DENVER — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the parents of slain beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey , criticizing police and the FBI for a media campaign aimed at making the family look guilty.
It is the second victory for John and Patsy Ramsey this year. In February, Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan announced she had taken the case out of the control of Boulder police.
Lawyer L. Lin Wood, who represents the Ramseys , says they have won every time the case has gone to court, including four cases in which he has defended them against lawsuits. He said the civil suits were attempts to prove the Ramseys guilty of their daughter’s murder.
“I think this decision, coupled with Mary Keenan’s decision, should allow the Ramseys to win in the court of public opinion also,” Wood said Saturday. “(U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes) recognizes in her order that the FBI and the Boulder police used the media to convince people the Ramseys were guilty,” Wood said in a telephone interview from his Atlanta-area home, where the Ramseys live.
“Pursuant to the FBI’s suggestion that the Boulder police publicly name defendants ( Ramseys in the civil suit) as subjects and apply intense media pressure to them so they would confess to the crime, the police released many statements that implied defendants were guilty and were not cooperating with police,” Carnes said.
Boulder police have never charged the Ramseys in the murder of JonBenet, whose body was found in the family home on the morning of Dec. 26, 1996. However, they refused to clear the parents of suspicion and ruled out the possibility that an intruder killed the 6-year-old.
U.S. District Court Judge Julie Carnes of Atlanta, in a decision released this week, said there is no evidence showing the parents killed JonBenet but considerable evidence showing that an intruder killed the child.
Carnes’ 93-page ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Chris Wolf, a former Boulder journalist the Ramseys described as a suspect in a book they wrote about the murder.
She said the Ramseys had defamed Wolf, but to win his case he would have had to put the Ramseys on trial for murder.
“In short, plaintiff’s success in this litigation requires him to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that defendants killed their child.”
The judge said she dismissed the suit “because there is virtually no evidence to support plaintiff’s theory that they murdered their child, but abundant evidence to support their belief that an intruder entered their home at some point during the night of Dec. 25, 1996 and killed their daughter.”
The judge said former police detective Steve Thomas had no previous experience with murder cases before playing a key role in the Ramsey investigation. She said a former police detective hired by the Ramseys , Lou Smit, had considerable experience and gathered abundant evidence in support of the intruder theory.