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2/14/1997

Assistant D.A. apolog

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Assistant District Attorney Bill Wise apologized today for remarks made to officials Thursday implying Boulder police repeatedly mishandled the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation and that ``one of the suspects has money.''

The comments came during the county commissioners' meeting in which Wise requested money to pay expenses in the prosecution of the 6-year-old's killer.

In a prepared statement this morning, Wise wrote, ``I respect and have confidence in the Boulder Police Department and in their handling of this investigation. My remarks to the commissioners were out of line and I apologize for them.''

The funding would help pay for high profile consultants -- Dr. Henry Lee of the Connecticut State Police forensic unit and criminal attorney Barry Scheck, both made famous during the O.J. Simpson criminal trial.

The money also would be used for additional attorneys, a homicide investigator, computer equipment and a security system for a highly-secured ``war room.''

According to a transcript of the meeting, the commissioners asked hypothetically if the suspect could reimburse the county for expenses incurred during proceedings.

``One of the suspects has money,'' Wise said.

Wise also indicated that Boulder police have told the district attorney's office ``to get out of our business.''

``They don't like lawyers sticking their noses into their investigations and trying to run crime scenes and so forth,'' Wise said. ``So we've told Pete (Hofstrom, the chief trial deputy) to back off that a little bit.''

Hofstrom had been conducting his own investigation into the slaying.

Here's how the conversation went, according to transcripts:

{County Commissioner Jana Mendez:} ``But doesn't (Boulder police chief) Tom Koby realize that an investigation that isn't done for prosecution purposes ...''

{Wise:} ``Well, I'm not going to criticize the Boulder Police Department, but I'd like to, but I really don't want to get into that. I mean, we take it the way it is. There is no law that says that we control these investigations. If there weren't a close relationship between Tom Koby and (District Attorney) Alex Hunter, we wouldn't be in the case at all right now ...''

{Mendez:} ``Yeah.''

{Wise:} ``... and the case would suffer for it. And -- I mean -- there's just -- I can tick off in my head half a dozen without even thinking of it, instances where they are being legally advised to do something and with a lot of pressure, they do it, but if they hadn't had that legal advice, uh, there could really be dire consequences to some of the forensic evidence and so forth.''

In a prepared statement, Hunter said he was concerned that some of Wise's comments may have been taken out of context and that Wise did not intend to identify a suspect in the murder .

``I also want to restate that I have the utmost confidence and respect for Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby and his homicide squad,'' Hunter wrote. ``I had hoped that the solidarity and camaraderie demonstrated at yesterday's news conference by Chief Koby and me would speak for itself, and Mr. Wise regrets any statement that would indicate displeasure with the Boulder Police Department's investigation.''

The DA's office also added that there would be no further comment on the matter.