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Court rejects media's request for confession videotapes

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Court rejects media's request for confession videotapes 01/25/99 ARIZONA--In mid-December, the Superior Court in Florence refused to release to The…

Court rejects media’s request for confession videotapes

01/25/99

ARIZONA–In mid-December, the Superior Court in Florence refused to release to The Arizona Republic and several television stations the video recordings or transcripts of the videos which allegedly contain the confession of a defendant who is charged with murdering her own daughter.

The court held that the release of the video tape of defendant Barbara Downey to the media might ‘jeopardize the jury pool and may result in the matter having to be moved to another county, and that any plea negotiations might be jeopardized.’ The court indicated that it may later release the video tape after reviewing it in camera. The matter is currently pending.

According to the Associated Press, Downey’s friends and boyfriend told investigators after the murder that shortly before the shooting, Downey had become interested in religion and the Bible and had spoken of the need for a human sacrifice, which Downey later denied.

In June 1998, four Phoenix television stations, KTVK-TV, KPNX-TV, KNXV-TV, KPHO-TV, filed motions for access to the video and a transcript of Downey’s alleged confession. Six months later, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic filed a petition to obtain release of the transcript. The Republic argued that there was no reason to keep the videotapes under seal since details of Downey’s case had already been widely disseminated. (Arizona v. Downey; Media Counsel: James F. Henderson, Phoenix)