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Judge considers having reporter explain how he got murder reports

Adam M. Landerman (clockwise from top left) AlisR. Massaro JoshuF. Miner Bethany L. McKee

Adam M. Landerman (clockwise, from top left), Alisa R. Massaro, Joshua F. Miner and Bethany L. McKee

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Updated: August 7, 2013 7:49PM



A Will County judge is considering putting a news reporter on the witness stand to find out how he got his hands on police reports describing allegations in a brutal double homicide in Joliet earlier this year.

Judge Gerald Kinney heard long arguments Wednesday from attorneys for Patch.com reporter Joseph Hosey and Bethany McKee, one of four people charged in the stranglings of 22-year-olds Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins.

The Patch.com reporter used a set of police reports he obtained to write a series of stories about the killings. McKee’s lawyers want to know who leaked the reports and are asking the judge to put Hosey on the stand.

Hosey first exposed the salacious claims that two of McKee’s co-defendants, Joshua Miner and Alisa Massaro, had sex on the bodies of their victims. A source has confirmed for the Chicago Sun-Times the detail appears in the reports, which contain conflicting interviews.

The bodies of Glover and Rankins were found Jan. 10 in Massaro’s Joliet home.

Adam Landerman also has been charged along with McKee, Miner and Massaro with first-degree murder. All four of them appeared in the courtroom where Kinney eventually had to cut off the arguing lawyers.

Ken Schmetterer, Hosey’s attorney, said divesting a news reporter of his privilege to protect his sources under Illinois law should only be done in “very rare, very extreme, last resort circumstances.”

“What they’re asking for today is unprecedented,” Schmetterer said.

Neil Patel, an attorney for McKee, didn’t deny that putting Hosey on the stand would have a chilling effect on the First Amendment. But he said his client’s rights to a fair trial and due process might have been violated.

He said the identity of the leaker could be crucial because Hosey’s source was likely a member of the Joliet Police Department, an employee of the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office or a member of a defendant’s defense team.

That would mean rules of conduct have been broken. And Patel pointed out, the case is still under investigation.

“What’s to say they won’t do it to defendants in other cases?” Patel said.

Patel also denied the leak offers any benefit to his client.

“This does not help our case,” Patel said. “It hurts our case.”

When the hearing ended, Kinney said he has an obligation to make sure the rules of the court are followed. He said he’d make his ruling in a written opinion.

Email: jseidel@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SeidelContent



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