Student Newspaper Wants Earnhardt Autopsy Pics

A student newspaper joined the dispute regarding Dale Earnhardt's autopsy photos, requesting that it be allowed to see them.

The Independent Florida Alligator, which is run by University of Florida students but is not an official university publication, filed a motion in a Daytona Beach court Friday.

Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.

Student Paper: Stick to the Law

A settlement between Earnhardt's widow and the Orlando Sentinel and a bill proposed in the state Legislature limiting access and barring publication of the photos is not in the public's best interest, Alligator editor Jason Brown said.

"It is very unlikely that we print them, but we'd like to decide for ourselves rather than have the courts decide for us," Brown sad. "We'd like the courts to stick by what the law is."

Florida law doesn't restrict access to autopsy reports or photos.

A lawyer for the student newspaper says providing access to the autopsy photos allows others to review the medical examiner's findings, or possibly help find a safety device that could have saved Earnhardt's life.

"It is not the prurient interest that is driving this," lawyer Tom Julin said.

Widow, Newspaper Reach Settlement

Teresa Earnhardt's lawyers reached an agreement Friday with the lawyers for the Sentinel, which had sought to review the autopsy photos of the NASCAR great but pledged not to publish them.

The Sentinel will get to view the photos and ask a court-appointed expert three questions about Dale Earnhardt's injuries before they are sealed.

Mrs. Earnhardt had sued to block the release of the photos, and a judge granted the request. She says releasing the photos would violate the family's privacy.

Also, a bill that would require a judge's approval for the public to see autopsy photos has won approval from a state Senate committee and is moving toward a vote in both chambers of the Legislature.