June 11, 2013, 11:01 p.m. ET
Some Knock Pace of Probe Into Newtown, Conn., Shooting

Critics Question State Agency's Approach to Investigation

Some Connecticut lawmakers and open-government groups are criticizing a state agency's approach to the investigation into the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, saying officials should be more open about their work and asserting the probe is taking too long.
"We haven't had a good reason why they can't just give us periodic status reports. They just don't bother giving us any details," said Democratic Rep. Steve Mikutel. "People need to know as much about this investigation—without violating the privacy of the families—about lessons to be learned. We can't learn the lessons until we get the information."
Adam Lanza, 20 years old, shot and killed his mother in their home in Newtown on Dec. 14, and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 children and six staff members. He then committed suicide.
Law-enforcement officials have yet to close the investigation on the murders.
State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky, whose office in Danbury, Conn., is leading the investigation, told a state commission in January he estimated the probe would take "several months" and that he hoped it would be complete "sometime this summer, perhaps in June, though this is certainly subject to change."
He said Tuesday he didn't have a timeline for the release of a final report, but added he hoped to have it ready by the fall. "I don't think that the pace has been going slow," said Mr. Sedensky, who cited the 28 people who died in the incident, including the shooter. "We'd much rather have it done correctly than have it done fast if we had a trade off. We want it done right."
Mr. Sedensky declined to discuss what remained to be done in the investigation or what a final report to the public would entail.
"Given the magnitude of that crime, that's not unreasonable," said Jon Shane, an assistant professor of John Jay College of Criminal Justice who also worked for the Newark Police Department for 20 years. He said the media scrutiny coupled with the political and community implications of the final report gives the investigators added reason to take their time.
"It puts extreme pressure on the police, and they are taking longer to make sure they don't make a mistake," Mr. Shane said.
The sheer number of victims in the Newtown shooting makes the investigation "a daunting task," said James McCabe, chairman of the criminal-justice department at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., who was with New York City Police Department for 21 years.
"Just processing the bodies and physical evidence is just enormous. Think of all the witnesses. It's just an enormous amount of contact hours," he said. "There is no need to do this quickly. It's better to err on the side of thoroughness and completeness."
Determining and documenting a motive for the killing is also "one of their biggest challenges," Mr. McCabe said.
Still, with the Newtown shooter dead, some question why the investigation hasn't been closed.
"I think it mystifies a lot of people," said Lawrence Cafero, the Republican Minority Leader in the state House of Representatives. "It seemed fairly cut and dry at least with regards to who did the shooting and who the victims are."
James Smith, president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, agreed: "I can't think of really any credible reason to keep withholding this information from the Connecticut public, the public at large."
Authorities took 13 months to complete the final report on the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two shooters killed 13 people, then themselves.
Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com