Opinion: Why we fight for open records

From the Post Independent (Glenwood Springs):  By Randy Essex Editor

Carolyn Sackariason, the host of Aspen Public Radio’s “Valley Roundup,” asked me a few weeks ago on the show if readers needed to know the details of Carbondale’s first murder in 12 years.

The Post Independent had gone to court to unseal the arrest affidavit in the case, which had a number of unusual aspects, including:

• The case didn’t start as a homicide investigation. The defendant, Arturo Navarrete-Portillo, had crashed his SUV into a cattle truck on Feb. 16, and told a life flight crew a few hours later that he had killed his wife just before the accident.

• It took police a few more hours to find the apartment in which Maria Carminda Portillo-Amaya had been killed.

• Navarrete-Portillo had remained in protective custody without being charged for two weeks until he was well enough to leave the hospital.

• His passport was found in a Dumpster, tossed by the crew that cleaned the apartment where the killing occurred.

All of those factors raise questions related to public safety and, perhaps, the probability of a conviction. They are matters of clear public interest.

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