August 25, 2006

Karr’s lawyers seek to block DNA tests

By Dan Whitcomb

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) - Lawyers for JonBenet Ramsey
murder suspect John Mark Karr asked a judge on Friday to stop
prosecutors, at least for now, from testing DNA from the
schoolteacher or forensic evidence in the decade-old case.

The request came amid a series of legal maneuvers the day
after Karr returned to Boulder, Colorado, where the child
beauty queen was found strangled to death on December 26, 1996.
Karr is due for his first Boulder court appearance on Monday.

Seth Temin, a public defender who met with Karr for the
first time on Friday, told a Boulder County district judge in
court papers that any DNA samples from his client were not
taken legally because his attorneys should have been consulted

"If such a sample has already been obtained it was not
obtained pursuant to applicable law, the (state or U.S.)
constitutions or by valid consent," Temlin wrote in the court
papers. "Mr. Karr should be allowed to address the legality of
the seizure of such an item prior to testing."

Amid skepticism over Karr's claims that he was with
JonBenet when she died by "accident," a DNA link between the
41-year-old teacher and the crime scene could be of critical
importance to the case.

After JonBenet's father found her body in the basement of
the Ramsey's Boulder home, forensic scientists recovered DNA
belonging to an unidentified white male from under her
fingernails and in her underwear.

That DNA has never been matched to any suspect in the
notorious unsolved crime, which has baffled police and
fascinated Americans for nearly ten years.

Prosecutors have not said if they have obtained DNA samples
from Karr, arrested in Thailand last week. It was also unclear
if they had tried to link him to foot and palm prints found
near JonBenet's body.

As of Friday evening they had not responded to Temin's
request and it was not clear when District Judge Roxanne Bailin
would rule on the motion.

The lawyer also asked Bailin to make prosecutors turn over
all of the evidence amassed so far in the case if they bring
formal charges against Karr, including evidence presented to a
grand jury convened in the case nearly a decade ago.

Bailin imposed a partial gag order in the case, which has
been covered around the world since Karr's arrest, and granted
a request by the defense that no-one be allowed to contact him
without their permission.

JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, found her battered body in
the basement of their home just hours after her mother stumbled
on a note claiming the girl had been kidnapped by a "small
foreign faction" and demanding $118,000 ransom.

JonBenet had been strangled to death with a garrote made
from supplies found in the home, her skull fractured and her
mouth duct-taped. Forensic evidence suggests she had been
sexually assaulted.