By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
The guardian of Tony Day, a 15-year-old Tucumcari boy facing double murder charges, has asked for records and court proceedings in the case to be kept from public view when they deal with medical or mental health treatment.
Prosecuting attorneys and the Quay County Sun have filed responses in opposition to closing the court proceedings in the case.
Day’s guardian, Kathleen Oakey, an attorney with the New Mexico Public Defender’s office, has also asked that hearings that involve Day’s medical or mental health treatments, including the hearing to determine whether the boy would respond well to behavioral health treatments, be closed to the public.
A hearing on Oakey’s motion is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 5 in Tenth Judicial District Court, Tucumcari, before Judge Albert Mitchell.
The proceeding on how Day would respond to treatment is viewed by both prosecutors and Day’s defense attorneys as key to the direction of the rest of Day’s case.
Day was 14 at the time of the slayings of his adoptive mother Sue Day and sister Sherry Folts in November 2012. Because of Tony Day’s age at the time of the slayings, the “amenability to treatment” hearing is a necessary proceeding in his case.
Kirk Chavez, an assistant district attorney, filed a response to the guardian’s motion on April 11 that asserts hearings in Day’s case that deal with determination of guilt or innocence or Day’s ability to respond to treatment must be conducted in the open so that the public is assured that justice is done.
The Sun, through Tucumcari attorney Don Schutte, also filed a motion opposing a closed hearing, citing potential to violate Constitutional guarantees of open court proceedings.
“The ultimate hearings in this case,” Chavez wrote, “… must be open to the public at all times. At these hearings, the matters are contested and any and all evidence is to be considered openly in order for the fact-finder to reach an ultimate conclusion in a manner that can assure the public that justice has been rendered.”
Oakey’s motion asks the court to close to the public all hearings or proceedings in the case “that address…any issue regarding the medical and-or mental health needs, treatment, and-or diagnosis of Tony Day.” Further, the motion seeks to seal any recorded or written transcripts of the proceedings to anyone who is not an attorney of record in the case.
In addition, Oakey’s motion calls for prohibiting parties and attorneys in the case from disclosing medical or mental health information about Day or aiding in the disclosure of such information.
The motion also asks the court to seal pleadings in the case that contain information about Day’s medical or mental health treatment or refer to Day’s diagnosis, evaluation or assessment.