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Editor, The Konformist
JonBenet suspect won't be charged
By JON SARCHE, Associated Press Writer
Prosecutors abruptly dropped their case Monday against John Mark
Karr in the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, saying DNA tests failed to
put him at the crime scene despite his insistence he sexually
assaulted and strangled the 6-year-old beauty queen.
Just a week and a half after Karr's arrest in Thailand was seen as a
remarkable break in the sensational, decade-old case, prosecutors
suggested in court papers that he was just a man with a twisted
fascination with JonBenet who confessed to a crime he didn't commit.
"The people would not be able to establish that Mr. Karr committed
this crime despite his repeated insistence that he did," District
Attorney Mary Lacy said in court papers.
The 41-year-old schoolteacher will be kept in jail in Boulder until
he can be sent to Sonoma County, Calif., to face child pornography
charges dating to 2001.
The district attorney vowed to keep pursuing leads in JonBenet's
death: "This case is not closed."
Karr was never formally charged in the slaying. In court papers,
Lacy defended the decision to arrest him and bring him back to the
United States for further investigation, saying he might have
otherwise fled and may have been targeting children in Thailand as
Lacy said Karr emerged as a suspect in April after he spent several
years exchanging e-mails and later telephone calls with a University
of Colorado journalism professor who had produced documentaries on
the Ramsey case.
According to court papers, Karr told the professor he accidentally
killed JonBenet during sex and that he tasted her blood after he
injured her vaginally. But the Denver crime lab conducted DNA tests
last Friday on a cheek swab taken from Karr and were unable to
connect him to the crime.
"This information is critical because ... if Mr. Karr's account of
his sexual involvement with the victim were accurate, it would have
been highly likely that his saliva would have been mixed with the
blood in the underwear," Lacy said in court papers.
She also said authorities found no evidence Karr was in Boulder at
the time of the slaying. She said Karr's family provided "strong
circumstantial support" for their belief that he was with them in
Georgia, celebrating the Christmas holidays. JonBenet was found
beaten and strangled at her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996.
Defense attorney Seth Temin expressed outrage that Karr was even
"We're deeply distressed by the fact that they took this man and
dragged him here from Bangkok, Thailand, with no forensic evidence
confirming the allegations against him and no independent factors
leading to a presumption he did anything wrong," Temin said.
In an interview Monday with MSNBC, Gary Harris, who had been
spokesman for the Karr family, said he knew the DNA would not match.
Karr has been "obsessed with this case for a long time. He may have
some personality problems, but he's not a killer," Harris said. "He
obsesses. He wanted to be a rock star one time. ... He's a dreamer.
He's the kind of guy who wants to be famous."
Earlier this month, Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood pronounced
Karr's arrest vindication for JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy
Ramsey, who had long been suspected in the killing.
On Monday, the attorney said: "From day one, John Ramsey publicly
stated that he did not want the public or the media to jump to
judgment. He did not want the public or the media to engage in
speculation, that he wanted the justice system to take its course."
Wood said he still has great confidence in the district attorney.
Patsy Ramsey died of cancer in June.
JonBenet Ramsey's aunt, Pamela Paugh, said she was disappointed
there won't be a prosecution of someone in the case, but added: "I
think our justice system worked as it was supposed to."
"We asked the DA to do her thing. She did it," said Paugh, who is
Patsy Ramsey's sister. "My disappointment came about the end of
December 1996 when we didn't have the killer then. We've had 9 1/2
years of disappointment and waiting."
Nate Karr, John Karr's brother, said he was elated by the
news. "We're just going to be celebrating with family," he said.
Scott Robinson, a Denver attorney who has followed the case from the
beginning, said prosecutors may now be back at square one in the
JonBenet case. He said Karr may be charged with lying about his role
in the case.
"Seems to me there should be some criminal consequences," he
said. "He has cost the taxpayers an enormous amount of money."
Karr was arrested in Petaluma, Calif., in 2001 on charges of
possessing child pornography but fled before he could be tried.
Colorado authorities said that after the Boulder case against Karr
was dropped, California officials asked that he be turned over to
them for prosecution.
In court papers, prosecutors said Karr began exchanging e-mails with
professor Michael Tracey in 2002, signing them "D" and
later "Daxis." The meaning of "Daxis" was not immediately clear.
At first, Karr seemed to be just someone with an intense interest in
the case, but he soon claimed responsibility for the crime, and
provided more and more detail about that night, according to court
papers. He claimed that he accidentally killed JonBenet during
sexual activity that included temporarily asphyxiating her,
He began telling his story in hopes of being included a book Tracey
was planning to publish, according to the court papers.
Authorities eventually traced his calls and identified Daxis as
Karr, prosecutors said.
The district attorney said there was no way to take a cheek swab
from Karr without alerting him that he was under investigation, and
that would have created an "unacceptable risk that he would flee."
Also, Karr was about to start a teaching job in Thailand, and in his
correspondence began to describe an interest in several girls "in
much the same terms that he had described his interest in JonBenet,"
Lacy said in court papers. Authorities confirmed he was involved
with at least one of the girls, Lacy said.
Associated Press writers Chase Squires in Boulder, Sandy Shore in
Denver, Harry R. Weber in Atlanta and Scott Lindlaw in San Francisco
contributed to this report.
On the Net:
D.A. filing: http://www.courts.state.co.us/docs/06CR1244MQUASH1.pdf
Jeff Cohen: Sick Puppy Meets Media Beast
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Jeff Cohen
John Mark Karr is one sick puppy - a school teacher who fantasized
that he'd engaged in consensual sex so passionately with six-year-
old JonBenet Ramsey that he accidentally killed her.
And television news in our country is one ravenous beast -
abandoning any notion of journalism, proportion or decency to again
prey upon JonBenet's corpse for ratings and profit.
God only knows what combination of hurt and mental illness went into
producing the sick puppy. On the other hand, there's no mystery
about what created the media beast: corrupt government policies
combined with corporate greed.
Make no mistake: The media beast is every bit as compulsive and out
of control as Karr, who may yet end up behind bars for child
pornography. But the beast is free to maul again and again.
For 10 days, TV news has fixated on this imposter-culprit as if he
were a world-historical figure - like Nelson Mandela emerging from
prison, only bigger. TV tracked Karr's travels across the globe,
telling us what he ate for dinner, analyzing his attire.
To extend Karr's allotted 15-minutes of fame into a 10-day ordeal,
TV news ignored important stories of war, environmental degradation,
corruption, citizen activism. Instead, TV viewers were offered
hundreds of hours of single-minded examination and debate on one
burning question: did Karr do it? The inquiry was relentless and
aired all sides.
If only we'd had such in-depth, full-spectrum debate when the Bush
team was dragging our country into war based on pretense.
I worked in cable news just prior to the Iraq war. As I describe in
my book Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate
Media, journalists at MSNBC got into trouble with management for
questioning Team Bush too strongly, for insisting on genuine debate.
By contrast, no one will get into trouble for this embarrassing 10-
day spasm of overwrought Karr coverage. . .as long as ratings were
good and coverage was cheap. If so, news producers can expect
congratulations for a job well done.
Tabloid stories involving sex, crime or celebrity are preferred by
TV news management today. These stories are inexpensive to cover,
since speculation by alleged experts can fill fill up hours of
airtime. And tabloid stories typically don't offend anyone in
political or economic power, including corporate sponsors and media
But aggressively covering an administration bent on war can cause
all sorts of problems. Especially for a media conglomerate that has
business pending before the Federal Communications Commission.
Especially when that media titan is lobbying the FCC to allow it to
grow even more titanic - as was happening in 2003 exactly at the
time the Bush White House was launching its invasion of Iraq.
During the run-up to war, I was a senior producer on Phil Donahue's
primetime MSNBC show, the most watched program on the channel, until
it was terminated three weeks before the war began. An internal NBC
memo soon leaked out, complaining that Donahue was "a difficult
public face for NBC in a time of war. . .He seems to delight in
presenting guests who are antiwar, anti-Bush and skeptical of the
Stick to tabloid stories and your TV career will flourish. Be
skeptical about officialdom's war motives and they'll show you the
I'll never forget my first day of work at MSNBC headquarters in the
spring of 2002. As I entered the building's central corridor, I saw
a number of framed posters celebrating highpoints of the channel's
early history. The first one: "The Funeral of Princess Diana."
Then: "Death of JFK, Jr." On the opposite wall, I saw "Columbine
Shootings, Live Coverage" and "The Concorde Crash."
I remember thinking: If these are what MSNBC considers its
highlights, what were its lowlights?
TV news owners and management love stories that keep viewers
passive, on the sidelines -- as spectators. They fear the ones that
might motivate us to take action, on the field -- as citizens.
Active, informed citizens seek out (and build) independent media.
They're the kind of pesky activists who intervene in FCC decisions
and fight to diversify a mainstream media system that's been
surrendered corruptly to a half-dozen conglomerates.
TV news is trying desperately to hold onto its audience of passive
consumers: those who know everything about John Mark Karr's dinner
of pate and chardonnay, and next to nothing about the court ruling
that Bush's warrantless wiretapping is unconstitutional.
Last night, with cable news anchors looking ridiculous over their 10-
day JonBenet binge, one MSNBC host seemed to need a scapegoat. If
not murder, she asked a legal expert, couldn't Karr at least be
charged with "conspiracy to set off a media frenzy"?
You see, the 10-day hijacking of the airwaves was not her fault, or
her bosses' fault. It was Karr's fault. . .TV's version of "the sick
puppy ate my homework" excuse.
Published on Monday, August 28, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
JonBenét Died - And Bush Lied?
by Thom Hartmann
I was on the air doing my radio program two weeks ago when the story
came down the wire that the killer of JonBenét Ramsey had been
captured in Thailand just hours earlier. I opened the microphone and
said words to the effect of, "Today there must be something really
awful going down for the Republicans. Maybe Rove really will be
indicted. Maybe Cheney. Maybe some terrible revelation about Bush.
And if there isn't, today will be the day they'll toss out the
unsavory stories - like gutting an environmental law or wiping out
pension plans - that they don't want covered."
Apparently it was worse than I'd imagined.
That same morning - just hours after the JonBenét information hit
the press and just after I got off the air - it was revealed that US
District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor had ruled that George W. Bush
and now-CIA Director Michael Hayden had committed multiple High
Crimes, Misdemeanors, and felonies, both criminal and
constitutional. If her ruling stands, Bush and Hayden could go to
As Judge Taylor said in her "ACLU v. NSA" decision (available
here): "In this case, the President has acted, undisputedly, as FISA
[the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] forbids."
When somebody acts "as FISA forbids," the law is pretty clear about
the penalties. As you can read here, when somebody - anybody -
breaks the FISA law, they are subject to "a fine of not more than
$10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both."
Further, in the case of a president or NSA director, the law
specifies that federal agents and courts have the authority to
arrest and prosecute: "There is Federal jurisdiction over an offense
under this section if the person committing the offense was an
officer or employee of the United States at the time the offense was
Judge Taylor went on to point out that Bush had not only broken the
law, but that he had also violated the Constitution - which many
legal scholars would suggest is clearly an impeachable offense. In
Judge Taylor's words:
"The President of the United States, a creature of the same
Constitution which gave us these Amendments [the Bill of Rights],
has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial
orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First
Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well."
But the media didn't notice. They were too busy with the story of
the child-killer who had finally, after a decade, been found and
captured. As the Think Progress blog noted:
Yesterday, a federal judge in Michigan issued "a sweeping rebuke of
the once-secret domestic-surveillance effort the White House
authorized following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." The
ruling was "a significant blow to Bush's attempts to expand
presidential powers," but you wouldn't know that by watching last
evening's network newscasts.
Think Progress went on to chronicle how much time the three big
networks had devoted to the two stories that first night:
NBC - 7 minutes 39 seconds on the Ramsey story, only 27 seconds on
CBS - 3 minutes 23 seconds on the Ramsey story, only 25 seconds on
ABC - 4 minutes 3 seconds on the Ramsey story, only 2 minutes on the
Within a few days, the story of the President being found guilty of
both imprisonable felonies and impeachable violations of the
Constitution had vanished from the mainstream media altogether.
This isn't the first time bad news for Republicans has been
coincidentally eclipsed by Suddenly Huge Stories.
Keith Olbermann first compiled, almost a year ago on his "Countdown"
program on MSNBC, a list of ten "coincidences" wherein bad news for
the Bush administration (or, during the election, good news for John
Kerry) was immediately followed by terror alerts that grabbed the
headlines and diverted the attention, Teflon-like, away from
Republicans and into a media frenzy.
Olbermann's list is now up to 13 of these odd "coincidences." An
administration that would out a CIA agent and bring down an entire
counterterrorism operation just to punish a former ambassador who
dared to speak out about administration lies may well be easily
capable of cooking up news-grabbing "coincidences."
And apparently there's some fire to go with that smoke. As USA Today
reported ("Ridge Reveals Clashes On Alerts" by Mimi Hall, 10 May
"The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for
terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge
argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat
level, Ridge now says. ...
"'More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it,' Ridge
told reporters. 'Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence
assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good,
you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were
times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and
we said, "For that?"'"
By coincidence, when Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy made her
first announcement, transcribed by the Rocky Mountain News, she
mentioned her work with Bush's Department of Homeland Security
several times, naming agents of that department, and pointing out
that her own investigator, Mark Spray, had been sent off to Thailand
a week earlier "with little more than four hours notice."
It probably took Judge Anna Diggs Taylor around a week to wrap up
the wording of her decision, and if the NSA were spying on her
without a warrant, the timing of sending off a Boulder agent just in
time to generate a sensational headline a week later would be no
In a way, it would be nothing new: Republican operatives working out
of Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch's office successfully hacked
into the computers of and spied on several prominent Democrats, most
notably Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, for over a
year from the Spring of 2002 through April of 2003. As The Boston
Globe noted on January 22, 2004, the memos were then leaked at
useful moments to The Washington Times, Bob Novak, and others:
"Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee
infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret
strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media,
Senate officials told The Globe.
"From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the
GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to
access restricted Democratic communications without a password.
Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking
points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial
nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.
"The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already
launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos
showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and
were posted to a website last November.
"With the help of forensic computer experts from General Dynamics
and the US Secret Service, his office has interviewed about 120
people to date and seized more than half a dozen computers --
including four Judiciary servers, one server from the office of
Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and several desktop
"But the scope of both the intrusions and the likely disclosures is
now known to have been far more extensive than the November
incident, staffers and others familiar with the investigation say.
"The revelation comes as the battle of judicial nominees is reaching
a new level of intensity. Last week, President Bush used his recess
power to appoint Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court
of Appeals, bypassing a Democratic filibuster that blocked a vote on
his nomination for a year because of concerns over his civil rights
Investigations into the "computer glitch" have been blocked by
Senate Republicans for three years now, and the data was used to
successfully torpedo several of Kennedy's and other Democrats'
efforts against Bush's federal judicial appointments of right-wing
So we have Republicans who have admitted spying illegally. Who brag
about it. And who have evidently - according to Tom Ridge - played
the media like a violin for years. Could it be that the Karr/Ramsey
case is another Soviet-style manipulation of the media?
Or is that too paranoid to contemplate?
Tragically, there are virtually no investigative reporters left in
America, and the few who are still working find incredible
roadblocks - and over the past year the threat of imprisonment -
when looking into the workings of the Bush administration's
So, at the worst for Republicans who trot out "news" and "terror
alerts" to misdirect our attention, this will probably just be
chalked up as Coincidence Number 14 on Keith Olbermann's list.
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling
author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk
show carried on the Air America Radio network and Sirius.
www.thomhartmann.com His most recent book, just released,
is "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What We Can
Do About It." Other books include: "The Last Hours of Ancient
Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," and "What Would