February 9, 2007
McCowen's lawyer: Impound photos
By HILARY RUSS
BARNSTABLE - They were the most emotionally jarring pieces of evidence - photos and video of
Christa Worthington's bruised, bloody, naked body on the floor of her cluttered home.
A major media network wants to copy the images. But the state wants them to remain unpublished,
and yesterday defense attorney Robert George agreed.
In a one-page filing dated
Feb. 6, but entered into the docket yesterday, George, who defended Christopher McCowen before
the jury that convicted him of rape and murder, assented to the motion by Cape and Islands District
Attorney Michael O'Keefe's office that seeks to have crime scene photos impounded.
''They can see anything that they want to that they've already seen in open court,'' O'Keefe said of the
many local and national media outlets interested in the trial. ''But I don't think it's appropriate to be
publishing pictures of the deceased in death.''
O'Keefe filed the motion earlier this month after CBS broadcasting network requested copies of the
exhibits, O'Keefe said. Judge Gary Nickerson will take O'Keefe's motion, and George's assent, under
consideration when he hears arguments to impound the photos. He could rule that the public has a
right to see the photos but not duplicate or publish them, according to several sources.
In the motion, O'Keefe asked that three exhibits be ''permanently impounded.'' But yesterday, he said
the motion was just a ''vehicle'' and that he sought only to prohibit publication of those photos, not
access to them.
In his assent, George echoed O'Keefe's arguments for impounding the gruesome pictures. ''I
recognize that Christa Worthington and her family have a right to privacy,'' George said. ''It doesn't
affect Mr. McCowen's appellate right or new trial rights. And therefore I just didn't find it wise to
oppose a motion which appears to be nothing more than an attempt to preserve what is left of the
dignity of Christa Worthington for her daughter.''
George thought of the photos as more inflammatory than helpful to his client, whose conviction is
''Other than possibly showing that the body had been moved and the sloppy condition of the house,
the crime scene photos do nothing but inflame the public against McCowen, just as those same
photos prejudiced the jury.''
Nickerson will hear arguments on the motion on Feb. 27 in Barnstable Superior Court.
Hilary Russ can be reached at email@example.com.
(Published: February 9, 2007)