Media can continue legal push for Wetterling files

A Stearns County judge has ruled that media groups can make their case for access to the investigative file in the Jacob Wetterling case.

Jerry and Patty Wetterling sued to block Stearns County from releasing about 200 of the thousands of pages of investigative documents. The Wetterlings say the file contains personal information about their marriage and family.

Attorneys for media organizations and public information watchdog groups say the request from the Wetterlings puts their claim to privacy in front of a state law that protects public access to government data.

Friday's ruling allows these groups, which include Minnesota Public Radio, to be a party to the lawsuit, and make arguments in court to release all files.

The judge's order also raised the possibility that FBI investigative files might belong to the FBI, and therefore cannot be released by Stearns County

The next hearing is scheduled for mid-October.

Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped in 1989 near his St. Joseph home. Last year, Danny Heinrich admitted to kidnapping and murdering the 11-year-old. Heinrich is serving a 20-year-prison sentence as part of a plea deal.

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