News Organizations Ask Court to Unseal JonBenet Documents

Media organizations asked a judge Monday to unseal the arrest warrant and other documents involving John Mark Karr, who claims he was with 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey when the young beauty pageant queen was killed.

"There is great public interest to learn whether the arrest of John Mark Karr solved the case after a decade or is yet another 'mistake,'" the media court filing said. "Only with disclosure can the public evaluate the competency of the investigation that led to the issuance of the warrant."

The district attorney's office will oppose unsealing the records because the case is still under investigation, spokeswoman Carolyn French said.

Little is publicly known about what evidence Boulder officials may have on Karr. The 41-year-old teacher has told reporters he was with JonBenet when she died in the basement of her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996, and that it was an accident.

Karr returned to the U.S. from Thailand late Sunday and was immediately locked up in a high-security jail cell in Los Angeles. An extradition hearing set for Tuesday morning will determine when he will be sent to Colorado.

On Aug. 15, Boulder County District Judge Roxanne Bailin ordered the case documents sealed, saying disclosure could jeopardize the investigation.

The media attorneys asked for a hearing on the matter.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive how public disclosure of the facts that support probable cause for [Karr's] arrest would compromise further investigation into John Mark Karr's involvement in the crime or the involvement of any other person in the crime," the filing said.

The brief was filed on behalf of The Associated Press, The Denver Post, The [Boulder] Daily Camera, the Rocky Mountain News and two Denver broadcasters, KCNC-TV and KDVR-TV.

"In a democracy, in an open society, there's scrutiny of public officials, and how can there be scrutiny without information?" said John Temple, editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News.

If the judge decides not to release the full documents, the filing asked her to consider releasing edited versions with information crucial to law enforcement officials blacked out.