Hearings on evaluation of Colo. theater shooter will be closed
Published: December 21, 2013 09:27AM
Updated: December 21, 2013 09:39AM

Upcoming hearings about whether the gunman in the Aurora theater shooting will undergo additional psychiatric evaluation will be closed to the public, victims and media, the judge overseeing the case ruled Friday.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour granted defense attorneys’ request to close the hearings, which have been scheduled for Jan. 27-30.

During those hearings, attorneys are expected to argue over whether James Holmes should undergo another psychiatric evaluation.

The hearings are significant because they are expected to reveal what doctors at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo concluded about Holmes’ mental state when he killed 12 people and wounded many others in the Century Aurora 16 movie theater in July 2012.

Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in June and was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation at the hospital. The results of the evaluation have been kept secret so far.

“The court finds that there is a substantial probability that the defendant’s right to a fair trial will be prejudiced by publicity of the hearing and that there are no reasonable alternatives to complete closure,” Samour wrote in the order.

The hearings were originally sparked by the prosecution’s request that Holmes undergo a second court-ordered psychiatric evaluation with prosecution experts.

The order filed Friday revealed the prosecution is asking for additional evaluations of Holmes’ mental state on the day of the shooting that may affect application of the state’s death-penalty statute.

The prosecution does not contest a finding in the first evaluation that Holmes is competent to be tried.

In November, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said prosecutors disagreed with part of the evaluation’s findings.