Wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, Raymond Clark III, 24, entered the New Haven Superior Courthouse on Church Street Tuesday and, in his first court appearance since his arraignment on Sept. 17, did not enter a plea.
During the hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes, presiding judge Roland Fasano granted the Hartford Courant permission to lobby for the unsealing of the search and arrest warrant affidavits in the case against Clark, the Yale lab technician charged with the murder of pharmacology graduate student Annie Le GRD ’13.
The court will hear arguments regarding the sealed affidavits on Oct. 20, Fasano said in court Tuesday. Previously, the defense had filed motions asking that the arrest and search warrant affidavits in the case remain sealed. But now that Fasano has made the Courant a party to the case, the newspaper can request that the Court make the documents public, the Courant’s lawyer, Paul Guggina, said. He said the request would be filed shortly.
The Courant’s motion to intervene says the Courant’s interest in the search and arrest warrant affidavits is especially great because of the Courant’s responsibility to access and report the information contained within the affidavits to the interested public.
Courant Editor Naedine Hazell said that because Clark’s case is already so high-profile, it is “unreasonable” to argue that unsealing the affidavits could taint the jury pool.
One of Clark’s attorneys, public defender Joseph Lopez, acknowledged the Courant’s right to file the motion.
“They have the right to enter and be heard,” he said. “That’s part of the judicial process.”
Lopez further explained that Clark did not enter a plea Tuesday because when someone is charged with murder, he or she has a right to a probable cause hearing. At such hearings, the state presents evidence of probable cause for the charge, and then the judge must determine whether the state has sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. The hearing, if held, must occur within 60 days of an individual’s arrest.
At the Oct. 20 court hearing, Lopez will announce the defense’s decision on whether it will seek a probable cause hearing. Either way, Lopez emphasized, Clark will plead not guilty.
“The standard is very, very low [for proving probable cause],” Lopez said. “The prosecution just has to put enough information on for the judge to say there is enough.”
New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington, who is prosecuting Clark, did not respond to two phone messages and one left in person with his assistant.
Raymond Kotulski, an attorney in private practice based in Waterbury, said the state will almost certainly establish probable cause. He explained that since a warrant was issued for Clark’s arrest, probable cause has already been established in the case.
Ultimately, the issue of whether the defense participates in a probable cause hearing is a strategic decision, Lopez said, and one that the defense has not yet made. Clark is being held at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn., on $3 million bond.