Marion Co. Record attorney says seized items will be returned; paper published for first time since raid
MARION, Kan. (KWCH) - The attorney for the Marion County Record said Wednesday that all the items seized in a raid of the newspaper over the weekend will be returned.
Bernie Rhodes said he was told by authorities that nothing was accessed from the devices, but he and his team will work to confirm the information.
“Our attorney has announced he has asked that it will be forensically examined. They told him nothing was ever looked at on it, but that the forensic examination would be done to make sure nothing was,” said owner and editor of the Record, Eric Meyer.
Rhodes said the county attorney withdrew the search warrant used to seize items owned by the newspaper and its staff.
On Friday, Aug. 11, local law enforcement removed computers, cellphones and reporting materials from the Marion County Record office and the home of Meyers and the town’s vice mayor.
Eric Meyer said police were motivated by a confidential source who leaked sensitive documents to the newspaper, and the message was clear: “Mind your own business or we’re going to step on you.”
The raid followed news stories about a restaurant owner who kicked reporters out of a meeting last week with U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, and revelations about the restaurant owner’s lack of a driver’s license and conviction for drunken driving.
A confidential source contacted the newspaper, Meyer said and provided evidence that Newell had been convicted of drunken driving and continued to use her vehicle without a driver’s license. The criminal record could jeopardize her efforts to obtain a liquor license for her catering business. But no story was ever published.
A day after the raid, Eric’s mother and co-owner of the newspaper, 98-year-old Joan Meyer collapsed and died. Eric said he believes the raid contributed to her death.
“She would not go to bed that night she would not eat dinner she sat up in a chair. She went back to bed, and said, ‘I don’t feel very good. I’m not sure what I can do.’ I said, ‘well, you better eat breakfast,’ and she said, ‘I don’t know if I ca-.’ And died in the middle of the sentence right there,” Eric recalls.
While her last day was filled with frustration, Eric said the attention being drawn to the issue is something she would like.
The first print edition of the newspaper was published on Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, there was a sign outside the building saying the paper would be late. It was released at around 12:15 p.m.
People like Mic McGuire continue to rally behind the Record. He drove from Emporia to pick up his first issue after becoming a new subscriber after Friday’s raid.
“I’m glad that this has reached national and international attention because the United States needs to be that beacon of where the freedom of the press really is,” McGuire said.
For Eric, this changes nothing about how he does his job, as what happened is far from closed.
“Found a few topics that we want to investigate further as a result of this,” he said.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation released a statement regarding the criminal investigation into the Marion County Record:
At present time this investigation remains open, however, we have determined in collaboration with the Marion County Attorney, that the investigation will proceed independently, and without review or examination of any of the evidence seized on Friday, Aug. 11.
We will work with the Marion County Record, or their representative, to coordinate the prompt return of all seized items.
Once our investigation concludes we will present findings to the Marion County Attorney for review.
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