CHICAGO -- Lawyers for several news media organizations are seeking to block a request for a gag order in the upcoming trial of a man suspected in at least 21 homosexual-related slayings.
Defense attorneys have asked officials to seal court files and bar police and prosecutors from discussing the slaying of Daniel Bridges, 16, whose body was found in a dumpster near the home of suspected serial killer Larry Eyler, 30.
Eyler, who is charged in Bridges' dismemberment slaying, also is suspected in the slayings of at least 20 other people in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky, authorities have said. Most of the victims were homosexuals, officials said.
Eyler's lawyer, David Schippers, said Friday the motion was filed to minimize sensational pretrial news coverage and guarantee Eyler's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.
But the news organizations opposed the defense motion on the grounds it violates the First Amendment and that news coverage does not pose a threat to the defendant's ability to receive a fair trial.
Cook County Associate Judge Joseph Urso said he will rule on the defense request and opposing motions filed by the news media outlets on Nov. 30.
Lawyers for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, WGN, NBC, City News Bureau of Chicago, the Society of Professional Journalists-Sigma Delta Chi, the Illinois Freedom of Information Council, the Chicago Headline Club, the Chicago Press Club and Loyola University's National Center for Freedom of Infomation Studies filed briefs opposing the defense motion.
Attorney Donald Reuben, representing some of the news organizations, said that without a 'tremendous showing' Eyler's right was threatened, there is no legal precedent allowing the gag order and the sealing of court records.