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Accused Colorado theater gunman's lawyers seek psychiatric hospital video

James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colorado June 4, 2013. REUTERS/And
James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colorado June 4, 2013. REUTERS/And

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Attorneys for the former graduate student charged with shooting 12 moviegoers to death in a Denver-area theater last summer have renewed their bid for access to a videotape of their client at the hospital where he was undergoing psychiatric treatment.

In a motion filed on Tuesday in Arapahoe County District Court, lawyers for James Holmes asked to be permitted to view footage of their client inside the facility where he was taken last November after jail officials deemed him a danger to himself.

The defense team first asked a judge in March to release the tape of Holmes' stay at the hospital, where his lawyers say he was held for several days, "frequently in restraints."

The judge presiding over the case at the time, William Sylvester, ruled then that police, who have a copy of the tape, should preserve and maintain the video "pending further order of the court."

Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for spraying gunfire inside a suburban Denver cinema last July during a screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Twelve moviegoers were killed, 58 others were wounded by gunfire and another dozen people were injured fleeing the theater.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for the California native if he is convicted.

Because Holmes is claiming insanity, he is required to undergo a court-ordered psychiatric examination, and his lawyers said in their motion on Tuesday that they need to see the recording to properly mount their defense.

Defense lawyers said they have been unable to get a copy of the videotape from police or the hospital, and that they have spoken to the clinician conducting the court-ordered evaluation.

"He expressly stated that video footage of Mr. Holmes while he was hospitalized ... is relevant to his sanity examination, and that he would like to view this footage," the motion said.

Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr., who took over the case in April, did not immediately rule on the pleading. Holmes is scheduled to go on trial in February of 2014.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)

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