Judge bars cameras from Shepard murder trial
WYOMING–In early April, the judge presiding over the Matthew Shepard murder trials decided to ban cameras from the courtroom during the two separate trials. But defendant Russell Henderson pleaded guilty before his trial could take place. The trial of the other defendant, Aaron McKinney, is scheduled for August.
Shepard was a 21-year-old college student who was beaten death in October 1998. The case received attention nationwide because the attack apparently occurred because Shepard was homosexual. Henderson pleaded guilty to kidnaping and murder and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
Judge Jeffrey Donnell’s order establishing ground rules for coverage of the trials requires reporters to apply for press passes 24 hours in advance on a first-come, first-served basis. Citing the limited seating capacity in the courtroom, the court ordered that only twenty-four seats would be reserved for media representatives. During times when the courtroom would be substantially occupied by trial participants, such as jury selection, the court would reserve seating for only three media representatives. The judge also ruled that no cameras, audio, laptop computers, cell phones, or other similar electronic equipment would be permitted in the courtroom. (Wyoming v. Henderson)