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Prosecution abruptly drops bid for James Holmes' notebook

September 20, 2012|By Jenny Deam
  • James Holmes, shown in court July 23, no longer has the orange hair. He appeared to be engaged and alert at Thursday's hearing.
James Holmes, shown in court July 23, no longer has the orange hair. He appeared… (RJ Sangosti / Denver Post )

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Prosecutors in the Colorado movie theater shooting on Thursday abruptly dropped their effort to gain access to a notebook written by suspect James Holmes, who appeared in court looking engaged and without the orange hair he had in previous appearances.

Holmes, who has been in custody since the July 20 shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, seemed alert as he watched the proceedings. His once orange hair was short and brown and he was well-trimmed and groomed, unlike the wild-eyed visage he had presented before.

Thursday’s hearing was designed for the prosecution to again seek the notebook, which the defense has maintained is protected by patient-doctor privilege. Holmes had sent the notebook to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton.

Arapahoe County District Judge William B. Sylvester at the end of August rebuffed the prosecution's efforts, rejecting its argument that the doctor-patient relationship had ended June 11. But the jurist allowed another hearing Thursday.

The prosecution had been expected to present witnesses, but dropped its effort to get the notebook. But prosecutors said they expected to get to see the document at some point.

“We are most likely going to get this anyway,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Rich Orman said in court. Although the prosecution “continues to believe the notebook is not privileged,” Orman said it wasn’t worth a protracted legal battle at this time.

Under Colorado law, Holmes would have to waive doctor-patient privilege to pursue an insanity defense, Orman said. Defense attorneys have already said they believe Holmes is mentally ill.

A former neuroscience graduate student at the University of Colorado, Holmes is charged with attacking the Aurora movie theater and opening fire with a variety of guns. Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded in the attack.


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