JonBenet Ramsey murder: Grand jury voted to indict parents, former district attorney refused

Family members eventually cleared by DNA

BOULDER, Colo. - A grand jury investigating JonBenet Ramsey's death voted to indict her parents on child abuse resulting in death in 1999, according to an exclusive report by our partners at The Boulder Daily Camera

However, then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign the indictment and prosecute the case, the Camera reports.  Hunter reportedly believed he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The 6-year-old beauty queen was found dead in her home on Christmas night in 1996.

Police initially suspected family members, including her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, and her brother, Burke.

But in 2008, District Attorney Mary Lacy cleared JonBenet's parents and brother based on updated DNA analysis.

"I have known for years that Boulder prosecutors did not file charges against John or Patsy Ramsey because the evidence to prosecute them did not exist," said Ramsey family attorney L. Lin Wood. "Assuming the recent reporting is accurate, perhaps the confusion of the grand jury over alleged child abuse could have been avoided if prosecutors had permitted John and Patsy to testify before the grand jury, which they repeatedly offered to do at the time. The DNA tests performed after the time of the Boulder grand jury not only prove the Ramsey family to be innocent and the grand jury wrong, they also make former District Attorney Alex Hunter a hero who wisely avoided a gross miscarriage of justice."

-- Reaction to the report --

Legal analyst and defense attorney, Dan Recht called the case unusual, and told 7NEWS he couldn't recall another like it.

He speculates the jury compromised to a point Hunter felt didn't fit the facts of the case.  Whether that was within the power of the District Attorney, Recht said is unclear.

"When I read the rules as I did earlier today, it seems like in fact, he had the power to do that and he certainly did. But I know there's other legal experts that are saying that when a grand jury has an indictment signed by a jury foreman then the prosecutor is obligated to sign that indictment and present it to the court," Recht said.

7NEWS asked Recht why the former District Attorney wasn't transparent with his decision.

"The whole world was watching this case back eleven years ago, and yes, I think he didn't want his decision debated in sort of a national press," Recht said.

7NEWS took our questions to Hunter's home but no one answered the door.

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