Saturday, June 23, 2018

Colorado shooting suspect was seeing psychiatrist

AURORA, Colo. — The suspect in the Colorado theater rampage was seeing a University of Colorado psychiatrist who studies schizophrenia, according to court records released Friday, indicating for the first time that university officials were familiar with James Holmes' mental state.

Holmes, 24, was a patient of Lynne Fenton, the medical director of student mental health services at the university, according to the suspect's lawyers. Holmes withdrew from a Ph.D. program in neuroscience after taking oral exams in early June.

Police say that Holmes carried out a methodically planned assault on moviegoers in a sold-out theater on July 20, employing legally purchased guns that he began acquiring in May. Twelve people died in the attack, and 58 were injured.

After the 2007 mass shooting that left 33 dead at Virginia Tech, the University of Colorado set up a special team to spot students who were suicidal or might pose a threat to others. There is no indication that the team — made up of mental-health professionals, campus police and others — had identified Holmes as a student in need of monitoring.

Campus police, whose officers participate in the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team, have said they had no contact with Holmes. Other team members reached in recent days declined to discuss Holmes.

University chancellor Don Elliman told reporters this week that to his knowledge, "We did everything we should have done in this case."

Michael Carrigan, chairman of the University of Colorado regents, said he couldn't comment on Holmes in particular and said he didn't know what might have brought him to the attention of the BETA team. But Carrigan said the team has improved campus life. "It has brought to our attention, much sooner, kids who are at a threat for harming themselves," such as students considering suicide, he said.

Holmes sent a notebook to Fenton sometime before the shooting rampage, his lawyers said in a motion filed Friday. The notebook included a journal of sorts and crude drawings depicting a mass gun attack, according to news reports.

But whether the package reached the university mailroom before or after the tragedy is in dispute. Police seized the package Monday, but Fenton had never opened it, according to court records.

Holmes' lawyers at the public defender's office have asked Colorado District Court Judge William Blair Sylvester to help them find out whether law enforcement officers or prosecutors leaked information to the media about the notebook and its contents this week. The lawyers argue that Holmes' privacy and constitutional rights have been violated and that investigators are not necessarily entitled to see the troubled student's communication with his psychiatrist.

"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 in serious jeopardy," the public defenders, Daniel King and Tamara Brady, wrote.

Sylvester has imposed a gag order on the lawyers and law enforcement agencies involved in the Holmes case, sealed court records, and barred the university from releasing relevant public records to the media. News organizations are contesting his order.

University officials have declined to discuss the notebook but have acknowledged that a package mailed to a university staffer was seized by police Monday as evidence in the case.

Fenton, who has served as mental-health services medical director since 2009, has conducted numerous research projects in the area of schizophrenia. She did not respond to calls to her home and office.

Her clinical practice includes treating "15 to 20 graduate students per week" with counseling and medication, according to her biography on the university website. Because of her senior role, she also supervises psychiatric residents who treat students, the site says. She has lectured on bipolar disorders and borderline personalities.

University officials have refused to disclose much about Holmes, citing an order from the judge barring it from releasing information that would "impede an ongoing investigation." Staff, professors and classmates have been mum about his life at the school.

Comments
FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

A Clearwater man who authorities said sideswiped a car while driving more than 100 miles per hour the wrong way on U.S. 41 was arrested Friday. Wendel Jamel James, 35, is charged with DUI with property damage, reckless driving and leaving the scene ...
Updated: 1 minute ago
‘Notorious RBG’ wanted to be a singer. Now, a CD celebrates her life.

‘Notorious RBG’ wanted to be a singer. Now, a CD celebrates her life.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said, in interviews, that she would have loved to have been an opera singer.She has certainly become a fixture at many opera houses around the country: She is often spotted in the audience; she sometimes presides...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Oklahoma medical pot question hinges on conservative support

Oklahoma medical pot question hinges on conservative support

Here's a twist: Evangelical Christians in Oklahoma could be the reason medical marijuana is approved on Tuesday
Updated: 1 hour ago

Syria army widens offensive on rebel-held areas in southwest

Syria state media and opposition activists say Syrian government troops are advancing on rebel-held areas in the country's southwestern region amid intense clashes in a widening offensive, shattering a U.S-backed truce
Updated: 1 hour ago

Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder gets 3-year contract extension

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder has received a three-year contract extension with his annual pay boosted to $950,000
Updated: 1 hour ago

Poland's Walesa urges opposition to unite ahead of elections

Poland's former president and pro-democracy leader, Lech Walesa, says he is joining forces with anti-government opposition to prevent the right-wing ruling party from winning elections that will be held on all levels in 2018-2020
Updated: 1 hour ago
Djokovic to face Cilic in Queen's Club final

Djokovic to face Cilic in Queen's Club final

Novak Djokovic advanced to his first ATP tour final in almost a year by defeating Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (5), 6-4 at Queen's Club
Updated: 1 hour ago

Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk returns to NHL with LA Kings

Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk has agreed to return to the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Latest: Costa and Danilo out of Brazil's next match

The Latest: Costa and Danilo out of Brazil's next match

Brazil says Douglas Costa and Danilo have been ruled out of the team's decisive match against Serbia on Wednesday in Moscow
Updated: 1 hour ago