Published September 20, 2012
DENVER – The lead police investigator is expected to take the stand Thursday as prosecutors make their case for why they should have access to a notebook sent by the Colorado shooting suspect to a university psychiatrist that purportedly contains descriptions of a violent attack.
Prosecutors on Aug. 30 suffered a setback in obtaining the notebook when Arapahoe County District Judge William B. Sylvester ruled that they could not disprove a doctor-patient relationship between suspect James Holmes and University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton.
Defense attorneys say Holmes is mentally ill and sought Fenton's help. Sylvester rejected prosecutor arguments that a doctor-patient relationship ended June 11, the last time Fenton saw Holmes. Holmes has been charged with 142 counts including murder and attempted murder stemming from the July 20 attack at an Aurora theater that killed 12 and wounded 58 others.
A court register of case actions indicated Wednesday that prosecutors are seeking now to add 10 more counts against Holmes and amend 17 others, but it didn't disclose details and a judge has issued a gag order limiting what information lawyers can publicly disclose in the case.
In their quest to obtain Holmes' notebook, prosecutors are arguing that it and its contents are fair game because Holmes wasn't to undergo therapy because he planned to be dead or in prison after the shootings rampage at an opening night showing of "The Dark Night Rises."
Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson didn't explain in court Aug. 30 why she believed Holmes could have planned to be dead, but she pointed to a dating site where Holmes asked if he would be visited in prison.
"He intended to be dead or in prison after this shooting," Pearson said last month.
To bolster arguments set for Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman told Sylvester that Aurora police major crimes Detective Craig Appel, the lead investigator, and Detective Tom Welton, an investigator in the case would testify Thursday.
Orman said in court that Appel will testify that Holmes did the shooting, that he bought a ticket at the theater, took a seat, then walked out of an emergency exit, propping the door open so he could come back and do the shooting. Orman said Welton will testify that it was Holmes who posted profiles on Match.com and AdultFriendFinder.com before the shooting with the tagline, "Will you visit me in prison?"
In the days following the shooting, bloggers posted profiles reportedly found on those sites showing the same prison comment accompanied by a picture of a man with orange hair that resembled Holmes. In one posting under the screen name, Classic--Jim, favorite movies listed include the Jim Carrey cult classic "Dumb and Dumber," and "Star Wars, etc."
As a possible motive, prosecutors suggest Holmes was angry at a failing academic career.
Holmes was a graduate student in the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado. Prosecutors say Holmes did poorly on a key exam and withdrew on June 10 while he was stockpiling guns, ammunition and body armor ahead of the shooting.
Holmes had also applied at graduate neuroscience programs at Iowa, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Kansas, Michigan and Alabama.
Holmes was accepted at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with an offer of free tuition and $22,000 a year. But Iowa rejected him with a "Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances" notation.
University of Alabama at Birmingham also rejected him with one professor noting that "he may be extremely smart, but difficult to engage."