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Attorney wants press out of teen's case


The attorney for a young Angels Camp man accused of driving drunk and causing an accident that killed a friend wants the media barred from all future court hearings.

Richard A. Meyer of Modesto has filed a motion to ban reporters representing The Union Democrat, The Calaveras Enterprise and The Stockton Record from covering further criminal proceedings against Zachary Michael Airola, 18.

Meyer's motion argues that the media should be barred because his client was a minor at the time of the accident that killed George Langston, 19, also of Angels Camp. Continued coverage would prevent Airola from getting a fair trial, the motion contends.

The matter will be heard Friday, Oct. 3, before Calaveras County Superior Court Judge John Martin.

Airola, who turned 18 on Aug. 27, was 17 at the time of the Aug. 5 accident. He is accused, in juvenile court, of gross vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving causing a death.

Airola's arraignment and home detention hearing have been open to the press, because of the severity of the charges. The three newspapers have together published about 11 articles on the accident and a subsequent investigation into where Airola and Langston had been drinking beforehand.

Most have named Airola, and the Calaveras Enterprise published Airola's photo on its front page on Aug. 8.

Meyer declined to comment when contacted yesterday. But in his motion, he calls the newspaper articles unethical, sensational, excessive and at times inaccurate.

According to Calaveras County Sheriff's investigators, Airola and Langston had been drinking and were drunk when they arrived uninvited to a party at a Murphys house where alcohol was being served to minors.

Calaveras County District Attorney Jeffrey Tuttle said he has never been able to prove that the pair drank anything at the party before they were asked to leave.

Airola and Langston left the Pennsylvania Gulch Road house, and a short time later Airola's 1984 Chevy pickup struck an oak tree on Highway 4 west of Douglas Flat. Langston, not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the truck when it rolled over several times. Langston was flown by air ambulance to Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto, where he died.

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