Colorado shooter James Holmes has been formally charged with 24 counts of murder and faces life behind bars. His psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, could also face charges of failure to alert authorities of his dangerous intentions.
Fenton had been working with Holmes for some time and was sent a notebook by Holmes that detailed his intention to "kill people." She specializes in treating those with schizophrenia and "threat assessment," according to reports, and could be charged for negligent homicide if it is determined that she should have alerted authorities to Holmes' intention.
She also has a criminal history, with disciplinary action taken by the University of Colorado. It is unknown what led the school to take action, which has remained silent throughout this time. In 2004, however, Fenton was found to have been prescribing herself the narcotic Xanax and her husband Ambien.
Both are prescription-only medications, and it would have been a conflict of interest to treat herself and her husband with those medications. Fenton is also believed to have prescribed an employee Vicodin, and that employee was not a registered patient, which again would have been a conflict of interest.
Fenton could be charged by the state for failure to fulfill her duties, and victims' families could also sue for negligence. The University of Colorado, where Fenton worked, would also be eligible for suit by families.
"This is a significant development because it suggests Holmes sought treatment for a mental health issue and that his mental health state was known to his university counselor," a legal source told the Daily Mail. "If negligence can be proved, than the victims' families could have a strong civil case against the university."
Holmes faces 142 total counts in the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. He was formally indicted today, but prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty in the case.