PHOENIX — A judge denied a request from prosecutors and defense attorneys
to bar all reporters and photographers from the retrial of a man charged with
the 1991 murders of nine people at a Buddhist temple in metro Phoenix.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer said Thursday that he
couldn’t fathom completely excluding journalists from covering Johnathan A.
Doody’s retrial, noting that the attorneys didn’t cite any cases to back up
“I am not going to ban the media,” Kreamer said. “That’s not going to
Kreamer also granted a request by five TV stations in Phoenix to allow pool
video coverage of the trial. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had asked the
judge to bar video coverage.
Doody is accused of participating in the August 1991 slayings at the Wat
Promkunaram temple in one of Arizona’s most notorious murder cases. He was
convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 281 years in prison, but an appeals court
threw out his conviction in 2011 after ruling that investigators improperly
obtained his confession.
He was put on trial again in August, but a judge declared a mistrial Oct. 24
after jurors failed to reach a verdict. Jury selection for Doody’s third trial
began Monday. Attorneys are expected to make opening statements in early
Attorneys on both sides of the case said the media have severely damaged the
fair trial rights of Doody and the state and turned the defendant’s second trial
into a circus. They cited a decision to bar a pool video camera during the
opening of the second trial.
That camera ruling came after a television station that was taking pool video
of the trial was found by Kreamer to have violated a rule that prohibited the
media from capturing images of jurors. About 25 seconds of video was
inadvertently aired as the jurors were leaving for a lunch break. The video was
posted on YouTube.
Prosecutor Jason Kalish said there would likely be more media coverage of the
case if cameras were allowed in the courtroom.
Attorneys representing the stations said they regret that jurors were shown in
the video, will avoid repeating the mistake and will review the court rules on
camera coverage with all journalists assigned to the trial. They said widespread
public interest and viewing the trial can help enhance the public’s
understanding of the case and the judicial system.
Kreamer said live streaming won’t be allowed and there will be a 30-minute
delay on releasing video. He also said he could bar video coverage of individual
witnesses if safety or privacy concerns arise.