Lawyers in temple slaying trial want to bar media

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the retrial of a man charged with the 1991 murders of nine people at a Buddhist temple in metro Phoenix have taken the unusual step of asking a judge to prohibit all reporters and photographers from being in the courtroom during the trial.

The lawyers joined forces in opposing a request by five TV stations in Phoenix to allow video camera coverage and went a step further by asking for all media representatives to be barred from attending Johnathan A. Doody's retrial.

The request will be considered Thursday afternoon at a hearing before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer.

Doody is accused of participating in the August 1991 slayings at the Wat Promkunaram temple in one of Arizona's most notorious murder cases. He was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 281 years in prison, but an appeals court threw out his conviction in 2011 after ruling that investigators improperly obtained his confession.

He was put on trial again in August, but a judge declared a mistrial Oct. 24 after jurors failed to reach a verdict. Jury selection for Doody's third trial began Monday.

Attorneys on both sides of the case said the media have severely damaged the fair trial rights of Doody and the state and turned the defendant's second trial into a circus.

Defense attorney Maria Schaffer said every news story mentions Doody's confession, even though prosecutors were barred from bringing it up at his second trial. The lawyers also cited a decision to bar a pool video camera during the opening of the second trial.

The camera ruling came after a television station that was taking pool video of the trial was found by Kreamer to have violated a rule that prohibited the media from capturing images of jurors. About 25 seconds of video was inadvertently aired as the jurors were leaving for a lunch break. The video was posted on YouTube.

David Bodney, an attorney representing the TV stations, said in court filings that the stations regret that jurors were shown in the video, will avoid repeating the mistake and will review the court rules on camera coverage with all journalists assigned to the trial.

Bodney also said the case has drawn widespread public interest and viewing the trial can help enhance the public's understanding of the case and the judicial system.

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