James Holmes
Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes sits with public defender Tamara Brady during his first court appearance in Aurora. Image: Reuters Reuters

James Holmes, the accused in the Colorado Batman shooting incident, had been seeing a university psychiatrist, according to court disclosures.

"Mr Holmes was a psychiatric patient of Dr Fenton, and his communications with her are protected," said a court filing by the defence attorneys.

Lynne Fenton is part of a campus-based behavioural and threat assessment team that provides medication and psychotherapy to graduate students.

The university system was designed in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting to help identify students who might be suicidal or pose a danger to fellow students.

Fenton specialises in schizophrenia. It is not clear whether Holmes was in the threat assessment programme or under routine counselling.

The 24-year-old former Colorado University graduate is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others during a late-night premiere of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Wearing a mask and a black dress, he threw gas canisters and sprayed bullets into the audience.

Days before the attack, Holmes reportedly sent a notebook containing details about the planned murder to Fenton. The package was left unopened for a week before it was discovered on 23 July.

"Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people. There were drawings of what he was going to do in it - drawings and illustrations of the massacre," reported Fox News.

Holmes bought four guns and made internet purchases of 6,000 rounds of ammunition ahead of the attack on innocent movie-goers. He also booby-trapped his house extensively to set off explosions in case anybody tried to enter his apartment.

Holmes is expected to be charged with murder on Monday. He looked disoriented at the court hearing and reportedly told other inmates in the prison that he did not remember what happened and had no clue why he was detained.

Holmes' attorneys are expected to enter a plea of insanity at his trial.