Judge OKs release of some documents in church slayings

AP News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2015 4:55 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge on Wednesday issued an order allowing the release of some documents in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church but blocking release of audio, video and pictures identifying the victims.

Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson's four-page order said that release of certain material would violate the state Victims' Bill of Rights.

"This court is particularly concerned with the harm that would be caused to the victims by releasing certain graphic crime scene photos and video as well as audio of the 911 calls," the order said.

But the judge also wrote that this "graphic and sensitive evidence" is only a small part of the existing evidence and cleared the way for other material to be made public.

Nicholson had earlier blocked release of all documents and banned attorneys from discussing the case with the media, but he modified his order after a hearing and private meeting with attorneys representing news organizations, including The Associated Press.

The judge also said he would allow the release of a transcript of the 911 calls made the night of the shootings. But Charleston County spokesman Shawn Smetana says the county has no transcript, only audio, of 911 calls made to the county dispatcher the night of the shootings.

Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said the state is working with the city on getting the material not covered by the order ready for release. She said in an email that it would likely be released "within a week or so."

Dylann Roof, 21, faces nine counts of murder and other charges in state court in the slayings. The state is seeking the death penalty in a trial set for next July. Roof also faces dozens of federal charges including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion.