POCATELLO, Idaho (CN) – An Idaho judge on Friday denied an emergency motion to block an episode of a TNT show about a 10-year-old, unsolved murder case, for broadcast Friday night.
Bannock County public defenders Randy Schulthies and Dave Martinez were still working this afternoon to block TNT from airing the episode of “Cold Justice,” which they say could bias a jury against their client.
The episode will describe the killing of Pocatello resident Nori Jones and her suspected killer, Brad Scott Compher.
Compher, 39, was arrested in September 2014 on first-degree murder charges after he was matched with a single fingerprint recovered from the crime scene.
Jones, 25, was found dead in her home on Sept. 28, 2004. She had been stabbed repeatedly.
Compher’s attorney made a motion for prior restraint in an attempt to block TNT from airing the show, but Idaho’s 6th District Magistrate Judge Rick Carnaroli denied the motion.
Schulthies and Martinez were granted permission to appeal to Idaho’s 6th District Judge Stephen Dunn, who denied the motion in an emergency hearing held online at 2 p.m. Friday.
“I was just online with the judge,” Boise-based attorney Debora Kristensen told Courthouse News. Kristensen was hired by The Magic Elves Production company to defend TNT’s right to air the show.
“He (Judge Dunn) denied it from the bench again,” Kristensen said. “He said there has never been a court in the U.S. where prior restraint was withheld. They are airing it on the East Coast tonight, at some point, and the feed will go out to cable providers for distribution. It airs here at 8 p.m. [Mountain Standard Time], but I’ve also heard 9 p.m., so I’m not sure, but I will be watching it.”
Kristensen said Judge Dunn also unsealed the case.
Though the show airs tonight, the case won’t go to trial for about a year, according to Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Herzog, who said he expected the motion for prior restraint to be denied.
“They (Schulthies and Martinez) requested a prior restraint to prevent TNT from airing the episode, arguing it will bias the jury,” Herzog told Courthouse News from his Pocatello office. “They want to prevent the media from airing something before it is aired.
“But when you talk about the First Amendment, you have to be talking about something that, if aired, could potentially start a nuclear war. I expected the district judge would deny the request.
“That means they will have to ask the Idaho Supreme Court to look at it. Of course, time is rather short and I honestly don’t see any way the Idaho Supreme Court is going to try to stop the show from airing. There just isn’t any factual base to it.”
As for tainting a jury, Herzog said time is on the defenders’ side.
“We aren’t going to have the trial for a year, so it’s not like we are going to be picking a jury tomorrow,” Herzog said. “There is plenty of time for the dust to settle and to get an unbiased jury through careful jury selection. They are picking a jury for the Boston Bomber, in Boston, as we speak, and if they can get a fair jury in Boston, I’m confident we can find one here for our case.”
Herzog said that the defense attorneys “are just covering their bases and are zealous in their defense of their client. But to tell you the truth, we don’t care one way or another if ‘Cold Justice’ airs the show tonight. The television people have a greater interest in this than the prosecution.”
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