The lawyer for one of the four young people charged with the Nightmare on Hickory Street double murder urged the judge presiding over the case to keep court files sealed and out of the public eye.
"No right ranks higher than the right of the accused to a fair trial," attorney Joel Murphy told Judge Gerald Kinney during a Tuesday morning hearing at the Will County Courthouse.
Murphy represents Bethany McKee, 18, of Shorewood, who was charged with the murders of Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins, both 22, in January. Along with McKee, prosecutors charged three of her friends—Joshua Miner, 24, Adam Landerman, 19, and Alisa Massaro, also 19.
Judge Kinney sealed the case files shortly after Patch ran a series of stories on the killings. The stories were based on police reports obtained exclusively by Patch.
Murphy spoke of the vivid detail in the stories and the graphic accounts of "defendants having sex on dead bodies, defendants wanting to keep the teeth of victims as trophies."
Massaro and Miner told officers they had sex on top of Glover and Rankins' bodies after the killings, according to police reports. McKee told officers about a plan to dismember the corpses and said Miner wanted to keep the dead men's teeth as trophies, according to the reports.
In his argument, Murphy pointed out that there was "widespread national and international" attention generated by the Patch stories.
"They were also published in a manner to sustain public interest," he said, likening the series of stories to the "Twelve Days of Christmas."
Seth Stern, an attorney for an area newspaper, countered that "the fact that the public is interested in a news report does not diminish their right to read it."
Judge Kinney said he would issue a written decision and mail it to Murphy and Stern in about a week.
After Murphy and Stern made their cases, Assistant State's Attorney John Connor told Kinney a grand jury returned new indictments against Landerman, Massaro, McKee and Miner to replace the existing indictments. The attorneys for the four pleaded not guilty on behalf of their clients and waived a formal reading of the charges.
The indictments are under seal and cannot be seen by the public. Connor said in court the changes are minor.
Defense attorneys are also pushing to have a special prosecutor appointed to investigate how Patch obtained the police reports. The effort was postponed until copies of affidavits from the Joliet Police Department are provided to the defense lawyers.