CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — The judge in the Colorado theater shootings refused again Wednesday to make a quick decision on whether to order a Fox News reporter to reveal her confidential sources for a story she wrote last year.
In the article, New York-based reporter Jana Winter cited anonymous law-enforcement sources who said shooting suspect James Holmes sent a notebook containing violent drawings to a University of Colorado, Denver psychiatrist before the attack.
Holmes, who had been a student at the university, is charged with fatally shooting 12 people and injuring 70 at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora on July 20. A judge has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes’ lawyers want to know the names of the officials who spoke to Winter. They argue the leak violated a gag order and could weaken the credibility of those officials if they are called to testify in a trial.
Defense attorney Rebecca Higgs suggested Wednesday that law-enforcement officers may have lied under oath when they denied speaking to Winter. That was sufficient reason to require Winter to testify, Higgs said.
Pacing and gesturing, Higgs argued the issue is whether a law enforcement officer decided to “flat-out lie.”
Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said he would not make a decision on Winter’s sources until he rules on whether the notebook will be admitted as evidence, reiterating a written order he issued Monday.
He told Winter she would have to return for another hearing Aug. 19.
Winter argues she should not have to identify her sources under Colorado and New York shield laws that protect reporters’ sources under some circumstances.
If the judge orders her to reveal her sources and she refuses, she could be jailed.
In December, 20 law-enforcement officers testified or submitted affidavits saying they did not speak to Winter. One of them, Aurora police Detective Alton Reed, took the stand again Wednesday and said he spoke only to an Aurora police sergeant about what he saw in the notebook. That sergeant already has testified that he did not speak to Winter.
The judge on Wednesday also ordered both sides not to discuss plea negotiations in future court filings, saying that violated state judicial rules.
Last month, defense lawyers said in a court filing that Holmes had offered to plead guilty if prosecutors would agree to a life sentence. That prompted an angry response from prosecutors, who said in their own filing that the offer wasn’t genuine and accused the defense of trying to drum up public pressure for a deal.
By Dan Elliott, AP Writer (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)