Colorado Theater Shooting: Lawyers Say James Holmes Is Mentally Ill

News outlets are also urging the chief judge in the case to relax a gag order on case filings

James Holmes, the alleged gunman in the Colorado movie theater shootings, is mentally ill and his lawyers said Thursday they need more time to assess his condition.

The lawyers made the disclosure at a court hearing in suburban Denver, the Associated Press reported.

The 24-year-old former Ph.D. student appeared dazed and aloof as he had in previous court hearings, the AP said, however his lawyers did not disclose specific details about why they believe Holmes isn't mentally stable.

Holmes' behavior in prison has reportedly been erratic, as he spat at jailhouse workers, questioned why he was imprisoned and asking how "The Dark Knight Rises" ends.

Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 others on July 20 after entering a crowded midnight screening of the Batman movie in combat gear and opening fire.

His attorney Daniel King argued that the defense needs more information regarding his mental health from prosecutors and investigators before they can argue on behalf of their client.

Weeks before the shooting, Holmes apparently went to Lynne Fenton, a University of Colorado psychiatrist in Denver, for help. A hearing to establish whether she actually tried to treat him is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Also read: Colorado Shootings: James Holmes Claims He Doesn't Know Why He's in Prison (Report)

The pleas for information come as a consortium of news outlets — including the Associated Press and the Denver Post — prepares to ask Chief Judge William Sylvester to scale back a gag order that prevents the university from disclosing details about Holmes.

In recent weeks, the judge has said that he issued the order to protect the integrity of  Arapahoe County's investigation. But now, officials in Aurora, where the shooting spree took place, cite the order when they decline to speak about the shooting.

In Colorado, such gag orders bar prosecutors and law enforcement from commenting.

Sylvester said he would rule on the defense's request by Monday but did not say whether he planned to respond to the news outlets.

The documents include the case file inventories of evidence and other case filings that would shed light on the accusations against Holmes.