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Judge turns down plea from Chelsea King's family to keep records secret

A San Diego County judge Thursday turned down a plea from the family of murdered teenager Chelsea King to seal documents involving the police investigation and autopsy of their daughter.

Superior Court Judge David Danielsen also lifted the gag order that had kept lawyers and investigators from discussing the case with reporters.

The order, issued March 9,  was meant to insure a fair trial for registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III, who pleaded guilty last week to murdering King, 17, and Amber Dubois, 14. Under a plea  bargain, prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.

Gardner is set to be sentenced June 1 to life in prison without the chance of parole.

Brent and Kelly King sought to have the records sealed to prevent the family from suffering further trauma.

In a court document, Brent King said he and his wife are in psychiatric counseling and that his wife is taking medication. Their 13-year-old son, Tyler, has virtually dropped out of school and quit playing baseball as he struggles with the loss of his sister, Brent King said.

"I wake up every morning not wanting to wake up," Brent King said, adding that he is fighting to keep from being overwhelmed by rage, anger and guilt.

With every news story, he added, the family is "retraumatized, re-victimized and gravely saddened beyond description."

Another judge next week will consider whether to make public the search warrants used to look for evidence at Gardner's apartment and his mother's home. News organizations have gone to court seeking access to documents from the high-profile case.

Despite the judge's decision to lift the gag order, Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said she and her staff members will honor the request of the victims' families not to discuss the case. Dumanis said she will urge members of other law enforcement agencies to also remain silent.

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Brent King, with his wife, Kelly, and their son, Tyler, thanks supporters at a rally during the search for their daughter, Chelsea.

Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (11)

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! The judge is oblivious to the needs of this stricken family. Every time this story is in the news the family is forced to relive their horrible tragedy. There is absolutly no reason for this to be made public except to fuel some other sicko who will strike next. Please, your honor, reconsider your action.

Let us all come together to give solace and comfort to this poor family, struggling in the face of unspeakable horror. What good will come of making these reports public? While the law has spoken, let those of us with families and loved ones should reach for a higher law, and recognize the suffering of this family, who lost their beloved daughter to a terrifying and painful death, while the killer gets to live. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, may the King family find some peace.

Leave this poor family alone. An unimaginable thing happened to them. There is no reason that the media needs to release the details. What good could come from that? It only feeds into society's morbid curiosity. This takes away the common respect and dignity that this tragic family deserves.

America the cruel.

This family deserves no better than the families of other crime victims. They would be well served to turn off their TVs, get off the Internet and put down their newspapers as they attempt to deal with the tragedy. The work of the police and the courts is, as it always has been, of interest to the public, for a variety of reasons.

The media needs to make headlines at any cost.

If Chelsea had only been a celebrity, then her records would have remained sealed...

Has anybody considered that the presiding judge may not have a choice in his decision since news organizations have gone to court seeking access to documents from the case? Yes, I agree that it is a travesty to the family in furthering the public "feeding" frenzy called "news" but give the judge some room on what he may trying to do behind the legal curtain

I am all for the 1st Amendment and freedom of the press, but there is a time when taste and decorum should preempt sensationalism. It is the news agencies' right to ask for the documentation, but printing it is plain tabloid journalism. Boycott any news organization or show that reports these details and let this family heal.

Patthetic that the murderer has more rights that need to be protected than his victims or their families.

bet this guy is out in 5 to 10 years ,thats American justice .The judges and the lawmakers aren't worth a plug nickle.but if these crimes started to happen the lawmakers and judges families maybe American justice would have some teeth.


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