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Copies of School Slay Video Nixed

July 7, 2000

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A school surveillance tape that shows a 13-year-old boy shooting his teacher on the last day of school will be shown to the public once and reproductions of the tape won’t be allowed.

Circuit Judge Richard I. Wennet said Thursday that the video is a public record, but he barred the media from taking photographs or making copies of the tape at a public viewing to be held at the county courthouse. No date has been set.

Wennet wrote that it was ``an appropriate remedy to see that both the rights of the media ... and the rights of the accused in being able to receive a fair trial can be accomplished.″

A lawyer for Lake Worth Community School seventh-grader Nathaniel Brazill, charged with murder in the May 26 shooting death of teacher Barry Grunow, called Wennet’s ruling wise. ``He thought of a great resolution I wasn’t bright enough to even think of or suggest,″ attorney Robert Udell said.

The Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale argued at a June 30 hearing that the surveillance tape is public record and should be released to the media. Udell said allowing the media to show images from the videotape would prejudice the case.

In the 1990 killings of five University of Florida students, the judge took a similar route, allowing the public to view crime scene photos at a county courthouse but barred the media from taking photos. Miami lawyer Tom Julin said about 900 people showed up to see the pictures.

In the case of the Columbine shootings last year, video surveillance tapes from the Colorado high school were made public and copies can be purchased by anyone. Jefferson County began selling the tapes after a judge ordered they be released to victims’ families who are suing the sheriff’s department.

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