Sandy Hook probe shrouded in se­crecy

Bulk of ev­i­dence still with­held

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY MICHAEL MELIA

HART­FORD, CONN. | A prose­cu­tor is plan­ning to re­lease a re­port Mon­day on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mas­sacre at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School, but the pub­lic will have to wait longer for the state po­lice’s full ac­count­ing of the crime.

The de­ci­sion to con­tinue with­hold­ing the bulk of the ev­i­dence is stir­ring new crit­i­cism of the se­crecy that has sur­rounded the probe since a gun­man killed 20 chil­dren and six ed­u­ca­tors in­side the school on Dec. 14.

While the gun­man took his own life and au­thor­i­ties are not con­tem­plat­ing any prose­cu­tions, the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor, State’s At­tor­ney Stephen Se­den­sky III, has gone to court to fight the re­lease of 911 tapes, con­sulted pri­vately with vic­tims’ fam­i­lies on what might be in­cluded in the re­port and re­sisted calls from Con­necti­cut’s gov­er­nor to di­vulge more in­for­ma­tion sooner.

In de­fense of their han­dling of records, investigators have cited the scale of the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion — per­haps the most ex­ten­sive in Con­necti­cut’s his­tory — and con­sid­er­a­tion for the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, some of whom have lob­bied for tighter re­stric­tions on pub­lic in­for­ma­tion and com­plained of be­ing ha­rassed by con­spir­acy the­o­rists.

Dan Klau, a Hart­ford lawyer who spe­cial­izes in First Amend­ment law, said the de­ci­sion to re­lease a sum­mary re­port be­fore the full ev­i­dence file is a re­ver­sal of stan­dard prac­tice and one of the most un­usual el­e­ments of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion marked by se­crecy.

“What I found trou­bling about the ap­proach of the state’s at­tor­ney is that from my per­spec­tive, he seems to have for­got­ten his job is to rep­re­sent the state of Con­necti­cut,” Mr. Klau said. “His con­duct in many in­stances has seemed more akin to an at­tor­ney in pri­vate prac­tice rep­re­sent­ing Sandy Hook fam­i­lies.”

Mr. Se­den­sky said he could not com­ment.

Mark Dupuis, a spokesman for Mr. Se­den­sky, said the sum­mary re­leased Mon­day will not in­clude the state po­lice re­port, which is ex­pected to to­tal thou­sands of pages. It was not clear when the full re­port would be re­leased.

The gun­man, 20-year- old Adam Lanza, killed his mother in­side their New­town home be­fore driv­ing to his for­mer ele­men­tary school and gun­ning down 26 peo­ple, 20 first-graders and six ed­u­ca­tors, with a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle. He killed him­self with a hand­gun as po­lice ar­rived.

So far, investigators have re­leased lit­tle more than search war­rants, which de­tailed an arse­nal of weapons found in­side the Lanza home. The in­for­ma­tion that au­thor­i­ties have not re­vealed in­cludes the time­line of the po­lice re­sponse to the shoot­ing, any men­tal health records for Lanza and whether investigators found any clues to a pos­si­ble mo­tive for the ram­page.

The with­hold­ing of 911 record­ings, which are rou­tinely re­leased in other cases, has been the sub­ject of a le­gal bat­tle be­tween The As­so­ci­ated Press and Mr. Se­den­sky be­fore the state’s Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion, which ruled in fa­vor of the AP, and now Con­necti­cut’s court sys­tem. A hear­ing is sched­uled Mon­day in New Bri­tain Su­pe­rior Court on whether the judge can hear the record­ings as he con­sid­ers an ap­peal.

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