A D.C. Superior Court judge, citing the possibility of pretrial publicity in a multiple murder case, yesterday ordered portions of the court record sealed and prohibited attorneys, police officers and witnesses from talking to the press about the case.
Judge Annice Wagner said news accounts of some of the pretrial hearings, if read or heard by potential jurors, might prejudice them against Gary Winston Jaggers, 17, who is charged with the murders last year of four elderly Congress Heights residents.
Wagner said the unusual gag order would remain in effect and the records sealed in the case only until a jury is selected. Selection is scheduled to start Monday. Wagner also hinted that she might sequester the jury.
Wagner acted on a request by Jaggers' attorneys, Randy Bellows and Richard Greenlee.
Wagner also sealed written arguments on a request by Jaggers' lawyers that he not be tried at the same time on all the charges pending against him. Jaggers was indicted in April on 49 criminal counts, including first-degree murder, rape, burglary and armed robbery.
Wagner also sealed her order which permits Jaggers to be tried on four of those offenses -- three murders and a burglary -- in the pending trial and then face additional trials.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Bowman, joined by a lawyer for The Washington Post, argued that the actions were unnecessary, in part because publicity had not been so extensive that it would be difficult to find 12 impartial jurors.