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Defense cites Colo. shooting suspect's 'mental illness'

6:33 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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By Michael Winter, USA TODAY

An attorney for accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes repeatedly referred to his client's "mental illness" during a court hearing today that focused mostly on a request by media outlets to unseal court filings, USA TODAY's Trevor Hughes reports.

"We as a defense team cannot begin to examine the nature or depth of Mr. Holmes' mental illness until we receive full disclosure," public defender Daniel King said during the roughly 90-minute hearing in Centennial, Colo.

He also said the 24-year-old former neuroscience graduate student at the University of Colorado medical school had tried to "get help with his mental illness."

Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 58 others during a July 20 showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, a Denver suburb.

Holmes sat quietly during the hearing, his hair still red-orange, with long sideburns and a mustache growing in. The outlines of a protective vest could be seen under his maroon jail jumpsuit, The Denver Post says.

The paper says the hearing was momentarily disrupted by a woman who stood up and said she had information "vital to the defense." A sheriff's deputy lead her from the courtroom.

Some shooting victims and family members attended the hearing at which prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over whether a packet of information Holmes sent to a psychiatrist who had been treating him is protected by doctor-patient privilege. Sources have told news organizations the package contains a notebook, but that has not been confirmed.

Judge William Sylvester took the media's request under advisement and said he would rule later.

Holmes is due back in court next Thursday for a hearing about whether his relationship and correspondence with his psychiatrist is protected by doctor-patient confidentiality laws.

King told the judge today that the prosecution has so far turned over 2,677 pages of documents, mostly police reports, the Post writes. But the prosecution has not shared shared any photographs, recordings of interviews or expert reports.

The prosecution said that investigators are still working to interview witnesses and prepare the reports, and that "hundreds of people" must still be interviewed or reinterviewed, the Post says.


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