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Hunter takes request

by B.J.Plasket
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER Three positions would be funded for several weeks after the Ramsey grand jury's term ends if the county this morning approves District Attorney Alex Hunter's request for $56,999 to continue the 31-month-old probe.

But a cover letter accompanying the request says prosecutors are "unable to predict when the grand jury will complete its work."

Assistant DA Bill Wise's cover letter adds, "It should be noted that the grand jury term expires Oct. 20, 1999."

The request was submitted to the county budget office on July 30 the day Wise left on a two-week vacation but not released to the public until Wednesday.

The largest expenditure in the request is for the salary of grand jury specialist Michael Kane, who was hired exclusively to direct the grand jury probe. It asks for money to pay his $2,060-a-week salary for three more months two weeks longer than the term of the grand jury.

The request also seeks $7,110 to pay media liaison Suzanne Laurion's $547-a-week salary for 13 more weeks, which would keep her on the payroll until mid-November.

It also includes funding for a $500-a-week research assistant. That position, like Laurion's, would be funded for 13 weeks.

The budget memo also asks for $5,000 $2,500 for fees and $2,500 for travel to be used for consultants. The consultants are not identified, but forensic pathologist expert Barry Scheck has in the past consulted on the case and could well be used again when the probe nears its end.

During the first two years of the investigation, it was Wise who brought the budget requests before the county commissioners, but Hunter is expected to appear because of Wise's absence.

The county commissioners are scheduled to hear the request at 10:30 a.m. today.