Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Judge restricts cameras for rape trial

Marsalis trial set for April 20 in Boise

Express Staff Writer

Fifth District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee ruled Monday that the use of video cameras will be restricted during the trial of Jeffrey J. Marsalis, who is accused of raping a woman in Sun Valley in 2005.

Elgee declined to bar cameras altogether, as requested by Hailey attorney Douglas Nelson, but ordered that live broadcast of the trial will not be allowed and that video cannot be aired while the trial is in progress. The judge further ordered that news media will be required to "pool their resources" and that only one video and one still camera will be allowed in the courtroom.

The Marsalis trial is scheduled to start April 20 and is expected to last five days. The trial was moved from Blaine County to Boise after Elgee ruled that a change of venue was necessary because of extensive publicity.

Marsalis, 35, is charged in Blaine County with raping a then 21-year-old woman at a Sun Valley condominium on Oct. 9, 2005. A grand jury indictment against Marsalis alleges that the woman was incapacitated at the time, either by alcohol or a so-called "date rape drug."

Marsalis, who remains incarcerated in the Blaine County jail, was extradited to Idaho in August from Pennsylvania, where he is serving a 21-year prison sentence for convictions in Philadelphia in 2007 of two counts of sexual assault and one count of unlawful restraint.

The Philadelphia trial received national news coverage, and there are indications that the trial in Boise will also. ABC News' "20/20" program and CBS News' "48 Hours" have both indicated they will cover the trial for future in-depth reports on Marsalis.

Nelson, who is representing Marsalis, told Elgee at Monday's hearing that cameras in the courtroom could be disruptive to the legal proceedings and could lead to a mistrial if jurors succumb to a temptation to watch television coverage while the trial is underway.

"I don't want the jurors watching television at all, or reading newspapers at all," Elgee said.

Terry Smith:

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