The eight search warrant affidavits used to search the body, house and possessions of Raymond Clark III, the Yale animal lab technician charged with the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, will remained sealed for two more weeks, a judge ordered Tuesday.
State prosecutors requested that the affidavits remain sealed until Dec. 1., Joseph Lopez, one of Clark’s public defenders, told the News on Tuesday. According to a ruling by New Haven Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano, the affidavits could have been released this morning. Although Beth Merkin, Clark’s other public defender, said 90 percent of what will be made public in the search warrant affidavits would be similar to what was in the arrest warrants released Friday, one lawyer not involved in the case said he thinks the extension suggests that there is more to be revealed.
Merkin added that there might be more redactions of material in the search warrant affidavits than in the arrest warrant affidavits. She said that the extension was handled privately between the prosecution and the judge, an arrangement that usually occurs during an “ongoing investigation.”
Lopez said in an e-mail that he was “pleased” that the search warrant affidavits remained sealed.
“In high profile cases,” he wrote, “we defense lawyers worry that lots of what is printed is not reliable and admissible evidence and that potential jurors will be tainted prior to trial by being exposed to this inadmissible evidence.”
Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney David Strollo confirmed that a filing was made Tuesday, but declined to confirm that the filing was the extension.
According to arrest warrant affidavits released Friday, bloody items, including an extra-large lab coat with blood stains and Le’s white athletic sock, and DNA matches to Le and Clark provided the evidence leading to Clark’s Sept. 17 arrest.
Both the arrest and the search warrant affidavits had remained sealed until this month at the request of the prosecution and defense. The Hartford Courant and three other news organizations filed a motion in October to make the documents public.
Merkin argued at an Oct. 20 hearing that unsealing the documents could lead to an unfair trial. At the same hearing, state prosecutor John Waddock said Le’s family asked for the documents to remain private so as not to invade the family’s privacy.
Despite their arguments, Fasano ruled Nov. 6 to release a redacted version of the documents to “promote openness and transparency” during the trial.
Waddock did not return a message left on his home phone, and Courant lawyer Paul Guggina did not return either an e-mail request or message left on his office phone.
“We tried to challenge the release of more than was kept sealed, but I understand that the judge had a balancing process, and I respect whatever decision he made,” Merkin said Friday. “With the system the way it is, I don’t think this is going to create a big problem.”
Bridgeport-based defense attorney Nicholas D’Amato said the extension implies that there is more information in the sealed documents that “still has some investigative value and they still want to keep under wraps.”
But New Haven-based criminal defense attorney David Grudberg ’82 said he doubts that it contains more information than the arrest warrant affidavits.
“Typically, the arrest warrant is a very thorough document that would include information that might have previously been included in a search warrant application,” Grudberg said. “But it’s very hard to generalize.”
Le went missing from the Yale research lab at 10 Amistad Street where she worked Sept. 8. A female body was found five days later behind a basement wall in the same building.
Clark is being held for a $3 million bond the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn. His next court appearance is set for Dec. 21.