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Records requested in Brockport murder

Rochester, N.Y. --- On Thursday a judge will consider requests by the media to release court records related to the murder of a SUNY Brockport student in 2012.

Alex Kogut, a SUNY Brockport freshman, was found beaten to death inside her dorm room on the college campus in September 2012.  Her boyfriend at the time, Clayton Whittemore, was arrested hours after police found Koguts body.  He was located at a New York State Thruway rest stop near Syracuse.  Both Kogut and Whittemore lived in the Utica area.

On May 10, 2013 there was a pre-trial suppression hearing focused on what evidence could be presented at Whittemores trial in the future.  The hearing involved testimony from witnesses, recordings of 911 calls, and a videotaped interview of defendant Clayton Whittemore speaking with police investigators.

At the time of the hearing many Rochester media outlets requested that the court release copies of the exhibits that the court considered in this proceeding.  At the conclusion of the hearing that day the presiding judge, New York State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle, indicated in open court that he was inclined to grant the media requests for access to those exhibits.

However, nothing happened in regards to those requests for more than nine months.

Justice Doyle issued his ruling on the suppression issues in late January 2014 and decided that all the evidence presented at that hearing would be allowed to be used against Whittemore at trial. 

When pressed to again respond to the media requests for access Justice Doyle schedule a court hearing on the matter.  That will take place on Thursday February 13th at 1:30 p.m. in Justice Doyles courtroom; Room 407 on the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice in downtown Rochester.

In a rare display of unity on this issue, five local media outlets have joined together in retaining and sharing the costs of a lawyer who was retained in the hopes of compelling Justice Doyle to release these court exhibits.  13WHAM News joins the Democrat and Chronicle, WROC-CBS, WHEC-NBC, and Time Warner Cable News in this application.  Christopher D. Thomas, a partner at Nixon Peabody, will be representing all the media outlets.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley has not opposed the release of these exhibits.  She informed media outlets on the day of that hearing in May 2013 that she was prepared to release copies of the exhibits as soon as the judge ordered their release.

Whittemores lawyers submitted a brief letter to the court a week after that hearing that noted their objection to releasing copies of the videotaped interviews of their client speaking with police investigators. 

While admitted as court exhibits at this hearing Justice Doyle chose to review those tapes on his own in chambers instead of reviewing them in open court with the defendant and lawyers present to witness his review of those tapes.

13WHAM News and our colleagues in this legal action have also requested that Justice Doyle grant video camera access to this proceeding.  Reporter Sean Carroll will be in court and providing updates on Twitter @scarroll13 and using the hashtag - #OpenNYCourts

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Washington Times