CENTENNIAL (AP) – Several survivors of the Aurora movie theater shooting who are suing the theater’s owner will not be allowed access to restricted court records, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour, who is overseeing the criminal case against the theater gunman, wrote in an order Wednesday that exhibits from an earlier hearing in the criminal case should not be released to the survivors. Samour ruled that releasing the exhibits “would unnecessarily risk compromising the integrity of the proceedings and the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
Fourteen survivors and family members of victims slain in the attack sought access to exhibits from January’s extensive preliminary hearing in the case, hoping they will shed light on what happened before and after the shooting and help in their lawsuits against theater chain Cinemark. The exhibits include things like photographs, police reports and audio recordings of 911 calls, and they may have been discussed or displayed only partially at the hearing. Because of a gag order in the case, those records have never been released publicly.
In his ruling, Samour reasoned that the criminal case likely will conclude before the civil lawsuits and that, “some of the evidence that will not be made public until the trial will be just as relevant as those exhibits.” Both prosecutors and defense attorneys objected to release of the exhibits to the victims.
There are at least 11 lawsuits pending against Cinemark by victims of the shootings. The suits allege that Cinemark should have anticipated the risk of a violent attack and provided better security to guard against one.
Twelve people were killed and 58 more were wounded by gunfire in the July, 2012, shootings. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in February, but that has now been postponed.