Judge Allows Partial Evidence Release In Barahona Case
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MIAMI (CBS4) – A Miami-Dade court judge ruled Thursday that 18 items in Carmen and Jorge Barahona’s file would be made public after months of back and forth debates with media attorneys who argued for transparency.
Defense attorneys for the couple facing first-degree murder charges for the death of their 10-year-old adoptive daughter Nubia said allowing the files, including the Barahonas’ statements to police, could taint a potential jury pool.
The order includes an index of what will be made public and that includes photographs of the home, scene video and other documents that have been previously released including that state’s notice to seek the death penalty.
However, computer issues at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office delayed their release, SAO spokesman Ed Griffith said in an email. Officials did not say how soon the documents would be released.
In her order, Judge Sarah Zabel said she attempted to strike a balance between the public’s right to know and ensuring the Barahonas receive a fair trial.
“While the media has the right to report newsworthy events, the Defendants have a constitutional right to be tried in Miami-Dade County by a fair and impartial jury,” Zabel wrote in a three-page order.
She said she chose to keep items that contain “information which is unduly prejudicial, inflammatory, and/or inadmissible…to protect the Defendants’ right to a fair and impartial trial.”
Read the entire order: State v Barahona – Order Re Disclosure of Discovery Items 10-06-11
The Barahonas are charged with first-degree murder after Nubia’s chemical-drenched body was found partially decomposed in the back of Jorge’s pickup truck along I-95 in West Palm Beach on February 14, 2011. Nubia’s twin brother Victor survived, but was badly burned after he was doused with a toxic chemical.
Nubia and Victor were adopted by the Barahonas in 2009 after living in their home since 2004. The kids, authorities discovered, had endured starvation, beatings, medical neglect and they had been tied and forced to stay in a bathtub.
The Barahonas have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
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