The judge in the Katie Autry murder trial reversed his own decision of 2 weeks ago, and lifted a gag order imposed on the families of Autyr and her alleged murderer, Lucas Goodrum.
In court Tuesday, Judge Tom Castlen vacated his earlier decision that warned families and friends connected to the case not to speak out in public about the case. Castlen did, however, warn the families to continue being careful about what they say to the media, and warned them not to make judgements in public about the sufficiency of the evidence for either side in the case.
Castlen also said the website "lucasisinnocent.com" can continue to be operated by the Goodrum family, and specifically Goodrum's mother, Donna Dugas.
"The reason that I spoke out to begin with was nobody had spoke out for Lucas. He had just been sitting there with no voice, and everyone else seemed to have a voice, and I thought he needed the same treatment as everyone else did," Dugas said.
"We feel good about it, we think the judge is on target, we think he's doing the right thing and we think that will benefit the process," said William Kirkland, attorney for the Dugas family.
Judge Castlen asked both sides to clear their calendars for November, in case he decides the trial must be delayed to guarantee an impartial jury. Castlen said the prospect of continued intense publicity around the case means he must now consider the possiblity of pushing back the scheduled March 1st trial date, and consider a change of venue, as well.
Goodrum's defense attorney, David Broderick jumped up in court to protest, saying his client and his family don't want any delays. Goodrum has been in jail since May of 2003, when the alleged crime took place.
"Yeah that does concern me about moving in to November. That would put him in jail for 2 and a half years with, as I've said from the very beginning, no DNA, no fingerprints, nobody placing him at the scene. Lucas is innocent," Dugas said.
Goodrum will be back in court on February 10th for a pre-trial hearing.