June 22, 2024


“Defendant created theater — and an abusive theater at that — on the expense of the witnesses and lead investigator within the Learn case, and others associated to them.”

Aidan Kearney, aka “Turtleboy,” walks out of Stoughton District Courtroom surrounded by his supporters after his arraignment on witness intimidation costs final month. Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe Workers, File

A state decide on Thursday declined to overturn bail circumstances holding “Turtleboy” blogger Aidan Kearney from contacting a number of witnesses within the homicide case in opposition to Karen Learn, although he agreed that Kearney can proceed protecting the sensational case in courtroom. 

The controversial blogger is going through a number of witness intimidation costs stemming from his protection of the case in opposition to Learn, who’s accused hanging Boston police officer John O’Keefe together with her SUV and leaving him to die exterior a fellow officer’s dwelling in Canton final yr. 

Kearney was launched on private recognizance following his arraignment in Stoughton District Courtroom final month and ordered to steer clear of and don’t have any contact with the people he’s accused of concentrating on — a bunch that features the lead Massachusetts State Police investigator on Learn’s case.

In Thursday’s determination, Norfolk Superior Courtroom Choose Peter B. Krupp amended the stay-away order to specify a distance of 100 toes and agreed that Kearney can attend Learn’s future courtroom proceedings even when it brings him close to any of the named witnesses.

Nevertheless, the decide finally declined to take away the no-contact and stay-away orders fully.

Tim Bradl, Kearney’s lawyer, stated in a press release that the protection is weighing an attraction to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courtroom. 

“In the meantime, Mr. Kearney will proceed to vigorously examine the Learn case and comply with the proof wherever it leads, all in pursuit of the reality,” Bradl stated. 

Choose: Turtleboy created ‘abusive theater’

Characterised by fiery rhetoric and provocative stunts, Kearney’s sequence on the Learn case is now as much as 208 installments. All through his protection, he’s perpetuated a idea that Learn is being framed for homicide and that different friends on the dwelling had been responsible for O’Keefe’s dying — an alternate idea additionally argued by Learn’s legal professionals and one which prosecutors have repeatedly denied.

In blogs, movies, and social media posts, Kearney has publicly accused a number of witnesses within the case of being a part of the alleged coverup.

Prosecutors say a few of his ways — internet hosting rolling rallies exterior witnesses’ properties and making noisy scenes at their kids’s sporting occasions, for instance — crossed the road into harassment. Against this, Bradl has characterised Kearney’s actions as constitutionally protected “time-honored journalistic ways for newsgathering.”

In Thursday’s determination, Krupp appeared largely unconvinced by the protection staff’s First Modification claims.

“In pursuit of his performative journalism and private model, defendant has berated witnesses within the Learn case, badgered them though they’ve indicated that they don’t want to communicate to him, and pressured them to alter their testimony,” Krupp stated. 

The decide later added: “The First Modification doesn’t authorize journalists to commit crimes.”

Quoting from a number of Turtleboy movies, Krupp additionally recommended that a few of Kearney’s speech might be thought of “true threats that aren’t protected by the First Modification.” 

“Nor can this sort of speech and conduct pretty be thought of journalism,” Krupp stated, including, “Defendant created theater — and an abusive theater at that — on the expense of the witnesses and lead investigator within the Learn case, and others associated to them.”

He finally dominated that the stay-away and no-contact orders had been “justified to guard the witnesses and the judicial course of,” although he agreed that the bail circumstances had been ambiguous and required clarification. 

Bradl, in his assertion, stated he and Kearney “know we’re right on this constitutional trigger, and we won’t relent till the [witness intimidation] statute is put in its correct constitutional place.”

“We count on an appellate courtroom to uphold Mr. Kearney’s, and everybody’s First Modification rights to exhort witnesses to inform the reality and if that’s an effort to alter their testimony, it could be a change for the higher, and should be protected below the First Modification,” Bradl stated.