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Updated: August 1, 2003, 8:01 AM ET

DALLAS -- A newspaper intern who landed an exclusive jailhouse interview with a former Baylor University basketball player accused of killing a teammate has herself become the focus of attention.

Grady Irvin, who represents Carlton Dotson, said in a written statement that intern Shani George did not disclose her affiliation with The Dallas Morning News before meeting his client Wednesday at a Maryland detention center.

The newspaper stood by George's work and the story, which reported that Dotson suggested he acted in self-defense in a deadly confrontation with Patrick Dennehy.

Dotson, 21, was arrested in Maryland in the death of Dennehy, whose decomposed body was found July 25 near the Baylor campus. Dotson is awaiting extradition to Texas on a murder charge.

"It is our understanding that the intern did not provide any identifying information as being a reporter or intern," Irvin's statement said. "Instead, it is our understanding that she represented herself as a Christian who was there to let Mr. Dotson know that she was 'praying' for him."

The News said George was following up on several interview requests from the newspaper when she went to the jail during visiting hours and told the desk officer she hoped to interview Dotson.

The paper said George gave the officer a copy of her press credentials and an unsealed note to Dotson identifying herself as working for the paper and requesting an interview.

"She immediately introduced herself to Mr. Dotson as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, not, as Mr. Irvin suggests, as 'a Christian," Stuart Wilk, vice president-managing editor of the newspaper, said in a statement.

"Mr. Dotson said he was willing to tell his side of the story to the public. Mr. Dotson apparently noticed a small gold cross necklace Ms. George was wearing and asked if she was a Christian. She said she was."

Warden Ron Howell told The Associated Press that George did not tell guards before the interview that she was a journalist, but that she was not required to do so. She was only required to show a photo identification, which she did, he said.

He said George mentioned as she left the jail that she was a member of the press.

Dotson, in the newspaper report published Thursday, said he believed Dennehy was his friend but betrayed him.

"If someone points a gun at you and shoots and it doesn't go off, what would you do?" the story quotes him as saying. "If someone is pointing a gun at you and they start putting more bullets into the gun, what would you do?"

Irvin's one-page statement does not dispute the accuracy of the story but says George took no notes and identified herself at the end of the meeting as a "friend of someone who worked for the newspaper."

George, an intern in Washington, D.C., for the News' parent company, Belo Corp., told CNN that Dotson agreed to meet with her and she identified herself to him as a reporter.

"He had been corresponding with another reporter before, so he was familiar with my organization and he was just, I think he just wanted someone to talk to," George said.

She acknowledged no notes were taken, but didn't say why.

Immediately after talking to Dotson, George called an editor in Dallas and related the brief conversation, including the direct quotes that were still fresh in her mind, Wilk said.

Visitors to the jail are not allowed to carry recording devices or cameras, though they are allowed to carry pencil and paper, Howell said. The jail doesn't record conversations between inmates and visitors.

Dotson, who was arrested July 21, told FBI agents he shot Dennehy after the player tried to shoot him, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

After his arrest, Dotson told The Associated Press that he "didn't confess to anything." He has declined requests for an interview with the AP.


Associated Press writer Gretchen Parker in Annapolis, Md., contributed to this report.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index