Ramsey grand juror welcomes new tests
A JonBenet Ramsey case grand juror on Friday applauded news that officials plan a new round of DNA testing in the unsolved investigation, but is unsure that it will necessarily lead to the killer’s identity.
Also, exclusively to the Daily Camera, the juror cited key reasons that the grand jury voted to indict John and Patsy Ramsey in their child’s 1996 murder — indictments never prosecuted by then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter, due to his belief there was insufficient evidence to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt.
“I am glad to hear that there will be new DNA testing,” said the juror, who offered comments based on assurance of anonymity.
The Ramsey grand jury heard evidence in the case from September 1998 to October 1999 before it was disbanded.
“I’m also feeling doubtful that it will bring the killer to justice,” the juror said. “But I know that other cases are being solved after much time has passed with new technology, so perhaps this can be too.”
The juror contacted the Camera after the newspaper reported on its joint investigation with 9News that raised concerns about the DNA-based exoneration of the Ramsey family, that police and prosecutors plan to submit certain evidence to the latest generation of DNA testing.
“I was happy to see that it’s moving forward,” the juror said, “but not that hopeful of a resolution.”
Until now, it has never been known to what extent DNA evidence — far less advanced in the late 1990s than it is today — had influenced the jury’s decision-making process.
Not very much, according to this juror.
“To me, it seemed like the DNA evidence was just inconclusive. I don’t remember it playing a major role in our discussions, because what did it mean?” the juror said. “It didn’t seem to include or exclude anyone.”
A subsequent round of additional DNA testing on which then-District Attorney Mary Lacy based her July 9, 2008, exoneration letter — which has repeatedly been dismissed as “meaningless” by her successor, Stan Garnett — was not initiated until late in 2007, eight years after the grand jury disbanded.
Multiple experts said Lacy’s letter greatly overstated the certainty or clarity of the results reached through that later round of testing. Those experts also said there was no way to state — as Lacy did — that the DNA profile identified by her office as “Unknown Male 1” had to be that of JonBenet’s killer.
The grand juror briefly laid out several reasons central to why the grand jury voted to indict John and Patsy Ramsey.
The reasons offered by the juror are:
• “No evidence of an intruder. No footprints in the snow, no physical evidence left behind.”
• “The killer was in the house for hours between the blow to the head and the strangling.”
• “The location of the body in a hard-to-find room.”
• “The ransom note written in the house with weird personal information and never a ransom call.”
• The juror, after rattling off those points, then posed a question: “Also, how much evidence is there really that this was a sex crime?”
The grand jury indictments of the Ramseys remained perhaps the bestkept secret of the starcrossed case until January 2013, when it was first reported by the Camera that the jury had voted to indict both parents on charges of child abuse resulting in death.
A reporter’s subsequent lawsuit resulted in an October 2013 decision by a judge to unseal those indictments, which not only confirmed the indictments’ existence, but also revealed that both parents also had been indicted on a second charge, that of accessory to an unidentified third person in the crime of first-degree murder.
Patsy Ramsey died in 2006, after a 13-year battle with ovarian cancer. Both of JonBenet’s parents steadfastly asserted their innocence in the case, and have said that an unknown killer broke into their home while the family was attending a Christmas night party, then waited for the family to return and retire to bed before targeting JonBenet.
JonBenet was found Dec. 26, 1996, in a little-used basement room, having suffered a fractured skull and asphyxiation by a garrote. A strip of duct tape covered her mouth and her wrists were loosely bound.
Patsy Ramsey reported finding a 2½-page ransom note shortly before dawn that day, demanding the unusual sum of $118,000 for her child’s safe return.
There was never any attempt to actually collect on that demand prior to JonBenet’s body being discovered by her father and a family friend early that afternoon.