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Judge to make decision on unsealing search warrants in Chelsea King case

A judge will decide today whether to make public four edited search warrants obtained by law enforcement in the rape and murder of Chelsea King.

The warrants have been under seal since March 9. They remained confidential while the criminal case against John Albert Gardner III, who has since pleaded guilty to killing the 17-year-old girl, continued.

Some of the information contained in the warrants was obtained by Los Angeles radio station KFI earlier this month. According to the station, which posted some of the documents on its website, one warrant showed that investigators searched the Lake Elsinore home of Gardner, who also pleaded guilty to murdering 14-year-old Amber Dubois.

The documents posted on the station’s site showed that detectives looked for — and found — shovels, pickaxes and specific items of clothing.

They also searched for binding materials like rope and duct tape; items with blood stains; human hair, tissues and secretions; and documents that would prove possession of the residence and a vehicle, according to the documents.

It was unclear what is redacted, or blacked out, other than the address of the defendant’s home.

The gag order, meant to insure a fair trial for Gardner, was lifted last week when the defendant pleaded guilty to killing both girls.

Prosecutors have said they would not talk about the case until after Gardner, 31, is sentenced on June 1 to life in prison without parole, out of respect to the families of the victims.

A judge also denied a request by the King family for an order to prevent the news media from publishing crime scene photos, sexual assault reports and photos, and autopsy reports and photos from the medical examiner’s office.

Attorney Guylyn Cummins, who represents several news media outlets, said she was unaware of any requests for photographs of Chelsea, Amber or the related crimes.

In a court declaration, Chelsea’s father Brent King wrote that his family continues to be traumatized by news reports about the girl’s death and have no wish to learn more.

In pleading guilty, Gardner admitted raping and strangling Chelsea, a Poway High School senior, and raping and stabbing Amber, a freshman at Escondido High School.