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Man accused of starting Brian Head wildfire wants to block photos, video from trial

Posted at 11:11 AM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 13:12:13-04

PROVO, Utah — Defense attorneys for the man accused of sparking the massive Brian Head wildfire in 2017 has asked a judge to block prosecutors from using photos or video of the fire and its aftermath.

In a motion filed by his attorneys ahead of his upcoming trial, Robert Ray Lyman’s defense argue that it would turn a jury against him.

“Lyman asserts that any visual representation of the fire does not show anything that cannot be established by other readily available evidence. Moreover, introduction of the visual representations of the fire would be more prejudicial than probative. Accordingly, the Court should exclude all visual representations of the fire and the result of the fire,” his attorney, Andrew Deiss, wrote in a motion filed in 4th District Court.

It was among a series of motions filed in court ahead of Lyman’s trial. They also seek a special jury instruction to use the term “recklessness” at trial and to limit what prosecutors can say to the jury. In addition, Deiss asked the judge to ban TV and print cameras from inside the courtroom during his trial.

“The Court should exclude all cameras from the courtroom during these proceedings to protect the integrity of the trial in this case,” he wrote. “The media attention in this matter is more prejudicial and pervasive than most cases. There has been media and public commentary from the outset, including false information published by government officials. In fact, the extensive coverage played a large role in the extraordinary measure taken by the Iron County court to transfer venue of the case to this district.”

The case was moved from Cedar City to Provo over concerns Lyman would not get a fair trial. Prosecutors are expected to respond to the motions by Lyman’s defense, and a judge has scheduled a hearing at the end of the month to hear arguments.

Lyman is facing a class A misdemeanor charge of reckless burning, accused of starting the 71,000-acre fire that destroyed cabins, buildings and forced the evacuation of more than 1,000. He is also facing a charge of burning during a closed fire season. Lyman has pleaded not guilty to both charges.