DA Stan Garnett on the GJ indictments

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DA Garnett says the Whites are asking "fair questions" -- even if he's not in a position to answer them all. He says he learned about the Ramsey true bills in a meeting with Mary Lacy the day before he was sworn into office in 2009.
"When I took over, we had a bunch of meetings in the office, basically saying, 'What the hell are we going to do with these?'" he recalls. "I've tried to run an office as open as it can possibly be to the public and the press. The one exception to that is grand-jury stuff. There might have been a public interest in releasing [the indictments], but the rules on grand-jury secrecy are so strict and so clear that I felt it would be inappropriate for me to release them on my own."

Garnett says he has "tried to distance myself from the Ramsey nightmare" over the past six years. One of his first moves was to turn the investigation back over to the police. He insists that he isn't bound by Lacy's exoneration letter -- which he's described as "weird" and "a stretch" -- and that he would be prepared to prosecute the case if he's ever presented with sufficient evidence to convict. And he's troubled by the long-term credibility issues his office has faced as a result of its treatment of what is now a cold, cold case.

"I actually think, of the many things that were mishandled by my predecessors, there's an argument that the true bills should have been filed with the court, and then the district attorney could say he wouldn't prosecute them," he says. "One of the problems that Alex had was that he didn't use the grand jury very much and didn't have a lot of confidence in it."
Tom Kelley, the media attorney who represented Brennan and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the court battle, calls Hunter's burying of the true bills a "terrible precedent." "It was an incredible decision to pocket that indictment and lead the public to believe there had been no indictment," he says.

Kelley disagrees with the judge's decision not to release the rest of the pages -- which might contain other charges the grand jury considered but didn't pursue, or the specific set of factual allegations underlying the child abuse and accessory counts. But the plaintiffs chose not to appeal the ruling. "We thought the chances of getting any further on appeal were slim enough not to make it worth the trouble," he says.
Convinced that Colorado law requires that the documents be released in full, the Whites went to court themselves. Judge Andrew Hartman granted Garnett's motion to dismiss the case -- and suggested an injunction might be in order "to control frivolous filings by pro se litigants."

Fleet and Priscilla haven't given up. They have peppered Garnett's office with open-records requests, trying to obtain communications between prosecutors, the Ramsey attorneys and others, only to be told that no correspondence from the Lacy years remains and that e-mails are deleted after six months. This year they demanded and received yet another statement from the Boulder police that they are witnesses, not suspects, after the Denver Post presented a photo roundup of "Former Suspects" in the Ramsey case that included John and Patsy Ramsey, John Mark Karr -- and Fleet White. (While not acknowledging its goof, the Post quickly changed the headline in its online edition to "Investigation Touched Many.") Garnett declined to issue a similar statement.

"I have a lot of sympathy for the Whites," Garnett says. "I think they're a little obsessed with the issue. If you want chatter to die off about you on the Internet, then quit saying things. Quit generating news stories."
But the Whites aren't about to quit saying things. Last spring they appeared before the Boulder City Council with their children, Daphne and Fleet III, both graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy, seeking release of police investigative files on the Krebs matter that have been moldering since 2000. Their efforts were rebuffed, and the files remain sealed.

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Garnett says he still gets an average of one tip a week about the Ramsey case. "Half the time it's people who were just baptized by the Holy Spirit in Arkansas, and God told them who killed JonBenét," he says. "I tell them, 'Until God tells me, we're not going to have any discussion.' There's a sordid interest out there in the Ramsey case that you just have to tune out and ignore."
The Whites can't ignore it. Not entirely. One day they were a happy family, with good friends whose little girl played with their daughter, and then the girl was dead and the friends were no longer their friends. And evil came in and did its thing.
"All we want," Fleet says, "is for the truth to come out."

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