James Holmes’s Attorneys Say He’s Mentally Ill, May Be Preparing for Insanity Defense

By
Photo: Handout/2012 Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office

At a hearing on Thursday in Centennial, Colorado, lawyers for James Holmes repeatedly said that their client is mentally ill, suggesting that they will argue he is not guilty by reason of insanity. It was revealed last week that Holmes had been seeing a psychiatrist and she referred him to a "behavioral evaluation and threat assessment" team because she found his behavior extremely alarming. According to USA Today, public defender Daniel King pointed out that his client had tried to "get help with his mental illness," and complained that prosecutors and investigators aren't turning over information fast enough. "We as a defense team cannot begin to examine the nature or depth of Mr. Holmes' mental illness until we receive full disclosure," said King.

The purpose of the hearing was to address a request from 21 media organizations to unseal documents related to the theater massacre. NBC News reports that nearly all court records are sealed and Judge William Sylvester has issued a gag order prohibiting attorneys, law enforcement, and University of Colorado employees from discussing the case. The press groups argue that the public has "an obvious and legitimate interest" in the case, but the defense says releasing more information could prevent Holmes from receiving a fair trial.

There was no ruling today on whether the documents will be unsealed. Another hearing is scheduled for August 16 to determine whether Holmes and the University of Colorado psychiatrist had a doctor-patient relationship, which would make their conversations off limits in court. What exactly alarmed the psychiatrist, and why her concerns weren't reported to the police, is still unknown.