Hustler seeking crime-scene photos of killed UGA grad
ATLANTA — A freelance writer requested crime-scene photos of the nude, decapitated body of University of Georgia graduate Meredith Emerson on behalf of Hustler magazine, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is refusing to comply while the House rushes through a law to block the release of similar photos.
House Speaker David Ralston told reporters this afternoon that the writer is exploiting a gray area in a law that prohibits the release of autopsy photos, enacted after NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash in 2001. The law was passed then to stop distribution of his photos from possibly getting on the Internet.
Ralston has talked with both GBI Director Vernon Keenan and with Emerson’s sister, who lives in Colorado.
“I think that request is sickening. It is vile and very, very hurtful for the family,” he said.
Emerson was hiking near Blood Mountain in North Georgia when she was abducted by a man who held her captive for three days before beating her and killing her two years ago. Gary Michael Hilton had pleaded guilty and received a life sentence for the crime, and was transferred to Florida where he is awaiting trial for a similar crime.
Ralston said he will draft the legislation narrowly so that it has a limited impact on closing government papers to public inspection.
“I’m a real proponent of open government. This goes against the grain for me,” he said.
Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Monday, March 08, 2010
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