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Gag order requested for DCS documents in 5-year-old’s death

February 6, 2019

Prosecutors and lawyers for a man accused of beating a 5-year-old boy to death in March want a judge to keep secret Indiana Department of Child Services records that include details of the child’s alleged abuse. 

That comes as state lawmakers debate a measure that would restrict access to records in child abuse and neglect investigations and after The Journal Gazette published information last year from DCS documents in another case. A judge in that case ruled disclosing the information threatened the defendant’s right to a fair trial and ordered jurors from outside Allen County to hear the case. 

Daniel Pope, 29, is charged with murder and aggravated battery in the death of Benjamyn Otto McKinley Frederick, the son of Pope’s girlfriend. 

His lawyer and prosecutors argue in documents filed in Allen Superior Court releasing DCS records “risks substantially prejudicing both the state and the defendant’s right to a fair trial ... and will prejudice the jury pool to the extend that the defendant cannot receive a fair trial in Allen County.” 

Documents signed by Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards and county Interim Chief Public Defender Michelle Kraus ask Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull to stop the release of DCS records, which are sought by an unspecified media outlet. A gag order proposed by Richards and Kraus would prohibit “any party, including DCS from releasing any information or opinions regarding matters pertaining to” the case. 

mleblanc@jg.net

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