Colorado Shooting Suspect Was a Psychiatric Patient
(CNN) — Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes was a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist before last week’s attack at a movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded scores, according to a court document filed Friday by his public-defense lawyers.
The disclosure was in a request by Holmes for authorities to immediately hand over a package he sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
According to Holmes’ request, the package seized by authorities under a July 23 search warrant was a protected communication.
“The materials contained in that package include communications from Mr. Holmes to Dr. Fenton that Mr. Holmes asserts are privileged,” said the document filed by public defenders representing Holmes. “Mr. Holmes was a psychiatric patient of Dr. Fenton, and his communications with her are protected.”
In response, prosecutors asked for Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester to deny the request by Holmes, saying it contained inaccuracies including claims of media leaks by government officials that in reality may have been fabricated by news organizations.
Sylvester granted a hearing on the request for Monday, the same day that Holmes is scheduled to be formally charged in the case.
Meanwhile, 11 wounded survivors remained hospitalized Friday at three facilities, including five in critical condition.
At Swedish Medical Center, two victims were in fair condition after multiple surgeries since the shootings, a hospital spokeswoman said.
“Both appear to be doing well and their spirits are definitely at a higher level,” said Audra Mincey, public relations manager at the medical center.
Holmes allegedly opened fire in the theater on July 20 during the midnight premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” The suspect, , who identified himself to police as “the Joker,” remained in custody after being ordered held without bond earlier this week, and will be formally charged on Monday.
A group of 17 media organizations, including CNN, asked Sylvester on Friday to unseal court documents in the case, particularly affidavits for probable cause involving search warrants that already have been executed.
Two court orders posted on a court website Thursday noted restrictions on information the University of Colorado could release about Holmes. The 24-year-old had recently dropped out of a Ph.D program in neuroscience out of the school’s campus in Aurora.
The orders, in addition to a previous one issued Wednesday aimed at “limiting pre-trial publicity” at the defendant’s request, endeavor to restrict the amount of publicly available information in order to assure “the fairness of a trial.”
Authorities discovered the package Holmes sent Fenton on Monday in a mailroom at the University of Colorado — Anschutz Medical Campus, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said Wednesday.
CBS News reported that, according to unidentified sources, “the letter was from a pent-up Holmes to one of his professors.”
“In it, he talked about shooting people and even included crude drawings of a gunman and his victims,” according to the CBS report.
In the court request for authorities to turn over the package, Holmes cited media leaks as a violation of Sylvester’s court orders. Prosecutors responded that there was no proof that government officials leaked any information and said the reported leaks may well have been fabricated by news organizations.
“To put it bluntly, the People are extremely dubious of the media assertions that ‘law enforcement sources’ exist,” said the prosecution document.
University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said Friday the university had no further comment at the moment.
Holmes had booby-trapped his sparsely furnished third-floor, one-bedroom unit apartment with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline, a law enforcement official who viewed video showing the apartment’s interior has told CNN.
The sophisticated setup was meant to harm, or possibly kill, anyone who entered — and tested the skills of bomb squad members charged with clearing it, the official said.
Other tenants of the apartment building where Holmes had lived were rousted out of their apartments by police in the early hours of July 20 after the shooting. They were allowed to begin returning home more than five days later.
Some of the shooting victims, both in and out of hospitals, faced a difficult recovery process and the prospect of daunting medical bills.
They include Caleb Medley, who lost an eye and suffered brain damage. His wife gave birth to their son Hugo Jackson Medley on Tuesday morning, and the University of Colorado Hospital said both baby and mother are doing well.
Medley, who had been doing standup comedy routines in Denver and was working full-time at Target, had no health insurance, his brother Seth said.
“The surgeon came and talked to us and said he’d be in ICU at least a week,” said Medley’s friend, Michael West, who set up a website to help take care of medical bills and the needs of Medley’s family. By Thursday evening, it had raised more than $313,000.
Chloe Anderson has set up a similar fund for her sister, Petra Anderson, an aspiring musician who was also shot in the head. In a video posted Sunday asking for funds, Chloe Anderson notes that her mother was preparing to undergo cancer treatment later this month when Friday’s shooting occurred.
“My sister’s hospital bills on top of that are making the financial reality look pretty daunting,” she says. “So that’s why we are reaching out to you — the people who have already asked us what they can do to help.”
By Wednesday evening, that fund had received more than $184,000 with a goal of $250,000.
Money is also streaming in to GivingFirst.org, which is accepting donations for the shooting victims and their relatives. By Tuesday, the amount had reached almost $2 million, Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
“The needs will be great and we look forward to seeing the fund grow exponentially,” he said. “This money will help those impacted by this tragedy begin to recover and rebuild their lives.”
Hickenlooper said donors include Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, co-producers of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Sources at Warner Bros. studios told CNN the company made a “substantial” donation. Warner Bros., a subsidiary of CNN’s parent company Time Warner, would not divulge how much money it was giving out of respect for the victims, the sources said.
United Airlines said Friday it was working with the American Red Cross to help pay for flights of family members of victims.
“All of us were impacted by these events, and we want to help in any way we can,” said a brief statement by the company.
Several hospitals were also making efforts to minimize the financial burden. Children’s Hospital Colorado said in a statement it will use its charity program and donations to cover medical expenses for victims who don’t have insurance, as well as waive co-pays and deductible-related expenses for those with insurance.
HealthOne, the health care system that includes the Medical Center of Aurora and Swedish Medical Center, pledged to “eliminate personal financial responsibility for hospital charges as appropriate.”
And Denver Health said it will evaluate each patient “on a case-by-case basis” and discount bills by 70% for those unable to pay.
CNN’s Tom Cohen, Randi Kaye, Ed Payne, Tom Watkins, Holly Yan, Drew Griffin, Kathleen Johnston, Scott Zamost, Elwyn Lopez, Carol Cratty, Poppy Harlow, Dana Ford, Breeanna Hare, Alta Spells, Ed Lavandera, Nick Valencia and Jessica Jordan contributed to this report.
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