt — the first officer to encounter Holmes after the rampage ended — testified that Holmes seemed “very, very relaxed.”

Holmes, his pupils dilated, sweating and smelly, didn’t struggle or even tense his muscles as he was dragged away to be searched.

“He seemed very detached from it all,” Oviatt testified, describing Holmes as unnaturally calm amid the chaos and carnage.

Oviatt testified Monday that within minutes of the first calls, he responded to the theater and found Holmes standing outside in a helmet and gas mask, his hands atop a white coupe that turned out to belong to him.

At first, Oviatt said, he thought Holmes was a police officer, but as he drew within 20 feet, he realized something was terribly wrong.

“He was just standing there. All the other officers were running around, trying to get into the theater,” Oviatt said.

A trail of blood led from the theater. The rifle that authorities believe Holmes used in the attack lay on the ground near the building.

Holmes calmly complied with all of Oviatt’s orders, the officer testified.

Another officer, Aaron Blue, testified later that Holmes matter-of-factly told him, without prompting, about the complex web of explosives that authorities would later find in his Aurora apartment.

He told Blue that the devices “wouldn’t go off unless we set them off.”

Holmes was a doctoral student in the neuroscience program at the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado, Denver, in Aurora, until he withdrew a month before being arrested outside the bullet-riddled movie theater. He had been a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist, according to a court document filed by his lawyers.

His only brush with the law in Colorado appears to have been a 2011 summons for speeding from Aurora police.

If Holmes is ruled incompetent to stand trial, the hearing could provide the best opportunity for victims and the public to understand what happened and why.

To at least one victim, it doesn’t matter if Holmes stands trial.

“I obviously don’t want him to walk, but as long as he doesn’t see the light of day again, it doesn’t really much concern me beyond that,” said Stephen Barton, who suffered wounds on his face, neck and upper torso in the shooting that night. “To me, I see the trial as being an opportunity to learn more about what happened that night beyond just my own personal recollection.”

CNN’s Casey Wian and Jim Spellman reported from Colorado; Michael Pearson wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Michael Cary and Greg Botelho also contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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