Local News

WRAL, Other Media Seek Access to Murder Trial

Posted September 4, 2007 3:58 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2007 4:02 p.m. EDT

— Attorneys for WRAL and other media outlets on Monday filed a motion to block an attempt by a former Rocky Mount funeral home owner charged with having his wife killed to exclude the public from pre-trial hearings and have all records in the case sealed.

Mark Bowling is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Julie, who was found shot to death Dec. 8 inside the couple's garage.

Investigators said Rose Vincent pulled the trigger but that Bowling helped her plan the slaying. Bowling and Vincent were in a romantic relationship, according to authorities.

Bowling's attorneys cited intense publicity in asking for limits on public disclosure about the case.

They filed a motion in June asking that all pre-trial hearings be closed to the media and public, that a gag order be issued to prevent attorneys, witnesses and others connected with the case from commenting publicly about it, that all court records in the case be sealed until at least the start of the trial and that cameras be barred from the trial.

But attorneys for the media outlets argued that the U.S. and state constitutions allow for open court proceedings. They contend in their filings that Bowling's attorneys are speculating that media coverage would prevent him from receiving a fair trial.

"Closure of hearings and evidence in this proceeding will only lead to speculation and misunderstanding – and possible suspicion – about the administration of justice," the media's court filings state. "The defendant has in no way demonstrated why this case is extraordinary so as to justify closure of the proceedings."

The next pre-trial hearing in the case will likely be next week, prosecutors said.