Records unsealed in beating death of 2-year-old child
KENTUCKY — A circuit court judge in Jamestown, acting on a newspaper’s request, in late September unsealed the court records in the death of a 22-month-old boy whose mother and stepfather are accused of beating him to death, according to Associated Press.
Judge Eddie C. Lovelace held that the newspaper’s right of access to court records based on the First Amendment overrode any fair trial concerns in this case.
Robert Wayne Parker, 26, and Michelle Parker, 19, were scheduled to go to trial for the death of her son in early October. Daniel Thomas Reynolds was beaten to death last December. Robert Parker is charged with murder, and Michelle Parker is charged with complicity to murder.
The case earned national notoriety when four state social workers were also charged with complicity for returning Reynolds to the Parkers, despite a history of suspected abuse, including the child’s hospitalization for a broken leg.
Lovelace sealed the records earlier in the proceedings when public defender James L. Cox argued that news accounts about the case were interfering with his clients’ right to a fair trial. After the records were unsealed, Cox complained that the move was inconsistent with an earlier gag order on the press and a change of venue which were granted to help ensure a fair trial.
The Courier-Journal in Louisville filed its motion to unseal the records in early September.
(Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Parker; Media Counsel: Deborah H. Patterson, Louisville)