Anthony J. Garcia, accused of killing four Omahans, wants his next court hearing closed to the public. His lawyers filed a motion in Douglas County Court on Monday asking that his preliminary hearing be closed “in an attempt to not further taint the potential jury pool.” The lawyers wrote that the media coverage of the case has been “extremely pervasive” and information from Wednesday's preliminary hearing would further hamper Garcia's chances at a fair trial.
Garcia is being represented by Alison and Bob Motta, a husband-and-wife lawyer team from Illinois, and local attorneys Dan Stockmann and Pat Dunn.
At a preliminary hearing prosecutors present evidence to show there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed the crime.
The court is scheduled to hear arguments about closing the hearing at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, immediately before the preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for 9 a.m.
Douglas County Prosecutor Don Kleine said he doubts a judge would close any proceedings.
“We don't have secret hearings up at the courthouse here,” Kleine said.
Meanwhile, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning announced Tuesday he plans to increase security at the county courthouse because of increased risk at the high profile hearing.
A photo ID will be required to enter the courtroom, and people won't be able to come in while the hearing is in session, he said in a press release.
He also said that there will be “a more focused” security presence at the courthouse.
Garcia is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with some of the most high-profile crimes in recent Omaha history.
He's also charged with three counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and one count of use of a firearm to commit a felony.
Kleine has said he's considering asking for the death penalty in this case.
In 2008, someone broke into the home of Creighton University professors Drs. William and Claire Hunter, and stabbed their 11-year-old son, Thomas, as well as the family's house cleaner, Shirlee Sherman.
In May, someone broke into the home of William Hunter's colleague, Dr. Roger Brumback, shot Brumback and stabbed his wife, Mary Brumback.
Garcia, a doctor, was a resident in the Creighton pathology program for about a year until Roger Brumback and William Hunter fired him in 2001. Authorities say Garcia blamed them for his lack of professional success.
He was arrested and charged in July.
Garcia is being held in the Douglas County Jail without bail.