published Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Colorado judge orders release of documents on Holmes

This March 12 file photo shows James Holmes, Aurora theater shooting suspect, in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo.
This March 12 file photo shows James Holmes, Aurora theater shooting suspect, in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

DENVER — The new judge overseeing the Colorado theater shooting case on Thursday ordered the release of documents related to the arrest of James Holmes.

District Judge Carlos Samour said in an order that the arrest and search warrant affidavits could be unsealed, responding a request by media organizations including The Associated Press.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys had raised concerns about releasing the documents. Prosecutors said they were worried about the privacy of victims and witnesses if the documents were released. Attorneys for shooting suspect James Holmes said they didn’t want to hurt his chances for a fair trial.

But Samour said much of the information already is public.

Samour took over the case earlier this week after the previous judge, who had sealed the documents, took himself off the case. Judge William Sylvester handed off to Samour on Monday, saying prosecutors’ decision to seek the death penalty against Holmes meant the case would take up so much time that he couldn’t carry out his administrative duties as chief judge of a busy four-county district.

Media organizations said there has been a “wealth of information already made public in the proceedings thus far.” They said there is no basis for the documents to remain sealed.

Holmes last week offered to plead guilty in the attacks that killed 12 and injured 70. But prosecutors rejected that offer and announced Monday they would seek the death penalty against him.

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