CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) — James Holmes was a promising neuroscience doctoral candidate, but by the end of the program's first year, he had fallen out of favor with professors and failed a key exam, prosecutors said.
Details of his behavior before he became a suspect in a suburban Denver theater shooting were not released. But it raised enough concerns for campus police to run a background check on Holmes, although University of Colorado spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery declined to elaborate on the reason Thursday.
Prosecutors went before a judge Thursday to seek the school's records on Holmes, including his application, grades and course schedules, and anything concerning his termination or withdrawal from the school in June. He had failed an oral board exam on June 7, then withdrew from the school three days later.
Holmes faces charges in a July 20 shooting during the new Batman movie that left 12 dead and 58 others wounded.
"What's going on in the defendant's life at the time is extremely relevant to this case," Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said of their need for the documents.
Holmes' defense lawyer, Daniel King, has said Holmes is mentally ill, setting up a possible insanity defense. But Pearson's arguments Thursday revealed a possible motive: Holmes' anger that he was failing at school, "at the same time he's buying an enormous amount of ammunition, body armor and explosives."
A gag order has been issued in the case. Prosecutors argued that gaining access to the school records would establish a motive by showing what Holmes hoped to accomplish at CU and the "dissatisfaction with what occurred in his life that led to this."
They also want to see records from campus police and a campus threat evaluation team similar to those established across the country after the 2007 Virginia Tech University shootings.
Pearson said that professors had sought to keep Holmes out of their labs and that "professors urged that he find another line of business." University officials said Holmes lost access to university buildings after his withdrawal because his student access card was shut off, not because of threats.
King objected to the release of the records, arguing that the prosecutors' request for documents amounted to a "fishing expedition that needs to be stopped."
In addition to the school records, prosecutors have sought access to a notebook that Holmes reportedly sent to university psychiatrist Lynne Fenton. King claims that Holmes had sought out Fenton for help with his mental illness.
Pearson said prosecutors must establish whether Holmes was her patient, a relationship that would make it more difficult to access the notebook's contents. Fenton is expected to testify on Aug. 30.
School records don't have the same legal protection as communication between a doctor and patient. Records released by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a school Holmes considered attending, contained a letter of recommendation that said Holmes has "a great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity."
The dive in Holmes' academic performance could be a possible motive, one legal observer said.
"That's the kind of thing that is classic motivation for a murderer and doesn't support insanity," said Craig Silverman, a criminal defense attorney and former Denver prosecutor.
Holmes' family members who attended the hearing Thursday declined to comment.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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