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JonBenet Ramsey case: Court to release indictment that went nowhere

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Thu October 24, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The 6-year-old girl was killed at home in 1996
  • Boulder newspaper reported grand jury voted to indict the parents
  • Paper says it sued to have the indictment unsealed
  • Father wants court to keep documents sealed, or release everything

(CNN) -- Some documents in the JonBenet Ramsey case will be unsealed on Friday despite the objections of her father.

A judge in Colorado on Wednesday ordered the release of 18 pages that were sealed after a grand jury went home in 1999 without charges being filed.

In January, the Boulder Daily Camera, citing unidentified jurors as well as an assistant district attorney, said the grand jury had actually voted to indict JonBenet's parents on charges of child abuse resulting in death, but the district attorney decided not to move forward with the case.

"We do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges," then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter said in 1999. He did not sign the indictment, according to the Daily Camera.

2012: John Ramsey: From grief to grace

There will be nine pages on John Ramsey and nine pages on Patsy Ramsey released this week, according to the order from Judge J. Robert Lowenbach.

The Daily Camera reported Wednesday the release was a response to a lawsuit by one of its reporters and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press seeking the unprosecuted indictment.

In 2008, then-District Attorney Mary Lacy wrote a letter to Ramsey, saying that new DNA evidence had cleared him, his wife and son.

John Ramsey's attorney had written a letter last week to District Attorney Stan Garrett, requesting the documents be kept secret.

"Public release of the allegations of an unprosecuted indictment only serves to further defame (John Ramsey) and his late wife Patricia Ramsey," wrote Harold Haddon.

But Lowenbach said state law requires official actions by the grand jury to be released.

Ramseys' attorney: Grand jury 'likely confused' about JonBenet

"The court is sympathetic to the position of Mr. Ramsey but has nonetheless concluded that as an 'official action' of the grand jury, the 'indictment' .... must be released," he wrote.

Lowenbach denied Haddon's request to release all documents, saying it would set a precedent and hinder future grand juries from performing their jobs.

On December 26, 1996, Patsy Ramsey said she discovered a three-page ransom note in her Boulder home. Police came and, later that day, found JonBenet's beaten and strangled body in the family's basement.

The parents insisted an intruder killed their 6-year-old pageant queen, but no one was caught and no description was given.

In time, the focus of Boulder police turned to the parents.

Investigators didn't find any sign of forced entry. A paintbrush from her mother's hobby kit was used to tighten the rope that choked JonBenet. And the alleged ransom note was written from paper inside the house and referenced little-known details about the family's past and its finances.

Despite the suspicions, the Ramseys were never named as suspects. But they were a focus of the grand jury, which first convened in September 1998.

They heard from dozens of witnesses, considered 30,000 pieces of evidence.

The district attorney's office, then led by Lacy, took over the case from Boulder police in 2002.

Patsy Ramsey died from ovarian cancer in 2006 at the age of 49.

Timeline: JonBenet Ramsey murder

CNN's Greg Botelho, Ana Cabrera and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.

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