LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A judge imposed a gag order Wednesday in the capital murder case against a man accused of fatally beating a Little Rock television anchorwoman.
District Judge Lee Munson issued the order at the request of a lawyer for Curtis Lavelle Vance, who is charged in the death of Anne Pressly.
Pressly, 26, was found beaten and unconscious in her home Oct. 20 and died five days later in a hospital without ever gaining consciousness. Her parents say she had been sexually assaulted and beaten so severely that part of her jaw bone was broken away.
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In his order, the judge barred prosecution and defense lawyers, law enforcement officers, the FBI, state Crime Laboratory employees and state Medical Examiner staff from commenting to the media on the case. He also sealed the investigative file.
Munson said he granted the request to protect Vance's right to a fair trial. He said the order would be in effect until Vance appears in circuit court for his plea and arraignment.
Officers arrested Vance, 28, of Marianna, at a Little Rock home Nov. 26, acting on a tip received within minutes of a late-night news conference at which they disclosed his name and photos of him and his car. He was ordered held without bond in a jailhouse court hearing Friday.
Police say DNA evidence links Vance to the slaying. According to an arrest affidavit, Vance denied being in Little Rock the day of the attack.
Prosecutor Larry Jegley, who will handle the case in circuit court, has said that the crime amounts to capital murder but that he might file more than one charge.
Jegley also said he has not decided whether he will seek the death penalty. Death and life in prison without parole are the only penalties for a capital murder conviction in Arkansas.
Pressly was an anchorwoman on KATV's "Daybreak" program and had a small role as a conservative commentator in the Oliver Stone movie "W."