Grand jurors who reviewed evidence in the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey indicted both of her parents for child abuse resulting in death and being an accessory to a crime, including first-degree murder, according to documents released Friday.
The Daily Camera reported earlier this year that the grand jury had issued an indictment, but the documents for the first time revealed the charges against the Ramseys. The grand jury accused both John and Patsy Ramsey of helping someone who committed murder, but the document did not identify the alleged killer. The documents alleged both parents intended to delay or prevent the arrest of the alleged killer.
The district attorney at the time, Alex Hunter, who presented the evidence to the grand jury, declined to pursue charges saying: "I and my prosecutorial team believe we do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time."
Only pages that had been signed by the grand jury foreman and were considered official action of the jury were released. The numbering of the charges implies that there were other charges the jurors considered but rejected.
Hunter did not return a phone message left Thursday by The Associated Press in anticipation of the documents' release.
The grand jury met three years after the beauty queen's body was found bludgeoned and strangled in their home in Boulder on Dec. 26, 1996. The indictments alleged the crimes occurred between Dec. 25 and Dec. 26.
The Ramseys maintained their innocence, offering a $100,000 reward for the killer and mounting a newspaper campaign seeking evidence.
Former prosecutor and law professor Karen Steinhauser said grand juries sometimes hear evidence that won't be admitted during trial that can form the basis of indictments. But she added that prosecutors must have a good faith belief that they could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt before pursuing charges.
"I'm not sure that the release of this indictment is going to change the fact that there has not been able to be a prosecution and probably won't be able to be a prosecution," she said.
Lurid details of the crime and striking videos of the child in adult makeup and costumes performing in pageants propelled the case into one of the highest profile mysteries in the United States in the mid-1990s. It also raised questions about putting children on display in beauty contests long before the popularity of reality shows such as "Toddlers & Tiaras" and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which features moms and their child beauty pageant contestants.
Patsy Ramsey died of cancer in 2006, the same year a globe-hopping school teacher was arrested in Thailand after falsely claiming to have killed JonBenet. Former District Attorney Mary Lacy cleared the Ramseys in 2008 based on new DNA testing that suggested the killer was a stranger, not a family member.
Lacy did not return a phone call.
Over the years, some experts have suggested that investigators botched the case so thoroughly that it might never be solved.
Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said the case remains open but it's not an active investigation. He predicted the indictment's release wouldn't change anything.
"Given the publicity that's been out there, many people have formed their opinions one way or another," he said.
Earlier this week, John Ramsey asked officials to release the entire grand jury record if the unprosecuted indictment was made public. However, the judge said transcripts of grand jury proceedings and evidence presented to it are not considered "official action" under the law governing criminal court records. He also said releasing such information could hurt other grand juries, whose work is secret.
An attorney representing John Ramsey, L. Lin Wood, has said he's confident that no evidence in the grand jury case implicated the Ramsey family and the public should be able to see that for themselves. - THP
Grand jury prepared child abuse indictment against JonBenet Ramsey's parents, newly released documents show
A Colorado court on Friday released a long-sealed grand jury indictment of JonBenet Ramsey's parents for child abuse resulting in death, but the documents contained no specifics.
The four pages from the 1999 grand jury — two for John Ramsey and two for Patricia Ramsey — outlined two counts against each parent but did not identify a killer.
Prosecutors decided not to act on the indictment and charge the couple, and the documents remained secret until a newspaper reporter and press-freedom group convinced a judge to unseal them.
On the child abuse count, the grand jury wrote that the Ramseys "did unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health, which resulted in the death of JonBenet Ramsey."
On a second count of accessory to a crime, the grand jury wrote that each parent "did render assistance to a person" with the intent to prevent their arrest or prosecution, knowing they had "committed and was suspected of the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse resulting in death."
Although the Boulder district attorney had earmarked 18 pages for possible release, the judge only put out the pages that were signed by the grand jury foreperson.
It's unclear if the other pages contained more details about the Ramseys' actions or named someone as the killer.
The 6-year-old child beauty queen was found dead in the basement of her home on Dec. 26, 1996, and the case has never been solved.
Boulder police had placed her parents under an "umbrella of suspicion" early on, but in 2008, the district attorney publicly exonerated the family based on testing of DNA found at the scene and suggested that an unknown intruder was the culprit.
The long-running mystery riveted the nation for several years and spawned books, TV movies and countless theories about who strangled the child.
Patricia Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006, and John Ramsey has since remarried.
He fought to keep the documents under seal, arguing that their release would defame the family. If the indictment had to be released, his lawyers argued, they entire grand jury report should be made public so all the evidence could be evaluated.
The judge, however, ruled that he could only issue those documents that constituted an official action — those with the foreperson's signature.
NBC's Roger O'Neil reports from Boulder, Colo., where a grand jury is deliberating the stalled investigation into the mysterious death of JonBenet Ramsey.
Charlie Brennan, a reporter for the Daily Camera, wrote Friday that he fought to have the indictment released to bring "transparency" to a case that has been cloaked in skepticism and misinformation.
"Two reporters stood outside JonBenet's home Dec. 26, 1996, at the time the coroner's staff brought the child's body out into the cold night and harsh light of an enduring public obsession," Brennan wrote.
"I was one of the two. Never did I suspect that 17 years later, the saga would still be unfolding."
The current Boulder district attorney, Stan Garnett, declined to comment on the release, saying he would make a statement in the form of an op-ed piece to be published Sunday in the Daily Camera. - NBC
NOTE: I have stated from the beginning that I believe this incident was 'white-washed' in order to cover up the truth. This case that has really bugged me over the years...Lon
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