Paper files suit against police for documents
The two parties differ in their definitions of pending investigations.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- The Athens Banner-Herald has sued the county police department, claiming that officers have violated the state's open records laws by refusing to release documents related to the unsolved slayings of two University of Georgia students.
The newspaper says the Athens-Clarke County Police Department has thwarted reporters' attempts to access documents by classifying the 1992 rape and murder of Jennifer Lynn Stone and the 2001 murder of Tara Louise Baker as "pending investigations."
Stone, a 22-year-old advertising student from Roswell, was found strangled in her Athens apartment in April 1992. Baker, a 23-year-old law student, was found dead in her burning house in January 2001. No arrests have been made.
"We obviously differ with the police department on the definition of ongoing investigations, so we thought it would be in everybody's best interests to have a neutral party review it," said Executive Editor Jason Winders.
County Attorney Bill Berryman would not comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court.
The newspaper filed an open records request for documents and materials related to the slayings Aug. 6, the complaint says. Nine days later, the department refused to provide any records on the murders, aside from incident reports that had long ago been released publicly.