Reporter subpoenaed to testify, give notes in murder case

April 10, 2015

 A reporter for a northern Indiana newspaper has been subpoenaed to testify and turn over interview notes and recordings as part of story she wrote about a homicide investigation.

The Elkhart Truth reports that its crime and courts reporter Emily Pfund was issued a subpoena Wednesday from the chief deputy prosecutor in Elkhart County.

The order is tied to a story about 19-year-old Freddie Rhodes, who's charged with murder and was interviewed by Pfund. He's charged in the shooting death of 18-year-old Dre Tarrious Rodgers after an alleged attempted drug robbery, but authorities aren't accusing him of pulling the trigger.

Rhodes told Pfund he doesn't remember much about his arrest or statement to police. His family had previously asked his statement not be considered in the case because they say he was concussed during questioning.

Medical records say Rhodes was admitted to a hospital with a concussion and broken nose about 11 hours after he was arrested.

The Truth says it will fight the subpoena. Managing Editor Ryan Martin said the order is unnecessary and could hamper future reporting about Rhodes' case.

"I'm just concerned about what effect this could have, not only for those who practice journalism within this community, but also across the state," Martin said. "That chilling effect is something that a lot of people should be concerned about."

Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, said it's rare for reporters to be subpoenaed in Indiana. He said the state's shield law for journalists is strong and gives them protections from having to reveal info about sources.

"We would not like to see a situation where law enforcement is given a message where it's a good idea to use the press as an extension of their investigatory efforts," Key said.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment with a spokeswoman for the county prosecutor's office.


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