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Court Opens Columbine Killers’ Diaries

August 12, 2004

DENVER (AP) _ Tapes and diaries made by the two teens who killed 13 people at Columbine High School are public records and can be released, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The court, however, left open the possibility the records could remain secret because state law allows authorities to withhold documents if the release would be ``contrary to the public interest.″

The videotapes, audio tapes and writings were seized when deputies got a search warrant after Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris attacked their school on April 20, 1999. The student gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

The Denver Post sought the release of the recordings in a lawsuit filed in 2002. A judge ruled the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department did not have to release the materials because they were not criminal justice records subject to public disclosure.

The appeals court agreed the documents were not criminal justice records but said they were still public records subject to disclosure because they were in sheriff’s department custody.

The case now goes back to district court.

The district judge could withhold the materials only if disclosure would cause harm that could not have been foreseen by the Legislature when it passed laws governing such documents, said Chris Beall, an attorney for the newspaper.

``The Post’s position has been that disclosure would not harm the public interest, that these materials ought to be released. The investigation is over,″ Beall said.

The appeals court likened the materials to ``a self-aggrandizing manifesto the boys might have wished, even ached, to be made public.″

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