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The Daily



08-12-03: Records stay open in Kimberly Anderson case

    An Auglaize County judge on Friday denied the sealing of records relating to the arrest of Kimberly Anderson for the shooting death of her husband Brent Anderson in September 2001.
    In a judgment entry filed Monday, Judge Frederick Pepple found "the legitimate governmental interests of the state" and "the right of public access" to outweigh Kimberly Anderson's request for right of privacy.
    Kimberly Anderson's attorney in May filed the motion for expungement, seeking to seal all records held by the Auglaize County Sheriff's Office, the Wapakoneta Police Department, the Auglaize County Prosecutor's Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (BCI&I), the Auglaize County Data Center and the FBI.
    Kimberly Anderson, 38, of Wapakoneta, was indicted by an Auglaize County grand jury three months after she shot her estranged husband eight times in the upstairs bedroom of a home they once shared in Wapakoneta. She was charged with murder, aggravated murder and voluntary manslaughter, but was acquitted of all charges in October 2002.
    The mother of four - the two youngest children fathered by Brent Anderson - said she fired the gun in self-defense.
    In the seven-page judgment entry filed Monday, Pepple countered several arguments made by both the prosecution and defense during a hearing on the motion July 31 in Defiance County Common Pleas Court.
    At the hearing, Anderson's attorney, Alan Konop of Toledo, told the court his client was seeking the expungement "to get on with her life." He said she wished to return to her previous career as a respiratory therapist and did not want the arrest information, which was available to the public, to bias her opportunity for a job.
    Konop also said Kimberly Anderson feared a routine traffic stop could become a "nightmare" if her arrest record for murder surfaced.
    In his judgment entry, Pepple said the Ohio Supreme Court, as recent as last year, created a "presumption of openness" relating to the First Amendment of the Constitution, which deals with the public's right to access court records. Pepple said the presumption of openness may be overcome only "by an overriding interest," which was not presented by the defense.
    Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce reminded the court at the July hearing that Kimberly Anderson was not concerned about her privacy when she consented to numerous interviews with the media following the trial, including an appearance on the nationally broadcast television talk show, "The John Walsh Show."
    Pepple addressed Pierce's argument and agreed that Kimberly Anderson's appearance on the show contradicted her argument for privacy.
    Pepple also voiced concern for local law enforcement officers who may have to testify in future litigation stemming from the criminal case. If law enforcement officers are called upon to testify in a civil case, they could face a fourth-degree misdemeanor by divulging sealed court information, Pepple wrote in the judgment entry.
    "There is no protection afforded officers or others called upon to testify," Pepple wrote, however, Kimberly Anderson would be protected under the law when testifying, he added.
    A wrongful death civil suit was filed by Brent Anderson's brother, Kevin Anderson of Cincinnati, just weeks after the shooting. The civil suit sought compensation for Brent and Kimberly Anderson's two young boys. The suit was dismissed in March, but according to the statute of limitations, can be refiled before Sept. 2.
    Several of Brent Anderson's siblings recently retained attorney Dale Perdue of Columbus, who told The Daily Standard the civil suit will be refiled by the Sept. 2 deadline. Perdue also offered a short comment on Pepple's decision.
    "I feel the denial was correct on the facts and the law as it applies to the motion," Perdue said.


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