James Holmes court case: Defense says Aurora shooting suspect made call before theater attack

DENVER - Defense attorneys say the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting tried unsuccessfully to call a University of Colorado, Denver, psychiatrist nine minutes before the attack.

Defense attorney Tamara Brady said Thursday that James Holmes placed the call to an after-hours number at a hospital at the University of Colorado, Anschutz campus.

Brady says Holmes thought he reach psychiatrist Lynne Fenton at that number.

The detail came out during a hearing about Holmes' relationship with Fenton, to whom he mailed a package containing a notebook that reportedly contained violent descriptions of an attack.

Holmes is accused in the July 20 shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.

Associated Press

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A professor at the University of Iowa told members of the admission committee reviewing James Holmes' application, "Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances."

The application to the University of Iowa's neuroscience department was submitted in October 2010. 7NEWS obtained Holmes' application and two emails sent about Holmes.

He is accused of going on a shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater in July, killing 12 people and injuring 58 more before he was arrested.

In one email, Iowa Psychology/ Neurosciences Professor Daniel Tranel, Ph.D., wrote about seven applicants. He said four should be offered admission; one person was solid, not spectacular and one person was probably fine. The names of the other applicants were removed from the documents sent to 7NEWS.

About Holmes, Tranel wrote, "James Holmes: Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances."

In a second email, faculty member Mark Blumberg wrote "James Holmes: I agree with Dan. Don't admit."

Neither Tranel or Blumberg explained their reason for their comments. Holmes' application was not accepted.

An Iowa professor who assessed Holmes' application told 7NEWS: "I have no specific recollections to share. I understand that this is a very important issue. Occasionally, we do see applicants who, for a variety of reasons, we feel are not suitable for graduate study. I'm sorry that I don't have any specific details to provide in this instance."

Holmes wrote that he was also applying at Texas A&M, Kansas University, University of Michigan, University of Alabama and the University of Colorado.

Holmes eventually attended the University of Colorado in Denver.

Holmes: My Life Could Have Gone In A Completely Different Direction

In his application essay for the University of Iowa, Holmes wrote about his early life in the rural northern California town of Castroville, where he at first didn't know why students at his school were required to wear blue and white uniforms.

"Later, I discovered the uniforms were issued to curb gang rivalry," Holmes wrote.

"Looking back, my life could have gone in a completely different direction had I not possessed the foresight to choose the path to knowledge. I chose to appreciate an education, cultivating my mind," he wrote.

Along with his scientific skills, Holmes wrote, "I, too, will bring my past, specifically my strong moral upbringing" to the program.

Holmes also talked about his past internships and how, "only with a multidisciplinary perspective to the specialized field of neuroscience can we hope to fully understand the brain."

Holmes Wrote About 'Clairvoyance

"I will also exemplify my resolution and clairvoyance in problem solving," Holmes wrote in the application essay.

It's an interesting choice of words because clairvoyance is defined as a supernatural ability or extra-sensory perception to know of events, people or objects beyond normal human senses. People with such powers are also called psychic.

As an example of his problem-solving skills, Holmes cited his work as a counselor at a summer camp for underprivileged children, including some who were being treated for mental illness.

Homes said he "took on the task with fervor," but admitted having to adjust his strategy for leading the dozen boys, ages 10 to 11, in his cabin.

He wrote that his Democratic idea to allow the boys to "create your own" activity for one event each day "tended to turn into chaos." The boys wanted to do different activities around the camp and Holmes quickly realized he couldn't manage kids who weren't in one group.

Instead, Holmes rotated a different group activity each day of the week.

Holmes Wrote Of Boy With Schizophrenia, Kids Who Were Medicated

As an aspiring neuroscientist studying how the brain works, Holmes noted that each camp cabin had two boys who were clinically diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

"One of the weeks, I mentored a kid with Schizophrenia. At 3:30 a.m., he woke up and vacuumed the ceiling of our cabin," Holmes wrote.

"These kids were heavily medicated but this did not solve their problems, only create new ones," Holmes wrote. "The medication changed them from highly energetic, creative kids to lax beings who slept through activities."

"I

wanted to help them but couldn't. This is where neuroscience research becomes invaluable," he wrote.

In the weeks before the July 20 theater shooting, Holmes was being treated by a psychiatrist on CU's Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

Dr. Lynne Fenton met with Holmes several times and told colleagues about his behavior and even contacted CU police, sources have told 7NEWS.

CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia reported Fenton called members of the CU Denver Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team, or BETA, in early June to express concerns that Holmes was a threat to others.

One of those BETA members was an officer with the CU campus police, sources said.

After Fenton expressed concerns about Holmes and asked for a background check, the officer and the psychiatrist discussed putting him on a mental health hold, which allowed authorities to hold and evaluate a person's mental health for up to 72-hours, multiple sources familiar with the investigation said.

But for unknown reasons, Fenton declined the mental health hold, the sources told Ferrugia.

A CU classmate told the New York Times that Holmes texted her in July asking if she had heard of " dysphoric mania."

Dysphoric mania is a form of bipolar disorder that can, in some cases, lead to paranoid delusions.

The friend messaged back, asking if dysphoric mania could be managed with treatment. He replied, "It was," and added that she should stay away because, he said, "I am bad news," the newspaper reported.

Two weeks later, Holmes is accused of opening fire in the Century 16 theater during a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."

In court papers, prosecutors say Holmes also told a classmate in March that he planned to kill people "when his life was over."

Then in June, he failed his graduate school oral examinations, and he was denied access to the CU campus on June 12 "after he made threats to a professor at the school," according to court papers.

After the shooting, police found Holmes had mailed a notebook to his psychiatrist, but it was still in the campus mail processing center, court records state. News reports have said the notebook contained Holmes' plans for the theater attack, including drawings.

Deb Stanley and Alan Gathright, thedenverchannel.com

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