No promise Ferguson grand jury evidence will be made public, court says

Jason Sickles
A demonstrator shouts during a protest near the courthouse in Clayton, Mo. last week. (Jim Young/Reuters)

CLAYTON, Mo. — Evidence presented to the grand jury weighing criminal charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown may not be made public after all, a St. Louis County Circuit Court official revealed on Sunday.

For three months, prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch has said he would seek a rare court order from Judge Carolyn Whittington immediately releasing nearly all evidence should Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson not be charged. Grand jury proceedings usually remain secret.

Michael Brown, left, and Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson (Facebook)

“We’ve asked the judge to do that, and the judge has agreed that she will do that, if there is no indictment,” McCulloch said during a radio interview with KTRS in September. “There’s no probably about it, it will be released.”

On Sunday, however, the court said, “Judge Whittington has entered no such order and has made no such agreement,” according to director of judicial admnistration Paul Fox.

The written statement from Fox comes two days after McCulloch’s office sent reporters instructions on how to connect to a county Web server to retrieve the records.

“In the event the transcripts are released, this will be the site you will access,” read an email to Yahoo News.

[Related: Timeline of events after the death of Michael Brown]

Fox said the judge anticipates a request if there is no indictment, but “some of those requests will require the Court to analyze the need for maintaining secrecy of the records with the need for public disclosure of the records.”

A spokesperson for the prosecutor didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

Demonstrators and the Brown family have denounced the secrecy of the process and criticized McCulloch for not immediately charging Wilson.

Word that evidence might not be released didn’t sit well with those wanting answers in the slaying.

Anxiety over the ruling has the St. Louis region on edge, as the public waits to see if the case of a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager will result in an indictment.

Wilson has said he was acting in self-defense when he shot Brown, 18, multiple times on Aug. 9.

McCulloch asked the grand jury on Aug. 20 to begin hearing evidence and testimony in the case. The 12-member panel is weighing whether there is probable cause to criminally charge Wilson.

It was widely anticipated a ruling would be reached by this weekend, but the grand jury is reportedly still gathering information, and will meet again on Monday.

Without knowing who has testified or what evidence the panel has been considered, Fox said, Judge Whittington is not in a position to make a ruling.

“The Court awaits the decision of the Grand Jury,” Fox wrote. “The Court will thereafter be guided by the law in its response to requests for Grand Jury records.”

Jason Sickles is a reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).