Jared Cerullo, the KAKE reporter whose recent parting of ways with the Wichita ABC affiliate launched a firestorm of negative comments on the station’s facebook page, told his story this morning on Wichita radio station KQAM.
“My mistake was, I relied on an unreliable source,” Cerullo said on the “Joseph Ashby Show.” The conversation starts around the 16:33 mark on the link.
Viewers started speculating that Cerullo had been fired after he mistakenly said in a live report on the 11:00am news a Wichita murder suspect had changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” during a preliminary hearing.
Cerullo admitted to Ashby he was in the bathroom when the defendant appeared. “When [I] came back up the preliminary hearing had already started and I did not catch what the first murder suspect had done,” said Cerullo. “So I reached over to someone in the gallery and I said, ‘Did he just plead guilty?’ And…I…it was…it’s not like it’s somebody I don’t know. I’m not going to out the person. I’m not going to do that, but I went with that information. He said, ‘Yes.’ I went with that information and ran with it without confirming it with the DA, without confirming it with the judge.”
The defendant, Eric Jackson, had actually waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Later in the newscast, Cerullo corrected his report telling viewers, “I did say earlier, I do need to make a correction. I did say earlier that he pleaded guilty. That was inaccurate. He waived his preliminary hearing and has decided, instead, to go straight to trial for murder and conspiracy.”
Cerullo, who started at KAKE in 2007 as an assignment editor, also told Ashby he thinks he should still have a job, “I’ll be the first to admit that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”