New Prosecutor Takes Fresh Look at JonBenet Ramsey Case

A new Boulder County district attorney plans to take a new look at one of the country's most high-profile cold cases — the slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

Incoming District Attorney Stan Garnett said he'll decide what to do with the investigation in his first 30 days on the job, which he starts Jan. 13. His predecessor, Mary Lacy, publicly exonerated the Ramsey family this year in the Dec. 26, 1996, murder.

"I want to look very closely at the resources of the DA's Office and make a careful decision about what resources to continue to expend on the case," Garnett said.

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He said he is thinking of sending the case back to the police. The DA's office took over the investigation in 2002 because of concerns about the police department's handling of it.

Garnett said the police department likely has more resources now and is better equipped to handle the investigation.

JonBenet was a 6-year-old beauty queen when she was found bludgeoned and strangled in the basement of her parents' Boulder home just after Christmas in 1996. The case has taken many twists and turns, starting with former DA Alex Hunter declaring soon after the murder that JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, were under "an umbrella of suspicion."

A grand jury was convened in 1998 to consider the case but adjourned a year later without issuing any indictments. Hunter decided not to run again and left office in 2001.

Lacy was elected to replace Hunter, and in 2002 her office took over the investigation from the police, promising to take a fresh look. She agreed with a federal judge in a defamation lawsuit involving the Ramseys that the evidence was more consistent with the theory that an intruder killed JonBenet.

Three years later, months after Patsy Ramsey died from cancer, the case made international news when John Mark Karr, an American teacher in Thailand, made a bizarre confession to the slaying.

He was whisked from Thailand to Colorado but was released after prosecutors concluded he couldn't have killed her.

Last July, Lacy cleared the Ramseys in the slaying and said new DNA tests pointed to an unknown outsider. Investigators hope to one day match crime scene DNA to a suspect in a growing national DNA registry.

Lacy couldn't run again because of term limits.

Denver defense attorney Larry Pozner said he believes turning the investigation back to the Boulder police is a bad idea.

"The Boulder police were neither fair, nor accurate, in their initial investigation, and there's no reason to think they should be trusted again," said Pozner, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Scott Robinson, a Denver defense attorney who has followed the case, said the Boulder Police Department is far different from more than a decade ago.

Robinson, though, said he's not sure there's much anyone can do in the absence of new DNA evidence or a verifiable confession from the killer.

"The case is as cold as cold can be," he said.