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Judge issues gag order in Ramsey case

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BOULDER, Colorado (CNN) -- John Mark Karr, the suspect in the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, is scheduled to have his first court appearance Monday, Colorado District Court announced Friday.

Karr will appear before Judge Roxanne Bailin at 4:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET).

Bailin on Friday issued a gag order, which applies to all attorneys and law enforcement officials involved in the case. While the principals can discuss some aspects of the case, they are not allowed to say anything that could jeopardize Karr receiving a fair trial

The order is necessary because of "the intense interest of the media in this matter and the amount of publicity that has resulted," Bailin wrote. "The court is concerned that the extensive participant and public comment will disrupt the processes by which a fair trial may be preserved."

The 41-year-old suspect is being held in Boulder County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, first- and second-degree kidnapping, and sexual assault. No formal charges have been filed yet by Boulder prosecutors.

Documents list Karr's birthplace as Conyers, Georgia, and his occupation as "teacher."

On Thursday, Deputy State Public Defender Seth Temin said Karr qualifies as an indigent, and he will be defending him. Temin formally informed the court of the move in a filing Friday.

Temin also filed a motion Friday asking the court to order any samples of Karr's handwriting to be sealed.

"Counsel is without sufficient knowledge about all the facts of the case to be able to evaluate the prejudice that may be associated with release of any of the defendant's handwriting," Temin said in the written request.

A handwritten ransom note from the Ramsey house could be part of a murder case.

Bailin has ordered the Colorado State Public Defender's office not to release the arrest warrant application. The judge gave Temin until noon (2 p.m. ET) Monday to file a response on that issue.

Karr was brought back to the United States from Bangkok, Thailand. He arrived in Colorado Thursday evening from California, where he skipped bail in 2001 after being charged in Sonoma County with five misdemeanor counts of possessing child pornography.

Karr appeared at a brief hearing in Los Angeles and waived extradition to Colorado. (Watch Patsy Ramsey's sister reveal what the family will do if Karr isn't guilty -- 4:11)

Karr was arrested August 16 in Thailand in connection with the decade-old case.

He told reporters in Thailand he was with JonBenet the night she died, and that her death was an accident. The child's beaten and strangled body was found December 26, 1996, in the basement of her family's Boulder home.

Autopsy results showed she had suffered a blow to the head and been strangled with a garrote tightened with a paintbrush handle.

Several media outlets have filed a motion to unseal Karr's arrest warrant and supporting affidavit. In its response to the motion, the district attorney's office repeated several times that the investigation of Karr "is in its very early stages."

Prosecutors agreed the arrest warrant should be unsealed but said that unsealing the supporting affidavit could taint the ongoing investigation, including interviews not yet conducted.

"It is crucial that people we interview provide information that is as accurate as possible, unaffected by influences other than their own resources and their best recollections," the documents said.

After Karr's statements in Thailand, questions have surfaced as to whether the slight, soft-spoken man could have been involved in the grisly killing.

Earlier this year, Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, alerted authorities to e-mails he had been receiving from a person now believed to be Karr.

Tracey, who has produced a documentary about the Ramsey case, said there was something in the e-mails "that made me decide I had to try and do something." But he would not say just what prompted him to contact prosecutors.

A law enforcement official told CNN that Karr's e-mails to Tracey were initially innocuous but that the professor contacted authorities when they became "weird." The communications were eventually tracked to Thailand.

Tracey told CNN Thursday he also learned Karr's name five days before the arrest.


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