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Gag Order Issued for Kopp's Murder Trial

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – James Kopp and attorneys from both sides will no longer be allowed to talk to the media about specifics in the state murder trial. A gag order was issued Tuesday.

Erie County Court Judge Michael D'Amico issued a gag order almost one week after Kopp confessed to the Buffalo News of shooting Amherst Doctor Barnett Slepian. The District Attorney's office requested the order.

Prosecutor Joseph Marusak say they want to prevent a potential jury pool from being influenced by media reports.

"The only thing we can talk about is what happened in open court," Marusak said. "We are precluded from discussing anything about the facts, the evidence and trial strategies. Basically anything about the case that we anticipate will come out in court."

Kopp's attorney Bruce Barket agreed to the order. Prosecutors are also giving Kopp an opportunity to testify before a new grand jury. Barket says Kopp will decide if he wishes testify. But in honoring the gag order, Barket could not talk about the the prosecutions plans to seek a new indictment against Kopp on a charge of depraved indifference.

"The court has asked us and we've agreed not to talk about the specifics of the case," Barket said. "Whatever the DA's office does, they can do."

Barket has added a new member to his defense team, Buffalo attorney John Elmore. He specializes in criminal and civil rights law. Elmore had very little to say on his first day in court with Kopp.

"I believe anyone is entitled to a vigorous aggressive defense," Elmore said. "Mr. Barket asked for my assistance and I'm happy to provide it for him."

Recently, Elmore defended a Buffalo man who pled guilty to assaulting his pregnant girlfriend and inducing abortion. And ironically Elmore's father was shot by a sniper in 1974.

Barket says he selected Elmore because he's one of the "best" attorneys in the western district.