A federal judge has ordered attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice to hand over a report on the death of a Salt Lake attorney's brother by May 1 or face contempt of court action.

During a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart noted that the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had found attorney Jesse Trentadue had a right to a copy of a report looking into the death of his brother at a federal facility in Oklahoma City in August 1995. Stewart also noted that the federal government had until April 10 to turn over the document.

An attorney for DOJ told the court that clearance was needed from headquarters in Washington, D.C., before releasing the document and that may take an additional three weeks. Stewart said the government knew about the order for quite some time and, in a rare move, ordered DOJ to supply Trentadue with the report by May 1 or face contempt charges.

Trentadue has been locked in a 13-year legal battle with the federal government in his quest to uncover details surrounding his brother's death.

Federal prison authorities said Kenneth Michael Trentadue was found hanging in his cell and that it was death by suicide.

Kenneth Trentadue, a convicted bank robber, was picked up on a parole violation in California and was transported to Oklahoma City for further proceedings. During this time, the FBI was investigating the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City which took the lives of 168 adults and children.

Family members were shocked to receive Kenneth Trentadue's body covered in blood and bruises, leading them to believe it was more than a suicide.

Trentadue claims FBI agents, under pressure to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the bombing, mistook his brother for a bombing suspect and subjected him to fatal interrogation.

The government has maintained Kenneth Trentadue committed suicide.

The court's order comes a week after Trentadue's family received close to a $1 million judgment by a federal judge in Oklahoma, finding that the federal government intentionally inflicted emotional distress on family members by withholding information about the death.

Trentadue contends the reason the government has fought so hard to withhold the results of the death investigation is because it may contain a cover-up reaching to the top ranks of the DOJ. Already judges with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals have noted there is evidence that there has been misconduct on the part of federal agents.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com