A judge has ordered a Kansas newspaper to reveal the name of an anonymous user who posted a comment on an article regarding a murder trial.
The user, who posted under the name "BePrepared," is believed to have been serving as a jury member on the trial when the post was made, the Associated Press reports.
The article in question, published on July 19 in The Topeka Capital-Journal, dealt with jury deliberations over the case of 27-year-old Anceo Stovall. Stovall was facing 11 charges, including burglary, aggravated robbery, cruelty to animals, battery and murder in the fatal shooting of Natalie Gibson, according to WIBW.
According to court records, BePrepared posted comments on July 21, while jury deliberation was still ongoing. “Trust me that’s all they got in their little world," the comment read, "as you know, I have been there. Remember the pukes names they will do it for ever.” The post appears to have been removed.
On July 24, Stovall was convicted of one count of aggravated robbery and acquitted of burglary to a motor vehicle. The jury was hung on the 9 other charges.
Claiming that the July 21 posting had been made by a juror, Stovall's attorney has filed for a new trial, arguing that the comment qualifies as juror misconduct. Jurors were repeatedly warned to stay away from accounts of the case in news media, according to The Capital-Journal.
Last week, a judge denied the newspaper's appeal to a subpoena that demands the name, address, and IP address of BePrepared. Learning the user's identity, the judge reasoned, is crucial to the criminal misconduct investigation, and there is no other reasonable means of obtaining that information.