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Defense Investigator May Have Violated Gag Rule

October 18, 1997|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An investigator for the defense team of accused murderer Michael Dally may have violated a strict gag order in the case by talking to a local newspaper and has been ordered to appear at a hearing on the matter next week.

Investigator Len Newcomb was quoted in an article on media coverage of the case and the potential impact it could have on Dally's upcoming trial.

Judge Frederick A. Jones issued a sweeping gag order months ago barring attorneys and their representatives from making out-of-court remarks about the case.

In court Friday, Jones questioned Newcomb's possible violation of the gag order and told Dally's defense team to prepare documents addressing the matter, either collectively or individually.

Jones ordered the documents submitted by Monday, and a hearing was set for Thursday, according to court records.

Newcomb, represented by Dally's lawyer, Michael Schwartz, appeared before the judge.

Newcomb was quoted briefly in the Thursday edition of the Ventura County Star about a subpoena he served seeking information about the paper's online Web site and publicity surrounding the murder case.

Dally is accused of planning the killing of his wife, Sherri, with longtime lover Diana Haun. Haun was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges last month and faces a possible death sentence.

The penalty phase of her trial begins Monday. Jury selection and pretrial motions in Dally's trial are set to begin Nov. 24.

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