Public Defender Says Karr's DNA Samples Not Legally Obtained
Karr's Court Hearing In Boulder Set For Monday Afternoon
6:26 AM, Aug 25, 2006
The public defender for John Mark Karr said Friday that any DNA samples taken from his client in the JonBenet Ramsey slaying investigation could not have been legally obtained -- and any more testing will need his approval.As a judge scheduled Karr's first appearance in Boulder County Court for Monday at 4:30 p.m., Deputy Public Defender Seth Temin filed a flurry of motions asking the judge to prohibit prosecutors and police from conducting any DNA testing without first notifying the court and the defense. "Biological evidence reveals highly private and sensitive information about a person," Temin wrote. "Mr. Karr's right to privacy can only be protected by giving him the opportunity to be heard on this issue prior to collection of a sample." District attorney's spokeswoman Carolyn French did not immediately return an after-hours call. DNA is believed to be a key in solving the 10-year-old slaying of the 6-year-old beauty pageant princess. After JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, found her body in the family's basement on Dec. 26, 1996, police collected DNA from blood spots in her underwear and from under her fingernails. Investigators have said some of the DNA was too degraded to use as evidence, but some was of sufficient quality to submit to the FBI in 2003. The sample did not match any of the 1.5 million samples in the agency's database at the time, according to the Ramsey family attorney. Karr, 41, was given a mouth-swab DNA test while he was in Thailand, a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation has told The Associated Press. The results of that test were not known. Temin said if a DNA sample has been obtained from Karr "it was not obtained pursuant to applicable law, the constitutions or by valid consent." He suggested Karr would not provide any further samples without a court order. Formal charges are still pending against Karr. The public defender also asked a judge to limit the information law enforcement officials or court employees can publicly disclose about the case and wants to seal a sample of the Karr's handwriting from public scrutiny. Some commentators have suggested that Karr's handwriting in a high school yearbook resembles the writing on a ransom note found in the Ramsey home a few hours before JonBenet's body was discovered. Karr is being held in an 8-by-10-foot cell, though he could have contact with one other inmate by way of a "sub-dayroom" adjoining his cell, sheriff's Cmdr. Bruce Haas said. "His demeanor is calm. He's been resting," Haas said. "He's sleeping and hanging out -- pretty uneventful." The inmate, who dined on pate and wine during a 15-hour flight from Thailand to California over the weekend, faced a more prosaic menu behind bars: beef stew with buttered noodles for dinner, Spanish rice and chili dogs for lunch. Temin declined to disclose what he discussed with Karr and said no one will be allowed to interview him. "I really can't discuss with you the conversations I've had with my client," he said. "You can imagine what it's like to be in jail surrounded by these kinds of allegations." Asked about two California attorneys who say they are advising Karr, Temin said the public defender's office is handling details for now. "We are Mr. Karr's attorneys at this point," Temin said. "If he hires somebody else of his choosing who is a qualified Colorado attorney, that's up to him." JonBenet was found strangled with a skull fracture in her family's mansion nearly a decade ago. Authorities once said parents John and Patsy Ramsey were under "an umbrella of suspicion," but prosecutors in this affluent college town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains have never charged anyone in the case that fascinated the nation. Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy has refused to say exactly what led to Karr's arrest, and persuaded a judge to seal the reasons she had Karr detained in Bangkok last week on charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child. "Despite what may have been disclosed to the public over the many years since the crime, most of the evidence in the affidavit has not been disclosed, nor has the media developed it independently," Assistant District Attorney William Nagel wrote in a court filing this week. The public defender asked a judge to order prosecutors to share all their evidence. Temin said the evidence "cannot legitimately be altered or left unpreserved merely because the state either does not comprehend the value of the evidence or feels that it does not need the evidence. "In either situation, the evidence is almost surely exculpatory in nature," he said. Karr's arrest in a low-rent tourist neighborhood of Bangkok followed four years of e-mail exchanges with a University of Colorado professor who has made documentaries on the case, though Boulder authorities said in a legal filing they learned his name only five days before the arrest. Karr told authorities and reporters in Thailand he was present when JonBenet died, but no one has publicly placed him in Colorado at the time of the crime. A brother, Nate Karr, on Friday issued the strongest alibi statement to date, saying he was certain the suspect spent Christmas 1996 with his family. "I can say almost without question that from the time that John had children he has never missed a Christmas with his family, and that's any Christmas," Nate Karr told ABC's "Good Morning America." "If he was away from his family during Christmas, it would have been a family scandal." The brother said he was uncertain where the family spent the holiday that year. "To the best of our recollection, he was either with us in Atlanta or with (his ex-wife) Lara," Nate Karr said. "It's not as easy as you might think to remember 10 years ago." Nate Karr said "help's on the way" and told The Associated Press he was arranging to go to Colorado to see his brother. He declined to answer other questions.
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