LOS ANGELES — John Mark Karr’s relatives offered up the book and film rights to the family’s story Wednesday in hopes of raising money for a high-powered attorney to defend Karr against charges that he killed 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.
“They’re not looking for money for themselves,” said Larry Garrison, a producer the family hired to represent them in media deals. “They’re looking to support John’s boys’ college education and to make sure all legal fees are covered.”
Karr remained in a Los Angeles jail Wednesday afternoon awaiting transfer to Colorado, where JonBenet was killed in her Boulder home in December 1996.
Garrison told The Associated Press that no money had changed hands yet with the Karrs, and he didn’t want to go into details about the agreement. Karr’s brother, Nate Karr, confirmed that Garrison is now representing the family.
Karr told reporters in Thailand last week that he was present when JonBenet died and that her death was an accident. He did not specifically say he killed her, and Boulder prosecutors have not disclosed their evidence against him.
His family has insisted Karr was in Georgia during the Christmas week that JonBenet was killed.
Georgia attorney Gary Harris, who had represented Karr’s father and brother in recent days, has said the family found a photo from Christmas 1996 showing Karr’s three sons at a dinner in Atlanta. Karr is not in the photo, but the family insists that if the boys were there, Karr would have been too.
“John Karr wasn’t working,” Harris said. “He couldn’t afford to buy a MARTA (Atlanta public transportation) or bus ticket, much less plane fare to Colorado.”
A family photo has been turned over to Boulder authorities, but Garrison could not say what it shows.
“I can tell you they proclaim his innocence,” Garrison said. “They feel he was not there at the time, that some of the statements made by the press are absurd.”
Harris told the AP on Wednesday that as far as the family knows, the only time Karr was ever in Colorado was in 2001 when his car broke down on a trip from Alabama to California with his then-wife and children. He said the family got the car fixed and moved on.
Harris said he thinks Karr claimed involvement in JonBenet’s death because he is ill.
“Obviously, this guy has some mental problems,” he said. “He obviously has some emotional problems. He’s always had some.”
Harris declined to be more specific but said he has no knowledge of Karr ever seeing a psychiatrist. He also noted that the family lost touch with Karr five years ago.
“We don’t know what happened in the last five years because they hadn’t talked to him,” Harris said. “They thought he was dead.”
A psychiatrist has met with Karr twice since he was brought to Los Angeles County’s Twin Towers jail Sunday night after a flight from Thailand, said sheriff’s Lt. George Vanecek. At the jail, deputies were looking in on Karr every 15 minutes.
Harris told the AP on Wednesday that, because of a difference of opinion, he no longer is representing Karr’s father Wexford and brother Nate. He said he now represents only Michael Karr, another brother of John Karr, and his wife.
Harris would not disclose the reason for the split, but suggested it had something to do with Wexford and Nate Karr’s desire to sell the family story.
“My clients are not seeking any book deals or anything of that nature,” Harris said of Michael Karr and his wife. “I’ll let you deduce what you want from that. My clients are not looking to make any money off of this.”
Garrison, president of production company SilverCreek Entertainment, has sought movie and book rights in high-profile criminal cases before.
He co-authored a book on the disappearance of missing Alabama teenager Natalie Holloway. And in the murder case involving actor Robert Blake, a friend of victim Bonny Lee Bakley, Christina Scheier, gave rights to Garrison in 2002. He said Wednesday that a movie and book have not yet been completed.
He said any critics of his arrangement with the Karrs are off-base. He said his aim isn’t to make money from the Ramsey case, but instead to get the truth out.
Karr agreed Tuesday not to fight extradition to Colorado. In a two-minute court appearance, his expression changed only once when he slowly closed his eyes as the judge recited the count of first-degree murder that Boulder prosecutors included in an arrest warrant.
Karr “has been portrayed by the media as of late as being mentally unstable, attention-seeking, unwell, mentally unwell. And he is none of those things,” said attorney Jamie Harmon, who spoke with Karr in jail and attended Tuesday’s hearing.
He “is anxious to have an opportunity to address the allegations against him, to be portrayed in a more accurate and complete way,” Harmon said.
She described Karr as intelligent and unusual.
“He is a different sort of person than most of us walking around on the face of the planet, and that differentness has been construed in the media as wrong or somehow unbalanced,” she said. “And I don’t find that to be true at all.”
On Wednesday, Quientana Ray, who married Karr when she was 13, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in a recorded interview that Karr was controlling and used to tell her about fantasies he had about little girls.
“I was drugged and things were done to me without me having any idea,” said Ray, who left Karr after a few months and has since remarried.
Her parents, Melissa and Larry Shotts of Hamilton, Ala., said they also discovered letters Karr wrote to their daughter that were signed “S.B.T.C.” — the same initials found on a ransom note in the Ramseys’ home. They did not show the letters during the interview and it wasn’t clear if they still had them.
In addition to first-degree murder, the counts against Karr in a sealed probable-cause arrest warrant include felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child.
Associated Press Writers Harry R. Weber in Atlanta, Jocelyn Gecker and Christina Almeida in Los Angeles, David Kravets in San Francisco, and Jon Sarche and Chase Squires in Denver contributed to this report.