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St. Louis County judge orders court files sealed in Catholic Supply murder case

St. Louis County judge orders court files sealed in Catholic Supply murder case

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CLAYTON — The St. Louis County judge who will preside over the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting two women and murdering a third in 2018 at a Catholic Supply store has ordered all future court filings to be sealed from the public until the trial is finished.

Circuit Judge Joseph Dueker cited the potential effect of “extensive and on-going media coverage” on preserving Thomas Bruce’s right to a fair trial as compelling justification for sealing pleadings in the case.

Jury selection for Bruce’s trial is set for Oct. 27; prosecutors are to begin presenting evidence Nov. 1. The judge’s order said the court would make all contents of Bruce’s court file accessible to the public at the conclusion of the trial.

Bruce, 55, is charged with first-degree murder and multiple counts of sodomy, armed criminal action, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence. Police say that on Nov. 19, 2018, Bruce sexually assaulted the women and murdered Jamie Schmidt, 53, a customer at the Catholic Supply store, 14069 Manchester Road.

Bruce’s lawyer Mary Fox has sought to exclude still and video cameras from the courtroom, arguing that they “exacerbate pretrial publicity, increase potential for bias and prejudice in potential jurors, embarrass, intimidate and heighten witnesses’ fears of performance and adversely affect and distract the lawyers, client and other key participants in the trial.”

Bruce’s lawyer characterized media coverage of Bruce’s case as “uniformly adverse to the presumption of innocence.”

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