Ram­sey grand ju­ror wel­comes new tests

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Char­lie Bren­nan

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.

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