Relatives of the victim in a high-profile murder case about to go to trial sought, but didn't get, permission to sit in on a closed Gilbert Town Council session Tuesday regarding the case.
Shan Stratton, the brother-in-law of Faylene Grant, said the family was startled to learn of the executive session being called following a two-part series in Phoenix New Times regarding Grant's 2001 death and the subsequent arrest of her husband, Doug Grant, on suspicion of murder.
This case and its details, including suggestions that nutritional-supplements guru Doug Grant was following Faylene's wishes when he remarried three weeks after she drowned in a bathtub, are beginning to garner national media attention. The trial is set to begin Nov. 3.
The posted agenda item said the subject of the meeting was to be "discussion or consultation for legal advice with the Town Attorneys regarding State v. Grant and police procedures," which Stratton said made no sense.
"The police procedures have been reviewed by every level of government" through the appeals process and found to be legitimate, he said. It struck the family as "odd" that after seven years, the council would now choose to have a closed session on the case less than two weeks before the trial starts.
"We just want to make sure there aren't any special interests influencing the Town Council to discuss things in a capital case when they can't be, and shouldn't be," he said.
He pointed out that Doug Grant's defense attorney, Mel McDonald, also represents Mayor Steve Berman.
Town Attorney Susan Goodwin said allowing the seven family members to sit in on the closed session was never an option. "The state statute would not permit that, because the statute restricts participation to the council, town staff and attorneys," she said.
State law allows public boards and councils to hold closed executive sessions under certain circumstances, including receiving legal advice and discussing personnel matters.
Gilbert police Chief Tim Dorn was present for Tuesday's closed session, which lasted about half an hour.
Sources in the New Times article take now-Sgt. Sy Ray to task for the methods he used in the pursuit of Doug Grant as the prime suspect in his wife's death. He was arrested nearly four years after Faylene's death.
Faylene Grant's mother, Glenna Eaves, was among the family members who showed up Tuesday at Town Hall.
"I'm only here for support," she said. "We wanted to make sure this case is tried in court where it belongs, and not in the media."