BANGOR, Maine — Two news organizations on Thursday challenged a judge's decision to keep the public from learning the details of a case against a man charged with killing a 15-year-old girl.
The Associated Press and MaineToday Media, owner of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, asked the judge to release a probable cause affidavit containing details from a state police investigation that support a murder charge filed against 20-year-old Kyle Dube, of Orono.
Dube's lawyer, Stephen Smith, requested the document be sealed, based on concerns that details could fuel news coverage, tainting potential jurors and creating more anger toward his client, who has received death threats.
Justice William Anderson agreed to keep the information under seal until the grand jury considers the charge.
Dozens of law enforcement officers, using aircraft and dogs, and hundreds of civilian volunteers spent days searching for Nichole Cable, who lived in Glenburn. Her body was found Monday night in a wooded area in Old Town, just east of her hometown. Dube was charged with murder the following day in jail, where he was serving a sentence for an unrelated crime.
First Amendment lawyer Sigmund Schutz, who filed the motion on behalf of the news organizations, said Thursday that affidavits may be sealed only under rare circumstances that don't apply in this case.
"In the United States and in the state of Maine individuals are not put in jail for secret reasons; and the public has a right to know those reasons," he wrote.
The affidavit, which was reviewed by the judge, shows why police believe Dube is the killer and may answer questions about why or how the girl was killed.
"In cases of heightened public interest, like this one, the First Amendment interest in open proceedings is particularly compelling," Schutz said.
The attorney general's office took no position on the request to impound the affidavit.
It's a gray area because of the lack of case law in Maine. Some judges feel that they have the right to impound probable cause affidavits, while others don't think they have a right to do so, Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes said.
Smith, Dube's lawyer, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Dube has been placed in protective custody, segregated from other inmates, since being charged with killing the girl. He was serving a 90-day sentence for leading police on a chase at 100 mph on a motorcycle when he was charged in her death.
Prosecutors will seek to have bail revoked. A grand jury could consider the case as early as next week.