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Alex Hunter answers c

by B.J.Plasket
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER In the first 39 months following the slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey , District Attorney Alex Hunter said little publicly, even in the face of massive criticism.

But that seems to be changing for Hunter, who began granting interviews last week and has since gone on the offensive.

In a Tuesday interview with the Times-Call, Hunter angrily lashed out at his critics especially former Boulder detective Steve Thomas, whose highly critical book about the Ramsey case will be released this month.

"I would say to my critics," the normally soft-spoken Hunter said, "If it is all that bad (here), then head on down the road somewhere."

Hunter, who is completing his seventh and last term in office, said his administration has won "a ton of plaques" during his nearly 28-year tenure in office.

He added the majority of the public has shown it agrees with him by re-electing him six times.

Hunter also bristled when asked why Gov. Bill Owens was not told of a secret agreement made with former detective Lou Smit when Owens was pondering the appointment of a special prosecutor last year. That agreement allowed Smit now an employee of John and Patsy Ramsey to keep photographs, videotapes and other evidence items gathered while he worked on the case.

"It was old stuff," Hunter said of the material Smit was allowed to take. Smit's agreement now allows him to do anything he pleases with the material.

When asked why Owens wasn't told of the deal, Hunter snapped back, "What does that have to with it?"

He said Owens was "not privy to anything from the grand jury."

He refused to comment, however, on how Smit got his wish to address the grand jury that investigated the case for 18 months but did not return indictments.

Prosecutors at first wrote Smit a letter turning down his request to testify, but changed their minds weeks later after Smit's lawyers made allegations that Hunter's office was responsible for leaks in the case.

Hunter's harshest criticism was aimed at Thomas, who quit his job in disgust and publicly accused Hunter of sharing case information with the Ramseys .

Hunter, when asked about the ethical ramifications of his attempt to use tabloid reporter Jeff Shapiro to discredit Det. John Eller, turned the tables and pointed at Thomas, who equipped Shapiro with a body microphone in an attempt to snare Hunter.

"I have an ethical problem with putting a wire on someone (to discredit the DA)," he said.

"It gives you an insight into a zealot," he said of Thomas.

Hunter also reiterated his earlier statement that neither Thomas nor Eller his two harshest critics among the Boulder police had ever investigated a homicide.

Hunter, while saying he "doesn't think" Smit will share his grand-jury knowledge with the Ramseys , did take the detective to task.

"Lou's out of line in doing what he's doing," Hunter said. "He got off track."

Smit quit the case because he thought police and prosecutors were unfairly targeting the Ramseys and has vowed to find the intruder he believes is the killer.

When asked if he thinks police mistakes have critically wounded the investigation, Hunter said, "Look at me no."

He also claimed there were no ethical violations committed by anyone in his office.

Prosecutors and police are scheduled to meet on the case sometime soon, but a date has not been set for the Boulder meeting.

Hunter said the meeting will not determine the future of the case.

"A smoking gun won't come out of it," he said.