James Holmes became an infamous figure when he allegedly fired into a crowded Colorado movie theater at midnight, killing 12 people. It was just over a month after he withdrew from an elite neuroscience program; Holmes had been a student at the University of Colorado-Denver until he failed an oral exam and made unspecified threats before dropping out.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Assistant Arapahoe County District Attorney Karen Pearson revealed this information about Holmes on Thursday. Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring another 58 during the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20. He is charged with two counts of murder for every victim who died, among other charges, coming to a total of 142 criminal counts.
The oral exam the 28-year-old Holmes failed was on June 7 and he withdrew on June 10. A few weeks later, witnesses say, he entered an Aurora Colo. movie theater with dyed orange hair, wearing a gas mask and brandishing several firearms which turned on the crowd.
Holmes spent the weeks prior to the shooting ordering weapons and having them shipped to his apartment and the university, reports the LA Times.
Pearson wants to review his grades, course schedules, admission application and emails between Holmes and his professors during the time leading up to the shooting. The assistant district attorney argued, "What is going on in the defendant's life is extremely relevant to the case."
Judge William Sylvester has the documents that the university turned over, which are currently sealed. Defense attorney Daniel King is attempting to keep the information from making its way into the trial, calling it a "fishing expedition that needs to be stopped."
"Prosecution is fishing around looking for motive. Motive is irrelevant. Intent is irrelevant," said King, according to CBS News. "They already know all about Mr. Holmes' history at CU. Why is it necessary to get more information when they have all the evidence, they have what they're seeking?"
If the prosecutors are correct, his "professors had urged Holmes to get into another line of work before the shooting and invalidated his student ID." CBS News notes that Pearson didn't disclose the source of her information.
CBS News also reports that sources have told their correspondents that "what the University of Colorado knew ahead of the movie theater shooting and when they knew it is going to generate a lot of controversy when the information is released."
The Denver Post referred to the Thursday hearing as the "undercard" to what is expected to be a ferocious legal battle. "The prize is an item that could be the biggest clue to the planning and motivation behind the theater attack: a notebook Holmes reportedly mailed to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado in the days before the shooting."