The man accused of opening fire on a Colorado cinema told a classmate he wanted to kill people four months before the shooting, newly filed court records allege.
Prosecutors made the contention in a motion released today.
They are seeking access to James Holmes’s records from the University of Colorado Denver’s neuroscience graduate programme.
Prosecutors wrote that Holmes left the programme in June after also making unspecified threats to a professor that month and failing his year-end final exam.
Holmes’s lawyers argue that prosecutors should have no access to his student records.
Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 58 during the July 20 attack at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Returns.
Holmes's defence lawyer, Daniel King, has said his client is mentally ill, setting up a possible insanity defence.
But arguments at a hearing yesterday by Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson revealed a possible motive: Holmes’s anger that he was failing at school, “at the same time he’s buying an enormous amount of ammunition, body armour and explosives”.
A gag order has been issued in the case.
Prosecutors argued that gaining access to the school records would establish a motive for the Aurora shootings by showing what Holmes hoped to accomplish at Colorado University and the “dissatisfaction with what occurred in his life that led to this”.
They also want to see records from campus police and a campus threat evaluation team similar to those established across the country after the 2007 Virginia Tech University shootings.