April 04, 2020

Jailed journalist released after revealing source > Television newsman imprisoned 2 weeks for contempt

SAN ANTONIO — A television newsman jailed for refusing to identify a confidential source emerged free from a courtroom Tuesday after giving the judge his source’s name.

The source released KMOL-TV reporter Brian Karem from his promise of confidentiality Monday night, Karem said, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined his second request to be freed.

“I want to see my wife and my son and take a day off and eat some pizza and drink some beer and never wear orange again,” Karem said after his release.

The 29-year-old broadcast journalist, who wore an orange uniform during his two weeks in jail, was held in contempt of court and sentenced to six months in jail for refusing to say who helped arrange a telephone interview last year with jailed murder suspect Henry David Hernandez.

Hernandez and his brother, Julian, are charged in the March 1989 shooting death of a San Antonio police officer. Henry David Hernandez told Karem that he shot policeman Gary Williams in self-defense.

Lawyers in the Hernandez case said they needed to know who arranged the interview to determine whether it could be admitted as evidence.

Karem on Tuesday identified the source as Deborah Ledesma, a cousin of Hernandez’s. He handed over a notebook page containing names and phone numbers of those who helped set up the interview.

The reporter said he would do it again if it meant keeping a promise to a source.

“I didn’t intend to prove anything. I just intended to keep my promise, so I kept my promise,” he said.

State District Judge Pat Priest questioned the woman’s need to remain anonymous, then freed Karem from the contempt citation.

Outside the courtroom, Karem kissed and hugged his wife Pam. Their 18-month-old son Zachary, who had been carried out of the courtroom when he shouted “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” and waved at Karem, slept in a stroller.

Karem accused lawyers in the Hernandez case of using him to do their investigative work.

“The press should be the last place that prosecutors and defense attorneys go to seek their information — not the first,” Karem said. “They never tried anyone else before they came to me.”

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