JonBenet Ramsey case: Boulder DA argues against releasing 1999 indictment of John and Patsy Ramsey

BOULDER, Colo. - The indictment of John and Patsy Ramsey in connection with the death of their 6-year-old daughter, JonBenet, should not be released to the public, the Boulder District Attorney's Office argued Friday.

Although signed by the Grand Jury in 1999, three years after JonBenet's death, 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.

Boulder Daily Camera reporter Charlie Brennan and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit last month trying to compel the District Attorney's Office to release the indictment.  The Daily Camera is not a party to the lawsuit but said it supports the suit.

"The plaintiffs believe … that the indictment is a criminal justice record that reflects official action by the grand jury, and accordingly that it is subject to mandatory disclosure upon request," attorney Thomas B. Kelley wrote in the September complaint. "Alternatively, they argue the indictment should be disclosed to the public because such disclosure would serve the public interest in government transparency and not be contrary to the public interest nor cause undue adverse effect upon the privacy of the individual."

News of the grand jury indictment wasn't revealed until Brennan filed an exclusive story on its existence earlier this year. 

The news came as a shock to many since then-D.A. Hunter announced in 1999 that the grand jury investigating JonBenet's death had concluded without finding "sufficient evidence to warrant a filing of charges against anyone." 

Some legal experts believe Hunter may have actually been required to sign the indictment under state law, and then dismiss it in open court. A new district attorney -- Mary Lacy -- exonerated the Ramsey family in 2008 using DNA evidence from JonBenet's clothing. DNA evidence pointed to a mystery person in connection with the crime.

On Friday, Chief Trial Deputy Sean Finn filed a response to the lawsuit seeking the release of the indictment saying the release of the indictment secretly voted on by Boulder County grand jury in 1999 would be a "breach of promise" to the jurors.

"The plaintiff's interest in the documents they have requested is understandable; few cases have captured the interest of Coloradans, and people throughout the world, like the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey," Finn argued. "But the issue raised by the plaintiff's request and lawsuit are more important than any one case. Every grand juror, and every witness who appears before a grand jury, takes an oath of secrecy, and every witness and grand juror is promised that those involved in the process will honor that oath.

"For this defendant to accede to plaintiff's request and hand over documents from this grand jury would be a breach of promise to the hundreds of citizens serving on grand juries across Colorado, and would undermine the assurances given to grand jurors and witnesses who will be promised secrecy in the future."

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. 

Had she lived, JonBenet Ramsey would be 23 now.

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