Fox News reporter Jana Winter not forced to testify today, ordered to come back in August
Fox News reporter Jana Winter was not forced to take the stand today and testify about her unnamed sources. Instead, the judge in the Aurora theater shooting case ordered Winter back on August 19.
By then, an attorney for suspect James Holmes said several outstanding issues should be resolved. She didn't elaborate, but the judge said he won't rule on the testimony issue until he decides whether a notebook Winter wrote about will be admitted as evidence, a decision that could depend on Holmes's plea.
On March 12, Judge William Sylvester entered a not-guilty plea for Holmes. Holmes's attorneys indicated that they were considering entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity but said they needed more time and information before deciding whether to do so. Sylvester said in March that he'd be open to considering a plea change at a later date.
Since then, the district attorney has announced that he's seeking the death penalty against Holmes, and Sylvester has handed the reins of the case over to Judge Carlos Samour. At a hearing on April 1, Samour reportedly told defense attorneys that the longer they wait to change Holmes's plea, the harder it will be to convince him.
That's relevant to the issue of whether Winter will testify because of the notebook, which was discovered in the mailroom at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, where Holmes was a neuroscience student. The package was addressed to Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist who had seen Holmes -- and who reportedly warned the police of Holmes's "homicidal statements."
On July 25, five days after prosecutors say Holmes killed twelve people and injured seventy more by opening fire at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Winter wrote a story that cited two unnamed law enforcement sources as saying the notebook contained details about how Holmes was going to kill people. "Among the images shown in the spiral-bound notebook's pages were gun-wielding stick figures blowing away other stick figures," it says.
Holmes's attorneys want to know who violated a gag order in the case and "leaked" that information to Winter. They have also argued that the notebook's contents are protected by doctor-patient privilege. That privilege could be waived, however, if Holmes decides to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. If that happens, Samour posited in a ruling released Monday, the notebook "may play a significant role in the case" -- which means the credibility of the police officers who testified at a court hearing in December that they were not Winter's source for the notebook story could be called into question.
Today, one of those officers, Aurora police Detective Alton Reed, took the stand for a second time. Back in December, Reed testified that he briefly looked inside the notebook. "I just sort of fanned through the pages with my thumb," he said. But he also testified that he did not speak to Winter or any other media about what he saw.
On April 1, attorneys for Winter pointed out that Reed hadn't been asked whether he spoke with anyone else about the notebook's contents, implying that Winter could have gotten her information second- or third-hand. So defense attorneys agreed to re-call Reed to ask him. This afternoon, he testified that the only person with whom he spoke was Sergeant Matthew Fyles, who previously testified that he was not the source.
Continue for more details about today's hearing in the Aurora theater shooting case.