AURORA, Colo. - Citing unspecified recent events that caused accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes to be hospitalized, his lawyers asked for a scheduled court appearance to be delayed.
Sources familiar with the hearing say Holmes would not appear Thursday because in the past several days he purposely hit his head on the wall and floor of his cell. He did not suffer obvious physical injuries.
The concern is not about his physical health, the sources said, but about his demeanor. The sources also said it was not a suicide attempt.
An emergency hearing was convened at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the development. During that hearing, the defense said they were informed of Holmes' condition around midday Tuesday. Attorneys said he was taken to a hospital, but were careful not to reveal any details of his condition.
"It's not as simple as a migraine and not as simple as will be resolved in the morning," said defense attorney Tamara Brady.
The first indication of a problem was in an emergency motion filed Wednesday, In that paperwork, Holmes' lawyers asked that the hearing scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 15 be delayed.
"Without waiving any of Mr. Holmes' legal, medical, psychological or psychiatric privileges, counsel are compelled to inform the Court that 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," the document said.
The prosecution filed a document in response.
"The defendant's position seems to be that he can request the court take action on his claim of a 'condition' and at the same time keep information about that 'condition' secret from the prosecution. This is contrary to Colorado law, which holds that a privilege is waived when the privilege holder makes a claim that puts the privileged information at issue," the response said.
In the emergency hearing, Prosecutor Rich Orman said he reached out to 20 of the victims before going to the courtroom. He said 19 of those he reached objected to the delay.
"We believe they have to give the court enough information to act," Orman said.
Judge William Sylvester acknowledged difficulty in making a decision based on the information presented.
"The court finds itself in somewhat of a conundrum, which is not unusual in this case," he said.
Ultimately, Sylvester decided to grant the continuance for Thursday's hearing.