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James Holmes, Aurora Shooting Suspect, Made Threats Months Before 'Dark Knight' Massacre, Prosecutors Say

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Prosecutors say that James Holmes told a fellow University of Colorado student that he wanted to kill people as early as March.
Prosecutors say that James Holmes told a fellow University of Colorado student that he wanted to kill people as early as March.

DENVER — The man accused of opening fire on an Aurora movie theater told a classmate he wanted to kill people four months before the shooting, newly released court records allege.

Prosecutors made the allegation in a motion released Friday seeking access to James Holmes' records from the University of Colorado Denver's neuroscience graduate program.

Holmes "had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people in March 2012, and that he would do so when his life was over," attorneys for the state wrote. The student wasn't identified.

That alleged conversation would have occurred at roughly the same time that police have said Holmes began receiving "a high volume of deliveries" at his home and at the university. Police haven't said what those packages contained, but they said he ordered thousands of rounds of ammunition on the Internet.

The prosecution's allegation is the earliest report of a possible threat from Holmes, who was an enigma to many before authorities said he opened fire on a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded.

Prosecutors allege Holmes also made unspecified threats to a professor in June, the same month in which they say he failed his year-end final. University officials say he left the program after the exam.

Holmes' attorneys argue that prosecutors should have no access to his student records. It's not clear whether Holmes' attorneys filed a response to the prosecution's allegations. Most filings in the case are sealed and none of the defense filings released Friday by the judge address the alleged threats.

The prosecution motion was filed last week but not released by the judge until Friday, a day after a court hearing in which prosecutors first asserted that Holmes had made threats. They didn't disclose any details about the threats then but did say that professors had sought to keep Holmes out of their labs and that "professors urged that he find another line of business."

A spokeswoman from the University of Colorado declined comment. Prosecutors and defense attorneys didn't return calls seeking comment.

Holmes' defense lawyer, Daniel King, has said Holmes is mentally ill and was seeing a psychiatrist at the university, setting up a possible insanity defense.

However, prosecutors are suggesting that Holmes was motivated by his anger that he was failing at school.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson told the judge Thursday that prosecutors need access to school records to establish 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.

Prosecutors say they need the university documents to gain access to a notebook reportedly containing violent descriptions of an attack. The notebook was in a package Holmes sent to university psychiatrist Lynne Fenton.

She is expected to testify at an Aug. 30 hearing.

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