Update 1:47 PM
By Ken Dixon
NEW BRITAIN – The controversial emergency 911 recordings from Sandy Hook Elementary School will remain under seal while a Superior Court judge reviews them in private.
They will probably remain secret for days, if not weeks, pending more courtroom arguments.
Judge Eliot D. Prescott, on Monday morning said he would listen to the recordings from land-based phone lines at the school during Adam Lanza’s murders of 20 children and six adults last December 14.
Prescott will then schedule a hearing on the underlying legal issues. Prescott said the recordings – on compact disc – would remain private during his review to preserve their confidentiality.
“My intentions at this point are today to review the audio recordings in camera and then you will have a decision on the motion to stay shortly after,” Prescott said during a 15-minute court proceeding.
Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III is attempting to overturn a September ruling of the state Freedom of Information Commission that ordered the release of the recordings.
“My primary concern is that people are not allowed to listen to them other than your honor,” Sedensky told Prescott.
“The court further concludes that the plaintiff’s interest in preserving the confidentiality of the audio recordings until such time as his motion for stay can be fairly adjudicated outweighs the public’s interest in immediate access to such information,” Prescott said.
Prescott said that news-media reports quoting people who had heard the recordings, do not affect his role in listening to the material.
Last week the Hearst Connecticut Newspapers reported that according to two people who have heard the recordings, there are at least two gun shots and no audible cries of distress from victims. But the sources said that at some point, personnel from Newtown police headquarters told police to refrain from entering the school, where Lanza committed suicide after confronting police. The sources said that at least one 911 call seemed to have gone unanswered.
Victor R. Perpetua, lead attorney for the state Freedom of Information Commission, asked whether Prescott had heard of the newspapers’ reports.
“I would like to inquire if the court is aware that the media has reported that these recordings have been leaked by at least one member of a law enforcement agency in Newtown and whether the court believes that that is relevant to its determination that a stay will be appropriate to take evidence or argument on that,” Perpetua said.
“The identity of the person releasing any information regarding the content of the 911 audio recordings is based solely upon those media reports,” Prescott replied. “I don’t know if they come from law enforcement sources or not. They’re certainly not going to a factual hearing on who leaked them; who’s responsible for any info that has come out; the accuracy of that information. I think I have what I need at this point in time.”
Calls from cell phones at the school were automatically routed to State Police in Southbury.
The people quoted by the Hearst Connecticut Newspapers said that the CD contained about 9 calls.
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