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21st JDC Juvenile Court violated state laws by not allowing WBRZ in court hearing

9 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Friday, September 22 2023 Sep 22, 2023 September 22, 2023 6:13 PM September 22, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

AMITE - One week after 16-year-old Vernon Gordon Jr. was shot to death outside of his school in Greensburg, his accused killer, 14-year-old Christopher Williams, is being held in a juvenile detention center. Sources say Williams was being bullied and was afraid nothing would be done if he went to school administrators.

In a now deleted GoFundMe, someone claiming to be Williams says he was involved in an altercation and was trying to defend himself and his siblings. He is facing several charges, including second-degree murder and aggravated second-degree battery.

On Thursday, Williams went in front of 21st District Judge Blair Edwards. Indications are that hearing looked to establish probable cause, which could have led to an indictment.

"Unlike the records themselves, the documents that are not available to the public, the public are allowed to attend these proceedings, that is more consistent with what we have in adult court," attorney Chase Tettleton, who represents WBRZ, said. 

State laws prevent the release of information on what happened inside the court, so therefore a reporter must attend the hearing to know what happened and what is next.

On Thursday morning, Katie Easter was denied access, even after presenting Article 879, which states all proceedings in a juvenile delinquency case involving a crime of violence, shall be open to the public. Crimes of violence include both second degree murder, and aggravated second degree battery.

"It extends that to certain high risk, cases in juvenile court, that higher risk, higher consequences issues," Tettleton said.

A Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's deputy explained that a room full of attorneys said, 'It only pertains to the trial', but that's not how everyone sees it. Previous state and federal cases, attorneys say, establish that Thursday's hearing "shouldn't" have been in secret.

"The Chicago Tribune case stands for the composition, TV, news stations, newspaper, do have a right -- they are the public -- to attend these proceedings, they cannot be closed out of these proceedings under Article 879," Tettleton said.

During a phone call to DA Scott Perrilloux, he did not deny any mistake, but said the people involved are not his people and it is up to the court who is allowed in. 

We tried calling several offices associated with the court, including the judge's chambers, but we have not heard back.

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