- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 19, 2006

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Reporters and camera crews crowded the local courthouse grounds yesterday in anticipation of the arrival of teacher John Mark Karr to face charges in the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

Karr said in a televised statement after being arrested Wednesday in Thailand that he was with JonBenet when she was killed in 1996. He called the child’s death “an accident.”

Karr will face charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault.

Authorities in Thailand said Karr, 41, would leave on a flight to the United States today. “The tickets for John Mark Karr’s departure are ready,” Thailand’s immigration police chief, Lt. Gen. Suwat Thamrongsrisakul, told reporters.

He did not specify the route Karr would take. In the United States, neither federal nor local officials would confirm the timing.

Television crews had pitched camp yesterday on the grounds of the Boulder County court building.

More than 30 reporters representing organizations as far away as Japan attended a meeting Friday to divvy up press seating for Karr’s first court appearance — even though the hearing hasn’t even been scheduled.

That initial court appearance is generally for the judge to advise a suspect of his rights, state court system spokeswoman Karen Salaz said yesterday. “It’s going to be three minutes, max,” she said.

The intense attention in the case has outraged JonBenet’s father and driven him to consider moving out of the country, a family lawyer said yesterday.

Lin Wood, an Atlanta attorney who for years has represented JonBenet’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, said yesterday that the press onslaught facing Mr. Ramsey is worse than it’s ever been. Mrs. Ramsey died in June of ovarian cancer.

Mr. Wood said camera crews and reporters followed Mr. Ramsey on Friday when he took his son, Burke, to Purdue University in Indiana to start the college year.

“He cannot go back to his home in Michigan because it is surrounded by the media,” he said. “Last night, I’ve never heard him so angry. He is upset. He is worried about his son’s physical safety.”

JonBenet’s body was found the day after Christmas 1996 in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder. She had a fractured skull and had been strangled. Autopsy results were inconclusive about whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Legal analysts have said DNA evidence likely will be key in solving the case: DNA was found beneath JonBenet’s fingernails and inside her underwear. But others who worked on the case warned that DNA evidence alone will not be enough to convict Karr.

“It can only exclude or include him as the possible killer. It can never be 100 percent,” a forensic scientist, Dr. Henry Lee, said yesterday, noting that investigators have only a partial profile.

Karr was given a mouth-swab DNA test in Bangkok, according to a law-enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. The results of that test were not known. Karr will be given another DNA test when he returns to the United States, the official said.

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