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2 From Channel 10 Cited for Contempt

February 11, 1986|TOM GREELEY | Times Staff Writer

Superior Court Judge Franklin B. Orfield cited an assignment editor and a reporter from KGTV (Channel 10) for contempt of court Monday after they refused to answer certain questions from an attorney representing accused killer David Lucas during a discovery hearing for Lucas.

Orfield, who cited assignment editor J.W. August three times and reporter Steve Fiorina once, deferred sentencing until after Channel 10 appeals the ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal. August and Fiorina had claimed protection under the reporters' shield law.

Lucas, who was arrested Dec. 16, 1984, is charged with six counts of murder and one of attempted murder, stemming from cases dating back to 1979. The journalists were subpoenaed to testify in conjunction with a story they aired detailing how August, working as a weekend assignment editor, had received an anonymous telephone call on June 10, 1984, six months before the arrest of Lucas, from a woman who said a murderer was residing at Lucas' Spring Valley address. Three of the slayings of which Lucas is accused occurred after the telephone call. The caller has never been identified.

In the Channel 10 report, which ran April 15, August recalled that he had jotted down the address mentioned by the anonymous caller on the same sheet of paper that included an address at which Fiorina was to interview a paramedic who had treated Jodie Santiago, a 30-year-old survivor of a June 7, 1984, throat slashing. Lucas is accused of attempted murder in the attack on Santiago.

On June 10, Fiorina went to Lucas' address, which was supplied by the anonymous caller, thinking that was where he was to interview the paramedic. Fiorina spoke with Lucas briefly, realized his mistake, and went to interview the paramedic.

After Lucas' arrest, August recalled receiving the call and remembered Fiorina's brief contact with Lucas. With the help of a hypnotist, August reconstructed the series of events aired in the April 15 story. The hypnotist is scheduled to testify on Thursday.

William Saunders, Lucas' attorney, called the journalists to the stand because he maintained that the San Diego County Sheriff's Department used information supplied by August to develop a case against his client.

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