After a judge ruled last week that journalists could Tweet and live-blog a sensational child-abuse trial that got under way in Denver this week, the Boulder Daily Camera began blogging the Alex Midyette trial on Friday. Reporters John Aguilar and Vanessa Miller are filing live updates from Denver District Court, starting with opening statements from the prosecution and defense.
Boulder District Judge Lael Montgomery ruled last week that witnesses should refrain from reading about the testimony of other witnesses, but denied motions from both sides to exclude laptops and cell phones from the courtroom — which would, in effect, have banned the kind of live-blogging the Camera is posting. “The court believes that is a more appropriate way to proceed than shutting off the reporting at the front end,” Montgomery said in her ruling.
Montgomery moved the trial from Boulder to Denver because of pretrial publicity after Molly Midyette, Alex Midyette’s wife, was convicted a year ago of failing to stop or report the abuse that led to the death of her 11-week-old son, Jason. Alex Midyette is charged with inflicting fatal injuries on his son, who died in March 2006 from head injuries. His defense attorney claims the infant suffered from a rare disease, whose effects can be mistaken for child abuse.
From the Daily Camera blog, filed at 11:30 a.m.:
(Defense attorney Paul) McCormick told jurors that they’re about to “embark on a journey” that will leave them with one conclusion: Jason died of a rare metabolic disease.
“They say the worst thing in the world that can happen to you is you lose a child,” McCormick said. “There is something worse. When you lose a child, and then someone says you killed him.
“That’s what he’s going through,” McCormick said of his client. “So, at the end of this, you will come out here and say, ‘Free this man.’ Even though he is walking around the streets, he is in bondage. … Free this man.”
The court has recessed for lunch.
After lunch, the Camera resumed its posts as prosecutors began calling witnesses, starting with a deputy coroner.
UPDATE: 2:14 p.m.
Boulder County Deputy Coroner John Meyer told jurors this afternoon that he noted both external wounds and internal wounds to Jason Midyette’s 20-inch-long body when he conducted an autopsy on the 11-week-old infant March 4, 2006.
Jurors are being shown autopsy photographs of Jason’s corpse, and Meyer is pointing out small abrasions he found on the baby’s skin.
At the sight of his son’s autopsy photographs, Alex Midyette put his head in his hands to cover his view. He is not looking at the autopsy pictures that are being projected onto a screen.
Find more of the Camera’s coverage of the Alex Midyette trial here, including live-blog entries throughout the trial.
The Rocky Mountain News — like the Camera, owned by E.W. Scripps Co. — posts a link to the Camera’s “live trial updates” but is filing full stories on its Web site rather than covering the trial live, unlike the controversial experiment when the paper Tweeted the funeral of a 3-year-old child in September.