Most Colorado Shooting Documents to Remain Sealed

Aug 13, 2012 6:12pm

The judge overseeing the case of alleged mass murderer James Holmes has ruled that most of the documents generated during the investigation into the shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater will remain sealed for now.

The ruling is a defeat for media companies (including ABC News) that sought to have the documents made public.

But Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester is allowing 34 selected documents to be released, including the “register of actions,” essentially an index of all court activity in the case so far.

Other documents that could shine new light on Holmes’ alleged motives or planning for the July 20 shooting rampage, such as affidavits, search warrants, subpoenas or arrest warrants, however, will remain secret.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued last week that releasing any documents now would compromise the ongoing investigation and deny Holmes his right to a fair trial. Media attorney Steve Zansberg argued last week that the public “is completely in the dark about what is going on in this judicial proceeding.”

Both sides are expected to square off Thursday at a hearing to determine whether a notebook that Holmes apparently mailed to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton can be admitted as evidence or protected by doctor-patient confidentiality.

As ABC News’ Mark Greenblatt has reported, Fenton made contact with a University of Colorado police officer to express concern about her patient’s behavior in the weeks before the rampage.

In a separate order issued today, Judge Sylvester clarified that a gag order limiting pretrial publicity will remain in effect.

Prosecutors allege that Holmes opened fire at a crowded midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 58 injured.

Holmes was charged July 30 with 142 counts in all, including first-degree murder and attempted murder.

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