James Holmes case update: Judge wants more info about request to release victim names
Update below: Prosecutors say victims of the Aurora theater shooting are "severely concerned" about their own safety and for that reason, the names of all victims and witnesses in the case should be kept secret. The argument came in response to a request from several media outlets to release the names of victims whose identities have been redacted from court documents.
Victims are afraid to go into their backyards because there are "helicopters trying to take pictures of their minor children," said prosecutor Lisa Teesch-Maguire at a court hearing this morning. Other victims have had their pictures posted on a Facebook page maintained by supporters of accused shooter James Holmes, she said, and Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist who saw Holmes when he was a neuroscience student at the University of Colorado, has been afraid to live at her house.
Teesch-Maguire also cited the case of Javad Marshall-Fields, a witness in a murder case who was slain in 2005 along with his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, as a reason for caution. The media, she argued, thinks victims' privacy rights "have a shelf life and have expired."
Marshall-Fields and Wolfe.
Holmes's attorneys agreed that victims' names and other sensitive information should not be released. Public defender Daniel King said he was "amazed at the callousness" of media lawyer Steve Zansberg, who argued that court documents released to the media have been excessively redacted to include blacking out information that has been discussed in open court.
Though both prosecutors and defense attorneys said they concur that some redactions have been excessive, King said Zansberg "talks about the victims in this case as if they are cannon fodder." He also said that dealing with motions filed by the media take away from the time lawyers have to spend on the criminal case. He made reference to needing to examine "the depth of Mr. Holmes' mental illness."
Zansberg argued that the media treats victims with respect and that comparing this case to what happened to Marshall-Fields is unfair. He pointed out that the names of victims were previously released by the court but then redacted in later documents. He acknowledged that while one victim suffered identity theft by a person who filed court motions under the victim's name, that's "far too speculative a concern to warrant blanket closure of all victim's names."
Zansberg's mention of identity theft is likely a reference to a bizarre court filing blaming the theater shooting on Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates and the Illuminati, among others. Suspicions in regard to the filing have been directed at self-described lawsuit factory Jonathan Lee Riches. However, local authorities have decided not to pursue prosecution in this case.
Judge William Sylvester did not immediately rule on this matter. He said he'd issue a decision by Monday.
Continue for more developments from the most recent hearing in the James Holmes case -- as well as for the update referenced above.