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Judge denies news access to trial

A defense motion filed earlier this month has prohibited news photography of a defendant charged with assaulting four people at a television station in May. The 49-year-old man faces criminal charges including three counts of aggravated battery, one count of making a criminal threat and one count of aggravated burglary. He also faces misdemeanor charges related to property damage, according to local media reports.

The defendant's attorney successfully filed the motion under a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling that allows people involved in the case to request privacy. Witnesses, victims, informants, undercover agents and other sensitive parties are permitted to seek this media protection under the new regulations. The defense attorney claimed that his client could be considered a witness to the attacks because he was choosing not to testify against himself in open court.

Even though prosecutors vehemently disagreed with the motion, saying that the man could not have been a witness to his own alleged crimes. Nonetheless, the judge in the case approved the motion, which will keep courtroom reporters and their cameras securely outside the trial's doors.

This move is ostensibly designed to protect the suspect in this case, largely because his alleged crimes occurred at news organization facilities. News photographers had been permitted to photograph the trial before the motion was filed, but that permission was rescinded.

The defendant is accused of stabbing two broadcast news employees as they attempted to interview him for a local interest story on May 23. As other employees rushed to their coworkers' aid, the man reportedly punched, kicked and shoved them out of the way. One employee reported having vision problems after the encounter, and two others required hepatitis shots after the attack. A preliminary hearing also revealed that one man held the reported attacker down and took the knife from his hand.

The trial in the case will begin this week, and it is expected to last for several days.

Source: CJOnline.com, "Judge: No photo of defendant during trial," Steve Fry, Nov. 5, 2012

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