A JUDGE has issued an order barring law enforcement from making public comments about the investigation into the death of a four-year-old girl.
The gag order comes just days before little Athena Brownfield’s funeral in Enid, Oklahoma.
Athena was reported missing on January 10 and the remains were found a week later during a desperate search for the girl.
Her two caregivers were charged with the child’s death.
Ivon Adams has been charged with Athena’s murder, while he and his wife, Alysia Adams, have both been charged with child neglect.
Caddo County Circuit Court Judge David Stephens signed the gag order last week, barring attorneys and law enforcement from talking about the case publicly.
“Gear orders are extremely rare and generally only occur in the most high-profile cases,” said attorney Ed Blau, who is not involved in the case. COCO.
“Two examples are the Oklahoma City bombing and the Daniel Holtzclaw case.”
Gag orders have been ordered in recent investigations, such as the case of Delphi murder suspect Richard Allen and the man charged in the Idaho college student murders, Brian Koberger.
According to Blau, the public interest is a big reason why gag orders are issued.
“The most high-profile cases are the ones that people see when they turn on the TV, turn on the radio, or open Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
He added that a judge can issue a gag order if he believes a defendant’s right to a trial might be affected, and given that Athena’s case was getting a lot of international attention, a gag order might have been needed.
“If you see 15 posts from people you’re friends with on Facebook saying someone is guilty, it’s hard to say they’re not going to affect you on some level,” Blau said.
“The reason a judge does this is so when a case gets to a jury trial, hopefully many of the potential jurors wouldn’t have heard enough about the case to form an opinion about it.”
This also means that attorneys from both the prosecution and defense will not be able to speak to the public and there will be no information from counsel or law enforcement about this case in Caddo County.
If a gag order isn’t enough to get a jury good enough for a trial, sometimes the trials will be moved to another county.
“A lot of times, there’s no other option but to change the venue to a different county where there’s a jury pool that’s not as tainted by information in the public,” Blau said.
I LIE DOWN TO REST
Little Athena’s funeral is set for Wednesday at The Stride Bank Center in Enid.
The four-year-old was born on September 6, 2018 and died on Christmas Day, according to her obituary.
Her favorite color was purple, she loved to play dress-up, and she was “joined at the hip” with her sister, Adina.
Athena’s five-year-old sister was found wandering alone from a post office on January 10, prompting Athena to be reported missing.
Her sister was taken into protective custody, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said.
Athena was allegedly beaten to death and buried by Ivon, who allegedly dragged a branch over the spot where her body was abandoned, according to court documents.
The documents reveal that Athena spoke of her caregivers as if they were her parents.
Jacqueline Gilmore, who knew the couple, told a local Oklahoma news station KFOR that her ex-boyfriend and Ivon owned a fence company together, so she had many interactions with the accused killer.
She said Ivon was never aggressive with the children in front of her.
“I worked with him sometimes, we were building fences, and he brought two kids with him a lot of times … and they helped him and he never raised his voice,” Gilmore said.
But she also said her ex-boyfriend and Ivon split on bad terms after Ivon was accused of owing his partner money.
According to documents received by KSWOAthena’s sister told officers she had been home alone and was “tired of being alone” after her sister disappeared.
Alysia reportedly told officers that her estranged husband Ivon beat little Athena to death and then proceeded to bury the child’s body.
The report claims Athena was “not moving and her eyes were barely open” after the attack.
“He then laid her on the ground and punched her at least three more times in the chest,” court documents state.
Athena “never moved after that.”
Alysia reportedly told investigators that Ivon allegedly left the home with Athena’s body the next day around 1 a.m.
The girls’ biological parents have been interviewed by agents and are cooperating with the investigation.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation revealed that Alysia is related to Athena and Antina.