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Requesting TV coverage of courtroom proceedings is not unprecedented in Indiana

Irvington Scene 1986
Posted at 4:48 PM, Sep 14, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — The request to grant television camera access to proceedings involving Richard M. Allen, the man accused of killing Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, is not an unprecedented motion in Indiana.

A similar request was made during a murder trial in 1987. Attorney Timothy Bookwalter filed a motion requesting television camera access to his client's murder trial in 1987.

That client, 20-year-old Dennis Wayne Brown, was charged with two counts of murder in the killings of Charles Hoskinson and Thomas Felts on July 7, 1986. Both men were found shot in the back of the head inside an Irvington carriage house.

Brown’s attorney argued the public had a right to witness his client’s death penalty trial.

“Under the constitution, he has a right under the Sixth Amendment to a public trial,” Bookwalter told WRTV reporter Derrik Thomas in August 1987. “What I’m saying, the time has come for that to change. The public today means television. It means that if society as a whole is going to watch the trial and protect my client’s right to a fair trial, then they need to watch.”

The judge presiding over the case, Marion County Superior Court Judge Roy Jones, spoke in favor of the request.“Anytime that we do something that brings public awareness of what occurs in a courtroom, it enhances the judicial system,” Jones said.

Nonetheless, the Indiana Supreme Court denied the request citing its longstanding ban on cameras inside Indiana courtrooms. That ban was recently lifted.

Brown was convicted of murder on both counts and sentenced to 40 years for each. According to the Indiana Department of Correction, Brown’s earliest parole date is June 10, 2033.