June 11, 2014 in Idaho

TV station asks judge to open hearing in CdA teen’s case

From Staff Reports

An attorney for KHQ asked an Idaho District Court judge to open Tuesday’s preliminary hearing for a 14-year-old accused of killing his father and younger brother.

“That preliminary hearing is occurring right now, and the press and the public are excluded,” attorney Joel Hazel of Witherspoon Kelley told Judge Richard Christensen.

The TV station was appealing the earlier decision of Magistrate Judge Clark A. Peterson to close the hearing for Eldon Gale Samuel III, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the March 24 slayings inside a Coeur d’Alene emergency housing unit owned by St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho.

Christensen made no decision Tuesday, but said he would consider KHQ’s request after reviewing a transcript of Peterson’s decision. Since the Samuel hearing already has taken place, Christensen’s decision will determine whether a transcript of the hearing will become a public record, Hazel said.

Samuel’s public defender asked for the closed hearing, arguing that sensitive information could prejudice the teen’s right to a fair trial and affect his chances for rehabilitation. KHQ’s attorneys argued that Idaho law and court precedent supported keeping the hearing open, and that evidence justifying the closure hadn’t been presented to the court.

“The public and the press have a right to know how our justice system works,” Hazel said.

KHQ is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

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