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Hunter discusses Rams

by B.J.Plasket
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER District Attorney Alex Hunter will advise Boulder police against giving lie-detector tests to John and Patsy Ramsey , he said in a national TV appearance Thursday night.

Hunter, speaking on CNN's "Larry King Live," also claimed former Gov. Roy Romer was responsible for the removal of two long-time deputy prosecutors from the case in 1998 and that "psychological linguistics" tests are being performed on the ransom note found at the scene of JonBenet's murder .

The nearly hour-long interview was the most extensive given by Hunter during the now-39-month-old investigation.

Responding to the Ramseys ' recent offer to submit to polygraph tests, Hunter said he will advise Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner to decline the Ramseys ' offer.

"The problem is reliability," he said of the polygraph. "I don't buy it."

Hunter said if one or both of the Ramseys were to fail a polygraph and another person were someday tried in the case, their polygraph tests "would compromise the case." He also said drugs can be taken that alter the perspiration rate measured by the polygraph.

Hunter also took issue with John Ramsey 's statement that he and Patsy agreed to polygraph tests early in the case.

"They were asked if they would in April 1997," he said. "They have a right to change their minds."

Hunter said the final decision regarding lie-detector tests lies with Beckner.

"He will have to make the call," he said.

The seven-term district attorney, who is not seeking re-election, also admitted his friendship with two deputies was "strained" when he removed them from the case in 1998 at Romer's urging.

Deputies Peter Hofstrom and Trip DeMuth were removed, Hunter said, after Romer "suggested we needed to put new blood into it," and said the probe needed to be re-energized.

Hunter said the two were also removed in part because "some objectivity had been lost."

DeMuth is one of four people running for the post Hunter will vacate in January.

While refusing to answer questions regarding evidence in the case, Hunter said DNA testing is still being conducted and that some tests are taking place "outside this country."

Hunter called the ransom note found in the Ramsey home on Dec. 26, 1996, "peculiar" and said it is being studied by psychological linguistics experts.

The results of those studies, however, are not admissible in American courts, he said.

The linguistics tests are designed to profile the psychological makeup of the person who wrote the note.

"It's an investigative tool," Hunter said.

Hunter's first national assessment of the case in three years lacked the confidence he expressed early on in the investigation.

"It's a tough case, Larry," he told host Larry King. "There is insufficient evidence."

Hunter told King he is proud of his role in the case, which has brought him the strongest criticism he has seen in his nearly 28-year tenure.

"I do sleep nights without pills," he said.