DA: Holmes changed while failing in school

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Mass-shooting suspect James Holmes bought guns and made threats against the University of Colorado after he started failing in school, a prosecutor said.

The former doctoral student in the university's elite neuroscience program failed oral exams June 7, made unspecified threats serious enough for campus police to be notified, and had access to certain university buildings revoked, Assistant District Attorney Karen Pearson said in a hearing in Arapahoe County District Court.


Holmes withdrew from the university June 10.

He is alleged to have committed the Aurora, Colo., theater mass shooting after midnight July 20 during the premiere of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

The attack left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.

Holmes, 24, faces 24 murder charges -- two for each of the dead -- and 142 criminal counts.

Pearson argued Holmes' academic failure and the other events could give clues to what would have set him to commit such a crime.

"What is going on in the defendant's life is extremely relevant to the case," Pearson told Judge William Sylvester as she justified her subpoena of Holmes' university academic records, as well as e-mails to professors and e-mails between professors about Holmes.


The academic records include Holmes' school application, course schedules, progress reports and grades.

Defense attorney Daniel King urged Sylvester to block prosecutors from seeing the records.

"Motive is not an element of any crime charged here," he said. "It is irrelevant what the motive is."

King accused prosecutors of being on a "fishing expedition that needs to be stopped."

The subpoenaed university records were turned over to Sylvester last week. He sealed them, and the defense wants to keep them under seal.

Prosecutors earlier said they needed the documents to see a notebook they argued may contain a portrayal Holmes wrote of a violent attack. The notebook is reported to have been included in a package sent to university psychiatrist Lynne Fenton.

The package contained what the court filings called "communications" from Holmes to Fenton. The filings gave no other details.

Holmes' lawyers have argued information about the package was being leaked to the news media despite being protected by laws governing confidentiality between patients and doctors and a gag order issued by Sylvester.

Fenton is expected to testify at a hearing Aug. 30.

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