The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 19th

Sealed records protect facts

Could con?rm witness accounts

Records pertaining to the March 5 killing of former Student Body President Eve Carson still are being sealed by authorities despite a motion filed by The (Raleigh) News & Observer to release them. Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said the sealed autopsy and search warrant records could compromise the investigation if released to the public. He said the autopsy report contains information about the cause and manner of Carson's death. Woodall said Carson's family did not request that the records be sealed. He said the autopsy report is being sealed at his request, and the search warrants are being sealed at both his request and the request of the defense attorney for the case. He said if the records are released, it might discredit the reliability of the testimonies of witnesses who may come forward. "The state has never alleged that there were witnesses other than the defendants," he said. "A lot of the investigation has been looking into people who have said they have information on it." Keeping the records sealed can help validate eyewitness accounts in similar cases, Woodall said. If a witness says he knows who committed a crime and the exact weapon used, authorities would be able to confirm his testimony if the weapon he described matched that listed in the autopsy report. "One of the ways you determine whether they have information or whether they're just saying they do is if they have the facts," Woodall said. He said the records are being kept confidential until interviews are completed, which will be toward the end of next month. "The reason I've given for keeping autopsy reports sealed will cease to exist at the end of June," he said, referring to the potential of false witnesses coming forward. Michael Tadych, attorney for the N&O, said the paper filed the motion to release the records May 12. He said the autopsy reports are public record and should be unsealed. "The General Assembly made autopsy reports done at request of the district attorney or medical examiner public record as a matter of law," he said. "It's a matter of public access and providing information to the public, which may or may not be pertinent to the public trial." Woodall said he has not considered partially releasing information or releasing the documents with the confidential portions blacked out. He said that the judge will rule on the matter June 11 and that the judge could decide to make all of the information public. "It's the judge's call, not mine." Contact the City Editor at citydesk@unc.edu.


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