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Appellate court will rule on transcript

An appellate court in Fresno will decide if the public should get a peek at a transcript from a grand jury hearing in the case of a Stockton man accused of killing a California Highway Patrol officer.

A Stanislaus County judge last week said the 547-page transcript should be released to the public, but also gave attorneys who represent Columbus Allen Jr. II time to take a writ to the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno.

Friday the appellate court said the transcript will remain sealed for 21 days while it considers arguments from attorneys for Allen and The Bee.

Defense attorneys Ramon Magaña of Modesto and John Grele of San Francisco want the court to seal the transcript until after Allen's trial, saying prosecutors shared information with the grand jury that may not be admissable at trial.

The Bee is seeking a copy of the transcript, something that becomes a public document 10 days after it is delivered to the defense. The district attorney's office has not taken a position.

Allen, 32, is suspected of killing officer Earl Scott on Feb. 17, 2006, during a traffic stop on Highway 99 near Salida.

Allen is charged with first-degree murder, using a firearm in the commission of a crime and three special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.