CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- In what appeared to be an eerie allusion to the Joker in a Batman movie, James E. Holmes, the young man charged in the Colorado movie theater shooting, sent a notebook to his psychiatrist with burned money stuffed inside it.
The new detail about the notebook was revealed Monday in a hearing that will address many issues, including whether the prosecution violated a gag order.
Holmes, 24, faces 166 charges in the attack that killed 12 and wounded at least 58 during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora. When he was arrested, Holmes’ hair was dyed a wild orange. There were suggestions at the time that he had styled himself as the Joker, although the villain's hair is green.
In early testimony at Monday’s hearing, there was no explanation for the burned bills in notebook, which Holmes sent to psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton the day before the July 20 shooting. In court testimony in September, Fenton testified that she had seen Holmes only once, on July 11, and considered their relationship terminated. She also testified that she was alarmed enough by their session to contact campus police.
Holmes had been a neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado-Denver before withdrawing about six weeks before the shooting. Fenton was medical director of student mental health services at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
The detail about the burned money brings to mind a scene from another Batman movie, “The Dark Knight.” In that 2008 film, the Joker sets fire to an immense pile of stolen money as an incredulous gangster watches. "All you care about is money," the Joker says. "This town deserves a better class of criminal."
Monday’s hearing was originally scheduled for Nov. 15 but delayed at the request of Holmes’ attorneys, who said he was unable to attend the proceedings. They did not provide details but suggested it was for health reasons.
Local media have reported that Holmes was injured when he hit his head on a wall, an apparently intentional effort to maim himself or worse to commit suicide. There were no obvious signs of injury on Holmes as he attended Monday’s hearing, though he had grown a full beard.
Times staff writer Steve Padilla reported from Los Angeles and Times special correspondent Jenny Deam reported from Centennial, Colo.