Accused Colorado gunman unable to attend court: lawyers

DENVER Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:49pm EST

Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes (L) sits with public defender Tamara Brady during his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorado, July 23, 2012. REUTERS/RJ Sangosti/Pool

Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes (L) sits with public defender Tamara Brady during his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorado, July 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/RJ Sangosti/Pool

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DENVER (Reuters) - Attorneys for accused Colorado gunman James Holmes filed an emergency motion on Wednesday to delay a pre-trial hearing in his case, citing an unspecified new condition that has left him unable to appear in court.

"As a result of developments over the past 24 hours, Mr. Holmes is in a condition that renders him unable to be present in court for tomorrow's hearing," Holmes' lawyers wrote in the motion to delay the hearing.

His attorneys did not provide further details in the motion, citing legal, medical, and psychological privilege. The judge in the case ordered a hearing on the motion later on Wednesday.

Holmes, a 24-year-old former neuroscience graduate student, is accused of opening fire inside a suburban Denver movie theater during a midnight screening of the movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in July, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.

The rampage was one of the bloodiest acts of gun violence in the United States in recent years.

Prosecutors objected to the motion, saying it should be denied unless more detailed information was provided on Holmes' condition than was contained in the defense request.

"It is not clear whether it is claimed he is suffering from a physical medical condition, a mental condition, whether he is suffering from a negative emotional reaction to his circumstances, or anything other than he has some kind of 'condition,'" prosecutors wrote in their response.

Prosecutors have previously depicted Holmes as a young man whose once promising academic career was in tatters at the time of the shooting. He failed oral board exams for graduate school in June and a professor suggested he may not have been a good fit for his competitive doctorate program.

Holmes' lawyers, who analysts have suggested may be laying the groundwork for an insanity defense, have said Holmes suffers from mental illness and sought to get help before the shooting.

Officials at the Arapahoe County jail, where Holmes is being held, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Writing by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jim Loney)

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