By MATHEW WALLACE
Williamson County Sun
Publishers of the Williamson County Sun and the Advocate appeared in the 368th District Court Thursday morning after being subpoenaed by defense attorneys in the Crispin Harmel murder case.
Scott Magee, a Round Rock attorney for Mr. Harmel, filed a subpoena December 21 demanding that Clark Thurmond and Linda Scarbrough of the Sun, and Mike Payne of the Advocate, turn over written and electronic communications received during October, November and December from the district attorney's office or from District Attorney Jana Duty.
Mark Dietz, a Round Rock attorney representing the Sun, filed a motion to quash the subpoena Wednesday afternoon on the grounds that a journalist is protected from being forced to release unpublished correspondence such as emails. Within Mr. Dietz's motion the Sun released one email from Ms. Duty that was quoted in a December 6 story concerning a State Bar grievance filed against Ms. Duty, but declined to release other emails received during the three-month period.
Mr. Payne also declined to turn over correspondence, citing protections provided him as a journalist. Ryan Deck, one of Mr. Harmel's defense attorneys, filed a motion December 30 asking Judge Rick Kennon to order both the Sun and the Advocate to preserve the subpoenaed correspondence "should they become relevant in the future."
Judge Kennon granted the defense's motion at the Thursday hearing. Mr. Harmel is accused of strangling to death Jessika Kalaher, 27, in September 2009 outside a Cedar Park Walmart. The first trial in May 2014 ended in a mistrial. A new trial is pending appeal. The next hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. February 6 in the 368th District Court. Mr. Harmel is serving a 10-year sentence in the Huntsville Holliday unit after being convicted of tampering with physical evidence.