JonBennet suspect facing court appearance

Murder suspect John Karr will appear in a Colorado court on Monday over the killing of the child beauty queen.

Murder suspect John Karr will appear in a Colorado court on Monday over the killing of the child beauty queen.

Meanwhile, his lawyer filed a flurry of legal motions in a bid to protect any DNA samples taken from Karr and a document with his handwriting.

In Boulder, deputy public defender Seth Temin asked the judge to ban prosecutors and police from conducting any DNA testing without first notifying the court and the defence.

Karr, 41, was given a mouth-swab DNA test while he was in custody in Thailand, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The results of that test were not known.

Temin said that if a DNA sample has been obtained from Karr “it was not obtained pursuant to applicable law, the constitutions or by valid consent”. He suggested Karr would not provide any further samples without a court order.

After meeting Karr yesterday, Temin said he did not know whether authorities had obtained any DNA samples. District attorney’s spokeswoman Carolyn French said she could not comment.

French said prosecutors would respond to Temin’s court motions after reviewing them.

DNA is believed to be a key in solving the 10-year-old murder of JonBenet, six, a photogenic contestant in child beauty pageants. Police collected DNA from blood spots in her underwear and from under her fingernails.

Investigators have said some of the DNA was too degraded to use as evidence, but some was of sufficient quality to submit to the FBI in 2003. It did not match any of the 1.5 million samples in the agency’s database at the time, according to the Ramsey family lawyer.

Temin did not say why he took the unusual step of asking the court to seal Karr’s handwritten request to be represented by a publicly funded lawyer.

Some commentators have suggested that Karr’s handwriting in a high school yearbook resembles the writing on a ransom note found in the Ramsey home a few hours before JonBenet was found strangled with a skull fracture in her family’s mansion on Boxing Day 1996.

Without referring specifically to the speculation, Temin told the court in a filing that he “is without sufficient knowledge about all the facts of the case to be able to evaluate the prejudice that may be associated with the release of any of the defendant’s handwriting”.

Karr is being held alone in a cell, though he could have contact with one other inmate by way of a “sub-dayroom” adjoining his cell, sheriff’s Cmdr Bruce Haas said.

“His demeanour is calm. He’s been resting,” Haas said. “He’s sleeping and hanging out – pretty uneventful.”

Karr, who dined on pate and wine during a flight from Thailand, faced a more prosaic menu behind bars: beef stew with buttered noodles for dinner, Spanish rice and chilli dogs for lunch.

Authorities once said parents John and Patsy Ramsey were under “an umbrella of suspicion”, but prosecutors in Boulder, an affluent college town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, have never charged anyone in the case that fascinated the nation.

Formal charges are still pending against Karr.

Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy has refused to say what led to Karr’s arrest and persuaded a judge to seal the reasons she had Karr detained last week on charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child.

“Despite what may have been disclosed to the public over the many years since the crime, most of the evidence in the affidavit has not been disclosed, nor has the media developed it independently,” Assistant district attorney William Nagel wrote in a court filing this week.

Karr’s arrest in a low-rent tourist neighbourhood of Bangkok followed four years of email exchanges with a college professor who has made documentaries on the case.

Karr told authorities and reporters in Thailand he was present when JonBenet died, but no one has publicly placed him in Colorado at the time of the crime.

A brother, Nate Karr, issued the strongest alibi statement to date yesterday, saying he was certain the suspect spent Christmas 1996 with his family.

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