A defense lawyer for one of the teens arrested for the murder of a 15-year-old boy intends to ask a judge to restrict the public and press from court proceedings, seal records related to the case, and gag all parties from discussing the case in public due to “intense media scrutiny” that he feels compromises his client’s right to a fair trial.
In a motion dated Tuesday, a copy of which was delivered to the Star-Banner, Melbourne-based attorney Jonathan F. Bull claims his client, Charlie K. Ely, is being “crucified in the national media by irresponsible hate mongering demagogues with vitriolic opinion and rank speculation about other bad acts that are completely irrelevant to the case.”
Copies of the motion also were delivered to the State Attorney’s Office, CNN and the Orlando Sentinel.
Ely, 18, is being held at the Marion County Jail without bail for her alleged involvement in a murder plot to kill Seath Jackson early last week. She is accused of helping lure Jackson to her Summerfield residence, where the teen was then beaten, tortured and shot before his body was tossed into a burn pit, authorities allege.
Attached to Bull’s three-page motion are print-outs of the dozen-plus articles published in the past 10 days about the murder. In citing the volume of both local and national news coverage on Jackson’s death and details of the accused, Bull expressed concern with the way his client was characterized in the media.
This includes a suggestion on an April 22 broadcast of the Dr. Drew show on the HLN network that Ely was high on methamphetamine at the time of the murder, and a comment made on a CNN Sunday show that called the defendants “heartless animals who deserved the death penalty for the murder of this innocent boy.”
The attorney argues that simply moving the trial venue would do little good at this point because “the most egregious allegations and ad hominem attacks are taking place in the National Media.”
With the exception of two juveniles’, all cases opened against the suspects in Jackson’s murder have been assigned to Circuit Judge Hale Stancil. Arraignment is scheduled for May 24. A grand jury is expected to convene next week to discuss murder indictments.
At her first appearance hearing before County Judge Sarah Ritterhoff Williams, Ely was deemed ineligible to receive services from the Public Defender’s Office due to payments from a past civil settlement.