Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yogurt Shop murders: today’s somewhat feisty hearing, part 1 of 2

Defense attorney Joe James Sawyer got things rolling in today’s joint hearing by complaining that the Court’s gag order deprives his client of his first amendment rights and should be dissolved. Judge Lynch quickly made it clear he prefers the term “protective” to “gag” order. Sawyer said that defense attorneys would not have agreed to the amended limited protective order had they known that prosecutors would violate it, in this case by promising the public they knew whose (recently retested) DNA had been discovered on Amy Ayers.

Defense attorney for Michael Scott, Carlos Garcia, added that the “state says the DNA belongs to a boyfriend when it doesn’t.” The defense teams believe they should have the opportunity to publicly respond but can’t as long as the protective order’s in place. Prosecutor Efrain De La Fuente objected to having the order lifted. After some argument, Judge Lynch said he would read the case law Sawyer cited and suggested that Sawyer provide him with a record of the statements to which he objects.

Garcia told Lynch that the “government had 19 (DNA) results when you asked them if they had any and they remained silent.” After more argument, a slightly exasperated Lynch pointedly asked the prosecution, “Are you obeying my order to turn over results?” De La Fuente said yes, although his answer was not that short.

Garcia argued that a special master needs to be appointed to protect the physical evidence from being mishandled. When Lynch said he didn’t have the authority to assign a special master, it was Garcia who seemed more than exasperated. He continued, “Efrain De La Fuente and (prosecutor) Darla Davis deliberately opened evidence without gloves”, contaminating it. Lynch said that although he wouldn’t appoint a special master, he could put in a protective order about handling evidence.

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