August 31, 2012 in Nation/World

Holmes called psychiatrist before attack, lawyers say


(Full-size photo)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The suspect in the Colorado shooting rampage tried unsuccessfully to call his university psychiatrist 9 minutes before he opened fire during a Batman movie premiere, defense attorneys revealed in court Thursday.

James Holmes placed the call to an after-hours number at a hospital at the University of Colorado, Anschutz campus, where psychiatrist Lynne Fenton could be reached, defense attorney Tamara Brady said.

It wasn’t clear why he called Fenton, and she wasn’t immediately available to talk to him. Holmes, 24, is accused of opening fire during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

The detail about the call came out during a hearing about his relationship with Fenton, to whom he mailed a package containing a notebook that reportedly contained violent descriptions of an attack.

Prosecutors asked the judge to let them review the notebook as part of their investigation, while defense attorneys argued it was inadmissible because it was protected by doctor-patient privacy laws.

Judge William B. Sylvester ruled that an ongoing doctor-patient relationship did exist between Fenton and Holmes, but he scheduled a Sept. 20 hearing to revisit the notebook issue.

Thursday’s three-and-a-half-hour hearing was the longest yet that Holmes has attended. He appeared to pay close attention to the proceedings and smiled at least once as he leaned toward his attorney.

Brady brought up the call placed by Holmes to show Fenton’s doctor-patient relationship with him was ongoing. During questioning, Brady asked the psychiatrist if she could be reached at that after-hours number, to which Fenton replied she could.

Brady then asked: “Do you know that Mr. Holmes called that number 9 minutes before the shooting started?”

Fenton responded, “I did not.”

Fenton testified that she last met with Holmes on June 11, and that she believed they had no doctor-patient relationship by July 19, the day prosecutors say Holmes mailed the notebook.

There is one comment on this story. Click here to view comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email