According to newly released court papers, the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in a shooting rampage at a US cinema last week was under the care of a psychiatrist.

The information came in a filing to the Arapahoe County District Court on Friday, from defense attorneys for James Holmes.

The 24-year-old former graduate student allegedly opened fire on a packed showing of movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado.

The attorneys were seeking the contents of a package Holmes sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton.

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