Circuit Judge Brad Karren of Bentonville yesterday ordered television journalist Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye released after a few hours of her three-day jail sentence.
Karren sentenced Omeronye, a reporter for KNWA, for contempt of court for violating an order against making an audio recording of a hearing in his court, in the capital murder trial of Mauricio Torres.
She said she made the recording for note-taking purposes, not for broadcast, and not seen the judge’s order in June against recording or the posted signs prohibiting electronic recordings. She apologized and stated that she had come from work in a state that allowed recording.
Karren sentenced her to 10 days in jail but suspended seven. She was to be allowed to be released for work each day. He also gave her six months’ probation, barred her from covering the Torres trial and ordered her to pay $250 in court costs.
According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Omeronye was released on Karren’s order yesterday at 5 p.m., after the judge called the jail to reduce her sentence to time served.
The jail sentence was roundly criticized as gratuitous and unnecessary by press advocates and others.
The National Association of Black Journalists, one of the groups critical of the sentence, posted the news of Omeronye’s release yesterday on social media: