A national TV network wants access to a Douglas County courtroom to cover the murder case pending against a Kansas State University English professor.
But District Judge Robert Fairchild said Thursday that he had turned down a request from the Court TV network to televise the preliminary hearing set to begin Monday for Thomas E. Murray, who's charged with killing his ex-wife, 40-year-old Carmin D. Ross.
"I told them that I really did not want constant film coverage of a preliminary hearing because we have potential jurors out there that might be prejudiced," Fairchild said. "They wanted me to tell them if I would let them come to trial at a later date. That has not been decided."
The New York-based network describes itself as covering "America's most newsworthy and controversial legal proceedings." It's known for following cases such as the murder of Laci Peterson and the child-molestation allegations against singer Michael Jackson.
Murray, 48, a linguistics scholar who once compiled a dictionary of terms used in sadomasochism, is charged with stabbing and slashing Ross nearly 30 times on Nov. 13, 2003, at her home northwest of Lawrence. Sheriff's deputies arrested him in October after a nearly yearlong investigation.
The preliminary hearing -- in which prosecutors must show a judge there is probable cause to try Murray on a first-degree murder charge -- starts Monday morning and is expected to last all week. There are nearly 350 witnesses listed on the criminal complaint, an unusually high number.
Court TV isn't the only national news program that's been exploring a story on the case. One of Murray's attorneys, Lawrence resident Robert V. Eye, said he was contacted about a month ago by a national TV news program -- he doesn't remember which one -- seeking interviews with Murray and access to their client consultations.
"We told them we didn't think that was consistent with our client's interests," Eye said. "We want to minimize the distractions."
Linda Brigham, head of K-State's English department, said she hadn't had any interview requests from national TV outlets.
"We haven't had any contact, which is a good thing," she said.