Judge handling Marshall County, Kentucky school shooting case says media claims are 'inaccurate' and 'misleading'
Marshall Circuit Court Judge Jameson T. Jameson filed a response to claims by three western Kentucky media outlets, saying the allegations made “are inaccurate, uninformed, and misleading,”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The judge presiding over the murder case of a 15-year-old student charged with murder in last month’s high school shooting in Benton, Ky., is arguing he has followed the law, including when he closed the arraignment and issued a gag order in the case.
Marshall Circuit Court Judge James T. Jameson filed a response to claims by three western Kentucky media outlets who asked the state’s appeals court to force the judge to lift the gag order and release a record of the arraignment.
WPSD-TV, along with the Paducah Sun and Marshall County Tribune-Courier newspapers, alleged Judge Jameson “acted outside of his jurisdiction” and made legal errors in his handling of the case of Gabe Parker, who is accused of killing two of his classmates and injuring 18.
Parker has been indicted on two counts of murder and fourteen counts of assault after he allegedly opened fire with a handgun at Marshall County High School shortly before 8 a.m. on January 23.
The Paxton Media organizations claimed Jameson arraigned Parker as an adult in closed session – a violation of accepted court rules – and has violated state law by refusing to release a record of the arraignment hearing once it finished.
But Jameson said state law requires the case of a juvenile to be closed until after the indictment and arraignment. And other “factual claims” by the news organizations “have come from a source that has not been identified” and “are inaccurate, uninformed, and misleading,” according to James’ response, written by attorneys Randy Blankenship and Kent Westberry.
The news organizations had filed a separate complaint that alleged Jameson and Parker’s mother are acquainted, and that the judge sought to stop a detective’s interview of the alleged shooter, according to the Paducah Sun.
Jameson responded that he has no relationship with Parker’s mother, knowing her only as a local newspaper reporter.
And Jameson said he did not prevent investigators from questioning Parker. The judge said he was approached by the public defender’s office and told that police were interrogating Parker without an attorney present. The office was assigned to represent Parker, and Jameson called police to inform them that Parker had an attorney.
“Law enforcement sent an unsolicited text response” to the judge saying “the child had ended the interrogation by requesting an attorney,” according to Jameson’s response.
When Parker was arraigned, defense attorneys questioned Parker’s competency and challenged the transfer of the teen to adult court, asking that all records be sealed until the judge ruled, according to Jameson. Prosecutors agreed to keep the records closed.
The judge has given both sides time to file motions on the issue and said he will rule by March 12. The case will be closed until then.
The media has also alleged that Jameson issued an “unconstitutional gag order” that bans attorneys from discussing the case outside of court – even aspects that already are publicly known.
Attorneys for Jameson said the gag order was issued before the arraignment because prosecutors were talking to the media about the defense raising a possible issue.
But Jameson said he lifted the gag order after the arraignment.
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