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Defense attorney weighs in on decision to keep Olivia Jansen's file sealed

Both sides want 'due process,' attorney says
Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 19:29:32-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas City defense attorney is providing insight on why a judge may have ruled to keep Olivia Jansen's file sealed.

The 3-year-old's body was found in July, hours after she was reported missing. Olivia's father, Howard Jansen III, and his girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirkpatrick, were jailed on first-degree murder charges in connection with her death.

Olivia's grandparents and various new outlets have tried to obtain the child's records after family reported calling the Kansas Department for Children and Families for help.

Once Kansas DCF announced its plans to release Olivia's file, the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office asked a judge to seal the records.

On Tuesday, the judge ruled to keep the file sealed.

Greg Watt, a criminal defense attorney, said it's imperative in cases like this one to keep the file out of view from the public.

"Could this (releasing the records) potentially prejudice the process? Prejudice the defendant's rights to the extent that the case is already ripe for appeal?" Watt said.

Watt said both parties, the defense and the prosecution, want to preserve the integrity of the case.

"They want the due process, what the defendant, the accused, is entitled, so that they don't have to reopen this case if there's a finding down the road," Watt said. "All the participants in the process, we want to make sure that due process and all these rights are upheld so that once there's a decision we can have confidence in the decision. We can have finality for the community."

Still, Elisabeth Jansen, Olivia's grandmother, told the 41 Action News Investigative Team she's disappointed in the judge's decision.

"What about her (Olivia's) rights they took away? Does it not matter because she's dead?" Jansen said.

Olivia's grandmother said she's waited long enough to find out what her granddaughter went through in the months leading up to her death.

"I wanna know, because if she went through it, I want to know what she went through," Jansen said. "I want to know what they did to her."

The judge's decision on keeping Olivia's record sealed is final.

The next court hearing for the case is scheduled on Oct. 29.