JonBenet Ramsey murder: Grand Jury indicted John & Patsy Ramsey with child abuse, accessory

BOULDER, Colo. - The Grand Jury that investigated the JonBenet Ramsey murder case in 1999 voted to indict her parents, John and  Patsy Ramsey, on charges of child abuse resulting in death and accessory to a crime.

Four pages were initially released Friday. They list two counts against each parent. Count IV is child abuse resulting in death. Count VII is accessory to a crime.

The document says Count IV: "On or between December 25, and December 26, 1996, in Boulder County, Colorado, John Bennett Ramsey (and a separate document lists Patricia Paugh Ramsey) 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, a child under the age of sixteen."

The document then says, "as to count IV(a), Child Abuse Resulting in Death."

The Grand Jury foreman is said to have signed the document, but in the document released Friday, that signature was redacted.

Count VII says: "On or between December 25, and December 26, 1996, in Boulder County, Colorado, John Bennett Ramsey (and a separate document lists Patricia Paugh Ramsey) did unlawfully, knowingly and feloniously render assistance to a person, with intent to hinder, delay and prevent the discovery, detention, apprehension, prosecution, conviction and punishment of such person for the commission of a crime, knowing the person being assisted has committed and was suspect of the crime of Murder in the First Degree and Child Abuse Resulting in Death."

It then lists, "As to Count VII, Accessory to a Crime." Again, the Grand Jury foreman's signature was redacted.

Note: Only four pages were released because the judge decided to release only pages signed by the foreman of the grand jury because those are considered "official actions" of the grand jury, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

While the Grand Jury voted to indict the parents in 1999, the indictment was not accepted by then-District Attorney Alex Hunter because he said he didn't think he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parents were guilty.

At the time, Hunter said the grand jury had concluded without finding "sufficient evidence to warrant a filing of charges against anyone." News of the grand jury indictment wasn't revealed until Boulder Daily Camera reporter Charlie Brennan filed a story on its existence earlier this year.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner released a statement Friday that said investigators were "disappointed in the then district attorney’s decision not to issue indictments. Cases are rarely perfect and often contain conflicting evidence. As a result, the opportunity to present the entire case to a jury may be lost forever. We also understand the criteria for taking a case to trial is higher than probable cause."

John, Patsy, and their son, Burke, were exonerated by new DNA testing techniques in 2008, according to then-District Attorney Mary Lacy.

The document was released after Boulder Daily Camera reporter Charlie Brennan and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit to compel the District Attorney's Office to release the indictment.  The Daily Camera was not a party to the lawsuit, but said it supported the suit.

John Ramsey said if the unprosecuted indictment was to be publicly released, he wanted the court to order the release of the entire grand jury record. Lacy agreed.

"The documents released today validate John Ramsey’s position that the Boulder District Attorney should release the entire grand jury record and not just 4 pages from an 18-month investigation that produced volumes of testimony and exhibits," said Ramsey's attorney, L. Lin Wood. "The grand jury's true bills on Counts 4(a) and 7 are nonsensical. They reveal nothing about the evidence reviewed by the grand jury and are clearly the result of a confused and compromised process. The Ramsey Family and the public are entitled to the benefit of the full and complete record, not just a historical footnote. Fairness dictates that result."

"It is also extremely important to keep in mind that the released documents from 1999 were the product of a grand jury that did not have the benefit of the conclusive 2008 DNA testing that led to the unequivocal, public exoneration of the Ramsey Family by the Boulder District Attorney," said Wood.

However, the judge decided only to release items signed by the Grand Jury foreman.

The office of the current District Attorney, Stan Garnett, said "the issues surrounding the case are complex and nuanced and do not readily lend themselves to a short sound bite."

Because of that, Garnett will issue a statement on the indictment in the form of an commentary to be published in this Sunday’s edition of the Daily Camera, Boulder’s local newspaper.

Patsy Ramsey died in 2006, 10 years after her daughter was murdered. She is buried next to her daughter in Georgia, where the Ramseys moved from Boulder.

John Ramsey remarried in 2011 -- five years after Patsy's death.

Boulder Police said the status of the Ramsey investigation today is that of a cold case. 

"The case is still open, but is not actively being investigated and there are no new leads," police said. "While we believe at this point it is unlikely there will ever be a prosecution, the Boulder Police Department still holds out some hope that one day the district attorney and the Boulder Police Department will be able to put together a case worthy of presenting to a jury."

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