Photo: Wesley Brownlee (seated) listens as his attorney Allison Nobert (far right) makes her motion for a protective order against pretrial publicity on Monday in San Joaquin Superior Court in Stockton. (Courtesy of Central Valley TV)
The legal team representing the man charged in connect with Stockton’s alleged serial killings filed a motion in court requesting a protective order against pretrial publicity on Monday at the San Joaquin Superior Court in Stockton.
The motion – commonly known as a gag order – was introduced by Allison Nobert, the public defender assigned to Wesley Brownlee, 43. Brownlee was is currently charged in three of the six connected homicides dating back to April, 2021. Five of the killings were in Stockton and one was in Oakland, and a woman was injured in another attack in Stockton.
Judge Xapuri Villapudua will rule on the motion at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
During the hearing, Nobert argues that comments made by the Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden and the San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar have adversely affected Brownlee’s chances for a fair trial.
“I’m not asking to keep the media out of the courtroom,” Nobert said. “I’m asking to prevent people like Miss Tori Verber Salazar (and) Chief Stanley McFadden from disseminating information outside of this courtroom that can’t face the test of scrutiny.”
Nobert also brought up examples of coverage by media outlets, such as the New York Times, stating “In an article published in the New York Times, the police say they arrested him around 2 a.m. on Saturday while he was armed and out ‘hunting.’ “
Deputy District Attorney Elton Grau argued against the gag order, saying all statements that have been made by the police and district attorney have been based on their investigation’s findings. Grau said approving the motion could hinder the continued investigation of the case.
The current murder charges Brownlee is facing were filed for the shooting deaths of Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, 21, on Aug. 30; Juan Carlos Carranza-Cruz, 52, on Sept. 21; and Lawerence Lopez Sr., 54, on Sept. 27, the DA’s office said. They are the three most recent victims killed in this alleged serial case.
Charges have not been filed in three other Stockton shootings — which resulted in two deaths and what has been described by Verber Salazar as an “attempted murder” of another victim — authorities say are connected to the killings Brownlee is charged. The same goes for an Oakland man in April of last year that police have said was the first shooting victim in the series.
All six shootings in Stockton and the one in Oakland were connected through ballistics data and similarities in how the crimes were committed, police say.
I think some of the Police Chief’s statements were indeed out of line and were opinions such as the “out hunting” statement. He needs to stick to the facts and actually keep the factual information for the courtroom so as not to damage the case against the defendant. However the statements by Ms. Salazar I feel were not out of line and were appropriate statements that are proper coming from her office.
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