The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

April 18, 2014

Should an anonymous post remain anonymous?

DA wants name of person who posted details about Limestone shooting

— Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones believes either accused murderer Joel Moyers or someone he confided in posted a comment to media website al.com, and the district attorney wants to know his or her identity.

Jones subpoenaed the online media to divulge the name of the person who made the online post.

Attorneys for the media company filed a motion to quash, saying the person who posted the comment has a First Amendment right to free speech and should be protected.

Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof Jr., who heard arguments Wednesday from Assistant District Attorney Matt Huggins and the attorneys for al.com, will consider the matter and make a ruling soon.

Moyers, of Cullman, is charged with capital murder in the 2012 fatal shooting of 26-year-old Brandon Hydrick of Athens.

Jones said he is not “trying to be a bully” to the poster but, rather, he believes the person who made the post is a material witness to the crime who may have details that have not yet been released. Jones said among the details divulged in the post were “things we knew but had not disclosed and things that are not in my files,” as well as details that “came from someone at the scene.”

When asked if Moyers, who is free on bail, could have posted the comments, Jones said,

“It’s either him or someone who was either told in detail what happened or who was there (at the scene).”

Authorities have said there were only three people at the scene when the crime occurred in the early morning hours of  Sept. 29 — Moyers and the Hydrick brothers.

Monitoring

Jones said he saw the post himself. He said his office realizes defendants sometimes talk in such cases so they monitor media and online social networking sites from time to time.

“The person was ranting about all sorts of things — about the judge, me, the legal system and expressing their dissatisfaction,” he said. “They went on a tangent about Joel Moyers, and the comments that were put online were extremely specific. They were not talking about details available to the general public. Some of the comments were so specific, it led us to believe it was either Moyers or an eyewitness or someone who Moyers confided in.”

Jones said the post included “very derogatory” comments about Hydrick and about “things he (Hydrick) did prior to the shooting.”

The district attorney said he is not trying to learn the poster’s identity because the person was critical of him but because he or she “has facts that are important to this case.”

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