The suspected Batman massacre gunman was seeing a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia before the attack that killed 12 in Colorado, court documents showed.
The motion named Lynne Fenton for the first time as defense attorneys sought to gain access to a package James Holmes mailed to her prior the July 20 mass shooting, which also wounded 58 people.
Reports surfaced this week that Holmes — who recently dropped out of the University of Colorado — had sent a notebook to a university psychiatrist that included details and drawings of his plans to kill people.
There were conflicting reports about whether the package reached the school in time to potentially prevent the massacre, but officials remained tight-lipped because of a strict gag order imposed by the judge overseeing the case.
However, defense attorneys said that someone had leaked information about the package to the media, thus undercutting Holmes’s right to a fair trial.
“The government’s disclosure of this confidential and privileged information has placed Mr Holmes’ constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial by an impartial jury at serious jeopardy,” the attorneys wrote.
In a preview of likely battles to come, the defense lawyers also said that the contents of the package should not be used as evidence because communications between Holmes and Fenton were “protected.”
The filing said Holmes was Fenton’s “psychiatric patient.”
Fenton teaches at the University of Colorado’s medical school and heads student mental health services there, in addition to conducting research in schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
However, the document did not indicate how long Holmes had been seeing Fenton or whether she was treating him for mental illness.
Prosecutors rebuffed the defense motion, arguing that news stories about the package contained significant “factual errors” and that there was no evidence the government was responsible for the leaks.
The reporting mistakes may indicate that reporters are “getting information from hoaxers, fraudsters or maybe from nobody at all by creating fake ‘law enforcement sources’ out of whole cloth,” prosecutors wrote.
They also indicated that a FoxNews.com report that the package contained a notebook “full of details” about the suspected gunman’s plans for a massacre was incorrect.
Holmes, who was studying neuroscience in a doctoral program at the University of Colorado -Denver, is expected to be formally charged at his next court hearing tomorrow.
Judge William Sylvester ordered a hearing on the defense motions to also be held then.
Separately, attorneys for 21 US news organizations filed a motion asking Sylvester to reverse his order to seal court records in the case.
The judge has ordered prosecutors and the defense to file their motions under seal and ordered the University of Colorado to withhold records that concern Holmes.
Holmes gained access to the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado outside Denver via a fire exit shortly after the screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises began and threw two canisters of noxious gas into the auditorium, witnesses said.
After firing one round directly into the air with a pump-action shotgun, he began shooting people at random with a military-style assault rifle capable of firing 50 to 60 rounds a minute.
Authorities say Holmes — who had dyed his hair a reddish orange — claimed he was the Joker, Batman’s sworn enemy in the comic book series that inspired director Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy, which features British-born actor Christian Bale as “the caped crusader.”