Around Aurora

Judge unseals few docs in Holmes case, much of gag order remains

A judge on Monday unsealed some documents in the James Holmes case, but left many records sealed, including documents detailing evidence against the accused mass murderer and his time at the University of Colorado.

AURORA | A judge Monday unsealed some documents in the James Holmes case, but left many records sealed, including documents detailing evidence against the accused mass murderer and his time at the University of Colorado.

  • James E. Holmes

    District Court Judge William Blair Sylvester speaks as James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court. On Tuesday, Sylvester refused to lift a gag order in the Holmes Aurora theater shooting case, despite days of testimony and revelations during a public hearing in January.)

Judge William B. Sylvester said in a ruling handed down Monday that 34 documents, including several motions from the defense and prosecution, should be unsealed, but other documents, including the arrest and search warrant affidavits, must remain sealed.

“Unrestricted access to those documents would pose a substantial probability of harm to the fairness of the trial,” Sylvester wrote.

Arrest and search warrant affidavits typically contain details about the evidence police have against a suspect.

Several media outlets had asked Sylvester to unseal documents in the case, arguing that the public had a right to know details about the shootings that left 12 dead and 58 injured at the Century Aurora 16 theater July 20.

In court last week both the prosecution and defense argued against unsealing the bulk of the documents.

Holmes’ lawyer, public defender Daniel King, said the media’s access to the case already was “unprecedented,” with cameras being allowed in court for Holmes’ first appearance and some documents being released publicly.

Deputy District Attorney Jacob Edson said he understood the public’s desire for more information in the case, but said it was too early in the investigation to release more information.

“Just not now, not at this stage,” he said.

As for when documents could be unsealed, Edson said they should be open to the public when the investigation is “at a satisfactory point.”

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  • http://twitter.com/WinningGold ET Mom

    I read that Holmes was a converted Muslim. Is that true?. If so, it could explain the secrecy.

    Can the media appeal the decision of the Judge?. Maybe collect signatures?.

    What do the families of the victims want? They should be heard too. The victims deserve fairness too. Not just Holmes.

    • Godsgrace2lmf

       What difference does it make,  he did the deed, let the courts do their process fairly so there are no mistakes when he is convicted.  We do not need to be re-traumatized every time some little detail comes out, keeping it in the forefront of the news media just re-opens the wounds for every family involved in this case.  We need to give them time to heal.  Be patient, details will be in abundance at the trial, in the meantime let the legal system do its job and back off of the rumors!!!!!

      • http://twitter.com/WinningGold ET Mom

        I have not read anything official from the victim families supporting or requesting the gag order. Where is it?

        Too much secrecy creates more interest. Even international media outlets are already paying attention..precisely because of the unusual secrecy in this case. It just gives too much space for speculation. Speculation might hurt the families more than the truth.

        I think people want to know as much as possible so similar situations can be prevented. That’s all.

        • Sissybonney

          I have heard just about enough. Emotions are mixed between a right to a fair trail with this murderer. In my opinion the justice system is a joke. This theater had so many witnesses as to “who” shot and killed 12 people and injured 58! Plain and simple, John Holmes planned this for weeks, he bought guns, ammo, gas masks, swat suit, traps etc, executed his “plan”, got caught because of the “wrong swat uniform”, spray painted his hair to change his appearance and got caught! Protecting him! My Lord what is this world coming too! Black and white he KILLED a 6 year old among others! Just kill him know, better yet send him out in the public prison system they will kill him for us all! Just like Jeffery Duamner he was killed within 2 months! Protect the families not a murderer! Why did they televise Casey Anothey trail and not John Holmes! What is the difference, they are both murderers!

  • Godsgrace2lmf

    Good for Judge Sylvester.  Being cautious in this case is always the best way to ensure a fair trial, don’t blame him for not giving us all the “gory details”  Shame on the media for asking.  We will get overwhelmed with details during the trial as it is, enough already.  Let the wounded heal in peace and not be re-traumatized every time they hear something about the case.  Not necessary for a fair trial, and only causes more unnecessary hurt with this case.  Thank you Judge Sylvester for protecting the general public. 

  • imahead

    your handle says it all.

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