Judge bars media from recording evidence in Sean Taylor trial

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis J Murphy argues showing evidence would be prejudicial to co-defendants

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MIAMI - The judge overseeing the trial of a man accused of killing former Miami Hurricanes star Sean Taylor barred the media from photographing and recording much of the evidence in the trial.

Eric Rivera Jr. is accused of fatally shooting Taylor during an attempted burglary at his home in 2007. While his taped confession was played in court, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis J. Murphy has withheld the media from photographing and recording other evidence, including crime scene photographs.

"You don't get anything until the trial's over," he said.

"Our law says the public should see that evidence that they're using to try to take someone's liberty away from them," said attorney Scott Ponce.

Ponce represented The Miami Herald before Murphy last week, arguing that the public should have access to the evidence introduced in the case.

"It's very rare for a judge to say I'm not going to allow photographs of the evidence," said Ponce. "The courthouse is owned by the public, the courtroom is owned by the public."

Murphy said the photographed evidence would be prejudicial to Rivera's three co-defendants, who will be tried later. Two years ago, he barred the media from an evidentiary hearing and issued a wide-ranging gag order in the case.

At the hearing, Murphy stuck to his original gag order, saying he wouldn't show the evidence just "because someone wants to film it to sell more Christmas toys."

Prosecutors say Rivera and four others from the Fort Myers area thought Taylor would be playing a Redskins game, but he was home with an injury.

One of the others has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges.

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