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DA cites lack of evidence to prosecute Ramseys

| Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, 7:06 p.m.
REUTERS
John and Patsy Ramsey address the media after completing two days of police interviews regarding the death of their daughter JonBenet Ramsey at their lawyer's office in Atlanta, Georgia in this August 29, 2000, file photo. Colorado authorities unsealed documents on October 25, 2013, confirming that a grand jury voted to indict the parents of slain child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey in 1999, although a prosecutor decided against bringing the case against them. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)

A Colorado prosecutor said his predecessor's decision not to prosecute the parents of slain child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was made because of a lack of evidence to prove the case, but could not say whether he would have made the same choice.

In his first comment since the unsealing of papers on Friday that showed a grand jury had voted to indict Ramsey's parents in 1999, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett noted that prosecutors face a higher burden of proof than a grand jury.

The papers, unsealed following a court order, show that a grand jury decided there was probable cause to charge John and Patsy Ramsey with child abuse resulting in death and accessory to the murder of their 6-year-old daughter. But the couple were never prosecuted, and were ultimately cleared.

In an opinion piece in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, Garnett said his two predecessors' decisions not to pursue charges showed they “believed that the evidence did not rise to the necessary level to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a jury trial.”

Patsy Ramsey reported her daughter missing early on the morning of Dec. 26, 1996, telling police she had found a ransom note on the stairs asking $118,000 for her daughter's return.

That afternoon, John Ramsey discovered the girl's body in the basement of their home, covered by a blanket, a cord around her neck, wrists bound and duct tape over her mouth. An autopsy showed she died from strangulation and a skull fracture.

No one was charged.

Alex Hunter, the district attorney at the time, declined to sign the indictment from the grand jury or prosecute the Ramseys, citing a lack of evidence. In 2008, another Boulder County prosecutor cleared the couple of any involvement.

Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006 at 49. John Ramsey, 69, remarried in 2011 in Michigan, where he had moved his family not long after JonBenet's death to work at a computer company.

After becoming district attorney in 2009, Garnett said his office again examined the Ramsey case but found there were no possible charges for which the statute of limitations had not run out or for which there was “conclusive evidence.”

“My or my staff's view of what the evidence in the Ramsey case proves will only be stated in open court if a case is ever filed. In the meantime, everyone, including the Ramsey family, is entitled to the full presumption of innocence,” Garnett said.

He opposed the unsealing of the grand jury's decision at the request of a Daily Camera reporter.

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