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Suspect 'made call before shooting'

The man accused of carrying out the Colorado cinema shooting rampage tried unsuccessfully to call his university psychiatrist nine minutes before the attack at a Batman film premiere, defence lawyers told a court.

James Holmes placed the call to an after-hours number at a hospital at the University of Colorado, Anschutz campus, where psychiatrist Lynne Fenton could be reached, lawyer Tamara Brady said.

It was not clear why he called Dr Fenton and she was not immediately available to talk to him.

Holmes, 24, is accused of opening fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

The detail about the call came out during a hearing about his relationship with Dr Fenton, to whom he sent a package containing a notebook that reportedly contained violent descriptions of an attack.

Prosecutors asked the judge to let them review the notebook as part of their investigation, while defence lawyers argued it was inadmissible because it was protected by doctor-patient privacy laws.

Judge William Sylvester ruled that an ongoing doctor-patient relationship did exist between Dr Fenton and Holmes, but he scheduled a September 20 hearing to revisit the notebook issue.

Thursday's three and a half-hour hearing in Centennial was the longest yet that Holmes had attended. He appeared to pay close attention to the proceedings and smiled at least once as he leaned over to his lawyer. He had a light moustache but was otherwise clean-shaven, and his hair was blond and orange.

Dr Fenton told the court that she believed her privileged relationship with Holmes ended the last time she met him, on June 11. But Ms Brady brought up the call placed by Holmes in an effort to illustrate that the relationship was continuing. With Dr Fenton on the witness stand, Ms Brady asked: "Do you know that Mr Holmes called that number nine minutes before the shooting started?" Dr Fenton replied: "I did not."

Prosecutors noted Holmes also had Dr Fenton's office phone number. He apparently did not try to reach her there.

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