Judge postpones murder case over body cam footage, 9-1-1 audio
CASS COUNTY, Mich. - A Cass County murder case was delayed Wednesday because the defense attorney said he had not seen video and audio published by ABC57 until it aired on TV.
“My son came in here ordering him around and took a knife and stabbed him and he’s not breathing,” said a woman in a 9-1-1 call in late March.
“Who did your son stab?” asked the dispatcher.
“My husband,” said the woman.
That chilling 9-1-1 audio – and body camera footage of its aftermath – is what ABC57 obtained from the Cass County Sheriff’s Department last week.
On Wednesday, it was brought up in court by Joseph Craigo’s attorney.
“Over this past weekend, somewhere between Friday night and Saturday morning, there was a story released by ABC57 News that contained 9-1-1 transcripts, 9-1-1 audio, and video from a [body] cam involving this case,” said Craigo’s attorney. “That was information released by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department without, as I understand it, the knowledge of the prosecutor’s office and without my knowledge.”
Craigo is charged with stabbing his father to death in late March inside the family’s Mason Township home.
His attorney asked the judge Wednesday to postpone Craigo’s preliminary examination hearing because he had not seen the body camera video or heard the 9-1-1 audio before ABC57 broadcast it.
“This brings up a problem with not only me having access to these materials before they’re released to the general public, in the form of that news story, but it creates an issue with the jury pool problem,” said the attorney.
The judge agreed.
“I do find it appropriate to delay the matter – adjourn the matter – for your attorney to review that evidence and those statements,” she said, speaking to Craigo.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said this sometimes happens.
“We do have a system that – there is a delicate balance between protecting the rights of defendants, rights of victims, and freedom of the press and, again, you’re seeing that tension play out here in this matter and that’s probably something that’s understandable, and even healthy, to have that occur,” said Fitz.
Craigo’s preliminary examination is now scheduled for April 26.
His attorney also filed a motion to ban the media from covering the case, but the judge said she would not address that on Wednesday.