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Live-streaming up for debate in Utah's Martin MacNeill murder trial

Published September 27, 2013 11:53 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

We've seen it play out in other states: television news crews providing live stream, real-time video of high-profile court cases.

It happened in Florida with George Zimmerman. In Arizona with Jodie Arias.

Now, could national news crews be coming to Utah — for Martin MacNeill?

MacNeill is accused of killing his wife in 2007 so he could continue an extra-marital affair. Before charges were filed against him in 2012, his life story — including accusations that he killed his wife — played on national networks with interviews of his daughters on programs such as ABC's 20/20.

Now, with MacNeill's six-week trial just weeks away, prosecutors have filed a motion asking 4th District Judge Derek Pullan to prohibit television cameras from the trial — saying that a live stream video of four current federal inmates testifying against MacNeill could compromise the case.

Court officials said there has been no official request from a national outlet to live stream the trial, but prosecutors wrote in their motion that at least one national television network has expressed interest in broadcasting the trial. MacNeill's defense attorney wrote in a response brief that TruTV may broadcast court proceedings live.

Video cameras in Utah's courtrooms are still a fairly new concept. The first time video and audio recording were allowed in the courtroom came just this last April.

Generally speaking, a local television station is usually deemed the "pool videographer" in these last six months since the new rule went into effect. That pool videographer records the court proceedings and then shares it with other media outlets to use in their later broadcasts. Never has a Utah district court proceeding been piped into television screens in real-time.

As of Thursday, Pullan has not entered a ruling on the issue. If he shoots down Utah County prosecutors' request to limit video at the trial, MacNeill's trial will likely be the first in Utah to be broadcast live on a national stage.

— Jessica Miller