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Reporter ordered to testify in La. murder trial

By The Associated Press
05.25.06

BATON ROUGE, La. — A newspaper reporter who conducted a jailhouse interview with serial-killing suspect Sean Vincent Gillis will be required to testify during Gillis' upcoming murder trial, a judge has ruled.

Josh Noel, now a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, conducted the interview while he worked for The Advocate of Baton Rouge during which Gillis confessed to killing eight women, including Donna Bennett Johnston.

Gillis faces a first-degree murder charge in Johnston's death. Her body was found on the side of a road on Feb. 27, 2004.

After a hearing yesterday, Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns said the confessions — along with letters Gills reportedly wrote to a friend of one of the victims — are now more important following the discovery of possible problems with confessions Gillis made to police.

In a second-degree murder case in West Baton Rouge Parish, a judge is deciding whether to allow Gillis' statements to police after it was revealed that Gillis asked to speak with an attorney, but investigators continued their questioning, the prosecutor said.

Authorities said Gillis has confessed to killing eight women and police have booked him in seven of those cases. The eighth case remains under investigation.

An attorney for The Advocate, Ed Fleshman, argued in court that Noel should not be compelled to testify.

Fleshman told State District Judge Bonnie Jackson that having Noel testify is not necessary because prosecutors already have confessions to go along with a large amount of physical evidence that they claim links Gillis to the killings.


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