Order to release Newtown tapes to prompt appeal

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 26, 2013 at 8:08 am •  Published: September 26, 2013
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The prosecutor leading the investigation into last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School said he will ask Connecticut's courts to block the release of 911 tapes from the shooting by appealing a state Freedom of Information Commission decision.

The commission on Wednesday ruled in favor of The Associated Press, which sought access to records withheld by investigators. The recordings will not be made available immediately as Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said the decision will be appealed in Superior Court.

The recordings could shed light on the law enforcement response to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. Twenty-six people, including 20 first-graders, were killed inside the school on Dec. 14 by the gunman, Adam Lanza, who committed suicide as police arrived. Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy, at their Newtown home before the rampage.

Although 911 calls are typically released, Sedensky directed Newtown police not to turn over the recordings while the inquiry into the massacre was underway. Sedensky argued that the calls should be exempt from public information laws because they contain information that could be used in a law enforcement action.

Owen Eagan, the chairman of the commission, said Sedensky did not make clear in his previous testimony how the information might be used or how its release could damage an investigation in which no arrests are anticipated.

"You never even reviewed the tapes," Eagan said, reminding Sedensky of his testimony from June.

After hearing from lawyers from both sides during the hour-long session, the commissioners unanimously agreed to accept an earlier recommendation from a hearing officer, Kathleen Ross, who dismissed each of Sedensky's arguments for making the tapes exempt from public information laws.

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