First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
Reporter ordered to testify in La. murder trial

By The Associated Press

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.


Georgia high court won't force reporter to testify about jailhouse interview

Justices found prosecutors failed to show that the information sought from journalist was 'material, necessary, and unobtainable by other means.' 03.09.99

Supreme Court turns away jailed writer's appeal
Vanessa Leggett had asked justices to use her case to give writers, reporters more rights to protect the confidentiality of their sources. 04.15.02

N.H. reporter refuses to testify about jailhouse interview
Newspaper's editorial vice president says Kathryn Marchocki's story is not essential to Manuel Gehring's prosecution. 12.08.03

War objector's lawyer says 2 journalists are on Army's witness list
Honolulu Star-Bulletin's Gregg Kakesako and California freelance journalist Sarah Olson are among those who may be called to testify in court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. 07.12.06

Minn. prosecutors seek reporters' notes from standoff
Free Press of Mankato says it will oppose county attorney's effort; hearing is scheduled Feb. 2. 01.18.07

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print

Last system update: Thursday, August 21, 2008 | 18:14:02
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment

First Reports
Supreme Court
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Freedom Sings™
First Amendment

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment

Lesson plans
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links