DENVER — A Colorado prosecutor said a predecessor’s decision not to prosecute the parents of JonBenet Ramsey was made because of a lack of evidence, but he could not say whether he would have made the same choice.
In his first comment since the unsealing of papers on Friday that showed that a grand jury had voted to indict the parents of the slain child beauty queen in 1999, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett noted that prosecutors face a higher burden of proof than a grand jury.
The papers, unsealed after a court order, show that a grand jury decided there was probable cause to charge John and Patsy Ramsey with child abuse resulting in death and accessory to the 1996 murder of their 6-year-old daughter. But the couple were never prosecuted and were ultimately cleared.
In an opinion piece in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, Garnett said his two predecessors’ decisions not to pursue charges showed they “believed that the evidence did not rise to the necessary level to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a jury trial.”
“I don’t know if I would have made the same decision, but I know how difficult these decisions are,” he said.
No one was ever charged in the widely publicized crime.
Alex Hunter, the district attorney at the time, declined to sign the grand jury’s indictment or prosecute the Ramseys, citing a lack of evidence. In 2008, another county prosecutor cleared the couple of any involvement.
Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006 at the age of 49. John Ramsey, 69, remarried in 2011 in Michigan, where he had moved his family not long after JonBenet’s death to work at a computer company.