Little new emerged today at the arragnment of William Dunn for the murder of 78-year-old Robert Moore, a man everyone seems to have admired. Why nothing new? Because,at least according to the story by the Globe’s John Ellement, Judge Patricia Kurtin sealed the court file.
Now, what’s in there? There has to be, at the very least, a complaint and a police statement establishing probable cause to hold Dunn, likely with a fair level of detail about the police investigation to date. Why the secrecy? Are the police concerned that its release will permit other suspects to avoid apprehension? Hardly. The best (though, in fairness, not the only possible) explanation for this move is that the prosecution simply wants to control the flow of information to the public. Why? Because they can, as long as they can find a Judge who will let them get away with spoonfeeding information to reporters.
Given the level of interest in this case, the lockdown of the local schools, the arrest of Hillel Neuer as a result of the paranoia that evidently gripped the town, or at least Stone Hearth Pizza, on Friday afternoon, there is absolutely no call for secrecy for these basic court documents. Judge Kurtin’s decision would be unlikely to withstand a legal challenge, but will anyone look to break the seal? We’ll see whether this case is one that the papers really care about.
In the meantime, the Globe’s photo of Dunn (that’s him at the top) isn’t going to do anything to discourage talk of an insanity defense. Dunn’s lawyer, Robert Griffin, wisely held his tongue on the courthouse steps. It’s far too early to guess how this case will play out, but it has all the elements of heartbreaking drama–a victim who seems like a wonderful guy, and a defense likely built on the claim that his killer was a deeply, deeply troubled man who is sick, not evil. Stay tuned.