A Colorado reporter scored a victory Wednesday when a judge ordered the release of a 1999 sealed indictment against JonBenet Ramsey's parents that was voted on by a grand jury but never prosecuted.
Charlie Brennan, a journalist at the Daily Camera, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit against district attorney Stan Garnett last month, urging him to release the 18-page indictment that charged John and Patsy Ramsey with child abuse resulting in death, the Camera reported.
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Garnett reportedly previously rejected two requests for the release of the indictment, which the Camera and Brennan filed under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Retired Weld County Judge Robert Lowenbach ruled Wednesday that the indictment be unsealed, but he said only the pages signed by the grand jury foreman would be considered "official actions" and thus releasable.
It's not clear how many pages were actually signed and handed over to the judge.
The indictment was voted on by a grand jury in October 1999
, but then-Boulder district attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign the document and chose not to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence. He left office in 2001 after 28 years as Boulder's DA.
"It appears that the District Attorney, presumably acting at the discretion of the grand jury, prepared a series of possible charges regarding John Ramsey and Patricia Ramsey based on the fact that the child had died and that there was evidence that a sexual assault of the child had occurred," Lowenbach wrote in his Wednesday ruling.
The three-year statue of limitations on the indictment expired in 2002. The charges constituted a Class II felony, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 48 years in prison.
JonBenet Ramsey was a 6-year-old beauty queen whose murder became a media sensation after she was found bludgeoned and strangled in the basement of her parents' home in Boulder, Colo., a day after Christmas in 1996.
The Ramseys remained prime suspects until they were absolved in 2008 by the district attorney's office, citing new DNA testing techniques. Patsy Ramsey died two years earlier in 2006 from ovarian cancer, still a suspect in her daughter's murder. The case was never solved.
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