Judge rules Colleton Co. murder suspect jail calls are public information
COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge ruled in favor of Live 5 News in a hearing Tuesday afternoon deciding that the jail calls of a Colleton County man facing 21 charges public information.
Ryan Lenard Manigo is facing charges after six people were found dead following a house fire July 2 in the Green Pond community.
Last week, the judge heard from both the defense and prosecution but pushed the hearing to this week requesting that the media outlets argue their cases of why the calls are public information.
Manigo’s attorneys argued Tuesday the calls are not public information since a private company works with the sheriff’s office.
“It’s the private companies that are recording, maintaining and collecting at least in my experience,” one of Manigo’s Attorneys, Robert Beck, said. “That kind of jumps past public record.”
His attorney also argued that jail calls are a public record that shows insight into government activity that does not pertain to this case.
“This has nothing to do with government activity,” Beck said.
But Live 5′s attorney, Mark Peper, argued that jails and sheriff’s offices are public bodies regardless of a private company being involved.
“I can tell you that she [retired Chief Justice Jean Toal] certainly has found that the items that my client has specifically requested are public records from a public body,” Peper said.
Peper also responded to the defense’s argument about protection concerns of people inside of jail’s treatment compared to those outside of jail.
“I would argue that when you enter the detention center, you lose certain rights, such as a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Peper said. “It’s in the handbook that each inmate would be given. It’s on the walls where you make the call that it’s now in a recorded line.”
Peper anticipates that Manigo will make a second attempt to block the disclosure of the records prior to their release, which is scheduled for Nov. 30.
This is the second time in the last six months that a judge ruled in favor of Live 5 that jail calls are public information.
The first was back in July after the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office refused to release jail video calls made by a suspect in a deadly DUI crash. Toal presided over that case.
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