Boulder: Prosecutor allowed to use Twitter in murder trial
BOULDER, Colorado – A prosecutor in Boulder County has been cleared to use Twitter to post updates during an upcoming murder trial.
District Attorney Stan Garnett has permission to use the social networking site during this month’s trial of Kevin Elmarr, who is accused of killing his ex-wife 22 years ago.
Elmarr’s attorney, Kristin Johnson, asked a judge in pretrial motions to extend the court’s ban on electronic devices to the prosecutor himself.
But District Judge James Klein disagreed, saying the defense’s worry that Garnett would use Twitter to pack the courtroom was unfounded. The prosecutor also used Twitter during a murder trial last month.
In the pretrial motions, prosecutor Bruce Langer countered that Garnett has few people who follow his updates on Twitter.
“We may be talking about 10 people out there – it’s just not that big a deal,” Langer said. The judge said he did not have a “big concern” about a Twittering prosecutor.
Garnett told the Daily Camera newspaper that he won’t try to chronicle Elmarr’s entire murder trial on Twitter. He added that he wouldn’t announce prospective witnesses.
“I would never use Twitter in any way to attract inappropriate attention to something,” he told the paper. “What we’re doing is public business, and the press should be here to watch it and write about it.”
Elmarr, 52, is charged with killing Carol Murphy in 1987 and dumping her body in Left Hand Canyon. Prosecutors say he was linked to the crime through DNA two years ago. His trial begins July 20.
Garnett also used Twitter during last month’s trial of Diego Olmos Alcalde, who was convicted of killing University of Colorado student Susannah Chase 12 years ago, and sentenced to life in prison. Garnett used Twitter to tell followers that closing arguments were coming up and that the victim’s family appeared to be hanging in there.
Garnett told the Camera he only started a Twitter account this spring, after his 26-year-old son called him “old-fashioned.”
The public is barred from sending text messages or Twitter updates from handheld devices in Boulder County courtrooms. However, credentialed journalists are allowed to use wireless laptop computers and are not forbidden from sending Twitter updates that way.
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