Murder suspect’s defense attorney opposes media coverage


Murder suspect’s defense attorney opposes media coverage


YUMA, Arizona (13 On Your Side) - The attorney defending the man charged in the murder of 29-year-old Christal Figuera wants media excluded from the courtroom, because she feels it is doesn't give her client a fair trial.

During a court hearing on Wednesday, Kristi Riggins, the defense attorney for murder suspect Jose Jimenez, asked Yuma County Superior Court Judge David Haws not to allow media to film inside of the courtroom.

Riggins says this high-profile murder case has painted her client in a bad light.

Before 13 On Your Side's cameras started rolling, Riggins asked the judge to move the hearing to another day.

Judge Haws denied her request.

Riggins went on to plea with the judge.

"The news media is going to continue to film him. He's going to continue to be paraded around like some sort of a circus act animal," Riggins said.

Riggins argued Jimenez's portrayal in the media will not give him a fair trial because potential jurors might have already created an opinion about him based on what they see on the news.

She then asked Judge Haws to allow her client to wear civilian clothes, to which prosecutor William Katz objected.

"The mere fact that he appears in jail clothing is not a matter of prejudice in any form, your honor," said Katz.

Katz then argued in favor of media coverage, saying, "this is a matter of public interest, this is a public courtroom."

Riggings made one final plea to Judge Haws: "At the very least, Judge, I would request for today, if the court is not willing to continue this for me, then give me 15 minutes to go down and get him a jacket so he'll be presentable on television."

Judge Haws, again, denied her request.

Riggins took a jab at how police handled the case's publicity.

"The Yuma Police department has been feeding the news media information and it has resulted already in a circus-like atmosphere in this case," she said.

"I'm putting it on the record right now that we continue to object to this and that we're probably looking at a change of venue if this continues."

Judge Haws ordered the bailiff to bring Jimenez out for a brief hearing.

"There are 70 plus CD's and DVD's. There are over 1,500 pages of discovery," Riggins said. She also added that she's still waiting on the autopsy report for the murder victim, 29-year-old Christal Figueroa.

Police arrested Jimenez in late March after he was on the run for nearly two weeks.

Police say Jimenez and two others shot and killed the mother of three, then dumped her body in the orange groves just south of Yuma.

A grand jury indicted all three on murder charges.

Jimenez has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, along with several other counts including aggravated assault, stemming from a separate case.

He remains behind bars on a $2,000,000 dollar cash-only bond.

Jimenez will be back in court in July.

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