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Motion to Protect Identity of Kopp Witnesses

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A judge has order prosecutors to draft a protective order against witnesses in the James Kopp case. Kopp, accused in the shooting of abortion provider Barnett Slepian, appeared in a Buffalo courtroom Monday for a pre-trial motion.

James Kopp was escorted, for the first time, publicly through the second floor hallway of Erie County Court. He was handcuffed and wore a a blue sport coat over a bullet proof vest.

Kopp and attorneys appeared for a pre-trial motion. Erie County prosecutor Joseph Marusak argued that identities of some witnesses should be kept secret because of the "emotionally charged" atmosphere the abortion debt has created.

He also told the judge that some media outlets obtained the address of a witness and conducted a door to door search. But Kopp's attorney Paul Cambria says it is the so called "law enforcement" sources that are leaking information to the media. Cambria called them "faceless, nameless sources" who are polluting pre-trial coverage.

"I have no problem with not discussing the names. I don't have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with the prosecution wanting to close the courtroom while his witnesses testify," Cambria said. "It should be an open, public proceeding."

Marusak later told WBFO News at no time has the prosecution asked the judge to close the courtroom proceedings.

Judge D'Amico wants the prosecution to create a protective order that the defense team will agree to -- and if that doesn't happen the Judge says he will create one himself. With Slepian's wife and other members of the family listening, both sides also argued about Kopp appearing in a police line up. Cambria says Marusak claims to have sworn statements that his client's appearance has changed since 1998. "In order for me to be a defense lawyer I need to read it all and decide whether or not I agree with what he has to say," Cambria continued.

The judge will hear more arguments this Friday on the prosecutions request for DNA samples from Kopp.