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Court Documents: Alleged Colorado Shooter Was Seeing Psychiatrist

Court documents filed today by the defense team of the alleged Colorado shooter reveal for the first time that James Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist.

The documents also confirm news stories that on Monday, Aurora Police seized a package sent by Holmes to Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. The defense says Holmes was a "patient of Dr. Fenton."

"The materials contained in that package include communications from Mr. Holmes to Dr. Fenton that Mr. Holmes asserts are privileged," the defense team writes.

The defense claims that because the existence of this package and what was in it have been leaked to the media, it puts Holmes' "rights to due process and a fair trial by an impartial jury in serious jeopardy."

As Mark wrote, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, NBC and CNN quoted law enforcement officials saying that the package contained a notebook with drawings depicting the massacre.

The defense is arguing that under Colorado law, the notebook is part of James' communication with his psychiatrist, therefore it cannot be used in his trial without his permission.

The prosecution filed a separate motion saying that they are in the process of collecting evidence. The prosecution makes a reference to "the notebook." Prosecutors also argue that the defense's argument is not based on fact.

"To put it bluntly, the People are extremely dubious of the media assertions that 'law enforcement sources' exist," the prosecution writes.

After all the reports showed up in the media, Arapahoe County (Colo.) District Court Judge William Sylvester reminded all parties that they are under a gag order and are to "refrain from disseminating information that presents a danger to the fairness of a trial in this matter ... and are prohibited from disseminating any information or material that appears to possibly be privileged or that defendant alleges is privileged, until issues of privilege can be fully litigated."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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