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1/15/1997

Two arrested in photo

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Lawrence S. Smith, 36, and Brett Allen Sawyer, 38, of Boulder were arrested this morning for their role in leaking photos in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.

The arrests come 24 hours after county officials announced that the Globe would return the seven photographs.

Photo Craft Laboratories Inc. President Roy M. McCutchen said Smith was fired for his role in the theft of photos. The coroner's 113 crime-scene photos were processed at the Boulder lab.

Smith worked for the sheriff's office from 1980 to 1981 and at Photo Craft for about 10 years.

He received about $200 of the $5,500 paid by the Globe, according to Sheriff George Epp. More arrests may be coming.

The removal of photos from the lab is strictly against policy. Sawyer was described as an acquaintance of Smith.

Smith was charged with felony theft, evidence tampering, false reporting and obstruction of government operations. Sawyer was only charged with obstruction of government operations.

McCutchen apologized to the Ramsey family and to the community.

This morning reporters and photographers were literally camped out at the Boulder County Jail waiting for a suspect in the photo leak.

Despite the arrests, Globe executives said it is running another edition featuring photos from the Boulder County Coroner's Office.

In an out-of-court settlement Tuesday, the Globe agreed to return all the photos it has of the crime-scene investigation. But Globe executives said the publication didn't lose anything in the agreement. Executives would have returned the sensitive photos if Boulder County officials had only asked. Boulder County filed a lawsuit against the tabloid Monday.

``We have not committed any wrongdoing,'' Globe Vice President and general counsel Michael Kahane told Daily Times-Call.

Under the settlement, Globe agreed to return the seven photos it had. County officials, who said there are 113 photos in all, consider that a victory. The two photos that did not run in the paper were nearly identical to another picture that appeared in the Jan. 21 edition of the publication that hit the newsstands Monday.

``It achieves our main objective, which was to prevent further publication of photographs that could damage the police investigation and the possibility of a fair trial,'' said the county's Deputy Attorney Madeline Mason.

However, Kahane said the agreement does not confine the tabloid in any way. In fact, it allows the Globe to republish the pictures that already appeared in the paper.

``We got everything we wanted out of this agreement and didn't give up anything,'' Kahane said.

Furthermore, if the tabloid happened to come across more photos of the murder investigation, it could publish them, as well.

``We have the right to run any new photos we get,'' he said, indicating it will continue to buy information from sources. ``The Globe plans to do everything to report on this newsworthy story.''

The county attorney's office filed a motion and a complaint Monday initiating the lawsuit against the tabloid. Officials maintained that the photos are Boulder County property and should be returned. However, Globe Editor Tony Frost said he did not know the photos were stolen.

Coroner John Meyer told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that when he learned the photos were stolen and were to appear in the Globe he was ``dumbfounded, then shocked. Quickly that turned to anger.''

And though police said the published photos should not hamper the murder investigation, now in its 21st day, Meyer said it is a ``despicable thing to do.''

``I don't think you can use autopsy photos of a 6-year-old sensitively,'' Meyer said.

He called the photo sale an ``unfortunate sidebar'' in the murder investigation and causes him to rethink his office's photo handling procedures.

Meanwhile, JonBenet's parents, John and Patricia ``Patsy'' Ramsey , have hired former FBI agent John Douglas, who sources say was the model for the FBI investigator in ``Silence of the Lambs.'' Boulder detectives interviewed the criminal profiler, city spokesperson Leslie Aaholm said.

Also, the Globe announced it will match the Ramseys ' $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest in the slaying of their 6-year-old daughter.

The Little Miss Colorado's body was found in a basement room of the family's Chautauqua Park home Dec. 26 by John Ramsey . No new information about the murder has been released as officials continue to enforce a media blackout.