Image via WikipediaGaston County (N.C.) Superior Court Judge Calvin Murphy has ruled that the Freedom Communications, Inc.-owned Gaston Gazette (www.gastongazette.com) does not have to reveal the identity of an anonymous commenter on an online article concerning a murder suspect to the suspect's attorney, according to The Associated Press.
Citing the qualified privilege afforded the Gazette by the First Amendment and North Carolina's shield law [N.C. Gen. Stat. sec. 8-53.11], Judge Murphy held that counsel for murder defendant Michael Mead failed to show that the information he sought was unavailable elsewhere or was vital to Mead's defense. Mead is accused of fatally shooting his fiancee in 2008 and allegedly burning her home to conceal the crime.
According to the Gazette's attorney, the anonymous posting at issue allegedly concerns a lie detector test administered to the defendant.