CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Prosecutors in the Aurora shooting case have temporarily dropped their attempts to read a notebook sent by suspect James Holmes to a psychiatrist days before the movie theater rampage that killed 12 and wounded 57.
Prosecutors had hoped to use the notebook to show Holmes planned the July 20 attack well in advance. Defense attorneys said it should be protected by doctor-client privilege and remain secret.
Holmes faces 12 first-degree murder charges in connection with the case and more than 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder. Thursday, prosecutors added 10 more attempted murder charges against the University of Colorado doctoral program dropout. At the time of his arrest outside a suburban Denver movie theater, Aurora police seized two semi-automatic Glock pistols, a semi-automatic shotgun and a military style assault rifle with a high capacity ammunition drum.
Acknowledging a fierce legal battle over the notebook was likely to ensue, prosecutor Rich Orman said it would be faster to drop the request. He said he's betting that if Holmes' attorneys use a mental health defense -- as they've indicated -- they'll have to let prosecutors see the notebook and other medical files.
"At that point, the notebook may become important evidence," Orman said.
Holmes, 24, sent the notebook to Dr. Lynne Fenton, a University of Colorado psychiatrist who has said she last met with Holmes on June 11 - a day after he dropped out of the school's doctoral program. Holmes failed an oral exam on June 7.
Both sides had been expected to appeal any decision about the notebook to the Colorado Supreme Court, potentially delaying the case for months.
Following Orman's reversal, Judge William Sylvester then granted Holmes' attorneys the right to photograph and examine the notebook, which is being held under seal by the court.
Holmes had disheveled brightly dyed red and orange hair at the time of his arrests and in earlier court appearances. Thursday, it was cut short and had returned to his natural dark brown. He looked around repeatedly Thursday, looking much more animated in past hearings.
In other action, Sylvester took under advisement a defense request for sanctions against prosecutors for saying in court that Holmes had been banned from the University of Colorado medical campus where he had been studying.
Defense attorney Dan King told Sylvester that CU denies banning Holmes, and that his keypad access was cut off only because he was in the process of withdrawing.
"There's not one iota of evidenceâ?¦ that Mr. Holmes threatened anyone or was banned from campus," King said,calling the prosecutors precious statements "flagrantly untrue."
King asked Sylvester to admonish prosecutors for their statements, saying that with all the media interest, careless statements unsupported by facts could have long-lasting consequences to Holmes' right to a fair trial.
Sylvester also allowed prosecutors to file additional counts and amend some others against Holmes. Specifics about the new and altered charges were not made public because virtually the entire case file has been sealed to public view.
Holmes remains incarcerated in Arapahoe County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 11.
Separately, the City of Aurora is collecting items left at temporary memorials for victims of a theater shooting that will be turned over to the Aurora History Museum. Denver's KUSA-TV says families will still have access to the items.