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Va. paper ordered to ID online poster in Earnest murder trial story

July 09, 2010

BEDFORD, Va. (AP) -- A Bedford County judge has ordered the Lynchburg News & Advance to disclose the name of a person who anonymously posted comments about a murder trial on the newspaper's website.

The poster claimed to be one of the jurors who convicted former Chesapeake school administrator Wesley Earnest of murdering his estranged wife, Jocelyn Branham Earnest.

The poster said the jury reviewed the victim's journals, but those materials were not introduced into evidence.

Defense attorney Blair Sanzone declined to say Friday whether the remark about the journals prompted the defense to request the subpoena.

A spokesman for the newspaper's parent company, Media General Inc., said lawyers were reviewing the matter and would respond appropriately.

Jocelyn Earnest, 38, was a 1988 graduate of Hedgesville High School, where she was a basketball star. She earned a full basketball scholarship to West Virginia University and was a four-year member of the women's team there.

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Friends found her body on Dec. 20, 2007, on the living room floor of her Forest, Va., home. She had been shot in the head, and a suicide note and a .375-caliber revolver were found nearby.

Wesley Earnest's fingerprints were found on the typewritten suicide note found on the living room floor by Jocelyn Earnest's body.

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