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D.A. had several Rams

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Though Boulder police handed the JonBenet Ramsey murder case to prosecutors June 1, it appears the district attorney's office has been conducting its own parallel investigation nearly all along.

The girl's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey , have met with district attorney's officials several times in the last year, according to Hal Haddon, John Ramsey 's attorney.

The most recent meetings -- and only the second publicized meeting -- occurred this week at the Broomfield Police Department.

``We've sat down for several interviews,'' Haddon said. ``When Lou Smit has asked them to sit down, they did -- sometimes when we weren't present.''

Smit is the retired Colorado Springs homicide detective hired by the DA's office to investigate the little girl's murder .

Haddon said some of those interviews since the Dec. 26, 1996, slaying have been tape recorded. Haddon, however, could not be specific about the number of interviews the Ramseys have granted, saying that it was several. Some of those interviews took place without his knowledge, he speculated.

John and Patsy Ramsey are the only adults believed to be in Boulder house the night JonBenet was slain.

There has not been a point during the investigation that the Ramseys have not cooperated with the DA's office, Haddon noted.

``We've given them all the documents asked for on more than several occasions over the last year,'' he said.

Haddon also said the June 10-12 interviews with the Ramseys ' 11-year-old son, Burke, in Atlanta was arranged in January when the case was still in the hands of the police. Police had earlier said the Ramseys were not cooperating with them.

``Hopefully we've turned the corner,'' Haddon added in reference to the case being turned over to the DA's office.

Nevertheless, exactly 18 months after 6-year-old beauty queen was found slain in her Boulder home, District Attorney Alex Hunter has yet to make a decision about charging anyone with the slaying or presenting the case to a grand jury.

Furthermore, Hunter said Thursday in a prepared statement, ``I do not know when I will make a decision.''

This week's videotaped meetings wrapped up Thursday night.

John and Patsy Ramsey were interviewed separately Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but each with their own attorney and a private investigator, officials reported.

The Ramseys also provided the DA's office with certain documents, which may include financial, medical and telephone records, reports stated.

``The fact that these interviews occurred and that important documents were obtained (or will be obtained) does not make it any more or less likely that I will decide to convene a grand jury to further investigate this case,'' Hunter said.

However, Hunter added that he continues to lean toward the use of the grand jury's special powers to subpoena and compel testimony.

Hunter had said he would likely make a decision by early July. He has since backed down from that deadline, saying the interviews and newly obtained documents need to be analyzed before he can make a decision.

If the Ramseys , who remain under the umbrella of suspicion, were called to testify before a grand jury, they could not be accompanied by an attorney. Nevertheless, Hunter said, the Ramseys were cooperative during this week's questioning. ``Questioning was not restricted in content or length,'' he noted.

DA spokeswoman Suzanne Laurion said the Ramseys were provided with ``no documents, no evidence, no promises, no statements, nothing.''

However, Laurion said, she did not know if they asked to see material related to the beleaguered 18-month-old case.

In the past, the Ramseys agreed to be questioned by Boulder police on the condition that they review police documents.

It was April 30, 1997, when the Ramseys last spoke to authorities. Weeks after the Christmastime murder , the Ramseys refused a police request for interviews unless they were allowed to see evidence.

The Ramseys have continually said they do not trust police, who again on Thursday called for a grand jury.

``Although disappointed that our detectives were unable to conduct the interviews, we continue to work side-by-side with Mr. Hunter and his staff,'' said soon-to-be Boulder police chief Mark Beckner, adding that he hopes this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue with the Ramseys . ``Nonetheless, my detectives and I continue to believe that a grand jury is the appropriate way to proceed.''