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DA rummages through memories on last day

By Travis Henry
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — Most of the antique furniture is gone.

Boxes are piled high with case files and newspaper clippings spanning nearly three decades.

The leather chairs that used to seat outgoing district attorney Alex Hunter’s most trusted advisers in his office are no longer placed in a circle.

It is moving day. Time to move on.

“As I wind down in the last hours, I feel very humbled I was able to sit in this position of power,” an introspective Hunter said Monday. “I am very grateful I have had the opportunity to do this work.”

When prosecutor Mary Keenan is sworn in as district attorney today, it will mark the end of Hunter’s 28-year reign as the county’s top prosecutor.

He believes his biggest accomplishments have been bringing together different government agencies in collaborative efforts to help stop crime before it starts.

He is most proud of the Genesis project, which helps teen-age parents develop sound child-rearing skills and plan for the future.

In 1990, Hunter joined with the Boulder County commissioners and opted to use money confiscated from drug dealers to fund prevention programs, including Genesis.

The program originated after Hunter met with officials from the Health Department, the police, social services and schools.

“I think I am a good collaborator. I learned that from my father,” Hunter said. “I have never had a problem with ‘turf’ issues. There has been quite a payoff for the county because of that.”

Although Hunter’s numerous awards are packed away, the picture of JonBenet Ramsey that sat on his desk still remains.

“From a pride and ego standpoint — I have tried to learn over my years to reign those in — I would have liked to see the ‘R’ case solved on my watch,” Hunter said. “But I am at peace with having made the call that was made on Oct. 13.”

On that day in 1999, the grand jury convened in the 1996 murder case was dismissed without issuing an indictment.

“I have that regret, but that was the way it had to be,” Hunter said. “I stayed true to the law.”

While saying he would not take all of the credit for Boulder County’s low crime rate compared to the rest of the state, Hunter said he believes his office has played a significant part.

“The innovation and the good that has come out of this office is because of the people I have had in here and they deserve a tremendous amount of credit,” Hunter said.

“This is a pretty good place to live. I think the district attorney’s job is to keep his or her eye on the community and make sure people can pursue a good life.”

Hunter plans to attend Keenan’s inauguration today and will begin the quiet life on Wednesday.

He said that on his first day of official retirement he will wake up, exercise and then begin doing some writing he says he has put off for too long.

Hunter estimates that throughout the years he has seen more than 200,000 cases and says he leaves with few regrets.

“Reflecting over all of those cases, I think we made the right calls,” Hunter said. “I think that is a lot to say over 28 years.”