Reporter Cited for Contempt of Court for Tweeting

KFSM Managing Editor Larry Henry admitted in court Monday he violated a judge's order by tweeting the verdict of a recent murder trial from the courtroom.

Circuit Judge Brad Karren found Henry in contempt of court for tweeting "BREAKING Zachary Holly guilty of capital murder in 6-year-old Jersey Bridgeman's death" moments after the verdict was read.

The judge issued an order before the trial stated that all cellphones, cameras and recording devices in the courtroom must be turned off during all proceedings in the case. Danny Monjure, Karren's bailiff, said Tuesday the judge also made a point of saying he wouldn't allow any tweeting or text messaging about the case from the courtroom.

Holly was sentenced to death by lethal injection in the 2012 death, rape and kidnapping of the Bentonville child.

Monjure investigated the tweet after learning how quickly it was posted online. Courtroom cameras showed Henry using his cellphone shortly after the verdict was issued at a time that matched with his tweet, Monjure said.

The bailiff said he and the judge discussed possible sentences for a guilty plea and Karren came up with the idea of a news story in lieu of a fine or jail time.

"He thought a story could promote awareness of child safety and it was a good way to handle it," Monjure said.

Henry has 30 days to air the story

Of course this begs the question of whether a judge should take editorial control and force a station to air a story because of one Reporter's mistake?

Personally, I would not let the judge dictate what news stories my station does or does not air. I say let Henry face the penalty on his own terms and not get the station involved.

I do not feel the station should cave to the judge's order. It's a slippery slope that the station should not head down. 

A status hearing is set for July 16.

Stay tuned....