Could Psychiatrist Who Treated Suspected Colorado Shooter James Holmes Be Held Accountable?
Accused shooter James Holmes was formally charged Monday with 24 counts of murder in the massacre at a Colorado movie theater. During the court appearance, attorneys argued over a defense motion which is aimed at determining who leaked information to the news media about a package that Holmes sent in the mail to Dr. Lynne Fenton, a University of Colorado psychiatrist who Holmes says was treating him. Fenton is also a member of the university’s threat assessment team. The package addressed to her apparently contained a notebook that outlined an attack.
What did Fenton and the university know about Holmes before the shooting, and can they be held accountable? Lis Wiehl and Mark Eiglarsh debated the issue in today’s Kelly’s Court.
Wiehl described the doctor-patient privilege, which can’t be broken unless the patient reveals in explicit detail how he or she is going to carry out a harmful attack. “Then that psychiatrist and/or doctor has the duty of reporting to the state agencies that the client is going to be doing that,” Wiehl said.
Eiglarsh said that while Fenton could be liable if she knew about Holmes’ intentions, “there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever at this point that he ever communicated anything to her that was clear and that was an imminent threat that he intended to create – number one. Number two, this package never got to her."