Gag order granted in Ajibade death case - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Gag order granted in Ajibade death case


According to the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office, Judge James Bass has granted a gag order in the Mathew Ajibade death case.

This is another step in the long and tumultuous case after Ajibade, a 22-year-old college student, died in the Chatham County Jail on January 1 after he was strapped down in a restraint chair and tased. Nine jail workers were fired after the incident, and three have been indicted in his death.  

Defense attorneys argued that defendants Jason Kenny, Maxine Evans and Gregory Brown haven't made any statements to media in the case and shouldn't be gagged. But prosecutor Christy Barker argued that all parties should be gagged in the case until it goes to trial in November.

Barker was granted her wish on Friday after Bass granted the gag order.

She took aim at attorney Will Claiborne and attorney Mark O'Mara. Both are representing Ajibade's family in a lawsuit they say they plan to bring against the Chatham County Sheriff's Office for Ajibade's death.

Claiborne, who also serves as chairman of the Chatham County Democratic Party, has said in interviews that the Chatham County Sheriff, a Republican, should be prosecuted for Ajibade's death. It's a position echoed by O'Mara, who represented George Zimmerman in the Treyvon Martin shooting trial and serves as a CNN legal analyst.

In the Wednesday hearing in front of Bass, Barker took issue with those and other statement Claiborne and O'Mara have made to the media. Barker argued that the attorneys' interviews are prejudicing potential jurors in the criminal case against Kenny, Evans and Brown.

Claiborne argued that he and O'Mara are attorneys for Ajibade's family in the lawsuit they plan to bring, a civil matter, not in the criminal prosecution of the defendants.

Ajibade, 21, was found dead in a restraint chair at the jail after being arrested and charged with domestic violence battery on New Year's Day. The charge resulted from a fight with Ajibade's girlfriend. According to court documents, Kenny Tased Ajibade while he was in that restraint chair. 

Ajibade was placed in restraints after fighting officers during booking, breaking a female deputy's nose and giving her a concussion. 

His family and the girlfriend Ajibade was fighting with that day say Ajibade was suffering from an episode associated with his diagnosed bipolar disorder at the time. They say he should've been taken to a hospital, not to jail.

The Chatham County coroner ruled his death a homicide by blunt force trauma.

Kenny also has been charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to an inmate.

Evans and Brown are accused of failing to check on Ajibade while he was in restraints, then falsifying records to say they did.

Kenny, Evans and Brown are scheduled to be arraigned and to enter pleas Aug. 6 at 11 a.m.

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