Court Shuts Television Cameras Down in Ross Murder Case - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/15/06

Court Shuts Television Cameras Down in Ross Murder Case

Prosecutor Christy Barker (standing) asks the judge to remove the cameras. Prosecutor Christy Barker (standing) asks the judge to remove the cameras.

There's been an interesting turn in the Jennifer Ross murder trial. After meeting with both the prosecution and defense after 5pm, Judge Penny Haas Freesemann has ordered the cameras turned off.

The move comes after a report on the cable channel Court TV, which has been following the case with live coverage. The court felt that one report today, in particular, revealed too much about the jury's ongoing deliberations.

Prosecutor Christy Barker went as far as to tell the judge she felt the defendants weren't getting a fair trial due to the presence of cameras in the courtroom, and the Court TV report in particular.

"Threats are being made, to witnesses, threats are being made to defendants, etc., etc.," she said. "Your Honor, based upon all of these things, and particularly upon this report, it's the state's position that the defendants' rights, due process rights, have been substantially impacted by the presence of these cameras, and we would ask that they be removed."

The court ordered that no cameras will be allowed inside the courtroom until the jury comes back with a verdict to read.

The last thing Court TV's camera recorded was Judge Haas Freesemann saying, "We have welcomed you in here, but this has gotten to the point of being ridiculous, and the cameras need to leave, so turn them off please and get the equipment out of here. Thank you."

This was after the jury had requested to hear the audiotaped police interview with the defendants' friend Javonte Clark and his mother Kathleen Clark. Kathleen gave the first CrimeStoppers tip about this case and testified that the defendants were playing video games at her house the night of the shooting, then left.

After the no-camera order, the defendants were able to get that recording and these others:

*The 911 call that Brett Finley made to police the night Jennifer Ross was shot
*The 911 call that a cabdriver made for Lizzy Sprague and Brannen Miles the night of the shooting
*The police interviews Det. McCutcheon had with Lizzy Sprague, Brannen Miles and Brett Finley
*The taped phone call between Michael Thorpe and Sean Thorpe

As of Friday night, no verdict was returned. Jury deliberations are set to begin again at 10am Saturday.

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