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James Holmes case: University releases thousands of emails

December 05, 2012|By Paloma Esquivel and Jenny Deam
  • James Holmes appears with defense attorney Tamara Brady before Arapahoe County District Court Judge William B. Sylvester in Centennial, Colo.
James Holmes appears with defense attorney Tamara Brady before Arapahoe… (R.J. Sangosti / EPA )

DENVER -- More than 1,500 emails to and from accused mass murderer James Holmes were made public for the first time Wednesday. The emails, released by the University of Colorado-Denver, where Holmes was a neuroscience doctoral student, are from his two school accounts.

Holmes, 24, faces 166 charges in the July 20 shooting spree that killed 12 and wounded at least 58 just past midnight during the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in a packed Aurora theater. He is being held without bond.

An additional 2,300 internal university staff emails surrounding his alleged attack were also released.

PHOTOS: 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting

An early review of the first emails revealed little since much is either mundane correspondence from the department or redacted under a federal law that guarantees a student's privacy.

Thousands of other emails were, in fact, withheld by the university -- including those involving Holmes' medical and psychiatric information and those that are considered part of the ongoing investigation.

The defense has objected to the release of any information from the university as a violation of Holmes' privacy.

WHO THEY WERE: Aurora movie-theater victims

Arapahoe County District Court Judge William B. Sylvester had initially said all university correspondence should remain sealed as it might be relevant to the criminal case. However, last month he paved the way for the university to release some of the emails, saying it was up to the school to decide which emails could be made public. The release Wednesday comes after requests made months ago from news media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times.

The defense has argued against the release of any information to the public from the university as a violation of Holmes’ privacy.

From the earliest days of the case the prosecution has painted a picture of a brilliant student whose life was unraveling-- from his alleged statement in March to a classmate that he wanted to kill people to his failing a key oral exam in early June to his decision days later to withdraw from the elite university program. It has argued that all of his time at the university was relevant to the case because it showed intent and state of mind.

The defense team has contended Holmes is mentally ill. It is largely expected that Holmes' attorneys will seek an insanity defense.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January in which the prosecution is expected to lay out its evidence against Holmes. Last month, a hearing in the case was abruptly delayed when Holmes was taken to the hospital for an undisclosed illness or injury.

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