TV station seeks killer's videotaped confession

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

August 11, 2007

A local Baltimore TV station is going to court to get a copy of the videotaped confession of John Gaumer, who was convicted in May for raping and beating to death a woman he met online.

The station, in a petition filed in May in Baltimore County Circuit Court, said it had requested but been denied a DVD containing those portions of Gaumer's confession that were played to the jury.

The station's lawyer argues that under Maryland law, all evidence used in a trial, including electronic media, is part of the public record unless there are compelling reasons to exclude it. A hearing is set Monday on the station's case.

S. Ann Brobst, assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County, contends that the only reason for the television station's request was for the "sensationalism" of the confession of the brutal murder.

Out of respect for the family, she said, the state's attorney is fighting WBAL's access to the recording.

Michelle Butt, news director for WBAL, said that station was seeking access to the recording to set a precedent for electronic media used in county cases. She said the station had no intention of airing the videotape.

Electronic media, such as taped interviews, have been used as evidence in Baltimore County for about a year, said county police spokesman Bill Toohey.

Jenny Hopkinson

Government

Smith aide's relative gets post

The relative of a top aide to Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. has been hired to fill a $96,000 position, county officials said.

Mike Mohler, brother of county communications director Don Mohler, has been appointed the second deputy director to the permits and development management department.

The job, which starts Monday, will put Mohler in charge of about 90 of the county's code enforcement officials.

"Jim Smith looks for the best people he can find to work in county government," said county spokeswoman Marjorie Hampson. "In this case, that person just happened to be the brother of the communications director."

Mike Mohler, an active member of the Catonsville community and former sales director for Guinness imports, said he had worked with the county executive in the past before being approached for the position.

Mohler also serves on the county board of appeals and is a consultant for a Catonsville developer.

Councilman T. Bryan McIntire said he wasn't informed about the position until a phone call Wednesday when he was told that Mohler was being hired to "straighten out the problems" in the department.

"I didn't know there were any problems" with code enforcement, said McIntire, adding that while the county executive did not need council approval to add positions or new hires, the situation was "very unusual."

Jenny Hopkinson

Florida

Woman, grandchild killed in crash

A 73-year-old woman and her granddaughter, both from Baltimore County, were killed yesterday when the driver of a vehicle they were riding in lost control after a tire blew out on an interstate in Florida, according to a police report.

The deceased were identified by the Florida Highway Patrol as Myrna F. Williams and Kaytlin S. Harrison, 4. Six other family members who were in the sport utility vehicle were injured.

The accident occurred about 2:45 a.m. on Interstate 75 in Gainesville. Police said the driver, Vanessa E. Harrison, 39, who lives on Subet Road south of the Milford Mill Shopping Center, lost control of the 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer when the right rear tire blew.

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