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Updated Dec 17, 2013 - 5:18 pm

Judge denies effort to block Krentz file release

PHOENIX -- Documents related to the investigation of a 2010 killing of a rancher along the U.S.-Mexico border must be released under Arizona's public records law, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Authorities say Robert Krentz was gunned down on his property near Douglas.

Investigators initially said they believed that a scout for drug smugglers was to blame for his killing, but the case remains unsolved. The killing prompted renewed calls in Washington for increased border security amid speculation that the death was somehow tied to smugglers.

Krentz's wife, Susan, had sought to block the release of the case file as authorities continue to investigate, claiming her privacy interest outweighed the public's right to access under Arizona public records laws.

Cochise County Superior Court Judge Charles Irwin heard arguments Tuesday from attorneys representing The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star. The judge then ruled against Krentz's efforts to block authorities from releasing the file.

``The law recognizes the importance of public transparency and public access to law enforcement records, especially in a case like this one,'' said attorney David Bodney, who represented the Republic.

``This crime happened nearly three years ago and remains unsolved,'' Bodney added. ``By allowing access to those records, we enhance the public's ability to monitor the activities of law enforcement and contribute information to authorities.''

Susan Krentz declined to comment Tuesday. Her attorney didn't return a telephone message.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels has said the Krentz case remains a top priority and that his office had developed numerous ``persons of interest'' who might have information on the killing. He has declined to discuss the status of the case in detail.

In a statement Tuesday, Dannels said his office would comply with the judge's ruling and publicly release the file.

``There's obviously the concern of having all this information released and potentially creating an issue for future contact with any persons of interest who we wanted to speak to and haven't been able to so far,'' said sheriff's office spokeswoman Carol Capas. ``But there's no way to say with certainty what type of negative impact this will have.''

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