A Superior Court judge said Friday that he intends to unseal a grand jury transcript and other court documents that have been closed to the public in the criminal case against Mark Scott Thornton, the Thousand Oaks teen-ager charged with slaying Westlake nurse Kellie O’Sullivan.
Judge Charles R. McGrath announced his intentions during a hearing in which The Times, joined by the Ventura Star-Free Press, requested that the documents be unsealed. Lawyers for both papers asked McGrath to enforce public access rights in opening the court records.
Police say Thornton, 19, kidnaped and fatally shot O’Sullivan, 34, mother of a young son. A grand jury Dec. 6 indicted Thornton, charging him with murder and a special circumstance that could send him to the gas chamber.
A day later, however, prosecutors were granted permission to have a transcript of the grand jury proceedings sealed. All other documents, including routine motions filed by lawyers in the case, were also kept closed to the public. A hearing to discuss the security measures to be used when the defendant is in the courtroom also was closed to the public.
At Friday’s hearing, prosecutors and public defenders opposed the request to open the Thornton case to public inspection. They contended that releasing the documents to the public would lead to heavy pretrial publicity and make it impossible to seat a jury in the trial.