Recommendation letter: Holmes had emotional maturity

James E. Holmes Enlarge photo

James E. Holmes

DENVER – The Colorado theater shooting suspect left a good impression with people he came into contact with in his pursuit of a neuroscience career, with one person describing him as having a “great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity.”

That description comes in recommendation letter sent to the University of Illinois neuroscience program as part of James Holmes’ application to the school last year. The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., ( posted a story on its website based on documents obtained as part of an open records request.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58. His attorneys claim he’s mentally ill.

“Researching learning and memory interests me because these are the very cognitive processes which enable us to acquire information and retain it. They are at the core of what distinguishes us as people,” Holmes wrote in his personal statement. “Due to the seemingly infinite vastness of indefinite knowledge we must be selective in our pursuits of knowledge. That is why I have chosen to study the primary source of all things, our own minds.”

Holmes declined to attend the highly selective program. He did not give a reason. The names of those writing recommendation letters on Holmes’ behalf were not released by the school.

In recommendation letters, Holmes is described as being in the top 1 percent of his honors classes with a cumulative grade point average of 3.949, making honors list.

“He takes an active role in his education, and brings a great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity into the classroom,” one recommendation letter reads. “James received excellent evaluations from the professor’s and graduate students with whom he worked and was mentored.”

Another letter describes him as “a very effective group leader” on assignments.

That description is a stark contrast to his demeanor in court, where he seems dazed, looking straight ahead and avoiding eye contact with those sitting in the courtroom.

As part of his application, Holmes submitted a picture of himself standing next to a llama.

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