VERIFY: Is there still a gag order in Grinstead case?
After a tipster came forward in the Tara Grinstead case, some questions were raised online.
Thursday, we reported that a woman named Brooke Sheridan told CBS News that she is the one who led investigators to Tara Grinstead's killer.
Some people on our WMAZ Facebook page wanted to know what her confession meant for the case.
Mandy Castrovillari says "I thought there was a gag order. Did something change? And would a gag order not cover her talking to the press?"
After Ryan Duke was arrested and charged with killing Tara Grinstead in February, Irwin County Judge, Melanie Cross, issued a gag order in the case.
This prevented the prosecution, all law enforcement, Ryan Duke, counsel for the defendant, potential witnesses, expert and other court personnel, and family members of both the defendant and the victim all from speaking about the case.
The point of a gag order is to protect a defendant's sixth amendment right to a fair trial.
In March, WMAZ and several other media companies argued that the gag order was unnecessary and too broad.
Judge Cross listened to arguments from several lawyers and ultimately decided to "scale back" the gag order, writing that she was still concerned about protecting Ryan Duke's right to a fair trial.
So, yes, we can verify that there is still a gag order in place on this case.
Let's revisit the other question posed by a viewer. Did Brooke Sheridan violate the gag order by talking to the media?
We took a closer look at the wording of the modified gag order.
It says that law enforcement, court staff, counsel for the defendant, as well as Bo Dukes, the man charged with helping dispose of Grinstead's body, all still cannot talk about the case.
But there is no mention of family or witnesses.
The revised order also says that the gag does not apply to members of the media or other members of the public.
So it appears that Sheridan did not violate the gag.
We reached out to District Attorney on the case, Paul Bowden, to verify that this is true — but he did not get back to us Friday afternoon, so this question remains unanswered.