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.

By BRANDON JOHANSSON, Staff Writer

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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