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Prosecutors Ask for CBS Interview

November 5, 1999

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) _ Prosecutors argued Thursday that a CBS News producer should not be allowed to withhold transcripts from an interview with Shawn Allen Berry, the third white defendant to be tried in the dragging death of a black man.

Jasper County prosecutors and lawyers for CBS producer Mary Mapes argued before the 9th Texas Court of Appeals, which intervened last week in a battle over the unaired contents of an interview CBS anchorman Dan Rather conducted with Berry.

The three-judge panel did not release a decision Thursday.

Jasper prosecutors also are trying have Rather subpoenaed, a move CBS is fighting.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Brenda Soloff ordered Rather to her court Friday to explain why he should not appear as a material witness in the case.

CBS spokeswoman Kim Akhtar said Thursday that an attorney representing Rather and the network will be there, and Rather may attend ``out of respect for the court.″

Ms. Mapes was ordered by a district judge last week to turn over a full transcript of the interview or be found in contempt and report to the Jasper County jail. The appeals court issued a temporary stay that kept her free.

CBS and Ms. Mapes say that the tapes and transcript of the interview are property of the network and that forcing her to turn over the transcripts would violate First Amendment protections.

Special prosecutor Sue Koriath said Ms. Mapes surrendered her protection by being present when Berry discussed the killing. Under Texas law, statements made by a defendant about crimes with which he is charged are admissible in court.

Prosecutors say they want to compare Berry’s statements to those he made during the investigation into the June 7, 1998, death of James Byrd Jr.

Berry is the third man to be tried for murdering Byrd, who was chained to the bumper of Berry’s pickup truck and dragged to his death. John William King and Lawrence Russell Brewer were convicted earlier this year and sentenced to death.

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