After nearly a year, a preliminary hearing for a pair of drifters accused of murder is set to begin next week, and defense attorneys were rebuffed in their request to close proceedings to the media and public.
Morrison Lampley and Lila Alligood are standing trial in the slayings of 67-year-old Steve Carter, of Fairfax, and 23-year-old Audrey Carey, of Quebec.
Lampley's attorney, chief deputy public defender David Brown, asked the judge to close a hearing scheduled for Tuesday for fear that statements made by co-defendant Alligood, 18, could be put on the record, and those statements could implicate Lampley and predjudice potential jurors.
Brown argued that the statements may be inadmissible at trial.
But an attorney for the San Francisco Chronicle and Marin Independent Journal newspapers told the court that hearing which evidence will or will not be included at trial is part of the public’s right to access.
"It can be key to developments in the case, and the public has a constitutional right of access to see that process as part of the preliminary hearing," media attorney Duffy Carolan said.
In the end, the judge agreed. The preliminary hearing will not be closed.
"We respect the judge’s ruling, and we will prepare in accordance with her rulings," Brown said.
A third suspect, 24-year-old Sean Angold, of San Francisco, has pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in exhange for a 15-years-to-life sentence and his cooperation in testifying against Lampley and Alligood.