CROWN POINT | Defense attorneys for a suspected serial killer want a judge to publicly reprimand Lake County Sheriff John Buncich for speaking to local newspaper reporters.
Darren Vann's defense attorneys, Matthew Fech and Teresa Hollandsworth, filed a motion last week to hold Buncich in contempt of court for allegedly violating a gag order in the state's cases against their client.
Vann, 43, of Gary, is facing murder charges in the strangling deaths of Afrika Hardy, 19, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, according to court records. Vann allegedly confessed to killing five other women who were found in October in abandoned houses, police previously said.
The motion was filed Tuesday, but the court documents were not publicly accessible until Friday. The public court files had been held in Lake County Criminal Judge Diane Boswell's chambers.
The motion alleges Buncich violated the gag order when he was interviewed Jan. 16 by The Times about a letter requesting jail officials return to Vann a book about the White Sox. In the letter, Fech and Hollandsworth also requested jail officials allow their client to have access to paper, writing materials, reading materials and his court documents.
The motion also cites a story published Tuesday by The Post Tribune, which quotes Buncich on the same topic.
Copies of the news stories are used as exhibits in the motion.
In response to the letter about Vann's jail conditions, Buncich told The Times he wasn't going to entertain Vann without a court order.
"Does he think I run a newsstand? Does he want a romance novel?" Buncich told The Times.
Buncich was ordered to appear at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 13 in Lake County Criminal Court to show why he thinks he didn't violate the order.
Fech and Hollandsworth ask Boswell in the motion to publicly admonish Buncich. They also request Boswell order the sheriff to pay their attorney fees to the Lake County public defender's office. The fees are associated with the time they spent filing the petition and preparing for the hearing.
Patti Van Til, spokeswoman for the sheriff's department, declined to comment Friday on the motion.
According to the gag order, officials involved in the case are prohibited from speaking to the public about Vann's "character, credibility, reputation or criminal records of the defendant, other suspects or witnesses or the expected testimony of the defendant or a witness."
Officials also are prohibited from speaking about the existence or contents of any confession, admission or statement given or not given by Vann.