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4/9/2003

Police, DA at odds again in Ramsey case

By Travis Henry
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — From early on, Boulder police and the district attorney’s office never seemed to see eye to eye in the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Monday’s announcement by District Attorney Mary Keenan that evidence in the case suggests that an intruder, rather than JonBenet’s mother, killed the 6-year-old was no different.

Police Chief Mark Beckner issued a statement Monday evening after Keenan’s press release was sent to local media.

“I am surprised that the district attorney chose to make public her personal beliefs about the case at this time,” Beckner’s statement said. “Many will take her statement as further criticism of the Boulder Police Department. However, we do not wish to debate or discuss the weight of the evidence, as we still hope that someday there will be a prosecution in this case.”

Boulder police never officially named a suspect in the case, but it was stated that John and Patsy Ramsey were “under an umbrella of suspicion.”

In the early days of the investigation into JonBenet’s Christmas night 1996 slaying, then-District Attorney Alex Hunter and police were at each other’s throats, each side claiming that the other was bungling the case. The fighting seemed to cool as the years went on, especially after Hunter retired and Keenan took office in 2001.

Last December, at the request of Keenan, Boulder police handed the primary responsibility of investigating the murder over to the district attorney’s office.

In December, Beckner said he hoped the “new turn” in the investigation would lead the Ramseys to be more open about what they know about their daughter’s death.

The move was well received by the Ramseys, who had long maintained that Boulder police unfairly focused their investigation on them and failed to follow up on other leads.

Keenan reportedly met with the Ramseys in February and said in her statement Monday that the investigation was “proceeding with the full cooperation of the Ramseys, Detective Lou Smit and the Boulder Police Department.”

Smit — a retired detective from Colorado Springs — quit the case in 1998, because he felt authorities were wrongly concentrating on the parents. Since Keenan took over as district attorney, Smit is back on the case.

Beckner said Monday that the police department continues to play a supporting role and that turning the case over to the district attorney’s office produced the desired effect.

“The primary goal of this new direction was to further the investigation in a positive manner,” Beck-
ner’s statement said. “At the time, we had hoped that a fresh perspective would advance the investigation, including involvement from the Ramsey family, and that has apparently occurred.”

Both Keenan and Beckner said Monday that the statements released would be the only comments they have on the case at this time.