By Peter Mertz
AURORA, COLORADO, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Mass shooting suspect James Holmes sent a number of revealing "text messages" to an unidentified, fellow student at the University of Colorado (CU) prior to the massacre, and in March, spoke with another student about killing people "when his life was over."
After weeks of delay, District Court Judge William Sylvester Friday opened a staggering 59 motions and orders relating to Holmes, the man accused of murdering 12 people and attempting to kill 116 in the mass shooting at a midnight movie July 20.
"Today was a good day for the First Amendment - for the ability of the public to monitor the conduct of judicial proceedings," said Media Lawyer Steven D. Zansberg, who has been arguing in court since the week after the shooting for more public access to court information.
Zansberg was referring to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, ratified in 1789, that guarantees the American public the freedoms of speech, religion, protest and the press - in this case, the media.
Sylvester's disclosures Friday confirmed a number of previously reported findings, most notably that Holmes had threatened a university professor and been banned from campus, and had not withdrawn, as CU previously stated.
This admission again raised the question of why CU authorities did not follow-up on the threats and inform a wider police audience.
Holmes, 24, now faces 152 charges in the Aurora shooting during the showing of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." An additional 10 assault charges were added this week.
Also revealed in court documents was that Holmes had talked about "killing people" in a text message in March, and that police had looked inside a notebook Holmes sent his CU psychiatrist hours before the shooting.
As previously leaked to the media, that notebook contained detailed information on the shooting and could prove Holmes planned the killings.
Most of the documents released by the Arapahoe County District court Friday were heavily "redacted" key information was blacked out and unreadable. Information redacted included certain names, evidence, potential witnesses, victims of the shooting massacre and the psychiatrist Holmes' defense team has hired in preparation for a possible insanity defense. The psychiatrist was identified only as an "expert witness.''
Although many documents were released Friday, the court is refusing to release arrest affidavits, information about the investigation and requests for search warrants and subpoenas. Prosecution and defense attorneys had both asked Sylvester to " seal" all court documents to preserve an ongoing investigation and protect Holmes' right to a fair trial.
In his order, Sylvester noted that some information had been already divulged in court, and placing limits on what is released balances the public's First Amendment rights and prosecutors' and defense attorneys' concerns to respect the integrity of the trial.
Of great interest to the media is the affidavit of "Probable Cause" which has not been released to the public. Many speculate Holmes was acting in retaliation to his failure and snubbing at CU. "That will be revealed following the (upcoming) "Preliminary Hearing," Zansberg said. "Many of Friday's released documents were referred to in open court, but like we've always said, we'd understand the case better if we had access to these documents."