A judge spent much of Monday editing an audiotape of remarks Charles E. Rathbun made to investigators the day he was arrested and charged with killing model Linda Sobek, eventually handing over an expurgated version to prosecutors and the complete version to the defense.
Torrance Municipal Court Judge Mark McGee then placed both versions under seal.
Defense attorney Mark Werksman said the tape, made Nov. 22, was edited to ensure that "confidential and privileged information not go to the prosecution."
Both Werksman and prosecutor Stephen Kay declined to discuss what was on their tapes, other than to say Rathbun's comments were made to detectives from the Hermosa Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. Rathbun's then-attorney, Jim Nichols, was present for only "part of the time" the tape was being made, Werksman said.
Rathbun, a a photographer who has claimed that he accidentally ran over Sobek during a photo session and then panicked and buried her body, made a brief appearance in court but said nothing. He has pleaded not guilty to killing Sobek and his next court appearance is scheduled Jan. 5.
After Monday's hearing--most of which was held in private--Werksman told reporters he had not decided whether to ask for a change of venue, but said that a "firestorm of negative and prejudicial pretrial publicity" could make it difficult to find an impartial jury in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, it was learned that sheriff's detectives will go to Michigan, where authorities in Lansing and the Detriot suburb of Romulus have previously told The Times they are investigating Rathbun in connection with the 1990 disappearance of one woman and the 1993 slaying of another. The detectives will attempt to collect more information about Rathbun for their own investigation, rather than reinvestigating out-of-state crimes, sources said.
Also on Monday, two detectives were scheduled to return from Ohio, where possible connections with at least one unsolved homicide were being investigated.