An attorney for a 16-year-old boy charged with killing his parents and 5-year-old brother says police and the prosecutor had the opportunity to take their case to the public and now the youngster wants his.
Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Gordon Godfrey imposed a gag order in the case Monday. But in a four-page motion filed with the court, attorney John Farra of Aberdeen said the order violates his client’s constitutional right to free speech in defending himself publicly.
Brian Bassett and Nicholaus McDonald, 17, both of McCleary, are charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the shooting of Michael and Wendy Bassett and the drowning of 5-yearold Austin Bassett. Arraignment is set for Monday.
McDonald’s case is being handled by Godfrey. Bassett’s case is being transferred to Judge Mark McCauley, Godfrey announced Wednesday.
McCauley said he had yet to decide whether to continue the gag order concerning Bassett.
“The gag order is unconstitutional in that it prohibits (Bassett) from responding to the allegations against him that have already poisoned the community and the people of Grays Harbor,” Farra said in his motion.
“It is the defendant’s position that his right to a fair trial has already been violated as he has not had the opportunity to indicate that he is presumed to be innocent and denies the allegations and they must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Farra said the gag order harms Bassett’s defense because police and prosecutors had several days before the order to make their case in news reports but Bassett is now barred from responding.
Neither Farra nor Prosecutor Steward Menefee, both covered by the gag order, would discuss the motion.
“Unfortunately, I cannot make any comments on behalf of my client at all,” Farra said.
Godfrey, who never explained why he imposed the restrictions, said he would rule on Farra’s motion “when it’s in front of me,” probably next week.
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