Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:08 p.m.
The arrest affidavit detailing the cops' case against suspected cat killer Tyler Weinman remains sealed, and CBS4 and the Miami Herald are absolutely livid about it. So much so that the news partners requested a hearing today pressing prosecutors to unseal the documents.
CBS4's Jim DeFede has already done a remarkable job
prying out information about the case against Weinman. DeFede claims most of the evidence is circumstantial: scratches found on Weinman's body, a tracking device that put his car at the scene of some of the killings, and a stash of knives and other cutting instruments found in his room. A proverbial smoking gun in the case might come only if police can trace DNA found on the knives to any of the victimized cats. DeFede rightfully wonders that if police aren't denying this information, why even bother keeping it sealed?
However, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Herald and CBS4 are desperately waiting for more news, owing to the massive page views, and possibly higher ratings and higher sales the story has surely generated for them (as it has for us), but I suppose there's the moral issue too. DeFede takes the ethical high horse in explaining the news organizations' crusade to unseal the documents:
The Miami Herald and CBS4 News asked for Wednesday's hearing because we believe the law requires criminal cases to be prosecuted in the light of day. We believe there is something fundamentally wrong with sealing criminal court files -- which is exactly what has been done in this case. The entire file is sealed. Even the motion to seal the file is sealed.
He also wonders if the police rushed "to make an arrest because of political pressure" and "Why didn't they wait for lab tests to come back before making an arrest?"
Political pressure? How about media pressure?
We don't pretend to know what's going on inside the mind of the police, but if you're dealing with a case that the media is blowing up over and is genuinely upsetting the community, do you move forward with an arrest when your circumstantial evidence seems decent and hope to either find an irrefutable piece of evidence or get a confession, or do you let the slaying continue until you catch the kid -- or someone else, possibly -- in the act?
This is probably the angle the police are coming at now -- hoping to get some sort of confession and work a deal with Weinman -- and possibly the two other suspected but yet to be arrested accomplices. Meanwhile, they'll keep the cards of their evidence close, letting the defense lawyers think the case might be much stronger than it actually is.
At the end of the hearing, prosecutors agreed to unseal the documents July 6.