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Back to 1998 Headlines

9/17/1998

Message to media cove

By Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Grand jurors hearing testimony in the JonBenet Ramsey investigation ere given a wider path to walk as they entered the Boulder County Justice Center Wednesday morning.

Before the jurors arrived, deputies handed out copies of a court order barring anyone other than officials from coming within 25 feet of the jurors who have been called to decide the future of the nearly 21-month-old investigation.

The grand jury, which took over the case Tuesday morning, has power over witnesses and is hoped to be key in figuring out who killed the 6-year-old beauty queen.

Acting Chief District Court Judge Daniel C. Hale signed the district attorney's motion Tuesday afternoon after dozens of reporters and photographers covering the first day of grand jury proceedings chased jurors to their cars at the end of the day.

As jurors exited from a side door at the justice center, reporters and photographers hurriedly repositioned themselves closer to the jury panel members.

Anyone who violates the order could be jailed on a contempt of court charge, authorities warned.

Though the order did not specifically address the media, a handwritten note at the bottom of the second page of the order appears to indicate the order's purpose: ``To be posted and delivered to media representatives on 9//16//98 by the Boulder County Sheriff's Department officers.''

A sheriff's deputy said the district attorney's office wanted a larger bubble than what was ordered, but compromised with 25 feet.

Boulder County Sheriff's Deputy Ed Rios said even saying ``hello'' to a juror could land someone in jail.

``It's the intentional part that shouldn't happen,'' Rios said, adding that merely passing a grand juror in the hallway is not grounds for an arrest. But deliberately walking up to a juror will mean trouble.

During the two days of grand jury meetings the media behaved itself, Rios said. Deputies appeared to be more flexible on the second day, but still discouraged people from loitering outside Courtroom L, where the eight women and four men on the grand jury panel met with prosecutors.

Rios is the lone deputy assigned to security at the justice center. During the grand jury proceedings this week, however, he was joined by four additional armed officers.

One of the extra deputies positioned himself outside the second-floor courtroom where Detective Michael Everett and Detective Sgt. Tom Wickman were seen walking in and out, along with DA Alex Hunter, grand jury specialist Michael Kane and DNA expert Mitch Morrissey.

The usually affable Hunter was uncharacteristically quiet as he walked by reporters.

While the grand jury heard testimony in the homicide investigation, MSNBC rEorted Tuesday that prosecutors will implicate JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey , in the slaying.

Hunter has called them suspects, but police have made no arrests. JonBenet was found beaten and strangled the day after Christmas 1996. Among the items the grand jury is reportedly examining are the garrote used to strangle the child, the 2-page ransom note and some 30,000 pages of police documents.