Boulder DA: Karr Did Not Kill JonBenet

Karr To Be Extradited On Child Porn Charges JonBenet

Prosecutors acknowledged Tuesday that they had no concrete evidence beyond the rambling confessions of John Mark Karr before they arrested him two weeks ago in the unsolved slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

A day after the case against Karr was dropped, District Attorney Mary Lacy and her team defended their decision to bring him to Colorado from halfway around the world on a jumbo jet, with champagne and prawns for dinner, for DNA testing that ultimately cleared him as a suspect.

"The decisions were mine," Lacy said Tuesday morning. "I should be held accountable."

Just as she began taking questions, a fire alarm disrupted the news conference, but it resumed a few minutes later.

Lacy Defends Decision

Boulder's district attorney never backed down from her decision to extradite Karr. She said that, based on Karr's statements, her office had probable cause to arrest him in the case.

She said it was difficult to separate fact from fantasy in his lurid, graphic accounts and that his obvious predilection for little girls forced her hand.

"We felt we could not ignore this. We had to follow it," she said. "There was a real public safety concern here directed at a particular child (in Thailand.) I have to tell you that was a huge factor."

And a forensic psychologist said Karr "was dangerous, this person was escalating," she said.

"He has the pyschopathy, the background, that you would expect or look for in a person that's committed a crime of this nature," Lacy said.

She said Karr was so emotionally involved in the Ramsey case that he couldn't be taken lightly.

"In this case, because he believed it himself and continues to believe, he had all of the emotional import that you would have ... Did anyone have the opportunity to listen to the telephone calls of the 15th of July and the 22nd of July? The man is sobbing as he's telling his story. He can't talk. He goes away from the phone. He comes back," she said.

Also, extraditing him to Boulder was the only way, she said, that a pristine DNA sample could be obtained. She said investigators surreptitiously took several DNA samples from Karr from multiple locations before he was detained in Thailand.

"Two different officers took DNA off of the bicycle that he rode. On a separate occasion, they obtained a cup that he used to drink from and a tissue or wipe that he used to wipe his hands," Lacy said.

However, the DNA samples weren't good enough to verify his claims and weren't good enough to rule him out. A Denver police DNA expert said that they needed a pure swab from the inside of Karr's cheek.

"We couldn't get his consent because he didn't know he was under investigation and we couldn't alert him at that time," she said.

She said her office has checked out some 200 suspects over the years and dealt with "dozens" of false confessions. The problem, she said, is that there is nothing left that only the killer would know.

"As far as we can tell, there is no physical evidence in this case that has not been in the public domain," Lacy said. "The ability of our office or any law enforcement to connect this kind of a person -- based on something they know about it that no one else knows -- was gone a long time ago."

Lacy said that when she started reading the e-mail's from Karr that she was skeptical but she felt she couldn't ignore them.

"This guy confessed on numerous occasions in great deal," said Peter Maguire, a deputy district attorney. "He confessed in e-mails, he confessed in telephone conversations ... he admitted it to a police officer. This was a bizarre crime and the person who committed this crime acted in a bizarre way."

DA Responds To Criticism

Lacy told reporters that Karr was not the first suspect to be tested for DNA in the 10-year JonBenet Ramsey investigation.

"We have made other trips to investigate other people in the case, but they didn't come to the attention of the media because they were in this country," she said. She did not elaborate.

Lacy said she wouldn't change a thing about how she approached the investigation, except perhaps making a stronger effort to keep details from the media.

The Boulder district attorney said she is aware that people have called for her resignation but she has no plans to step down. Lacy will be forced out by term limits in 2008.

She said she has received dozens of calls from angry citizens. One person told her in a voice mail that she should be "tarred and feathered" and "run out of town."

"It's been a very difficult few days for all of us," said Lacy. "Before you become judgmental, try to place yourself back in our spot, starting in May and coming forward. Would you have made decisions differently? Or would you have found flight and safety of children an important factor? Important enough to proceed the way we did?"

She admits the two-week ordeal with Karr may have given her department a black eye.

"I feel bad for the community that questions what we did because they have lost some trust in the system," Lacy said.

As for the expenses incurred in the investigation, she said the Karr case had a tab of a little more than $10,000, including two $3,000 business-class plane tickets for the flight from Bangkok to the United States. Other expenses include travel to Atlanta, travel to Bangkok, motel rentals in Bangkok and miscellaneous shipping and meal costs.

"Relatively speaking, it wasn't a huge amount of money," Lacy said.

The cost of the state plane that was used to get Karr from California to Boulder will be shouldered by the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, she said.

Not part of the expenses was a full-time investigator hired to continue probing the 10-year-old slaying. He will continue with his job because the anniversary of her death and all the recent stories about Ramsey is bringing new leads to the case, she said.

"This (media frenzy) has triggered new leads. However, they meet the profile of the types of leads that we get at this office," said Tom Bennett, the D.A.'s chief investigator.

He said the leads have come from anonymous callers providing a name, but no location, or time frame.

"Typically, the information doesn't merit the test of truth (and) it's of little value," said Bennett.

Lacy Admits Karr Not Their Man

Lacy said her office moved aggressively to arrest Karr when it had no evidence other than his own admissions but she added that she now believes Karr did not kill JonBenet.

"I believe that he did not commit this crime," Lacy told reporters. She said she knew Saturday that the DNA didn't match.

She called John Ramsey's attorney and close friend and told them on Sunday that Karr was not their man. She also informed Michael Tracey -- the professor that Karr had been corresponding with -- over the weekend. Prosecutors waited until Monday to inform Karr's public defender so that the Ramesy family could have 24 hours to digest the latest news.

"In addition, Mike Tracey felt some personal risk to himself and what was going to happen if this guy was cut loose," Lacy said.

The Boulder DA described Tracey as a confidential informant, saying he had written many things at the behest of the prosecutor, including the idea of writing a book, so that they would get Karr to continue talking.

But there were no phone records, no credit card records, and not one individual identifying Karr as being in Colorado at the time of the killing, 7NEWS reported.

"We started immediately upon his detention checking background, checking credit card records, we checked financial records. We were not able to establish he was in Boulder," Lacy said.

Lacy said her initial press conference was not about thanking people, and congratulating people on getting the "killer," it was about sending a message to the media.

"Back off, give us a little space. We are in the early stage of the investigation, not the late stage," said Lacy, explaining the gist of her first press conference on Karr's arrest.

What Happens To Karr Now?

Karr was being held at the Boulder jail until he can be sent to Sonoma County, Calif., to face misdemeanor child pornography charges dating to 2001.

District Judge Roxanne Bailin on Tuesday ordered Karr sent to California by Sept. 13, saying he had violated terms of his bond in that state by failing to show up for a hearing on the pornography charges. If convicted, Karr could get a year in prison on each count.

Karr's father and brother, Wexford and Nate Karr, met with John Karr inside the Boulder jail on Tuesday morning. They spent about an hour talking to him through a glass wall. It was the first time either had seen him in five years and it was quite emotional for his family, 7NEWS reported. Karr asked his brother and father how his kids were doing. He hasn't been able to see them since he became estranged from his wife.

As for Karr, Lacy said she will cooperate with Sonoma County authorities "to get him convicted, registered, treated and supervised."

"I also know that at least every parent in this country has seen his picture and knows his name so you have some ability to protect yourself against him," Lacy said.

Lee Carty, communications director for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, said a court cannot force Karr into treatment unless he is declared incompetent, and every state has its own definition of incompetence.

"The question is, does he want it?" Carty said. "He has the right to seek treatment or not. He can be encouraged, but he can't be forced to. And who knows, maybe he'd like to."

How Karr Became Suspect

Lacy said Karr emerged as a suspect in April after he spent several years exchanging e-mails and 11 telephone calls with a University of Colorado journalism professor who had produced documentaries on the case.

The District Attorney's office released explicit details of statements Karr had made in those exchanges with professor Michael Tracey, who had alerted authorities. Karr told the professor he accidentally killed JonBenet during sex and tasted her blood after he injured her, prosecutors said.

"Are you asking me why I killed JonBenet? I don't see it that way," Karr wrote in a May 22 e-mail. "Her and I were engaging in a romantic and very sexual interaction. It went bad and it was my fault." He later said he had tightened rope around her neck while he became sexually aroused and lost track of time, accidentally killing her.

In a telephone call on July 15 Karr told Tracey that he viewed JonBenet as a "goddess" and said she agreed with just about everything he asked her to do the night she died.

"I said, 'Oh JonBenet, you're more powerful in death. I must partake of you, I must partake of you, some way I must partake of you. I must drink you,'" Karr had said in one recording.

Karr lashed out at those who don't understand him, especially adults.

"I told you the last time we talked that I'm very strange but I don't think I should say that. I'm just very unique. I want to worship little girls like they're goddesses and that's just me," Karr said in the July 15 call.

In an earlier e-mail, Karr wrote: "I do not write anything to fascinate you. I'm only sharing. Sharing anything about Jonbenet's death is horrible for me."

His claims included personal details investigators were able to verify, including the fact that his mother tried to burn him when he was a child, Lacy said.

That suggested he might be telling the truth about being a killer, even though his references to everything from JonBenet's bracelet and runny nose to her bludgeoned skull can be easily found in books or on the Web, prosecutors said.

But the claims were lies, prosecutors said. The Denver crime lab conducted DNA tests Friday on a cheek swab taken from Karr and were unable to connect him to the crime.

"This information is critical because ... if Mr. Karr's account of his sexual involvement with the victim were accurate, it would have been highly likely that his saliva would have been mixed with the blood in the underwear," Lacy said in court papers.

Defense attorney Seth Temin said Karr never should have been arrested.

"John Karr inserted himself into this," Lacy said. "I don't have a great deal of sympathy for John Karr. I have sympathy for his family."

Lacy, explaining her decision to extradite Karr, said he was about to start a teaching job in Thailand, and in his correspondence began to describe an interest in several girls "in much the same terms that he had described his interest in JonBenet," Lacy said in court papers.

In a July 19 e-mail, Karr described feeling excited because two 5-year-olds were "flashing their hot little bellybuttons at me" and later said a "naked little foot felt so sexy in my hand," prosecutors said. Karr's arrest was less than a month later.

Karr didn't just talk about JonBenet, but he also went into his obsession with young girls.

He also wrote, "I have had sex with teens and I have had sex with little girls. The experience is unreal and limited. This is what fuels the sexual frustration."

In his last email to Tracey on Aug. 15 -- the day before he was arrested in Thailand -- Karr wrote that he could go back to Europe as a nanny once he becomes a woman. He said he was depressed, worrying about his new job at school and a book he was writing about JonBenet's death.

"The memory of JonBenet is killing me at times. I can't close the book -- I have to live it day in and day out. And that takes its toll on me. Thank you for your closeness. I wonder what will happen to Daxis? I think his time is coming soon. I'm just not sure if he is rising or falling. Probably a combination of both which has been the story of my life."

Tracey told reporters Monday night that what he endured was horrible but that the information Karr revealed was so detailed it was his obligation to alert authorities.

Prosecutors suggested in court papers that Karr was just a man with a twisted obsession who confessed to a crime he didn't commit. Karr had made graphic claims in a series of emails about JonBenet's killing, describing sexual acts with her, her death and writing at one point that he envisioned Johnny Depp playing him in a movie about how he killed JonBenet. He wrote that the movie would make $1 billion.

Reaction To Latest Developments

JonBenet's aunt, Pamela Paugh, said Tuesday that she wasn't terribly shocked to learn that Karr's public confession to being with JonBenet when she died didn't hold up.

"I think one of two things is going on: Either he is quite disturbed, and in that respect needs a lot of help and care, or he has perpetrated quite the fraud on the American public and the victims' families, and he needs help and a lot of care," Paugh told a network television show.

"For us, this isn't a story that ebbs and flows -- this is real life. So we have to maintain a certain amount of calmness through anything that happens. Otherwise you can be on a rollercoaster every week of your life."

JonBenet's father found the little girl's body in the basement of their Boulder home on the day after Christmas 1996. For years, suspicion has focused on either an intruder or the girl's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey.

Karr was fascinated with JonBenet and Polly Klaas, a murdered California girl and said after his arrest in Thailand earlier this month that he JonBenet's death was an accident. Prosecutors suggested in court papers that Karr was just a man with a twisted obsession who confessed to a crime he didn't commit.

Karr was never formally charged in the Ramsey slaying.

When Karr was arrested in Thailand, Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood pronounced it a vindication for JonBenet's parents. Patsy Ramsey died of cancer in June.

On Monday, the attorney said: "From day one, John Ramsey publicly stated that he did not want the public or the media to jump to judgment. He did not want the public or the media to engage in speculation, that he wanted the justice system to take its course."

Gov. Bill Owens issued a statement on Monday that blasted the Boulder district attorney:

"Unfortunately, the hysterics surrounding John Mark Karr served only to distract Boulder officials from doing their job which should be solving the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. I find it incredible that Boulder authorities wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars to bring Karr to Colorado given such a lack of evidence. Mary Lacy should be held accountable for the most extravagant and expensive DNA test in Colorado history."

Lacy addressed the governor's criticism at her Tuesday news conference.

"I think he reacted yesterday. I think he's a reasonable man. He reacted yesterday without having the opportunity to read the e-mails, to listen to the phone calls, to have the affidavit, to go over everything ... and I suspect, based on the knowledge of him, he would believe differently after he's had a chance to do that," Lacy said.

Nate Karr said he was elated his brother would not be charged. "We're just going to be celebrating with family," he said.

But Scott Robinson, a Denver attorney who has followed the case from the beginning, said Karr may be charged with lying about his role.

"Seems to me there should be some criminal consequences," he said. "He has cost the taxpayers an enormous amount of money."

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