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6/5/2001

Expert testifies Arndt not supported by Boulder police

By B.J. Plasket
The Daily Times-Call

DENVER — The Boulder Police Department defended the work of other Ramsey -case detectives but left Linda Arndt out to dry, a police-standards expert testified Monday in the fifth day of Arndt’s free-speech trial.

Donald Vanblaricom, the retired chief of the Bellevue, Wash., Police Department, also called Arndt’s conduct at the JonBenet Ramsey murder scene “reasonable” under the circumstances.

Vanblaricom, who has testified in dozens of trials, said the Ramsey investigation would not have been jeopardized if police had publicly corrected false information blaming Arndt for mistakes made at the crime scene.

Arndt’s suit claims Boulder police “scapegoated” her for mistakes made in the case and ruined her career by not allowing her to defend herself.

Arndt’s lawyers have claimed she has been falsely accused of missteps that included leaving behind a flashlight and a hammer found at the scene, destroying physical evidence, and refusing to allow the FBI to enter the Ramsey home.

They claim none of those things happened and that Boulder police knew it when they refused to defend Arndt.

Vanblaricom took specific aim at an apparently false rumor that Arndt took a medical leave from her job because of guilt over mistakes she made at the Ramsey crime scene.

“That was the most devastating thing said about her,” Vanblaricom told the six-woman, two-man jury hearing the case. “That should have been cleared up immediately.”

Vanblaricom also said Arndt acted properly when she moved JonBenet’s body from a hallway in the family home.

“It’s advisable to move the body out of a walkway,” he said, adding that Arndt did not contaminate the body by touching it. He said any trace evidence left by Arndt could quickly be traced to her.

“It wouldn’t make a difference unless she was a suspect,” he said.

Vanblaricom said the fact that several of the false reports came from within the department shows Arndt was “backstabbed” by the department.

“They blamed her for their problems in not solving the crime,” he said.

The trial was scheduled to end on Wednesday, but delays in jury selection and extensive cross-examination have made that deadline a near impossibility. Arndt has yet to testify and the defense is expected to call former police chief Tom Koby, whose testimony is likely to last at least a day.

B.J. Plasket can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 451, or by e-mail at bplasket@times-call.com.