SAN ANGELO, Texas — A request to move the trial of Keith Dutson Jr., a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints charged with sexual assault of a child, was denied Wednesday morning by 51st District Judge Barbara Walther.
Dutson’s defense, led by San Antonio attorney Brandon Hudson, argued that coverage of previous trials by the Standard-Times, the newspaper of record in San Angelo, had been “pervasively inflammatory and prejudicial” to the point that Dutson would not be able to receive a fair trial at the hands of a Tom Green County jury.
Standard-Times reporter Matthew Waller was called to testify about his reporting on the trials of the FLDS members indicted after the state’s raid of the YFZ Ranch in April 2008. A dozen men were charged with crimes ranging from child sexual assault to bigamy on the basis of evidence acquired in the raid.
Dutson, who faces a second-degree felony child sexual assault charge, is the seventh to be prosecuted.
Hudson subpoenaed all of Waller’s articles as evidence, but the newspaper was notified of the subpoena only Wednesday morning and was still working on producing copies from the gosanangelo.com website when the hearing concluded. A dozen articles were delivered to the court while Waller was testifying.
Reporters in Texas are protected by legal privilege from having to testify about some matters related to their profession.
Hudson asked Waller whether he thought his reporting was fair and accurate, to which he replied, “Yes.” Hudson also asked him whether he thought his articles offered opinions, were inflammatory or prejudicial to Dutson, to which Waller replied, “No.”
Waller was advised by his legal counsel Sam Allen not to answer several of Hudson’s questions, including queries about whether the image of the YFZ Ranch temple used as a label accompanying stories about the FLDS had been altered, and whether he was aware of any inflammatory editorials on the subject of the FLDS printed in the paper.