Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Shootings accused smiles in court

A courtroom sketch of James Holmes as he arrives to a motions hearing in district court in Centennial, Colorado (AP)

The suspect in the US cinema rampage which killed 12 people in one of the worst mass shootings in the country's history smiled and glanced around a courtroom, a marked difference from his dazed and silent previous appearances.

James Holmes's hair was no longer bright orange but short and brown when he faced court in Centennial, Colorado.

Prosecutors have given up their efforts to get access to a notebook by Holmes, which they think gives details of a violent attack.

Holmes has been charged with 142 counts, including murder and attempted murder, over the attack at a midnight screening of the latest Batman film on June 20. Fifty-eight people were injured in the shooting as the gunman roamed the darkened cinema.

Defence lawyers have said Holmes is mentally ill.

Prosecutors had wanted access to the notebook sent by Holmes to a university psychiatrist which purportedly contains descriptions of a violent attack. But on August 30 a judge ruled that they could not disprove a doctor-patient relationship between Holmes and University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton.

Prosecutors had argued that the notebook is fair game because Holmes was not going to be undergoing therapy because he planned to be dead or in prison after the rampage.

But Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman told the judge that prosecutors do not want to delay proceedings.

If mental health becomes an issue, Mr Orman said, Holmes will have to waive any doctor-patient privilege and prosecutors will gain access to the notebook.

Holmes was a graduate student in the neuroscience programme at the University of Colorado. Prosecutors said he did badly in a key exam and withdrew on June 10 while he was stockpiling guns, ammunition and body armour ahead of the shooting. His apartment was found booby-trapped after the shooting.

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