LEE COUNTY: One of the suspects accused of killing Gerald Rabon during a robbery at an Alico Road convenience store in August was in court Wednesday morning trying to block the release of surveillance video of the incident.
Iris Moreland and her brother Chad are facing first degree murder, armed robbery with a firearm, and grand theft. Iris Moreland’s attorney, David Brener, is asking the judge not to release surveillance video from the gas station the night of the murder. Brener says the video is graphic, bloody, and difficult to watch. He’s petitioning Judge Edward Volz to seal the video as well as taped statements that he says could be interpreted as confessions.
Both the defense and the prosecution fear if released, the tape could influence potential jurors. “Obviously, the state has a job and we have a job. But we’re all officers of the court and will push for the constitutional rights of the accused to be protected,” said Brener. The video could also have a detrimental affect on Rabon’s family. “We certainly also take into consideration the victim’s family wishes. In this case it was highlighted by her attorney that it would be very disturbing for his, the decedent’s brother who is 10-years-old to either see that or have friends talk about that video,” said Assistant State Attorney Tony Kunasek. But the fight isn’t over morbid video. As media attorney Steven Carta argued, it’s about the media’s and the public’s first amendment right.
“The whole issue is an ongoing debate, it basically involves a balancing test between the public’s right to know what goes on in the courtroom,” said Carta. Carta, who represents a number of other local media outlets, cited several other Lee County cases including the Cash Feenz and the Lords of Chaos cases where evidence was never sealed. “The whole point was those cases have greater pervasive publicity than this case in my opinion,” said Carta. Now, Judge Volz must decide whether to seal all of it, part of it, and if so, which part. Again, if the judge denies this video, it can be released to anyone in the public. Judge Volz did not have time on Wednesday to review the DVD or set a future date. But you can count on us to bring you his decision when he makes it.