The Daily Tar Heel, Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc. and the News and Observer Publishing Company filed a motion asking the court to vacate the sealing orders earlier this month.
Superior Court Judge Howard Manning will hear the media companies’ case today at 10 a.m.
“The orders themselves need to be narrowly tailored,” said Mike Tadych, an attorney representing the media companies.
“We don’t have any idea of what would be provided to a judge that would support this sealing order.”
The media companies argue the courts did not outline a compelling interest that justifies keeping the records sealed for so long, which is required under the North Carolina Public Records Law and the North Carolina constitution.
The media companies said some of the orders to seal the records were issued before search warrants were served — meaning the sealing orders for the records were likely grounded in speculation.
No new information
Chapel Hill Police is the investigating agency for Hedgepeth’s homicide, which occurred in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill.
Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation.
Police collected DNA evidence left at the scene by a male suspect in the days following her murder.
The records related to Hedgepeth’s case have been sealed for 18 months, but no new information has been released in Hedgepeth’s case since January 2013, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit released a profile of a suspect.
The profile said the suspect might have been familiar with Hedgepeth and lived near her in the past. His behavior might have changed after the murder.
A good sign
Stanback would not comment on how he felt about the media company’s motion.
In the past, Stanback has said unsealing the records would jeopardize the police department’s investigation.
Stanback said Thursday that his office is still working hard on Hedgepeth’s case to name a killer.
Tadych said it’s early to tell how the case will fare.
“The fact that they’re even having a hearing on the motion (is a good sign),” he said.