Fiance/dad JEFFREY P. DENBY is accused of killing an 18-month-old toddler, who died of severe head trauma. Dad was apparently watching the toddler and three other children under the age of 3, including a baby of which he was the father, at the time of the beating.
Judge issues gag order in Denby toddler-death case
By Pamela Hickman
Beauregard Daily News
Fri Jul 17, 2009, 08:26 AM CDT
DeRidder, La. -
Judge Martha Ann O'Neal chose to seal all documents and close courtroom doors off to the media and general public for any future hearing involving the case of Jeffery P. Denby on Thursday afternoon.
While Denby stood before the judge's stand wearing his Sheriff's office issued jumpsuit and shackles, the judge stated her decision to bar all media from the courtroom as well as anyone else not directly related to the hearing.
"I believe there is no other reasonable alternative," the judge said.
She then explained that she was imposing such limitations based on her concerns that the defendant would not be able to get an impartial jury or a fair trial, and her fears that the case would be moved out of the area.
From Thursday, "the courtroom will be closed and all pre-trial court documents sealed," said Judge O'Neal.
All courtroom staff and attorney's are now under a gag order, and all witnesses have been sequestered. This means that all are prohibited from speaking to anyone about what they say on the stand or in any manner in regards to the Denby case.
While such a move is rare in Beauregard Parish, it is not unheard of especially in cases involving a juvenile.
Denby was appearing before the judge with his court-appointed legal council, Tony A. Bennett, beside him in regards to the bonds of two charges facing Denby that stem from the death of an 18 month-old toddler, who allegedly died as a result of Denby's abuse.
Denby was seeking the setting of a bond on the charge of First Degree Murder and the reduction of another bond associated with the charge of Cruelty to a Juvenile. That bond was originally set at $750,000.
According to reports from the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office, Denby, age 24, was arrested on the morning of June 19 after the child's mother brought the toddler to the emergency room at Beauregard Memorial Hospital with what was later determined to be severe head trauma.
According to the reports, the toddler along with three other children all under three years old, were in Denby's care, when the toddler knocked over a bassinet holding the infant son of Denby and his fiance, who is also the mother of the 18 month-old toddler.
Denby then allegedly began to beat the toddler and the mother found the child unresponsive in his bed when she returned home later that day.
The child died from these injuries two days later in a Lake Charles hospital.
The child's mother, Holly A. Brewer, age 20, has since been charged with accessory after the fact and was booked into the parish jail under a $150,000 bond.