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Suspect seeks dismissal after agent goes public

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The man accused of killing a University of Vermont student is asking a judge to dismiss the charges because an FBI agent wrote an opinion article about the case that referred to the suspect as "evil," a "sexual predator," and a "two-legged hyena."

In the article Wednesday in the weekly Seven Days, the agent, who wrote under the byline "An Anonymous Cop," described his personal reaction to the search for the man accused of killing Michelle Gardner-Quinn, 21, of Arlington, Va.

David Sleigh, the lawyer for suspect Brian Rooney, filed the motion to dismiss Wednesday, saying the article made it impossible for Rooney to get a fair trial. "Agents of the state have deliberately disseminated highly inflammatory and prejudicial comments to the press," Sleigh said in the motion.

Rooney has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated murder in the Oct. 7 abduction, assault, and killing of Gardner-Quinn, after the two met by chance in downtown Burlington. If convicted, Rooney, 36, of Richmond, could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

FBI spokesman Paul Holstein said the author was an FBI agent.

"We're not happy with it, and we'll take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again," Holstein said. "We take it very seriously when we have an unauthorized media contact, and it also is an issue because we have a policy that we do not discuss ongoing investigations or prosecutions."

The article describes the agent's response to the search for Gardner-Quinn and then the efforts to find her killer. Rooney is not named in the article, but it's clear he is the subject.

Seven Days co-publisher and editor Pamela Polston said the paper granted the author's request for anonymity after verifying his identity. "We stand behind the freedom of expression of every citizen, including that of law-enforcement officers, and, like all newspapers, offer a forum to our readers for that expression," she said.

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