Reporters Barred From Murder Hearing

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Reporters will be barred from covering a preliminary hearing for two men accused in a Pershing County killing, a judge ruled.

Lovelock Justice of the Peace Carol Nelsen's Friday order reverses a ruling she made in court the day before denying a request for a closed session.

Nelsen gave no reason for the reversal in her order, and declined comment Monday.

Kent Lauer, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, criticized the ruling.

"The justice of the peace's order is unusual to say the least because she states no specific findings to support closing the courtroom, which must be done," he said.

"The U.S. Supreme Court firmly has held that a judge must make findings on the record that closing a preliminary hearing to the press and public is essential to preserve higher values," Lauer added.

The closure was requested Thursday by Deputy District Attorney Chuck Anderson, who argued news coverage would taint the jury pool in the small county.

After the judge's initial denial of his request, prosecutors filed a writ the next day asking her to reconsider. Nelsen issued the order later Friday.

Anderson praised the ruling, saying press coverage of the hearing would have jeopardized an ongoing investigation into other potential charges against the defendants.

The preliminary hearing is set to begin Thursday for Tim Dale, 49, who's charged with first-degree murder, and James Malone, 61, charged with accessory to murder.

"There's going to be testimony ... given in the murder case that could affect the ongoing investigation into the other alleged criminal matters," Anderson said. "We are pleased that the investigation can go on and not be compromised."

He declined comment on the other charges.

But other authorities have said Dale and Malone also are being investigated for the 2001 theft of a large amount of explosives from a Winnemucca company that provides them for mining.

The explosives were recovered by federal and local authorities last month in a mine shaft along the Pershing-Humboldt county line.

Reno lawyer Kevin Karp, who represents Malone, expressed surprise over Nelsen's reversal. He supported keeping the hearing open to the public.

"I'd love to know how it came that she changed her mind," he said. "I didn't know the DA filed the writ. I'm surprised and a little disturbed by the fact that the action was taken and I haven't been notified."

Malone and Dale were charged Sept. 22, after being arrested based on information authorities received from an informant who led them to human remains.

The remains, thought to hae been hidden for two years in an old mine in extreme northern Pershing County about 150 miles northeast of Reno, have not been identified by authorities.

KWNA radio in Winnemucca has reported that the victim was Dale's brother, Warren.


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