New Colorado shooting documents: Threat made at university

Story highlights

  • James Holmes is accused killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater on July 20
  • Documents say shooter threatened someone at University of Colorado campus
  • Witness also said to have texted with suspect, but content of texts not revealed

In documents released Friday, prosecutors say the young man accused of gunning down Batman moviegoers had earlier threatened someone at the University of Colorado and been banned from campus.

It's unclear who the threatened person was, but prosecutors have said it was a professor at the University of Colorado campus where shooting suspect James Holmes used to take graduate classes.

The new trove of documents -- 57 in all -- are heavily redacted. Read the documents here

Holmes, 24, was barred from the university campus for making threats weeks before the July 20 massacre at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Twelve people were killed and 58 injured in the attack.

Holmes is facing 152 charges, including murder and attempted murder.

It's unclear, because the name of the threatened person has been redacted, whether he or she is the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes at the university.

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The notion that Holmes was blocked from campus is incongruous with the university's statements that he was denied access to non-public portions of the campus because he had withdrawn from classes.

Holmes was a Ph.D. candidate studying neuroscience at the Anschutz campus in Aurora, the Denver suburb where the shooting took place.

Defense attorneys have rejected the prosecution's assertions that Holmes was barred from campus. Citing statements from the university, the attorneys argue that his access was revoked because that's normal procedure when a student drops their enrollment.

The documents also say the defense made a motion to ask the court to sanction prosecutors for making such statements in court. The judge declined to punish the prosecution but warned them against "making assertions about the defendant which may be contradicted later by the facts."

In an unusual move, the judge will allow the defense team to go against a standing gag order and release a public statement responding to the prosecution's depiction that Holmes was blocked from campus.

A call from Holmes?

Just nine minutes before he burst into a suburban mall movie theater, Holmes tried to call but failed to reach Dr. Lynne Fenton, prosecutors have said.

Last week, a judge ruled that a notebook mailed to Fenton would not be accessible to prosecutors. The court did allow that Holmes' lawyers could look at it.

Fenton testified that her contact with Holmes ended June 11. She said she later contacted campus police because she was very concerned about her last meeting with him. She declined to detail what bothered her.

In August, public defender Tamara Brady said in court that Holmes called a University of Colorado switchboard nine minutes before he went into the movie theater in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.

The number can be used to get in contact with faculty members during off hours, Brady said.

Texts from Holmes?

The documents also revealed that investigators have obtained text messages Holmes exchanged with someone before the shooting.

That person was not named, and the content of the texts were not made public.

Police interviewed that person and, with their permission, examined the phone. Police downloaded the complete contents of the phone because, according to the documents, law enforcement didn't have the technical ability to isolate only the relevant text messages involving Holmes.

The witness was concerned that contacts and other personal information may be vulnerable, so the defense received a redacted portion of more than 2,000 pages of material from the cell phone.

In August, court documents claimed that Holmes "had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people" months before the shooting.

"The defendant had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people in March 2012, and that he would do so when his life was over," said the document released in August. No other details were provided about those conversations.

Media requested more information

The documents were released because the media has continuously tried to get the court to release more information about movie theater murders.

A probable-cause affidavit, a document that typically lays out the details of a case, has not been released.

Officials are under a gag order issued by Judge William Sylvester to protect Holmes' rights.