Prosecutors in Brandon Council case don't want their response made public

Updated: Aug. 7, 2018 at 12:11 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Federal prosecutors don't want their response to a motion filed by attorneys representing Brandon Council to be made public.

Council is accused of murdering two bank employees on August 21, 2017, in Conway. His attorneys have asked a judge to not allow Council's confession and items found in a vehicle he was seen driving before his arrest to be allowed as evidence at trial. Before the government presents their argument against Council's request though, they want a judge to seal their response to keep it from being released publicly.

The US Attorney's Office said they want their 14-page response sealed, along with an audio and video recording of Council's statement, a transcript of the recording, a document executed by Council at the time he gave his statement, a search warrant, affidavit and return related to Council's vehicle.

"In defendant's motions, he argues that his statement was involuntary, and a search warrant incorporating information from that statement was invalid. In order to respond to defendant's allegation, and to establish the voluntariness of defendant's statement, the government must fully detail defendant's confession in their response," court documents said.

A jury summons and questionnaire will be sent to 2,000 randomly chosen people from a state wide pool on Oct. 1. Federal prosecutors argue their response could influence that jury pool. They also believe allowing Council's statement to be made public could allow potential jurors to begin formulating opinions about the evidence prior to Council's trial, which isn't supposed to happen until January 2019.

"There are specific reasons that mandate sealing in this case, particularly the risk of harm to the jury pool and the risk that jurors will come to an opinion about the case should they be exposed to the evidence discussed in the government's response brief," court documents said.

Council faces the death penalty for the murders of Donna Major, 59, and Kathryn "Katie" Skeen, 36, during an armed robbery of the CresCom Bank.

According to an affidavit written by an FBI special agent, Council confessed to the robbery and told agents "he was desperate, he needed money, and he knew that he was going to hurt somebody that day."

Prosecutors have said Council "displayed particular cruelty and callous disregard for human life by shooting both victims, who were unknown to him, multiple times at close range without warning and without provocation or resistance from the victims, in spite of the fact that such violence was not necessary to successfully complete the robbery of the CresCom bank."

Council's attorneys have until August 21 to respond to the government's motion to seal. The date will mark one year since the deadly bank robbery.

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