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Judge Orders Reporter To Appear For James Holmes Case

James Holmes in court on March 12, 2013 (credit: CBS)

James Holmes in court on March 12, 2013 (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (AP/CBS4) — The judge in the Colorado theater shootings is requiring a New York-based reporter to attend a hearing Monday, when he will hear arguments on whether she must testify about her confidential sources for a story on the suspect.

In a FoxNews.com report, Jana Winter cited unnamed law-enforcement officials as saying theater shooting suspect James Holmes had sent a psychiatrist drawings that foreshadowed the July shootings, which killed 12 and injured 70.

Holmes’ lawyers contend officials who gave her that information violated a gag order. They want to know Winter’s sources.

“The issue is important enough to try to learn, for the parties to learn, who the source was of leaking that information,” CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said.

Winter argues Colorado’s shield law protects her from having to disclose her sources. Holmes’ attorneys say they’ll be ready to argue that point.

Based in New York, Winter told the court she is afraid to return to Colorado for her own safety. She says she’s been “harassed” and “been the subject of numerous threatening internet postings.” She cites a blogger interested in the case with a posting entitled, “Jana’s juicy background deets,” that includes pictures of her family. Despite her pleas, the judge ruled she must appear.

“Her attorneys are trying to do what they can do to keep her from having to testify if that’s possible, let alone the fact that she is going to be trying to protect a source,” Steinhauser said.

If the judge rules Winter must reveal her source, her refusal could have consequences.

“The court could find that she is in contempt of court. The judge could fine her; the judge could order that she serve time in jail until she is willing to reveal the source,” Steinhauser said.

Separately, prosecutors will announce Monday whether they will seek the death penalty.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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