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6/1/2001

Arndt suit trial continues

The Associated Press

DENVER — Linda Arndt was known as an experienced, competent and compassionate detective before she was widely criticized for her handling of the JonBenet Ramsey investigation, her former supervisor said Thursday.

In testimony in Arndt’s civil case against two police chiefs and the city of Boulder, Sgt. Larry Mason said Arndt was a good patrol officer and detective who received above-standard ratings on performance evaluations.

Arndt, 40, filed a lawsuit alleging two police chiefs violated her rights by prohibiting her from challenging media reports that implied she bungled the investigation. Neither chief disputed the false reports, she claimed. She is seeking unspecified damages.

Defense attorneys say the department couldn’t lie to the public about the mistakes Arndt had made and would not publicly defend what individual investigators were doing.

Mason, now a 21-year veteran of the department, said he and Arndt had more experience with homicide investigations than just about anyone else first assigned to the Ramsey case.

Mason was accused of leaking critical information to the media during the first weeks of the investigation into the Dec. 26, 1996, slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet.

He was taken off the case on Jan. 5, 1997, and an internal investigation was launched. He was later exonerated.

Mason testified Thursday that the police department never publicly cleared him of the allegations until after he had threatened a lawsuit.

Opening arguments in the case before U.S. District Judge William F. Downes were heard Wednesday. Arndt, who now works as a tree-trimmer, was expected to testify late today or early next week.