Federal judge rules for magazine, photographer in slain Pryor soldier's photo

Friday, December 23rd 2005, 2:14 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The father and grandfather of an Oklahoma soldier who was killed in Iraq have lost their lawsuit over the publication of his open-casket photo in Harper's Magazine.

A federal judge says the public's right to see the photo of Army Sergeant Kyle Brinlee's body outweighs the family's privacy.

Judge Frank Seay says the fact that about 12-hundred people, including Governor Brad Henry, saw Brinlee's body during his May 2004 funeral in the Pryor High School auditorium also played into his decision.

Brinlee's father, Robert Showler, and grandfather Johnny Davidson sued for invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and unjust enrichment. They argued that the open casket was for friends and family not for photos to be published for economic gain.

But the judge says if they wanted to grieve in private they should not have held a public funeral and had a section reserved for the media.