YUMA, Ariz. – The Yuma County Attorney’s office released the indictment against inmate Fernandes Masters to us. It details the moments he allegedly tried to sexually assault a Yuma corrections officer. It says he fondled and kissed the officer then tried to rape her. Officials say her coworkers were able to rescue her from the attack. A Yuma County grand jury is bringing five felony counts against him related to assault and kidnapping. Masters is already serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, after being convicted of first-degree murder in 2007.
We requested the investigation reports in the case from the Arizona Department of Corrections, they declined to provide those documents and released this statement to us: “The Department will not jeopardize the confidentiality and integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation by producing documents at this time.”
We spoke to Dan Barr, an attorney out of Phoenix, who has over 25 years of experience in the rights of media and access to public information. He says that for the Department of Corrections to not provide these reports is not lawfully sound, stating ““More than 20 years ago the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a case Arizona Cox publications
vs. Collins that they can not withhold the report of an ongoing investigation simply because it was ongoing”.