Colorado movie theater shooting suspect claims his rights were violated

Jason Sickles

Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes' constitutional rights were violated when his jail mug shot was recently released to the media, his defense team claims.

In documents released on Wednesday, the court-appointed lawyers argue the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department violated the judge's order to limit pretrial publicity by providing an updated photo of Holmes last month. Doing so, they said, compromised Holmes' right to a fair trial, impartial jury and due process.

"Despite this order, a photograph of Mr. Holmes was leaked to the media by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department on September 20, 2012, the same day Mr. Holmes appeared in court for the first time after receiving a haircut," his attorneys wrote in their motion.

The photo in question shows a strikingly different Holmes than the picture taken when he was first jailed in late July. His hair is no longer dyed a cartoonish orange-red, and his mutton chop sideburns are gone.

Holmes was taken into custody on July 20 moments after police say he fatally shot 12 people and wounded 58 others during a sold-out showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Some reported that Holmes told arresting officers he was the Joker, the infamous villain from the Batman movies.

Holmes has not entered a plea. His defense team has said in court that he is mentally ill.

In their motion, Holmes' attorneys asked for "an evidentiary hearing on this issue to investigate the circumstances under which this photograph of Mr. Holmes was taken and its purpose, the party responsible for distributing the photograph to the media, and what sanctions are an appropriate response to this violation."

Yahoo News obtained the photo from the Associated Press, which attributed the picture to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department.

A phone message left for Sheriff Grayson Robinson was not immediately returned to Yahoo News. But he did tell the Denver Post, "I will simply wait for the process and for the judge to evaluate the situation."

Chief District Judge William Sylvester granted the defense team's motion and scheduled a hearing for Oct. 11.