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Colo. psychiatrist knew of danger

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

DENVER — A psychiatrist who treated James Holmes told campus police a month before the Colorado theater attack that Holmes had homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public, according to documents released on Thursday.

Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, Denver, told police in June that Holmes threatened and intimidated her. It was more than a month before the July 20 attack at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.

In the days after the attack, campus police said they had never had contact with Holmes, who was a graduate student at the university.

But campus police told investigators after the shooting that Fenton had contacted them, following her legal requirement to report specific threats to authorities, according to a search warrant affidavit.

“Dr. Fenton advised that through her contact with James Holmes she was reporting, per her requirement, his danger to the public due to homicidal statements he had made,” the affidavit said.

University police referred calls for comment Thursday to a campus spokeswoman who did not immediately return a message.

The documents previously were sealed, but the new judge overseeing the case ordered them released after requests from media organizations.

Holmes last week offered to plead guilty in the attacks. Prosecutors rejected that offer and announced Monday they would seek the death penalty.

Holmes sent Fenton a package in the days before the shooting, including a notebook that the released documents describe as a “journal.” The package wasn't discovered until four days after the attack.

In court, prosecutors suggested Holmes was angry at the failure of a once promising academic career, and stockpiled weapons, ammunition, tear gas grenades, and body armor as his research deteriorated and professors urged him to get into another profession. Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said Holmes failed a key oral exam in June, was banned from campus and began to voluntarily withdraw from the school.

The documents — including arrest and search warrant affidavits — were unsealed by the new judge in the case. District Judge Carlos Samour took over the case earlier this week after the previous judge, who had sealed the documents, removed himself. Judge William Sylvester handed off to Samour on Monday, saying prosecutors' decision to seek the death penalty against Holmes meant the case would take up so much time that he couldn't carry out his administrative duties as chief judge of a busy four-county district.

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