A Colorado judge ordered a Fox News reporter on Friday to testify in the case of accused theater gunman James Holmes and shed light on her anonymous sources for a story about a notebook connected to Holmes.
Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester ordered New York-based journalist Jana Winter to appear in court on February 4 in a ruling centered on information that came to public light after a gag order he imposed early on in the case.
Fox News said it does not comment on pending legal matters.
Holmes, a 25-year-old former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado of Denver, is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others at the July screening of a Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
The massacre ranks as one of the worst cases of U.S. gun violence in recent years.
The judge ordered Winter to testify about a story published online under her byline days after a court-imposed gag order went into effect, with details on the contents of a notebook Holmes sent to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton.
Citing two unnamed law enforcement sources, the article said the notebook contained details of plans to commit mass murder, along with illustrations of the envisioned attack.
Fenton testified at a separate hearing that she met with Holmes at least once when he was a graduate student at the university.
Holmes' lawyers had pushed the judge to trace the source of the information, and requested that sanctions be imposed on prosecutors in the case against Holmes.
At a hearing last month, several police and bomb technicians who had seen the notebook denied under oath they were the source for the story, leading the judge to conclude there was no other way to trace the leak than to have Winter testify.
"As none of these efforts have revealed the sources of the information in (the) article, Jana Winter has become a material and necessary witness in this case," Sylvester said in his ruling.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Cynthia Johnston and Richard Chang)