Summit County: Court grants NBC request for expanded coverage of upcoming Bruner murder trial

Outside cameras won’t be permitted in courtroom, and judge outlines other restrictions on coverage in July 6 order

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Expanded media coverage will be allowed — but no outside TV cameras will be permitted inside the Summit County courthouse during the upcoming trial of Dale Bruner, following a request for expanded media access by NBC News/Dateline NBC.

In the trial, scheduled to start July 16, Bruner faces second-degree murder, first-degree assault and tampering with evidence charges in  the death of his wife, Stephanie Roller Bruner, whose body was found in the Blue River in November, 2010.

When NBC made the request in June, the victims responded with a motion to deny expanded media coverage, citing the potential for “unnecessary or undue national media attention and scrutiny as a result of the expanded coverage.”

The objection also included the allegation that the defendant has intimidated some of the victims in the past.

Attorneys for Dale Bruner also objected to expanded media coverage, arguing that cameras in the courtroom could create an “unreasonable sense of anxiety and stress” in the jury, “causing a preconceived determination of guilt.”

In his order, District Court Judge Mark Thompson said there’s no evidence that opening the courtroom to cameras would threaten the safety of the Roller-Bruner children.

NBC requested access for one manned and two remote-control cameras in the courtroom, but Thompson said cameras inside the courtroom “present an unnecessary risk of interference with the rights of the parties to a fair trial.”

Instead, media coverage will be limited to existing facilities that enable coverage while minimizing the impact on the “solemnity, decorum and dignity of the proceedings.”

That means there will be one video and one still camera allowed in the media room of courtroom 3, with pooled coverage to be determined by the media representatives, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. No handheld electronic devices will be allowed inside the courtroom.

Based on existing law, the court has to determine whether cameras would interfere with the right to a fair trial and whether the coverage would affect the dignity of the court.

Thompson also outlined a series of other restrictions and let stand an order limiting pre-trial publicity.

Read the expanded media access order here.


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