US: Holmes called hotline minutes before crime

James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Colorado cinema massacre, had called a University of Colorado emergency number before shooting.

Washington: James Holmes, the suspected shooter in the recent Colorado cinema massacre, had called a University of Colorado (CU) emergency number nine minutes before the shooting started, a court hearing revealed.

The revelation came on Thursday when attorneys asked Holmes` psychiatrist Lynne Fenton if she was aware of the fact that Holmes made such calls, reported Xinhua.

Fenton said she met Holmes for their only session on June 11 and she was so alarmed by her communication with Holmes that she contacted police on the following day.

Fenton said they had no further communication since then.

After Holmes emerged as the prime suspect of the mass shooting July 20 in a Colorado cinema that left 12 people dead and 58 injured, police found out he had failed a critical exam four days before his meeting with Fenton and later withdrew from the CU neuroscience PhD programme.

On centre stage of the district court was a notebook Holmes mailed to Fenton the day before the shooting that prosecuting attorneys are trying to obtain, deemed critical in their case against Holmes.

Several media sources, including Fox and NBC news, leaked information last month from police sources that the notebook contained gun-slinging stick figures and also plans for the cinema shooting.

Defence attorneys say the notebook is protected under a 1996 US law on client-patient confidentiality.

However, prosecution chief deputy attorney Karen Pearson said the notebook was sent long after the Fenton-Holmes relationship had ended, and therefore not "privileged".

"He planned to be dead, in custody or on the run after sending the notebook," argued Pearson.

District court Judge William Sylvester sided with the defence, saying the prosecution had not made the case.

Fenton, who said she coordinated therapy for CU students who need it, said her relationship with Holmes had ended because "the patient indicated he did not want to come back".

However, defence attorney Tamara Brady argued that Holmes could have been saying, "I`m feeling bad, please stop me, please help me".

Further discussion on the factual ending of their relationship was stymied after repeated objections by the defence on the ground that the questioning violated client-patient confidentiality.

During the hearing which lasted more than three-and-a-half hours, prosecution attorney Pearson was so intent on proving her point that defence attorney Brady asked Judge Sylvester to "admonish" her, or force her to stop her line of questioning.

The prosecution argued that by acquiring arms, ammunition and body gear in preparation for the shooting, Holmes was making a "statement" thereby indicating his relationship with Fenton was over.

Holmes appeared more relaxed than his five previous appearances in court. He craned his neck to see Fenton as she walked into court and looked around several times.