Mass Murder Trial Attorneys Ramp up Squabbling Over Request for Sanctions
DENVER (CN) - Prosecutors of accused mass murderer James Holmes claim in court that the defense team overwhelmed victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting in attempts to communicate with them.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 166 criminal counts, including murder and weapons charges, in the July 20, 2012 massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured.
Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty.
In a 267-page response filed on June 27 and released Tuesday in Arapahoe County Court, prosecutors countered a defense motion which claimed that prosecutors interfered with the defense team's investigation by telling victims not to speak to anyone representing Holmes.
The prosecution disagreed in its response, claiming they did not tell anyone not to talk to the defense and that attempts by the defense team and others to communicate with victims has been emotionally taxing on the victims.
"Many of the victims and witnesses in this case have been confused and overwhelmed by the many individuals and organizations who have contacted the victims during the pendency of this case," the response states. "Victims in this case have been approached by law enforcement personnel, law enforcement victim-advocates, community-based victim-advocates, personnel from the District Attorney's Office including prosecutors, victim-advocates, victim-compensation specialists, and investigators, countless reporters and media representatives, social-media bloggers, personnel from the Office of the State Public Defender including attorneys, investigators and hired-contractors for the State Public Defender; organizations that want to enlist victims' help for anti-violence efforts, private civil attorneys working for plaintiffs, private attorneys working for other individuals, organizations looking to publish commercial materials related to law enforcement responses in mass violence situations, organizations that want to enlist victims' help for anti-death penalty efforts, organizations that want to enlist victims' help for mental-health initiatives, individuals who wish to publish books about the victims, individuals who have asked to make films featuring victims, conspiracy theorists and by groups of individuals supporting the defendant, just to name a few," according to the Response to Defendant's Renewed Motion for Sanctions for Prosecutorial Interference.
Prosecutors say they did not tell victims not to talk to the prosecution, and that they have a right to speak or not speak to whomever they want.
They claim that on nine examples the defense's contact hurt victims, including a postcard sent by the defense team during a holiday season, stating: "With the holiday season coming upon us, we realize that this could be an especially painful time for you and your family. You are in our thoughts during this difficult time."
They said one victim was concerned when Defense Initiated Victim Outreach Specialist Tammy Krause took a victim out to dinner.
The response includes an affidavit from a victim who interacted with Krause.
"Ms. Krause talked about writing a letter to the victims to (redacted) and asked me the best way to write the letter. I responded to simply tell them what she told me because I am not telling anyone and they can find out from the letter. Ms. Krause asked if I would meet with her in three weeks and I wanted to be polite and said yes. After this conversation, I wondered why the defense would purposefully leak information to a victim. I felt like they were trying to manipulate me because they were aware of my family history and thought I may sympathy for [the defendant]. They do know that I have contact with multiple victims as well as the family of my deceased friend. ... I felt that maybe they were trying to see if I would leak the information to the media or go to the D.A.'s office with the information in hopes of the D.A.'s office filing for sanctions so that the information she told me about (redacted). The victim also states, 'I called Tammy Krause and told her that I could not speak with her anymore because it was too emotionally overwhelming,'" according to the 267-page document.
According to that document, the prosecution stated that the only reason they sent an email, which the defense used in their motion, was in response to the defense team's actions.
Prosecutors asked the court to deny the sanctions requested by the defense.
Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour has not issued a ruling on this matter.
Jury selection is expected to begin in the fall.