State police don't have to release documents belonging to Newtown elementary school gunman Adam Lanza that were seized from his home after he killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself, a judge ruled.
Judge Carl Schuman overturned a decision made last year by the state Freedom of Information Commission, which ordered state police to turn over the documents to The Hartford Courant under a public records request. The ruling on Friday was first reported by the Republican-American.
The requested materials included a spreadsheet ranking mass murders and a notebook titled "The Big Book of Granny," which contains a story Lanza wrote in fifth grade about a woman who has a gun in her cane and shoots people and another character who likes hurting people, especially children.
The judge ruled that state law shields from public disclosure all seized property not used in criminal prosecutions.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
The judge wrote that his decision would be an important one because it will apply to all future cases in which public disclosure is sought for private personal documents not used in criminal trials that police have seized from victims, witnesses and suspects, including diaries, medical records and phone records.
"Exposure of these items to the public when the state has not seen a need to do so in the criminal case entails a significant invasion of the owner's privacy and interference with his or her property rights," the judge wrote.
The Freedom of Information Commission had ruled that Lanza's belongings were public records and were not exempt from disclosure. State public safety officials and prosecutors appealed the decision to Superior Court.
The executive director of the Freedom of Information Commission, Colleen Murphy, declined to comment on the judge's ruling. She said the commission will consider whether to appeal.
The publisher and editor-in-chief of the Courant, Andrew Julien, said the newspaper is "disappointed in the decision" and is assessing its options.
Lanza, who was 20 years old, killed his mother at their home and then shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. He killed himself as police closed in. Investigators have said the motive for the shootings may never be known.