Sheriff plans to release evidence from Columbine killers' homes

Associated Press Writer

DENVER- The Jefferson County sheriff said Monday he would release nearly 1,000 pages of documents seized from the homes of the Columbine High School killers but not the video and audio tapes the two teenagers made.

Deputies had seized journals kept by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, along with a videotape the gunmen made of themselves talking about their hatred for most people and their plan to attack the school.

The release of the documents could be delayed if Harris's and Klebold's parents decide to appeal. It wasn't immediately clear if they would.

Sheriff Ted Mink said he decided against releasing the tapes after the FBI, which conducted a review at his request, concluded they "could serve as a strong motivating influence for other adolescents to commit and/or attempt to commit similar acts of violence. The tapes provide instructional material for how to successfully plan and implement similar acts."

Harris and Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher at their high school before taking their own lives on April 20, 1999.

The gunmen's parents fought to keep the records private, saying they fear the material could inspire copycat crimes. The Denver Post sued to force release of the material, and the Colorado Supreme Court last year left the decision to the sheriff.

Some of the victims' families have said all the records should be released.

Mink said the decision to withhold the tapes would be unpopular but was necessary.

"In truth, thousands of pages of documents and other evidence have been released over the years, and no one item has held the key" to lingering questions about the massacre, he said. "In my mind, no new insight the tapes might provide can justify the loss of just one life."

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