A University of Colorado psychiatrist said she met with James Holmes less than six weeks before he allegedly killed 12 people in a movie theater.
The psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, testified yesterday in state court in Centennial, Colorado, that her patient-doctor relationship with Holmes ended with that meeting and she didn’t see him again before the attack. She said revealing some further details would violate confidentiality.
Holmes is accused of opening fire on the audience at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora on July 20, killing 12 and injuring at least 58. He is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. First-degree murder is punishable by death or life in prison under Colorado law.
Holmes, who studied neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver campus where Fenton works, was in court yesterday, in a red prison uniform, with his hands shackled and his hair dyed orange. Fenton said she learned from a community resource officer that Holmes was withdrawing from the university. She said she communicated her concern about someone to the officer. Citing confidentiality today, she said she couldn’t say whether that person was Holmes.
Arapahoe District Attorney Carol Chambers said in a court filing that Holmes was denied access to the university following June 12 after he made threats to a professor.
Judge William Sylvester was asked yesterday to decide whether a package Holmes sent Fenton the day before the attack is covered by therapist- or doctor-patient privilege. The judge called trying to determine the nature of the relationship between Fenton and Holmes without violating privilege a “conundrum.”
Sylvester said he didn’t have enough information to determine whether Fenton and Holmes had a confidential doctor-patient relationship on July 19. The judge set a hearing for Sept. 20 to consider additional testimony.
Holmes’s lawyers suggested that they question Fenton with only the judge and a court reporter present. The prosecution objected to that idea.
The case is People v. Holmes, 12-cr-01522, 18th Judicial District Court, Colorado (Centennial).