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3/31/2001

DA resists effort to release JonBenet files

By Travis Henry
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office is asking a federal judge to block a subpoena ordering it to hand over all documents related to the JonBenet Ramsey murder to the New York Post.

The district attorney’s office filed a motion Thursday in Denver stating that the New York Post’s requests for documents was too broad, placed undue burden on the district attorney and asked for privileged information.

An order was issued March 15, demanding the district attorney’s office hand over all documents connected with the murder to the paper — including those from the grand jury — by Monday.

The order is on hold until a judge rules on the district attorney’s motion.

District Attorney Mary Keenan said Friday that while her office will comply with any court order, she believes the documents should remain sealed.

“This is still a pending investigation,” Keenan said. “We are opposed to releasing any documents in a pending investigation.”

Keenan said she also is vehemently opposed to releasing any documents related to the grand jury proceedings that finished its 13-month investigation in October 1999 without an indictment.

“The grand jury investigation is certainly secret and closed,” Keenan said. “We will do anything to protect the sanctity of the grand jury investigation.”

The district attorney’s motion also claims that the Post’s request would place a burden on the district attorney’s office, which would be required to pore over thousands of documents in 24 categories related to the case — much of which is privileged or protected information.

While the district attorney’s office was filing its motion, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey were filing a lawsuit against former Boulder police Detective Steve Thomas for statements in his book in which he accuses the couple of having a role in their daughter’s death.

John and Patsy Ramsey filed an $80 million, 51-page libel and defamation lawsuit Thursday against Thomas and unidentified officers of the Boulder Police Department.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta alleges Thomas libeled them, intentionally inflicted emotional harm and violated their constitutional rights by releasing information from an open investigation.

The Ramseys also claim Thomas made false accusations about the couple in the book “JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation” and subsequent interviews promoting the book.

The suit accuses Thomas of securing a six-figure book contract with the promise he would say Patsy Ramsey killed 6-year-old JonBenet and John Ramsey covered up the crime.

The Ramseys are seeking damages from Thomas, publisher St. Martin’s Press and several other defendants, including unidentified Boulder police officials who the Ramseys allege supplied Thomas with material for his work.

Police have said the Ramseys remain under suspicion in the December 1996 strangulation and beating death of their daughter, whose body was found in the basement of their Boulder home.

The Ramseys ’ lawsuit against Thomas is just the latest in a string of lawsuits filed in connection with the case.

John and Patsy Ramsey themselves are being sued by former Boulder reporter Chris Wolf, who claims that the couple libeled and slandered him by connecting him to their daughter’s murder .

Wolf was mentioned as a possible suspect in the Ramseys ’ book, “The Death of Innocence,” during media interviews promoting the book and in profiles prepared by the Ramseys ’ private investigators, according to the lawsuit.

The Ramseys ’ former housekeeper, Linda Hoffmann-Pugh, has also filed a lawsuit claiming her civil rights are being violated because state law blocks her from using her grand jury testimony in a book.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Henry can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 326, or by e-mail at thenry@times-call.com.