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Court document: Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes discussed 'killing people' with classmate

Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes makes his first court appearance in Aurora, Colo. on July 23, 2012.
Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes makes his first court appearance in Aurora, Colo. on July 23, 2012.Rj Sangosti / Pool via Reuters file

James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the July 12 Aurora theater rampage, told a classmate in March that he wanted to kill people, according to court documents released by the court on Friday.

The newly unsealed document, filed on Aug. 14 by District Attorney Carol Chambers, states that evidence gathered so far indicates that "the defendant had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people in March, 2012, and that he would do so when his life was over."

Holmes, a former graduate student in neurology at the University of Colorado, is charged with 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder, in the attack at a midnight premiere of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" and possession of explosives. After arresting Holmes, police found his apartment was booby-trapped with a jumble of explosives and incendiary devices set to be triggered by trip wires. It took experts several days to disarm the devices.

Twelve people were killed and 58 others were injured in the rampage.

The document unsealed Friday argues that Holmes' school records, which are generally protected by the Family Educational Records Privacy Act, should be turned over because they "are relevant to the investigation of these crimes, his planning and motive."

The document begins to construct a possible motive by citing existing evidence — that Holmes failed his graduate school oral boards in June and made threats to a professor at the school, and that after he was denied access to the university's Denver-Anschutz campus "he began a detailed and complex plan to obtain firearms" and other equipment deployed in the theater rampage.

Earlier the defense filed a motion to prevent opening the educational records, arguing that confidentiality should be maintained because "the prosecution is seeking these materials as a mere fishing expedition and not for any proper purpose."

At hearings earlier this month, Holmes defense team made repeated references to their client’s mental illness, signaling that they are likely to pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

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