CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The suspect in the Aurora movie theater mass slaying has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness or injury serious enough that his defense team asked that a scheduled pre-trial hearing be postponed.
Defense attorneys for James Holmes asked for an emergency hearing late Wednesday afternoon saying their client’s condition made it impossible for him to appear in court Thursday.
Public defender Tamara Brady offered no details, citing Holmes’ medical and psychiatric privilege.
Brady said only that defense lawyers learned midday Tuesday that Holmes had been taken to the hospital and the situation would not be resolved by Thursday’s scheduled hearing. She did not say whether Holmes was still hospitalized.
Holmes, 24, a former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado-Denver, is accused of opening fire in a packed midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20. Twelve people were killed and at least 58 were wounded in the rampage.
Holmes, who attorneys have said is mentally ill, is charged with 166 counts, including two murder charges for each person killed.
District Judge William Sylvester said he was convinced the situation was serious and granted the delay. He also said the defense did not have to reveal further details.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Rich Orman balked at the request for a delay, saying the defense was too vague about the nature of Holmes’ illness or injury and that the court deserved more information. He argued that although Holmes’ medical and psychiatric condition is normally privileged, the defense opened the door by mentioning the problem.
“The defendant’s position seems to be that he can request that the court take action on his claim of a ‘condition’ and at the same time keep information about that ‘condition’ secret from the prosecution,” the prosecution wrote in a motion filed hours before the hearing.
“I don’t believe the law works that way,” Orman said in court. He added that he polled victims of the shooting and 19 objected to the continuance. There were no victims or family members at the hearing.
Holmes has been held in isolation at the Arapahoe County jail since his arrest minutes after the shooting. Attempts to reach authorities at the jail were unsuccessful late Wednesday. The next hearing in the case is now scheduled for Dec. 10.