DENVER – A Colorado judge Wednesday ordered the release of the 1999 grand jury indictment in the killing of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, possibly shedding light on why prosecutors decided against charging her parents in her death.
Senior District Judge Robert Lowenbach ruled that the indictment signed by the grand jury foreman constituted an official action and must be released Friday. A reporter for the Daily Camera and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit to seek the records.
In the ruling, Lowenbach noted that District Attorney Alex Hunter prepared possible charges against John Ramsey and his wife, Patsy, three years after the death. The indictment has remained sealed for 14 years because Hunter decided against pursuing charges, but officials have never explained that decision.
JonBenet’s body was found bludgeoned and strangled in her family’s home in Boulder on Dec. 26, 1996. Former District Attorney Mary Lacy said in 2008 that DNA evidence suggests the killer was a stranger, not a family member, and she announced that she planned to treat the Ramseys as victims of the crime. JonBenet Ramsey’s mother, Patsy, died of cancer in 2006.
Earlier this week, John Ramsey asked officials to release the entire grand jury record if the unprosecuted indictment was made public. However, the judge said transcripts of grand jury proceedings and evidence presented to it are not considered “official action” under the law governing criminal court records. He also said releasing such information could hurt other grand juries, whose work is secret.
A lawyer representing John Ramsey, Lin Wood, said he’s confident that no evidence in the grand jury case implicated the Ramsey family and the public should be able to see that for themselves.
“Anything less than the release of all of the proceedings is a gross injustice to the Ramsey family,” he said.