DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Lawyers seeking access to race car driver Dale Earnhardt's autopsy photos said Wednesday that allowing public review of the photos could prevent future racing deaths.
``We want a safer future where a great good has been served,'' said Tom Julin, an attorney for the University of Florida's student publication, the Independent Florida Alligator. ``We want more information because we want to stop these deaths from happening.''
Julin spoke during closing arguments at a hearing in which the Alligator and a Web site are seeking access to the autopsy photos of the racing legend, who was killed in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in February.
The Alligator and Websitecity.com of DeLand were rebuffed in their first attempt to gain access to the photos when Circuit Judge Joseph Will ordered the photos sealed four days after Earnhardt's death, even though they were considered public records. His widow sought the order, saying her family's privacy would be violated.
Following Earnhardt's death, Florida legislators passed a measure forbidding the release of post-mortem photos unless specifically allowed by a judge.
Will upheld the constitutionality of the new law on Monday, leaving the Alligator and Web site to ask him for permission to see the photos under that measure's terms.
The newspaper and Web site have argued that the photos should be released to determine whether medical investigators did an adequate job of determining what killed Earnhardt.
Websitecity.com owner Michael Uribe already has posted autopsy photos of two other dead drivers on his Web site. Relatives of the drivers testified Tuesday that they were devastated by the posting.
``I can't sleep at night,'' said Rodney Orr's father, Beacher. ``I lay down and I see him on the table there naked.''
Earnhardt's widow testified Tuesday she wants to block the release of her husband's autopsy photos to spare her family ``painful emotional distress.''
``The photographs are humiliating, disgusting and negative,'' Teresa Earnhardt said. ``That could be nothing but harmful and painful to anyone involved with my family, my company, our fans, anyone.''