The former graduate student accused in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting was being treated by a psychiatrist at the university where he studied, according to court papers filed Friday.
Defense attorneys for James Holmes, 24, made the disclosure in a court motion. It sought to discover the source of leaks to some media outlets that Holmes sent the psychiatrist a package containing a notebook with descriptions of an attack.
The motion says that the leak violated a judge's gag order in the case and jeopardizes Holmes' right to a fair trial.
"The government's disclosure of this confidential and privileged information has placed Mr. Holmes' constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial by an impartial jury in serious jeopardy," wrote the attorneys.
The motion adds that the package contained communications between Holmes and his psychiatrist that should be shielded from public view. The document describes Holmes as a "psychiatric patient" of Dr. Lynne Fenton.
As The Christian Science Monitor reported, the contents of the package could be used by both sides in the legal case.
"Is it a manifesto or an apology? If it includes drawings that are sufficiently deranged as to be from someone who appears mentally ill, it could assist defense in a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity defense,” legal analyst Scott Robinson told The Denver Post. “If it appears to be the work of someone who knew exactly what they are doing, and they knew it was wrong, that could help the prosecution."
Calls to Holmes' lawyer, Daniel King, were referred to the head of the Colorado State Public Defender's office, Douglas Wilson, who was out of the office and did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
A message left with Fenton's office was not immediately returned. Casmir Spencer, a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County District Attorney's office, said she could not comment.
The package was seized by authorities on Monday after it was discovered in the mailroom at the University of Colorado, Denver. It's unclear if it was sent before the attack at the July 20 midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" that left 12 dead and dozens of others injured.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.