Alabama officer asks to end public access to murder case

January 11, 2022 GMT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama police officer charged with capital murder in the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend has asked a judge to bar the public from seeing any written documents or attending hearings about the case.

Attorneys for Officer David Michael McCoy, 28, also asked a court to bar lawyers involved in the case from talking about it outside court. Madison County District Judge Alison S. Jones didn’t immediately rule on McCoy’s requests and instead scheduled a hearing for Jan. 18.

McCoy, an officer with the Huntsville Police Department, was charged in the off-duty slaying of Courtney Spraggins of Trion, Georgia, whose family identified her as being pregnant with the child of McCoy, her boyfriend. A request filed by the defense said the victim was pregnant but did not identify the father.

In asking the judge to seal all court documents about the case and close pretrial proceedings, the defense said the news media can publish “sensitive matters” about the case if records — which normally are open to anyone — remain public.

The media has a “terrible record” of inaccuracy, and that could compromise McCoy’s constitutional rights in a case where the death penalty is possible by inflaming would-be jurors, the defense argued.

Prosecutors have not responded to the defense request, records show. A preliminary hearing in which evidence could be revealed is scheduled for Jan. 28.