COVINGTON, Ga. - The Covington News and WSB-TV have exclusively been approved to bring cameras into the courtroom Tuesday for the arraignment of Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell, the parents accused of killing their 15-day-old daughter Caliyah C. McNabb.
Alcovy Judicial Circuit Chief Judge John M. Ott approved the use of cameras and recording equipment for the two news outlets in a special Rule 22 hearing held in the Newton County Judicial Center Friday morning.
Attorney Bryan Frost, who represents Bell, said he would later file a change in venue motion for the trial and it would be disengenious for him to not object to the Rule 22 motions filed by The News and WSB-TV.
"The level of exposure in this case is far outside the norm that I've seen," he said adding that he has multiple pages of Facebook comments from The News' Facebook page. The comments, he said, include "hatred, jury instruction and ideas of public execution."
"I've just never seen anything like this."
Ott said he was bound by OCGA 15-1-10.1 and did not see any reason to not allow cameras in the courtroom.
"The print media is going to be here anyway," he said. "I can't close the courtroom."
Ott said it was up to him to find the balance in a fair trial and the interest of the public.
In other news, Ott did approve for McNabb and Bell to be dressed in civilian clothes for Tuesday's arraignment, on a one-time basis, in an effort to give the media new stock image that would not show the defendants in jail jumpsuits.
Both McNabb and Bell were in attendance during Friday's hearing. McNabb was shackled in an orange jumpsuit and Bell was shackled in a pink jumpsuit.