Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking Kurt Cobain’s death-scene photos

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Seattle | Published: August 1, 2015 7:40:48 PM

"UPDATE 1-Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking Kurt Cobain's death-scene photos (Adds judge's ruling) By Eric M".

A Washington state judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit seeking photos from the death scene of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain because the journalist who wants them violated legal procedures, Seattle’s attorney said.

Independent journalist Richard Lee sued the city and its police department to try to force the release of the pictures taken by law-enforcement officials after Cobain killed himself in 1994, a spokesman for Seattle attorney Pete Holmes said.

The photos show his entire body and the damage to his head from a shotgun blast, according to a declaration filed last week by Cobain’s wife, the musician Courtney Love, seeking to block the release.

Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle sided with the city after a roughly 40-minute hearing, ruling Lee violated legal procedures by failing to properly serve the city with his lawsuit, said the spokesman, John Schochet.

Lee also filed his lawsuit before the city responded to his public-records request for the images, Schochet said.

Cobain, who rose to fame in 1991 leading Nirvana and popularized the grunge rock movement, was 27 when he shot himself with a shotgun at his Seattle home on April 5, 1994. His body was not found for three days.

Last year police said they found rolls of undeveloped film while preparing for renewed media attention ahead of the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s suicide.

Lee, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, has produced a public-access television show called “Kurt Cobain Was Murdered,” according to a website cataloging the show.

Schochet said the journalist apparently believes the photos will prove the rocker did not take his own life.

The city said Lee’s request for the graphic photos are exempt from public-records disclosure laws.

Love wrote in her declaration that she has never seen the photos.

“Certainly, public disclosure would reopen all my old wounds, and cause me and my family permanent, indeed, endless and needless, pain and suffering, and would be a gross violation of our privacy interests,” Love wrote.

The couple’s daughter, Frances Cobain, echoed those sentiments and wrote separately that the release of the photos would put her in danger, describing how she has received death threats and privacy invasions from people obsessed with her late father.

“Releasing these photographs into the public domain would encourage more disturbed stalkers and fanatical threats,” she wrote.

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