Kaitlin Armstrong's attorneys file to prohibit prejudicial comment to the media
AUSTIN, Texas - Defense attorneys for Kaitlin Armstrong filed a "motion to prohibit prejudicial comment to media" on Monday.
The motion is in response to a recent gag order request by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. That order asked that all comments to media by involved parties be prohibited.
But Armstrong’s defense said a total "media blackout" would be unfair, quieting the defense, and allowing her case to continue to play out in the media and social media where "Armstrong is already tried and convicted."
Armstrong is accused of shooting and killing pro cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson in Austin May. Armstrong was captured in Costa Rica in June.
- Kaitlin Armstrong's attorneys file to have evidence in arrest affidavit thrown out
- Kaitlin Armstrong, Texas love triangle murder suspect, pleads not guilty
- Texas murder suspect Kaitlin Armstrong had access to $450G, practiced shooting with sister, warrants reveal
The motion mentions a press conference held by the U.S. Marshals Office that announced Armstrong’s capture. It claims the event painted her as a criminal and says the defense was denied access, though an apology was later issued.
The motion describes news media and social media platforms as perpetuating a "misogynistic and fictitious theme of most relevant articles" and "sensationalized headlines."
The defense also mentions Armstrong’s arrest affidavit by an APD detective as "full of mischaracterizations, material omissions, and false statements" that ultimately shaped media portrayal.
Attorney Charlie Baird, who is not connected to the case, said social media has thrown a curve when it comes to spreading information.
"The First Amendment provides the right to disseminate events via social media so I don't think there's much the defense can do," said Baird. "You hope that the individuals who are selected to serve ultimately as jurists will not be affected by any type of social media or any other type of information."
The motion asks for a legal ethics expert, mutually agreed upon, to be appointed and decide on a "mutually agreed policy" related to public communication regarding the case.
"In general, the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech and of the press prevents a judge from imposing a gag order on the media," according to Jeffrey Abramson, professor of government and law at UT Austin. "But the judge can impose restrictions on the parties to the case disclosing potential evidence to be introduced at trial if the judge determines that publicity would prejudice the defendant’s right to an impartial jury."
Armstrong’s attorney declined to comment on Tuesday. Armstrong’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday and the jury docket call is scheduled for Oct. 19.