For now, file is closed


St. Petersburg Times

February 24, 2000

LARGO -- The investigative file on the death of Scientologist Lisa

McPherson will remain secret for the time being, the result of a judge's

ruling Wednesday.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Brandt C. Downey III decided the Church of

Scientology could rescind its demand for all the evidence gathered by


The church, which has been charged in McPherson's death, has a right to

the prosecution's records, which lawyers call "discovery." But the records

also become public when they are released to the defendant.

The church demanded to see the evidence Feb. 2 but changed its mind last

week when medical examiner Joan Wood revised her 1996 autopsy report to

say that McPherson's death was an "accident." Previously, the report

classified the death as "undetermined."

Wood's decision, said church attorney Lee Fugate, "changes the legal basis

of the charges," and prosecutors are reviewing the case in light of Wood's


Church officials said Wednesday they did not want the records to be public

while prosecutors rethink the case. The records total an estimated 10,000