Judge allows publications of 'In Cold Blood' files

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Judge allows publications of 'In Cold Blood' files
FILE - This combination made from undated file photos shows Richard Hickock, left, and Perry Smith, the two men hanged for the Nov. 15, 1959 murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their children in Holcomb, Kan. A Kansas judge has decided that the son of a deceased Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, who investigated the Clutter family murders and kept records at home, can publish his father’s files from the 1959 murders that inspired the book “In Cold Blood.” (AP Photos/File)
FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 19, 2009, the former home of the Herbert Clutter family is seen in Holcomb, Kan. A Kansas judge has decided that the son of a deceased Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, who investigated the Clutter family murders and kept records at home, can publish his father’s files from the 1959 murders that inspired the book “In Cold Blood.” (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
In November 1959, this was the home in Holcomb, Kansas,of the clutter family, were all four of whom were killed in the shotgun murders carried out by two ex-convicts which later were the subject of both the book and the film "In Cold Blood." The home is shown Nov. 2, 1979. (AP Photo)
FILE- In this photo taken Oct. 19, 2009, a grain truck passes by a park dedicated to the Herbert Clutter family in Holcomb, Kan. A Kansas judge has decided that the son of a deceased Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, who investigated the Clutter family murders and kept records at home, can publish his father’s files from the 1959 murders that inspired the book “In Cold Blood.” (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
In this photo taken Oct. 19, 2009, a memorial to the Herbert Clutter family is seen in a Holcomb, Kan. park. Fifty years ago, the Clutter home on the outskirts of Holcomb was the scene of the brutal murder of Clutter, his wife Bonnie and their two children inspiring Truman Capote to write "In Cold Blood". (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken Oct. 19, 2009, a memorial to the Herbert Clutter family is seen in a Holcomb, Kan. park. Fifty years ago, the Clutter home on the outskirts of Holcomb was the scene of the brutal murder of Clutter, his wife Bonnie and their two children inspiring Truman Capote to write "In Cold Blood". (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken Oct. 19, 2009, the former home of the Herbert Clutter family is seen in Holcomb, Kan. Fifty years ago, the home was the scene of the brutal murder of Clutter, his wife Bonnie and their two children inspiring Truman Capote to write "In Cold Blood". (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Author Truman Capote stands in the living room of the Clutter ranch house in Garden City, Kansas, April 26, 1967, where four members of the Kansas family were murdered in 1959. Capote’s account of the crime and its solution,“In Cold Blood”, was a bestseller and is now being filmed in the actual locales. Despite critical comment, Capote declares his “non-fiction novel” was an advance in literature. (AP Photo)
Actor Robert Blake, center, listens to director Richard Brooks on the set of "In Cold Blood," with actor Scott Wilson, at left, in this March 10, 1967, file photo taken in Kansas City, Kan. Blake, who was acquitted Wednesday, March 16, 2005, on murder charges in the death of his wife, is seeking work. Industry types said the legal battle could actually revitalize the career of the tough-guy actor best known for starring in the 1970s detective drama "Baretta." (AP Photo)
FILE - In a Dec. 18, 2012 file photo, Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, during a news conference in Lansing, Kan., discusses the exhumation of the remains of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith who were executed for the 1959 multiple murders that inspired Truman Capote's true-crime book, "In Cold Blood." Smith said Wednesday, May 29, 2013, that DNA testing so far has been inconclusive on whether two men can also be linked to the unsolved murders of a Florida family weeks later. Smith said the agency will continue testing material collected from the remains of the convicted murderers. The KBI initially projected it would have definitive results from the DNA early this month, but the agency now has no timetable for when the testing will be complete. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)
Robert Blake, left, movie actor who will portray Perry Edward Smith in the movie version of Truman Capotes best seller, In Cold Blood, shown in the Kansas State Penitentiary, where part of the picture is to be filmed, Nov. 17, 1966, Lansing, Kan. At right is the director and writer of the movie, Richard Brooks. The story tells of the slaying of four members of the Herbert Clutter family by Smith and Richard Eugene Hickock. Both were hanged at the prison here last year for the crime. (AP Photo)
Truman Capote of New York City, author of the book "In Cold Blood", waits in the hearing room to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, July 21, 1961. (AP Photo/Henry Griffin)
American novelist, short story writer, and playwright Truman Capote (1924 - 1984) (left), dressed in an overcoat, glasses, and hat, stands on a lawn near American actors Scott Wilson and Robert Blake (right), both dressed in character, while on location filming the film adaptation of Capote's book 'In Cold Blood,' Kansas, 1967. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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A window display at the Random House building for 'In Cold Blood,' the book written by American novelist, short story writer, and playwright Truman Capote and based upon a 1959 murder case in Kansas, New York, New York, February 17, 1966. Featured in the display are several copies of Capotes books, as well as newspaper clippings and magazines about the author and famed murder case. (Photo by Carl T. Gossett, Jr./New York Times Co./Getty Images)
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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The son of a Kansas law enforcement officer who helped investigate the 1959 killings that inspired the book "In Cold Blood" can publish his father's field notes that he says substantially contradict the account found in Truman Capote's literary masterpiece.

In a ruling made public Monday, Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks said he made an error when he initially blocked publication of the criminal investigation files in 2012. His decision means that Ronald Nye of Oklahoma City can use his father's files for a book he plans about the slayings of prominent farmer and community leader Herbert Clutter, his wife and two children in Holcomb.

The Kansas attorney general's office had sued Nye to keep him from publishing the files. Nye had planned to auction the records, but later decided to write a book with author Gary McAvoy. Nye and McAvoy can now work with agents and find a publisher for their book.

Nye's father, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent Harold Nye, kept the case files at his home. Hendricks ruled Nye's First Amendment right to publish the material outweigh the government's interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its investigative records. Nye and McAvoy would not reveal exactly what is in the files, but Nye said Monday that his father's notebooks had "vast discrepancies" from what Capote wrote.

"Our belief is that there is no other reason (Kansas) would want the materials we have suppressed were it not for the information we found in them," McAvoy said. "That information connects to other research I've done and supports a pretty compelling new theory - one that I am reluctant to even discuss at this point."

The state's lawsuit also asked the court to decide legal ownership of the case files. The judge has made no ruling on that issue.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office did not respond to email and phone messages seeking comment Monday.

Clutter; his wife, Bonnie Mae Fox; and their children, 15-year-old Kenyon and 16-year-old Nancy, were killed at their rural farmhouse. The hunt for their killers mesmerized the nation, drawing journalists from across the U.S. to the small, western Kansas town. Parolees Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were executed for the killings in 1965.

Capote's book about the crime inspired a movie of the same name.

The judge wrote that Kansas had not shown a legal justification for suppressing the material or for interfering with the public's right to know what is in them. He also rejected the state's argument that the Clutter family's privacy concerns justified blocking their release.

"The court is sensitive to the plaintiff's concern about publicity and its effect on the Clutters," Hendricks wrote. "However, publicity continues to follow this case even fifty-five years after its occurrence."

O. Yale Lewis, Jr., an attorney for Nye and McAvoy, said his clients hope to have their book published in time for the 50th anniversary in September of the publication of Capote's book.

Ronald Nye said his late father took detailed notes about the case. Nye recalled that his father was so disappointed in Capote's book that he read only about 115 pages before throwing it across the room. He said his dad walked out of the movie's premiere after just 15 minutes.

Harold Nye worked for the Kansas bureau from 1955 until his retirement in 1975; he was its director from 1969 to 1971.

The state's lawsuit names as defendants Harold Nye's adult children, Ronald Nye and Terry Hurley; his widow, Joyce Nye; and McAvoy and his Seattle-based auction company, Vintage Memorabilia, which specializes in film and literature relics.

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