Judge unseals KMOV's request for jail phone calls of accused cop - KMOV.com

Judge unseals KMOV's request for jail phone calls of accused cop killer

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Trenton Forester. Credit: St. Louis County PD Trenton Forester. Credit: St. Louis County PD

Wednesday, a judge unsealed documents filed by News 4 in a St. Louis County court, which attempted to seek jail phone call records for a man accused of killing a police officer. 
News 4 wanted to find out what 19-year-old Trenton Forster has been doing in jail for the past year.  
Forster is accused of murdering St. Louis County police officer Blake Snyder last October, but his case has yet to go to trial. 
Last month, News 4 requested audio recordings and phone records of telephone calls made by Forster in the St. Louis County Justice Center.  

Despite releasing calls of other accused felons in the past few years, St. Louis County Police, the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office and Forster’s defense attorney, fought News 4’s attempt to get those records released under the state’s Sunshine Law.  
In a hearing on October 11, inside the judge’s chambers, Circuit Judge Kristine Allen Kerr ruled that the public does not have a right to listen to those calls, citing Forster’s right to a fair trial.  

“We stand behind our pleadings and are sad that the public’s right to know has been limited,” said News 4’s News Director Scott Diener, about the judge’s decision. “We are reviewing our options.”
Monday, Judge Kerr ordered all motions and rulings in the Forster be sealed. Then, Wednesday, she reversed course and unsealed three documents pertaining to KMOV’s request for the jail calls.
“The court has an obligation to balance the public’s right-to-know with the due process rights of any criminal defendant to a fair trial and an unbiased jury,” wrote court spokesperson Christine Bertelson in a statement to News 4. 
“This task is especially difficult in criminal cases which are high profile and involve more press interest.  Out of an abundance of caution, while the judge researched this issue, access to three motions in the Forster case was limited to the parties and their attorneys only, for approximately 48 hours.  After researching the issue, full public access to those three motions was restored, as the court's research led her to believe that the limited access order was premature.”
It is unclear whether all motions or pleadings in the case will be sealed moving forward. 
A status conference in the case is scheduled for November 9. The prosecutor’s office has not yet decided whether or not to seek the death penalty in the case. 

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