Prosecutors want to use comments Colo. theatre shooting suspect made without attorney present
DENVER – Statements that Colorado theatre shooting suspect James Holmes made to police shortly after his arrest should be admissible at his trial even though he didn’t have an attorney present, prosecutors argued Wednesday.
Police needed to ask Holmes about explosives in his apartment to protect the public, prosecutors said in a court filing. They said the questions were permissible under a public safety exception to a suspect’s right to have an attorney.
Prosecutors said other answers Holmes gave police also should be admissible because officers were trying to see if he needed medical attention or was uncomfortable, not interrogating him.
Defence attorneys have said the statements should be barred as evidence because Holmes didn’t waive his right to have an attorney present.
Neither side has revealed what Holmes said.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a movie theatre in the Denver suburb of Aurora in July. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Prosecutors say Holmes also left elaborate and potentially deadly booby traps in his apartment that prompted the evacuation of the building. Police needed several hours to dismantle and remove the explosives.
Holmes is scheduled to go on trial starting Feb. 3 after a sanity evaluation at the state mental hospital in Pueblo.
Prosecutors and defence lawyers filed three dozen court documents Wednesday, the deadline Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. set for each side to respond to the other’s pretrial motions on non-death-penalty issues.
The filings contained little new information.
Prosecutors revealed that police used a robot to examine Holmes’ car because of the possibility that it too was rigged with explosives. The white Hyundai was parked behind the theatre.
Prosecutors argued police didn’t need a warrant for the initial search because of the potential threat to the public. They later obtained a warrant and searched Holmes’ car again.
The judge granted a request by prosecutors to withhold six of their filings from the public. The filings dealt with witnesses who would testify on blood, DNA, computers, explosives, weapons, fingerprints, chemicals and metals.
Samour also ordered New York-based Fox News reporter Jana Winter to return to Colorado on Aug. 19 to renew a subpoena seeking the names of her confidential law-enforcement sources for a story about a notebook Holmes sent a psychiatrist before the shootings.
Defence lawyers argue the leak violated a gag order. They also say officers might have lied when they denied they were Winter’s sources, undermining their credibility if they testify at the trial.
Winter, who is fighting the subpoena, had declined Samour’s request to renew the subpoena without a hearing. In his order Wednesday, Samour chided her lawyers for again arguing against the subpoena in a five-page document.
“A simple ‘no’ would have sufficed,” the judge wrote.
Samour also made clear he disapproved of Winter’s reporting, saying she “persisted in her efforts to find law enforcement agents who were willing to disregard the court’s order and talk to her.”
Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi and Catherine Tsai contributed to this report.
© The Canadian Press, 2013