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Tapes of interview with Brown's Chicken witness stay with NBC
By Emily Krone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/19/2008 12:41 PM | Updated: 3/19/2008 8:09 PM

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NBC does not have to hand over information from a televised interview with the former girlfriend of a man accused in the 1993 Brown's Chicken murders, a Cook County judge ruled Wednesday.

Attorneys for James Degorski had subpoenaed all notes, footage and outtakes related to an interview with Anne Lockett, whose tip led police to arrest Degorski and his friend Juan Luna in 2002.

Lockett was a star witness in Luna's trial last spring. Luna was convicted and is serving a life sentence.

Degorski faces seven counts of capital murder in the gruesome crime at the Palatine restaurant.

Lockett's interview aired in November as part of a Dateline NBC piece called "The Woman Who Knew Too Much." Most of the interview repeated statements she made during her testimony in the Luna trial.

Attorneys for Degorski argued NBC's refusal to turn over evidence denied their client his right to confront his accuser and mount a defense.

Attorneys for NBC cited an Illinois law that recognizes reporter privilege except in extraordinary cases where no other witnesses or evidence can provide the same information.

"This isn't a case where the information doesn't exist anyplace else," NBC attorney Natalie Spears said in court Wednesday. She added that the defense has had ample opportunity to interview Lockett and challenge her credibility.

Indeed, if the interview outtakes contained information not available elsewhere, logic dictates that NBC, a news organization, would have aired those statements, NBC lawyers wrote in a filing.

At Luna's trial, Lockett testified that Luna and Degorski confessed to the murder while the three were hanging out in Degorski's bedroom in late January 1993. Then 17, Lockett waited nearly a decade to come forward to police, saying Degorski threatened to kill her if she ever told.

Also on Wednesday, Judge Vincent Gaughan denied a series of motions challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if Degorski is convicted.