COLUMBIA — A judge has ruled most of the pretrial motions in a Richland County death penalty should be kept open to the public.
The State newspaper reported that Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. ruled Monday that all documents already filed in Julian Whatley’s case will remain public. Cooper also ruled any additional filings that the defense or prosecutors want to keep secret must first be reviewed by a judge before they can be sealed.
Prosecutor Dan Johnson asked for the file to be sealed after he said defense attorneys filed affidavits that the prosecutor said were false and damaging to his case.
Investigators say Whatley killed 45-year-old Crystal Ferguson and her 9-year-old daughter, Hillary Wright, by throwing gasoline in their home and burning them to death in 2007.