Experts Disagree on Ramsey DNA Evidence
NEW YORK – Forensics experts familiar with the JonBenet Ramsey murder are offering conflicting views of whether there was enough evidence to bring charges in the case.
Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, a world-renowned coroner serving in Allegheny County, Pa., told Fox News Online that a lack of matching DNA should not have prevented charges from being brought against the Ramseys or somebody else.
"In my opinion, (the inconclusive DNA) should not be any reason to have the district attorney refrain from moving ahead with an indictment," Wecht said.
Genetic material may have been present previous to JonBenet’s death, he said, and it still may be useful years later, such as in the 45-year-old Marilyn Sheppard murder case that he is working on. "DNA is important, but the presence of some DNA that does not belong to John, Patsy or Burke does not mean in any way there was an intruder," Wecht said. "It may have just been there from somebody else."
Conversely, forensic scientist Henry Lee, who advised Ramsey prosecutors and previously worked on the O.J. Simpson case, told Connecticut TV station WFSB-TV that he wonders whether the child beauty queen was even murdered.
Lee said it's possible JonBenet’s death was an accident, which was covered-up to make it look like a homicide, in which case there really isn’t a killer.
Regardless of the actual circumstances, Jay A. Siegel, professor of forensic science at Michigan State University, said, "It’s pretty clear that they haven’t got enough evidence to indict the parents or anybody else."
Siegel said unless the incident’s details are known, DNA evidence is a tricky thing for grand juries to evaluate.
"(Without) a clear-cut case of the circumstances, which you don’t have here, interpreting that evidence is very difficult to do," he said.
Handwriting analysis, which was used in the case without implicating anyone, is "more an art than a science," Siegel noted.
"There’s no smoking gun here that points specifically to anybody," he said. "This may be one of these cases that never gets solved absent some sort of confession or admission."
Myrna Raeder, a professor at Southwestern University School of Law, agreed that the case may have been lost before the investigation really began.
"Everything that has been made public certainly makes the initial handling of the crime scene very problematic," she said. She questioned allowing people to walk through the house — "particularly people who may become prime suspects."
The preservation of DNA samples also was compromised, Raeder said, but she added, "You may not be able to identify that one person is responsible from forensic evidence."
Wecht said the Ramseys' financial clout afforded them special treatment by police investigating the murder, but he holds District Attorney Alex Hunter responsible for there not being a strong case.
"For Alex Hunter and the people defending his decision, to place the blame on the police and say what they did or failed to do is the basis for the terrible state of the case. That’s just very, very unfair, and it is a cop-out," he said. "This all comes back to Hunter."
The implications of the case go further than Boulder, he said, adding that he’s "disgusted" by what this means for the public’s view of the courts.
"This is a travesty of justice," he said. "This is an insult to the justice system."