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James Holmes, alleged Colo. theater mass killer, made threat in March, prosecutors claim

Holmes was being treated by psychiatrist
James Holmes, left, in a Colorado courtroom, July 26, 2012. CBS/AP

(CBS/AP) CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Newly filed court records allege that James Holmes, the man accused of opening fire in a Colorado movie theater in July, told a classmate he wanted to kill people four months before the shooting that claimed 12 lives, CBS Denver reports.

Pictures: The Colorado massacre suspect

Prosecutors made the claim in a motion released Friday, as they sought access to the former PhD student's records from the University of Colorado Denver's neuroscience graduate program.

The prosecution filing states, "the defendant had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people in March, 2012, and that he would do so when his life was over."

Prosecutors also wrote that Holmes left the program in June after also making unspecified threats to a professor that month and failing his year-end final.

Holmes is charged with killing 12 and wounding 58 during the July 20 attack on a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora.

Holmes' attorneys argue that prosecutors should have no access to his student records. The papers they filed in response to prosecutors do not address the allegations of threats.

Holmes' defense lawyer, Daniel King, has said Holmes is mentally ill, setting up a possible insanity defense.

The University of Colorado Denver released a statement on Friday explaining why they aren't providing comments to the media. It said, in part, "Judge Sylvester has clearly indicated that the courtroom is the proper forum for evidence to be presented and for him to resolve important legal questions. The University of Colorado believes in these legal processes will ultimately present the full history of James Holmes' interactions with the University of Colorado, its educators, and its medical providers." The statement continued, "...the University may only provide information when doing so is permitted by not only Judge Sylvester's orders, but also by the laws governing the physician-patient relationship and educational privacy."

A gag order has been issued in the case. Prosecutors argued that gaining access to the school records would establish a motive 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.

Complete coverage of the Colorado movie theater shooting

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