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Evidence in Stewart Crash Trial to be Released

ORLANDO, Fla -- A newspaper has convinced a judge to make public electronic exhibits introduced during the civil trial over the 1999 plane crash that killed pro golfer Payne Stewart and five others.
The Orlando Sentinel secured the court order Wednesday, after attorney Rachel Fugate argued the paper's case to Orange Circuit Judge Jay Cohen.
Attorneys for both sides objected to the Sentinel's request for access to the records during the trial.
Because the case involves the death of a major sports figure and alleged failings of a key part on the plane, the Sentinel said it has broad public interest.
The families of Stewart and his agent, Robert Fraley, have sued Learjet, which built the chartered plane that crashed in a South Dakota pasture on Oct. 25, 1999.
The Learjet 35 lost pressure soon after takeoff from Orlando, killing all aboard within minutes. The plane then began an eerie journey across America before running out of fuel.
Attorneys for the families say there were defects within plane's outflow valve and its adapter. That opened a 3-inch hole near the Learjet's nose, allowing depressurized air into the cabin.
But lawyers for Learjet content a lack of pilot training and maintenance caused the crash.
The trial is expected to last until mid-June.
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