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Back to 2000 Headlines

3/16/2000

DA let Smit keep evidence

by B.J.Plasket
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER Court records unsealed on Tuesday show the district attorney's office switched directions last year in a dispute with former detective Lou Smit first demanding the return of Ramsey -investigation material and refusing to allow him to address a grand jury and later allowing him to both keep the case material and testify before the grand jury.

Smit, in fact, is now "free to disclose any information to anyone" under an agreement he signed with District Alex Hunter on March 30, 1999.

Photographs similar to those described in the court papers are appearing in this week's edition of "Newsweek" as part of an article about Smit's theory that an intruder was responsible for the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey .

Hunter on Wednesday declined comment on the situation. Spokeswoman Suzanne Laurion said he will "let the documents speak for themselves."

The documents all filed under secrecy and kept under seal until this week began flying on Feb. 1, 1999, when Hunter filed for a temporary restraining order and injunction requiring Smit to return a crime-scene video, a compact disc containing "investigation photographs" and items copied onto Smit's home computer. Hunter later obtained the temporary order, but it was dropped when the two signed the agreement.

Hunter's motion claimed Smit told him about the items during a January meeting. Smit had quit his contract job as Hunter's special investigator in the Ramsey case in late September 1998.

When he quit after 18 months working for Hunter on the case, Smit said he was disillusioned by law enforcement's focus on John and Patsy Ramsey the girl's parents as suspects. He maintained and still maintains an intruder entered the Ramsey home and killed JonBenet.

Hunter's motion was filed the same day he claims Smit vowed not to return the materials even if he had to "go to jail."

In his answer to the motion, Smit claimed his contract did not require him to return any information. Court papers filed by Smit also expressed concern that information held by him would be destroyed if he gave it back.

In another brief, Smit lawyers Robert Russel and Gregory Walta listed so-called leaks that had been attributed to Hunter, his office and the Boulder police. Among them were allegations that Hunter leaked confidential information to and conspired with tabloid reporter Jeff Shapiro while Detective Steve Thomas set up a "sting" to catch Hunter and Shapiro.

The DA's office, during that same early 1999 time period, made a similar turnaround in its opposition to allowing Smit to testify before the grand jury.

Ramsey prosecutor Michael Kane on Feb. 11 wrote Smit a letter telling him the grand jury had decided not to hear from him. Smit then filed a motion asking District Judge Roxanne Bailin to allow him to address the grand jury.

Although none of the documents indicate that Bailin granted the motion, Kane, in another filing, said Smit addressed the grand jury on March 11.

In that same filing Kane attacked Smit's contention that unmatched finger or palm prints were found on JonBenet's body.

"No such evidence exists," Kane said.

That same grand jury ended its work in October without returning indictments.

The agreement signed by Hunter and Smit allows Smit to "disclose any information to anyone" if no charges are filed by Oct. 1, 1999.

The agreement allows Smit to keep a copy of the CD containing photographs and other information, but also requires that he "not intentionally interfere with the investigation" and precludes him from relaying prior conversations with Ramsey prosecutors.