Judge: Too early to rule on Holmes case reporter

AP News
Posted: Apr 08, 2013 8:55 PM

DENVER (AP) — The judge in the Colorado theater shootings said Monday it's too early to decide whether a Fox News reporter should have to reveal her confidential sources or risk going to jail.

But New York-based reporter Jana Winter still has to appear at a hearing in a Colorado on Wednesday, the judge said.

James Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a July 20 attack on a suburban Denver theater. Winter wrote a story citing anonymous law enforcement officials as saying that before the attack, Holmes sent a psychiatrist a notebook containing drawings depicting violence.

Holmes' lawyers say Winter's sources violated a gag order. The defense wants Winter to reveal her sources so the judge can discipline them.

The defense also says the credibility of some law enforcement officials could be in question if they are called as witnesses at a trial, because at least 20 officials testified at a December hearing or submitted affidavits saying they weren't Winter's source.

The judge ruled Monday that the credibility issue won't come up unless the notebook is admitted as evidence, and that could depend on whether Holmes asks to change his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.

An insanity plea would give prosecutors access to information about his mental health, and prosecutors have already expressed interest seeing the notebook as part of that information.

Winter is fighting to protect her sources' identities. If she is ordered to disclose her sources but refuses, she could be jailed.

At Wednesday's hearing, Holmes' lawyers are expected to re-question an officer who testified in December that he didn't speak to Winter about the notebook, but who wasn't asked if he spoke to anyone else about it.

The judge ruled Winter must be present.


Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP .