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Back to 1998 Headlines

4/22/1998

Jurors may or may not consider JonBenet case

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Although not a word was spoken about the JonBenet Ramsey murder case during routine questioning of prospective grand jury members this morning, those closest to the 16-month-old investigation were seated around the prosecution bench.

Dozens of reporters also crowded the Justice Center and the courtroom as District Judge Joseph Bellipanni began selection of a grand jury that some day may consider the Ramsey case.

District Attorney Alex Hunter, Chief Trial Deputy Peter Hofstrom, Chief Deputy Peter Maguire, Senior Trial Deputy Trip DeMuth, Appellate Chief Deputy William Nagel and special investigator Lou Smit were present during the initial questioning.

By noon, 14 prospective jurors were excused without questioning and three were excused after answering a few questions from Hofstrom. A Colorado State University student who said she didn't have the time to serve was among those released after questioning.

But Bellipanni admonished those who said they have other commitments.

``Everybody would say that they have a life and they have things to do,'' Bellipanni said. ``I don't want to minimize the time commitment. There's going to be a time commitment.''

In all, 57 Boulder County residents appeared on subpoenas. The county mailed 145 subpoenas.

Many of the 14 residents who were excused grinned as they strode out of the packed court. Jury selection was expected to take several hours and was expected to wrap up today.

In a statement released by the DA's office, spokeswoman Suzanne Laurion said Ramsey -related questions would be asked of the potential jurors. But that doesn't necessarily mean the jury will hear evidence in the case.

``There has been no decision on whether Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter will convene the grand jury to examine the Ramsey case,'' Laurion said, adding that there is no timetable to make that decision.

Officials have said all along that the selection of this grand jury is routine.

Boulder police asked Hunter to take the case to a grand jury after their 16-month investigation failed to produce enough evidence to prosecute the case.