DNA in doubt: What's next in JonBenét Ramsey case?

9NEWS at 10 p.m. 10/28/16.

KUSA - Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said Friday he was baffled by public comments attributed to his predecessor, Mary Lacy, about her decision in 2008 to publicly exonerate JonBenet Ramsey’s family in her murder.

In those comments, published by ABC News, Lacy defended her decision to exonerate the family. She also said that part of her belief that an intruder killed JonBenet was formed during a tour of the Ramsey home a few days after the discovery of the girl’s body on Dec. 26, 1996. During that tour, Lacy said she saw a “butt-print” in the carpeting around the corner from JonBenet’s room.

“Whoever did this sat outside of her room and waited until everyone was asleep to kill her,” Lacy said, according to the ABC report.

PREVIOUS STORY: A closer look at the JonBenét Ramsey case

Lacy, who left office in January 2009, made that surprising and controversial move after a new round of DNA testing ordered by her office. That testing, she said in a July 9, 2008, letter to John Ramsey, identified male DNA on JonBenet’s long johns that she said “matched” a previously identified genetic profile found in the girl’s underwear. Lacy also said in that letter there could be “no innocent explanation” for the unidentified male DNA being found at three locations on her long johns and panties and that she was “comfortable” that they had identified the genetic profile of the killer.

A joint 9NEWS/Boulder Daily Camera investigation found that the DNA test results and lab reports Lacy used as the basis for her decision didn’t support it. The two news organizations obtained those documents – which had never before been made public – and asked three DNA experts to review them.

Those experts disputed her assertions on every point – and concluded that the DNA on the long johns contained a mixture of genetic material from at least three people, a fact never previously made public. And the reports obtained by 9Wants To Know and the Camera showed that the lab Lacy’s office used for that testing, Bode Technology, reached the same conclusions and told her so in a report issued three months before she cleared the Ramseys.

On Friday, ABC News published statements attributed to Lacy in which she defended her exoneration, said it was based on all of the evidence in the case, and suggested that if she didn’t members of the Ramsey family could face “a horrible travesty of justice.”

“I was scared to death that despite the fact that there was no evidence, no psychopathy and no motive, the case was a train going down the track and the Ramseys were tied to that track,” Lacy said, according to ABC News.

That interview with ABC News was conducted before 9NEWS and the Daily Camera aired and published the results of their joint investigation into the DNA evidence in the case.

Garnett has said repeatedly that it’s not the job of any district attorney to exonerate people.

“To read today that the justification for issuing this one was that there was a train heading down the tacks toward the Ramseys is especially confusing because no case was going to be filed against anyone without admissible evidence,” Garnett said in an interview with the Daily Camera’s Charlie Brennan. “And the decision whether there was admissible evidence is my decision, and has been for the entire eight, almost eight years I’ve been district attorney.

“I’ve always felt that there’s not sufficient admissible evidence to file against any person. I continue to feel that way. If my opinion changes we will file charges and talk about it in court. But the existence of an exoneration letter by my predecessor never has made any difference and makes no difference to me now, even if the justification for that letter appears to be changing.”

In the past two weeks, reporters from 9NEWS and the Daily Camera have tried repeatedly to speak with Lacy – attempting to reach her by phone, by e-mail, by U.S. mail and by visiting her Boulder home. She has not responded. Again on Friday, reporters from 9NEWS and the Daily Camera visited Lacy’s home. No one answered the door. 

“I’ve said many times that I thought the exoneration letter was ill-advised and was of no legal consequence, but I always understood it to be based entirely on the DNA and the analysis by Ms. Lacy of the DNA,” Garnett told the Camera. “To read a quote to the effect that it was not based on DNA, but based on the totality of the circumstances is even more puzzling.

Garnett said the Ramsey case – like every case – should be based on a sober examination of all of the evidence that has no room for emotions.

“The ‘train rushing down the tracks’ quote is concerning because the decision to file charges is never an emotional decision by a lawyer or by a prosecutor,” Garnett said. “It’s a deliberate, cautious decision based only on the facts and the evidence, and the reason no charges have been filed in the case is because the facts and the evidence in the case do not support charges, based on the ethical standards that apply to prosecutors in Colorado.

“It has nothing to do with emotion, with exoneration letters, with all the different passions that have whirled around this case, and if charges ever are filed it’s going to be for one reason: That we have sufficient evidence to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt – not because of an emotion, not because of an opinion, not because of trains hurtling down the tracks but because of evidence.”

Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: kevin.vaughan@9news.com or 303-871-1862.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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