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Network anchor subpoenaed in Texas dragging death trial

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials

    NMU         TEXAS         Confidentiality/Privilege         Oct 28, 1999    

Network anchor subpoenaed in Texas dragging death trial

  • Prosecutors in Jasper want testimony from CBS anchorman Dan Rather, along with outtakes, regarding Rather’s interview with Shawn Allen Berry, a suspect in a capital murder case.

CBS anchorman Dan Rather was subpoenaed in late October to testify at Berry’s murder trial in state court in Jasper, according to the Associated Press. Berry is one of the men charged in the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. Likewise, CBS producer Mary Mapes was subpoenaed and ordered to appear before the same court and to bring with her outtakes and unedited portions of the interview between Rather and Berry, according to AP.

The Texas district court in Jasper approved the subpoena of Rather, found that he is a “material and necessary witness,” and ordered him to be present at the trial for about two weeks starting Nov. 9. The court also ordered CBS producer Mary Mapes to appear on Oct.29 and to bring to the court outtakes and unedited portions of the interview.

Mapes is challenging the subpoena on the grounds that she has never possessed or controlled the tapes. The court will rule on her challenge on Oct. 29.

The interview occurred in late September, when Rather interviewed Berry for the CBS program “60 minutes II.” Berry, charged with the June 7, 1998 killing of Byrd, admitted in the interview that he was present on the road where Byrd was chained to the bumper of his pickup truck, but he could not stop his co-defendants, John William King and Lawrence Russell Brewer, from beating Byrd because he was threatened by King when he tried to help Byrd.

(Texas v. Berry)

© 1999 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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