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Larry King Live
Will JonBenet Ramsey's Murder Ever Be Solved?Aired May 4, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Up first, in the controversial JonBenet Ramsey case, Boulder Country district attorney Alex Hunter shares a public forum with former Boulder Police detective Steve Thomas. Also joining us, famed defense attorney and bestselling author Alan Dershowitz. Plus, attorney Ben Thompson, one of the candidates vying to succeed Alex Hunter in the DA's office. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, and welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. Larry has the night off, and I'm Greta Van Susteren, sitting in for Larry.
On December 26, 1996, little JonBenet's body found in the basement of her home. Still no charges have been filed. We're joined tonight by Alex Hunter, who is the Boulder County district attorney.
Alex, it's your job to investigate and perhaps prosecute a case. Obviously, you want to prosecute this case. What's the problem?
ALEX HUNTER, BOULDER COUNTRY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Greta, this is a complicated case, as everybody that has studied it, worked on it knows. It is the kind of a case you do not bring until it's right. Certainly we have enough experiences -- the O.J. case and others -- in every jurisdiction that tell us don't bring your case until it's ready. This case is not ready. The 11 lawyers have been working it are in agreement on that. And, of course, some of your guests apparently disagree, and that's healthy, but I'll stand my ground on the decision at this point in time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alex, to steal your word, ripe, what is it that makes a case not ripe for prosecution?
HUNTER: You know, it's a matter of proof in our system. As the professor I'm sure will comment later, the proof that a prosecutor must have in order to launch a case against any individual is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We have to be satisfied under the ABA standards and the standards adopted by each of the states that that quantum of proof exists, and that is simply -- we're not there yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let's go to former detective Steve Thomas.
Steve, you disagree with Alex Hunter about this. What's wrong with waiting until you are certain you can find evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt? STEVE THOMAS, FORMER RAMSEY CASE INVESTIGATOR: Well, we'll all die of old age if we wait for Hunter's case to become ripe. Several have suggested this is a pretty simple and straightforward case, these kind of cases happen every week in this country and prosecutors put before juries circumstantial cases. And in this case , I don't think it should be a political decision, I think others would agree with me that this is for a jury to decide and not Mr. Hunter.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you blame Alex Hunter for not bringing this case, Steve?
THOMAS: Of course I do. There's a lot of conflict between Mr. Hunter and myself and a lot of animosity. But -- and some barbs traded back and forth. We lost tremendous opportunities to make ground in this case. The police department shares some of that blame, but certainly Mr. Hunter and his office do as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead, Alex.
HUNTER: The only one that doesn't want to take any blame ever is rookie homicide detective Thomas. And what people need to understand, you know, he says you have to get up and take a swing at it. You've got to get up to bat. And he never -- I still don't think he understands that we have to worry about jeopardy. You get one swing and you'd better be ready, and I don't know what it's going to take to get it through his head that you don't move on it -- certainly he can be critical of me. That's his right. But what about the other 11 lawyers. You know, let's remember there is more oversight in this case than any criminal case in the history of the United States as far as I know.
THOMAS: Greta, let me respond.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me go to Alan.
THOMAS: Yes, let me respond to that criticism. Here's Mr. Hunter, once again, putting himself arm's length from a decision. He's the elected district attorney. It falls upon his shoulders. But once again, it's his trusted advisers, it's a group of people; it's not the elected district attorney.
And he keeps referring to me as rookie homicide detective. Mr. Hunter, I would pose the question back to you, you call yourself a career prosecutor, 28 years in office. How many first-degree murder cases have you personally tried and put before a jury? I think the answer, if not a big fat zero, is one.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which may speak a little highly for the Boulder community, where I suspect there aren't a lot of first-degree murder cases.
But let's go to Boston to law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Alan, when should a prosecutor bring a case? ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "THE GENESIS OF JUSTICE": A prosecutor should bring a case only when on the basis of admissible evidence the case would be proved to satisfaction of a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the constitutional standard. That's the standard we respect all through this country, and I think that Mr. Hunter was absolutely right in not bringing this country, and I think that Mr. Hunter was absolutely right in not bringing this case. I've looked at the Thompson book. It's full of speculation, theory, innuendo. He says his hypothesis is this. You know, that wouldn't even be a close case.
It would be unethical for a prosecutor to bring the case that is presented in this book to the -- to a jury. It would be wrong. It would be unethical. I think that Alex Hunter is, although he's become criticized ,I think he's a constitutional hero. He's a man who has made a decision to take the barbs and the slings, and there are going to be many, because it's much easier to bring the case. It would take no courage to bring the prosecution, and then if the jury acquitted, blame it on the jury. But it takes a lot of courage for a district attorney to bite the bullet and take the hard decision, and say there was a murder, maybe it's even likely certain people did it, but likely isn't enough.
The case is not here beyond a reasonable doubt, and Alex Hunter is absolutely right in his decision.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, what has Alex ignored? What has he failed to do specifically?
THOMAS: Well, let me make one comment. Mr. Dershowitz -- who I respect tremendously -- I think it's interesting that Mr. Hunter's guest tonight -- Mr. Hunter would not appear one on one with me on the show tonight, by the way, but Mr. Hunter's ally in this, I don't it should escape anyone, is with all due respect, a notorious criminal defense attorney. Where is a Vincent Bugliosi or a Rudy Giuliani sitting next to Mr. Hunter, these guys, who I consider hero prosecutors making that argument.
But what have we ignored? The first two years of this case, when a grand jury should have been compelled to call reluctant witnesses, to subpoena evidence forever lost, in hindsight, we can't go back and recover those things.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about that, Alex? Has evidence been lost that can never be recovered again?
HUNTER: Not one iota. Not one piece. You know, the thing that just amazes me hearing about Bugliosi, and Giuliani and all, does the former detective forget that Boulder, Colorado has the lowest crime rate of any community of its demographics in the nation, and it has had that reputation and those statistics have been in place for 28 years? This is not -- as you pointed out...
THOMAS: Not to your credit, Mr. Hunter. It's a place where there's no crime. If you try to take a stance you are a tough prosecutor, and because of that, the result is there's no crime, who are you kidding here?
HUNTER: You know, let's not be a couple of cats going around the perimeter of the property. Let me tell you why I am on this show tonight. I am on the show tonight because I think that the book you have published not only violates the 3.6 rules and 3.8 that applies to police officers, but your own department's regulations, and if this is going to be a model of what we want our detectives to be doing with cases that are still alive, where there's no statute of limitations, then I think the impact on American criminal justice is going to be extraordinary. That's why I'm on this program.
Well, you are so...
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, let me interrupt for one second and ask you about a concept that you actually mentioned in a book you have written recently, "Genesis of Justice," which you trace back the concept in criminal justice where it's better to let 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be incarcerated. How does that fit in here?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, it's interesting, that's the primary postulate of our legal system, that if we are going make a mistake, it's better for 10 guilty people to go free than for one innocent to be wrongly convicted. It's actually comes from the Bible, the book of Genesis. People will remember the story of Abraham arguing with God about the sinners of Sodom, and God going to kill everybody in Sodom, and Abraham says to God, "It would be unjust of you to sweep away the innocent with the guilty." if I find, 50, 40, 30, 20, even 10 innocent people, will you spare the whole city? And God, instead of saying, if you find 10, I'll find the 10. He says, yes, I'll spare the whole city, suggesting that if you have a system where if innocent people are wrongly prosecuted, it's very, very bad, and the number 10 actually comes from the story in the Bible. People trace it to Blackstone, but it's a biblical story.
In the "Genesis of Justice" I explain how our legal system derives from biblical norms, and this is one the most important ones, the burden of proof on the prosecution, and erring on the side of not prosecuting people who may be guilty rather than prosecuting people who may be innocent.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to be joined by Ben Thompson, who is running for Alex Hunter's job.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 27)
LARRY KING, HOST: Living with this Patsy, you know the truth. You don't know who did it.
PATSY RAMSEY, JONBENET RAMSEY'S MOTHER: I don't know.
KING: You know you didn't.
P. RAMSEY: I did not. KING: And you know you didn't.
JOHN RAMSEY, JONBENET RAMSEY'S FATHER: That's the one thing we know with absolute certainty, that's a fact in this case, is that we did not kill our daughter.
P. RAMSEY: And there was someone in our home that night who did kill our daughter, and we're going to find that person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 27)
J. RAMSEY: I don't think there's a conspiracy. I think it's based on inexperience, gross inexperience. These people have no homicide experience. Their leadership had no experience in this. They concluded very quickly that if must have been the parents, because the parents always do it, and that became their theory. and they spent three years investigating to try to prove that theory. That conclusion was reached before any of the evidence was even looked it.
P. RAMSEY: We're saying that's OK. That is OK. You know, let bygones be bygones, but let's finish the investigation. We need experienced homicide investigators to start again. You know, we will be totally cooperative. Everyone, start again. Start with canvassing of the neighborhood. Look at all the tests again. Go back and do more DNA testing. Start again. We've got to find this person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
We're now joined by Ben Thompson who is running for office. He wants to be the Boulder County DA. Alex Hunter is, of course, retiring.
Ben, let me ask you about article in "The Denver Post" yesterday in which is it says you promised if you are elected in November as the Boulder County DA there would be arrests in the JonBenet case by January. How can you do that? How can you make that promise? And what do you intend to do?
BEN THOMPSON (D), BOULDER COUNTY DA CANDIDATE: Well, for a year I've been campaigning for this office, and I've done a lot of research. I have a number of people -- detectives, police officers, prosecutors. I have a judge who I have a lot of respect for his opinion, who has been on the criminal docket for eight years, who -- I think what I'm saying is I have talk with enough people, I have investigated this case enough believe to there is a case that should be prosecuted. There was a case years ago. It's political, the reason that it hasn't been prosecuted. And we have a district attorney's office that is more political than it is a prosecutor's office. I'm sitting here listening to those two talk, or those three talk, and it's strange to me that Alex sounds more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor, and that's part of the problem.
HUNTER: Greta, can I respond to this?
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.
DERSHOWITZ: Greta, this is a very, very serious matter. This is the first time in my experience, 36 years in criminal law, I ever heard a man running for district attorney on the promise that he would arrest and presumably indict somebody. This would change the nature of our legal justice system. It would make it criminal justice by referendum. You would be voting for a person in order to get somebody indicted. It would so thoroughly undercut the American legal system, it would be unconstitutional in my view. I think any conviction based on a campaign to indict somebody would be thrown out of court on constitutional grounds. You know, this transcends the Ramsey case.
If we ever allow ourselves to vote for a district attorney candidate on the ground that he has promised to indict somebody, we have gone over to the Iranian system of justice. That's how serious this is.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, who is it that you think you are going to charge if you are elected? And what's the evidence that you think supports that?
THOMPSON: All right, let me first respond to what Alan just said. I never said I was going to indict anybody, and I would think a law professor would know the difference between an indictment and arrest. There's a difference between an indictment and arrest, and I think you'd know that difference.
DERSHOWITZ: Well then, how would you arrest somebody on the basis of this?
THOMPSON: Do you answer to you, or do I answer to Greta?
DERSHOWITZ: Go ahead. Go ahead.
THOMPSON: I mean, my concern is was I wondered what you were doing on the show. Now I can see you are on the show to attack me.
Greta, let me answer your question as best I can.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
THOMPSON: I haven't named any parties. I've said that there should be an arrest in this case. If a lawyer gives opinion about something like that, I don't see what Alan is talking about, except he's playing the role of a criminal defense attorney and just raising smokescreens.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, let me ask you about this "Denver Post" article. It also says -- and maybe you've been misquoted; I've been misquoted myself a few times -- it says that you have no doubt who killed JonBenet. Is that a correct quote?
THOMPSON: That is a correct quote.
VAN SUSTEREN: From where do you divine that information that you know who killed JonBenet?
THOMPSON: Well, there are a number of factors. You know, people in Burnt Fort, Georgia know who killed JonBenet. People in London, England know who killed JonBenet. People in Tallahassee, Florida know who killed JonBenet, and I believe that Alex Hunter knows, too. So the question is, why hasn't this case proceeded to an arrest. All that is necessary in arrest is probable cause.
VAN SUSTEREN: What happens if you have sufficient evidence to arrest? Because it's quite easy to arrest someone, probable cause, but you can't convict the person beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury? Do you still think it's appropriate to make the arrest?
THOMPSON: In my opinion, you have to handle these cases in steps. The first step is an arrest. Rarely does a prosecuting attorney know at the time an arrest is made whether or not there is a reasonable doubt. And it really does depend on your perspective.
Alex Hunter is one of those people in the DA's office, one of those offices, that -- I don't want to turn this into the catfight that Alex was talking about. Let me say there is a cancer in our DA's office, and whenever anybody points it out, what happens is they attack whoever points it out instead of addressing the issue and trying to solve the problem.
HUNTER: Greta, can I jump into this?
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Alex. I will let you respond. We're going to take a break. But when we come back, Alex, you'll be the first one to speak.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 27)
J. RAMSEY: What we need to do is get down to the objective here. The objective is to find the killer. I can say a lot of things about what the police did and didn't do. They can say a lot of things about what we did and didn't do. But let's put that aside. Let's put politics aside. Let's put egos aside. There is a dangerous killer loose, we believe. This killer, if he's still alive, will kill again.
It's time to get on with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 28)
J. RAMSEY: We think the killer wrote the note before we came home that night. We think he was in the house while we were out four to five hour. The note was written before the crime.
KING: He intended then to kidnap.
J. RAMSEY: We think it was a kidnapping...
KING: Gone awry.
J. RAMSEY: ... and something went terribly wrong. That's what seasoned investigators have told us.
KING: What do you make of "SBTC?"
J. RAMSEY: I don't know. I've struggled with that. I've tried to understand it. Only the killer knows.
P. RAMSEY: This is a clue -- "SBTC"...
KING: Must be.
P. RAMSEY: ... $118,000 dollars -- this is why we wrote this book, because there are definite clues that are going to help us find this person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back. Before we went to break, Alex Hunter, I told you that I'd let you respond to what Ben had to say about your performance as the Boulder County DA?
HUNTER: Well, you know, I didn't realize I was going to hear a stump speech tonight from Ben. But I get the impression that Ben does not understand how the system works, and that gives me some concern. If you make an arrest, the clock starts to tick, and you have to bring your charges. You just can't have an arrest, and I know that some people have argued arrest them, throw them in jail, let them hear the clang of the jail doors and you'll break them.
VAN SUSTEREN: And by "them," do you mean John and Patsy Ramsey?
HUNTER: I mean anybody. You throw them in the jail house, you let them hear the clang of the door and you break them. And the point is that in Colorado and most states, the prosecutor, in order to block bail is going to have to establish that the proof is evident and the presumption is great.
Now I am very happy to have Ben Thompson, who's running for my post, say that I'm a bad DA, and Steve Thomas to say whatever he wants to say, but -- and Ben has talked about this fraternity of district attorneys that apparently are all holding hands. In point of fact, there are 11 lawyers, including lawyers from Governor Owens' group, that have all looked at this and have said no arrest is appropriate at this time. So I don't know where these two guys -- or where Ben is coming from.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, let me ask you this to follow up on that question. I also read, and correct me again if I'm wrong, that if you are elected the Boulder County district attorney, you are going to ask Michael Cain, the prosecutor who is leading the grand jury investigation under Alex Hunter to run the investigation under you. Why would you want him to join if you are so critical of Alex Hunter's office?
THOMPSON: Well first, let me say, I'm not so critical of Alex Hunter's office. I think he's done a lot of things good. But it's interesting that when you talk about homicide cases, that he lectures me. I have more experience in death penalty cases than every DA he has in his office combined, including Alex. In the last 28 years, Alex has zero experience in homicide cases, so it's kind of strange he would lecture me.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you translate that -- let me stop you for a second. How do you translate that lack of experience to no charges in this particular case? How does that fit in?
THOMPSON: Well, let me tell you the four-year clock he's talking about is just the opposite of what we should have here. A jury in Boulder County should be able to resolve this issue. No doubt in my mind should have happened a long time ago. That's the way the system is set up. What Alex does is he plays judge, prosecutor, defense attorney. You know, he can't separate -- he needs to separate those roles, to make a decision like he's made. He's substituting his judgment for a jury.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, have you spoken to Ben about joining the investigation, if he's elected, the Boulder County DA?
THOMAS: No, I -- as you know, I worked as carpenter now. I saw some nice comments that Ben made, but we haven't discussed that. But I would like to think Mr. Hunter for that civics lesson, and he likes to get on that soap box and preach morality. And I noticed one of the recent quotes was he called the case an "intellectual challenge" -- these are Mr. Hunter's words -- and a "terrific opportunity," and I don't know when the concept of justice for a murder victim rather than Mr. Hunter's mental stimulation escaped him. This is a good -- if I can finish Mr. Hunter without interrupting.
Mr. Thompson makes a good point, that the DA's office thinks they have this crystal ball into what a non-seated jury will do at some point in the future, and therefore, they don't have to make the case and make that decision. It's just remarkable sitting here listening to Mr. Hunter.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, I'm going to enter a plea of not guilty for Alex Hunter, interrupt you; that was Alan Dershowitz, and Alan will be the first person who talks after this break.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 28)
KING: DNA was found under the fingernails, DNA from a stain found on the underwear, cord and duct tape, pubic hair found on the blanket. footprint found by the body. Where has all this led?
J. RAMSEY: We think it will lead to the killer eventually.
KING: What do the police say about these findings?
J. RAMSEY: We don't know. They haven't told us.
KING: What's the DNA? It's not your DNA?
J. RAMSEY: We know that the DNA has not been matched to anyone. We know...
KING: So it matches someone, but they haven't found him.
J. RAMSEY: They haven't found him. We heard one of the special prosecutors say the DNA is a problem. The DNA is a huge clue, we believe. It's not a problem.
KING: It's a problem in convicting you.
J. RAMSEY: It's a problem in convicting the parents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Greta Van Susteren, sitting in for Larry this evening.
Alan, you wanted to make a comment.
DERSHOWITZ: Yes. It's interesting, if I were a defense attorney in this case, I would thank Steve Thomas for writing this book. Steve Thomas has written a book, which if you believe his hypothesis, proves the complete innocence of John Ramsey, and convicts Patsy Ramsey, at most, of some kind of negligent or accident. He makes the argument that what happened is, initially, Patsy Ramsey knocked her daughter unconscious, thought she was dead, but she was really alive, and then while she was alive, though Patsy thought she was dead, Patsy garroted her in order to cover up her accident. He then says in the book, this accident, in my opinion, had just become a murder. If he knew anything about criminal law, he would know that you can't commit murder if you think the person is dead. I actually litigated a case like that in New York. The court rules a person dies but once. If you think the person is dead, you're not guilty of the crime.
This is a perfect scenario for a defense case, if anybody ever were to be indicted. It's all hypothetical, it's all speculative, and I wonder if Mr. Thompson, what crime he would indict people for or arrest people for? You have to have a crime. And I think he owes the public, when he speculates, I would arrest somebody, tell us who? Would he arrest only Patsy? Would he arrest John? According to the Thomas scenario, John is completely innocent. Would he arrest Patsy for murder? Would he arrest her for causing an accident and then a cover-up? These are the detailed questions that have to be answered. VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, let me ask you about your book. In your book, you do say that Patsy Ramsey is the murderer. But the truth is, none of us was there. How do you reach that conclusion?
THOMAS: Well, I offer it as a hypothesis in -- and only as that. But it's not unlike Mr. Hunter won't say, and maybe appropriately so, who he thinks did it. I know who he thinks did it, but as we wait, as this thing becomes ripe and then rotten, we'll wait forever, because, quite frankly, Mr. Hunter's waiting for it to become ripe, and the only thing that's going to make it any riper is the confession by a remorseful killer at this point.
But let me ask Mr. Hunter, you have six months left before you leave public office forever. Are you going to make an arrest in this case, Mr. Hunter?
VAN SUSTEREN: Alex, hold that answer. We're going to take a break. We're also going to talk about polygraph. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 27)
J. RAMSEY: ... that -- that this is a dangerous thing to take a lie detector test, because they're subjective science. They're not allowed in court as evidence...
KING: Unless both sides agree.
J. RAMSEY: In Colorado, even if both sides agree, they're not allowed in court. But...
KING: In the right hands, though...
J. RAMSEY: But in the right -- we have nothing to hide. And if they work and if it will advance the cause of finding the killer of our daughter, we'll do it. Simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Our four panelists tonight to discuss the JonBenet Ramsey case are, from Boulder, Colorado, Alex Hunter, who is the Boulder County district attorney. Steve Thomas is in Seattle. He's the former police detective who investigated the case. In Boston, law professor and author Alan Dershowitz. And in Boulder, Colorado, Ben Thompson, who is running for the Boulder County district attorney's office seat after Alex Hunter vacates it in November.
Alan, there's been a discussion about the polygraph test. Will they? Should they? What's the answer?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, nobody should take a polygraph test as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. They're full of false positives. They don't work very well when you're talking about a crime that was committed several years earlier. They measure current feelings, not past feelings.
You know, criminal lawyers never allow clients to take a lie detector test unless they first pass the lie detector test privately as part of the lawyer-client privilege. And without knowing anything about this particular case, if they take -- if they end up taking the test, you can be sure they've already passed it with at least two or three different kinds of operators. There are all kinds of subjective factors that enter into it.
I surely would not advise a client to take a lie detector test.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Alan -- Alan, I don't know if they have done a dry run. I'm not so sure they have, and they may have backed themselves into public relations corner by coming on Larry King and telling Larry that they would like to take a polygraph.
But let me go to you, Ben.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, in the state of Colorado, is a polygraph test admissible in a criminal case?
THOMPSON: No, it's not admissible. But let me address that issue. It is also possible that your clients take a lie detector exam and fail them. And then if you make a public statement before you take the lie detector exam that you're going to take one, then you take one and fail one, then you change your mind.
I'd like to answer a question that Alan made a while ago about the issue about who I would arrest and those kinds of things: I think that would be unethical for me to sit here and say I would arrest so and so. And it'd be dumb for me to sit here and say what I was going to arrest them for, what I thought the evidence was, what the strength would be. I think that would be a dumb thing.
I don't want to do anything to help any defense attorney prepare the defense in this case.
DERSHOWITZ: But you've done it already. You've just done it by hinting and innuendo without being forthright.
THOMPSON: I believe that I am considerably more forthright than you are.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, let's not get into that.
THOMPSON: And I do believe -- well, you're right. And I also believe that Alex Hunter's office -- and I'm not saying Alex has done this -- but there certainly is evidence that there are lawyers in that office who have leaked information about this evidence and put spin on this evidence so now the version that we have helps the criminal defense attorneys.
I think that was improper, and I think that's been done. All I'm doing is talking here openly about what I would do, and I don't believe that's unethical. And I think your comments are inappropriate along that line.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alex...
HUNTER: Greta, can I jump...
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can I jump in here for a minute? I didn't get a chance to answer Steve's question either.
But you know, Ben, you're a grandstander. Everybody knows you're a grandstander. You know, if you think anybody has leaked something, why don't you follow the Colorado rules of civil procedure and file a grievance instead of making an allegation about somebody leaking? That's the way the system is supposed to work.
And back to Thomas, you know, your -- your former department can go to a judge and seek an arrest warrant. I am not going to push for an arrest warrant until this case is ripe and until the people who I respect who are associated with a lot of very good district attorneys' offices reach consensus with me.
These are not decisions that are being made by me alone or by the Boulder District Attorney's Office. This case has become much bigger than that, and it has oversight that I think is very appropriate when you are confronted with a high-profile case in America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, do you want to respond?
THOMAS: Yes, of course. Mr. Hunter, it falls on your shoulder. Your constituents elected you as the district attorney. The buck stops with you. And what I hear you saying in this lifetime we're not going to see an arrest, if that's what you're saying. I never know what you're saying.
HUNTER: Well, if you're...
THOMPSON: Greta, may I?
HUNTER: Well, you know, then listen more carefully, Steve. You know what the rule of law is. There needs to be the quantum of proof necessary to bring a charge. It isn't there yet. That's not...
THOMAS: Are you saying -- are you saying...
HUNTER: ... just my opinion.
THOMAS: ... there's not probable cause in this case, Mr. Hunter? Are you suggesting there's not sufficient facts and circumstances to articulate an arrest warrant affidavit?
HUNTER: You know, you -- what I am saying to you that probable cause is not the quantum of proof that a district attorney has to have in order to bring charges. That's what I'm saying. DERSHOWITZ: Steve, what is the probable cause for?
HUNTER: I don't think you've understood that yet.
DERSHOWITZ: Steve, what is the probable cause for? According to your book it was an accident.
THOMAS: Alex, are you saying -- are you admitting at least that there's probable cause in this case to make an arrest?
DERSHOWITZ: For what? For what crime? Steve, what crime would you arrest then for?
THOMAS: Alan, let him answer the question.
HUNTER: I'm not going to speak to the issue of probable cause. I don't think it's appropriate.
DERSHOWITZ: But Steve, you have to answer that question now. You have put out a scenario in which John is completely innocent. If you arrest him, you'd be subject to false arrest charges under the theory of your book. Patsy is innocent of murder and guilty of something like accidental homicide. Is that what you'd would arrest her for?
You know, you have to -- on an arrest warrant, you have to say what the crime is. What...
THOMAS: Of course...
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, hold that answer for one second. We're going to take a break. We'll come right back to this debate. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 28, "BURDEN OF PROOF")
VAN SUSTEREN: How many times did you meet with the police or their representatives?
J. RAMSEY: Well, we met I know on the 26th for hours. We met on the 27th for hours. We went on, I think, on the 28th and 29th to give blood sample, hair samples, saliva samples. We went later to -- to -- they took hair samples, pubic hair samples.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think they say you didn't cooperate maybe? Because I have read your book...
P. RAMSEY: I don't know. I mean, I don't know what they call cooperation if that's not cooperating.
I mean, I'm lying there on a table having a nurse pluck pubic hairs from my body, and I'm crying, thinking "How can someone say I'm not cooperating?" I mean, tell me what cooperation is.
J. RAMSEY: You know, you have to understand, too, that as this evolves we'd given the police our trust and our confidence, and they lost it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Shortly after JonBenet's death, Alex Hunter and Patsy Ramsey had a very brief phone conversation. It was prompted by Hunter's comments during a news conference about the case.
Larry King asked Patsy about the call during the first of his two interviews with the Ramseys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 27)
P. RAMSEY: I was not at the press conference. I was in a conference room listening to the press conference, and was so moved by his determination to find the killer of my daughter I asked my lawyer, who was there with me, I said, "Can we get him on the telephone?" And he looked at me and said, "What do you want to say to him?" And I said: "I want to speak with that man. Please get him on the telephone."
KING: And what did you tell him?
P. RAMSEY: And I said: "Thank you, thank you. As a mother of a murdered child, thank you for your willingness."
I mean, he looked at that camera and said: "We will find you. We will find you."
KING: You like him?
P. RAMSEY: I like the fact that he's determined to find out who did this and he wasn't going to rubber stamp the police decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, what's your reaction to Patsy Ramsey's statements about Alex Hunter?
THOMAS: Well, I find it incredible the murder suspect in this case is again, like the defense, praising the district attorney's office.
But let me respond to Mr. Dershowitz, because he offered a fair question, and I respect him as a defense attorney. And spoken like a true defense attorney, Mr. Dershowitz, the working-stiff cops usually, I would hope, work with able and professional prosecutors that would help them make those charging determinations and what elements could be met of what crime. And it wouldn't fall solely, especially in a case like this, to the detective writing the warrant to close out that final paragraph.
DERSHOWITZ: And that's a fair answer, but under your analysis you couldn't arrest John Ramsey and you could only arrest Patsy Ramsey for accidentally causing a death, because I think any criminal lawyer will tell you that if either the death caused -- either the accident caused the death of JonBenet or she reasonably thought it caused the death of JonBenet, whatever she did thereafter could be only be an obstruction of justice. But it wouldn't turn an accident into a murder.
VAN SUSTEREN: And...
THOMAS: Let me respond, Greta, if I could please, just real quickly.
Mr. Dershowitz, you're not getting an argument from me. I lay out that I don't think the father's involved. And as I've said before, I think this was an accidental death, which by definition lacked motive.
I'm not suggesting a first-degree murder charge here.
DERSHOWITZ: Not even a murder charge. Probably at most a negligent homicide charge.
THOMPSON: How about manslaughter, Alan? Are we just forgetting manslaughter?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, manslaughter...
THOMPSON: Are we forgetting conspiracies? Are we -- I mean, you're just throwing smokescreens out.
DERSHOWITZ: No, no, no.
THOMPSON: Yes, you are.
DERSHOWITZ: Let me be very clear about it. If you think...
THOMPSON: That's exactly what you were doing.
DERSHOWITZ: If you think there's a conspiracy here, then you ought to go back to law school. Conspiracy requires that there be an agreement before the crime. Under Thomas' theory, John Ramsey didn't even know about what happened. You can't get a conspiracy.
You know, you've got to be careful about electing people for district attorney who don't know the law. There is an old expression: "Necessity knows no law." But we shouldn't have district attorneys named necessity who also know no law.
You've got to know a little bit of law before you run for district attorney.
THOMPSON: I think that's incredible...
VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, do you want to respond?
THOMPSON: I do. I think that's an incredible statement for a law professor to make and just ignore facts...
DERSHOWITZ: Which one, about the conspiracy?
THOMPSON: ... ignore evidence, ignore law. No, everything you're saying is a smokescreen.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, be specific.
THOMPSON: I can't imagine why you're doing that. That doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever.
DERSHOWITZ: Be specific. What did I say was wrong about conspiracy or about intent.
THOMPSON: Talk about manslaughter.
DERSHOWITZ: I know substantive criminal law. I've been teaching it for 36 years.
THOMPSON: OK. I understand that. Tell us about manslaughter. What is manslaughter?
DERSHOWITZ: Manslaughter is death caused by negligence. And if this was a death caused by...
THOMPSON: I rest my case.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, no...
THOMPSON: I rest my case, professor.
DERSHOWITZ: ... because according to this it was an accident. An accidental death is not a crime, if it was purely an accident.
When you -- somebody runs out in front of you in a car and you kill the by accident, that's not manslaughter.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alex, let me ask you, since there's going to be a big election in November for your seat, are you supporting anyone? Have you endorsed anyone to replace you?
HUNTER: When I've -- Greta, I've taken a neutral position because two of my deputies, Mary Keenan and Trip DeMuth, have announced. There's going to be an assembly, Democratic assembly this Saturday, and that may determine the race. But I have not felt it appropriate, since I hired both of these people and respect both of these people, to allow myself to get involved in it.
I will -- I will say that I'm not going to vote for Ben.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a front-runner...
THOMPSON: Thank you, Alex. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, maybe you can answer this. Have there been any polls? Do we know who the front-runner is for this race for Boulder DA.
THOMPSON: Well, I believe I am, and I haven't raised as much money as Alex's supporters have...
... but I believe I am the front-runner. I know it's funny to you, Alex.
But today I have about 950 signatures. I need 50 more signatures to get on the ballot. We're averaging about 100, 150 a day.
So I suspect I'll have those tomorrow, and I will be on the ballot. And the Democratic assembly that he's talking about won't be the deciding factor. There will be an August 8th primary, where I will -- where I hope I will be on the ballot and believe I will be, that may decide the Democratic Party.
Alex is totally ignoring there's a Republican in this race, and a Republican is making -- you know, it's funny. Alex thinks this is funny. I don't think the murder...
HUNTER: I think you're funny, Ben.
THOMPSON: ... of a child is funny. And I don't think that comment's funny.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, we're going to take -- we're going to take a break. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 28)
KING: There's a book coming from Steve Thomas, a former detective, who says that you did do it, I think he's saying that in his book. Are you concerned about this book? Have you heard about it?
J. RAMSEY: Well, Steve Thomas, I believe, had that opinion from the very beginning, which is one of the problems in this whole case. Steve was an inexperienced rookie detective. I think he was narcotics police officer and was given this case as the lead detective.
No, I'm not concerned.
KING: You're not concerned?
J. RAMSEY: And...
P. RAMSEY; Steve Thomas interviewed me our first interview, and I appreciated his passion for wanting to find the killer of my daughter. And I told him so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, what was your reaction when you first met Patsy and John Ramsey? What did you think of them? THOMAS: Well, unfortunately, it took four months before we were afforded the opportunity to -- or at least I was afforded the opportunity to sit down and ask them some very basic and elementary investigative questions regarding the death of their daughter. He was very congenial and polite, reserved. She was a little harder to figure out, I think, a little more complex.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alex, in Steve's book he talks about the fact that he says the Ramseys were not cooperative, yet the police were with the Ramseys from the minute the body was -- from the minute that the phone call, the 911 call and the police arrived. In your opinion, were the Ramseys cooperative or not?
HUNTER: Well, I think Steve -- I think Steve and I might agree in this area. They certainly were cooperative in terms of providing hair and handwriting samples and that sort of thing. They certainly didn't come to the table as fast as the detective and I would have liked.
I don't think he appreciates the fact that they don't need to come to the table. That's, you know -- I think most of America would have liked them to have come to the cable table. A lot of America says, I would have come to the table. But I think all of the lawyers on this show will agree they don't need to come to the table.
So you know, cooperation, I think it's -- it did take until April to get them to the table. Some people have said it's extraordinary that they were even willing to come in. I think Professor Dershowitz would probably say that in most cases attorneys would have told them not to come in.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan...
DERSHOWITZ: I'm sure the attorneys in this case told them not to come in. Remember, attorneys in the beginning don't know whether their clients are innocent or guilty. That only begins to occur to the attorney after a while. So in prudence, you always have to tell your client not to come in.
But I need to make one comment, because this is really important, Greta. You know, I'm so worried, not so much about this case. I'm so worried about what's happening to American justice when you have a candidate running -- he's running on the following basic claim. He says: Everybody all over America has seen television; they all know who did it. If you also -- and in Boulder -- think you know who did it based on what you've seen on television, vote for me.
This is guilt by referendum. This is an extremely dangerous approach to the role of DA.
You know, we're virtually the only country in the world that even elects DAs. In almost every other country, they are professional law enforcement officials, like in England, appointed for their professionalism. They don't run for office.
But if we move from running for office to running on a referendum to arrest somebody, that really changes the nature of our system in a very, very dangerous way.
VAN SUSTEREN: And we're going to take a break. We'll come back for our remaining moments. And Ben, I will let you respond. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARCH 27)
J. RAMSEY: There are several key pieces of evidence that we think will lead us to the killer: male, pedophile. We think a stun gun was involved. So this person either had a stun gun or had access to one. The number 118 had significance to this person: 118,000 was the amount of the ransom note. That was picked for a purpose. We don't know what the purpose is.
SBTC meant something to this killer. That was how the ransom note was signed, and this person was in Boulder, Colorado on December 25th. We're not looking for a needle in a haystack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Ben, is this -- is this what Alan says? Is this justice by referendum?
THOMPSON: I don't believe so at all. And you know, I now begin to understand why O.J. Simpson put so much confidence in Alan and his skills and his abilities. He's probably a pretty good professor, too. But he wouldn't make a very good prosecuting attorney and he wouldn't make a very good politician either.
What we have in Boulder is a political system that makes decisions by politics. I think a jury should be able to make a decision in this case. And all I've said and all I've implied directly or indirectly is that is what I would allow to happen.
What Alex has said and what all the people that are running from his office have said is that that won't happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan -- Alan...
THOMPSON: And this time...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... in a few seconds...
THOMPSON: ... clock takes too long.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, do you want to respond in the few seconds we have left?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I just think -- are you asking Alan or Alex?
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, Alan. Go ahead, Alan. It was said that you were wrong.
DERSHOWITZ: No, I really do think that this case transcends this one particular issue. And we have to be very careful about not submitting to plebiscites. I mean, you just can't allow a campaign for office for a very important job, as prosecutor, to turn on one case.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alex, why not stay and finish the job?
HUNTER: Greta, you know, I think after 28 years and seven terms that it's very important that there be new eyes, new vision, and frankly new energy. And I am -- I am very content that the continuity is solid.
The Denver DA, Bill Ritter; Bob Grant, the Adams County DA; Dave Thomas from Jeffco; Jim Peters from Arapahoe; Mike Kane -- we have a wonderful team. And one of the disappointments in this show is I think that with Steve and I kind of at each other's throats, it does not reflect the hard work by some of Steve's former colleagues who have kept their noses to the grindstone and who I think are wonderful people, and the good lawyers that are working this case. And nobody is giving up on this case, and they won't give up on it if it's not solved when I leave at the end of the year. I'm confident of that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Speaking of not giving up on it, there's a news report today that says FBI experts will conduct more tests on some of the 1,200 pieces of evidence. What more needs to be done at this point, Alex?
HUNTER: Well, you know, the last two days, the detectives and my prosecuting team myself met with the FBI. It was mostly hair and fiber, but there were other issues. And frankly, there were matters that came up that were new in terms of insights that were developed during the course of that meeting that I think are significant. I'm not saying smoking-gun significance, but I'm talking about advancing a case that's important to the people in this country, and not rushing to judgment and throwing it to a jury, who might tell you to go take a flying jump.
And then it's over. Jeopardy is attached.
We are not going to do that. We're not going to be bullied into that.
THOMPSON: You're not going to do anything.
HUNTER: And I'm surprised -- well, we're not going to do anything before it's time. That's for sure.
VAN SUSTEREN: Give...
DERSHOWITZ: And it may never result...
THOMPSON: Or it's ripe.
DERSHOWITZ: And it may never result in an indictable case, and that would be right under the Constitution. If it's 60 percent likely that somebody did it and if everybody believes that person should be prosecuted, that case should never go to trial. That's the right constitutional result.
HUNTER: And Greta, you know, Greta, it's important to keep in mind that there is not a police chief or a district attorney anywhere in this country that doesn't have a case that he or she can point to that was cracked after six years, after eight years, after 10 years. This business about, you know, we're all going to go to our grave because Alex Hunter is never going to decide it is ridiculous!
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, unfortunately, Alex, that's all the time we have.
Larry King will be back tomorrow, and he'll be talking to famed psychics about reaching out to loved ones in the afterlife.
I'm Greta Van Susteren, and CNN's "NEWSSTAND" is next.
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