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[b]2001-12-18: Case haunts DA's aide who led grand jury[/b]

Case haunts DA's aide who led grand jury

Kane says he never felt that Ramseys gave him the straight story during his interviews

By Charlie Brennan, News Staff Writer

Michael Kane says he still thinks about the JonBenet Ramsey murder every day.

"And at least once a week, when I'm out running or something, this case will be running through my head," he said, "and I'll think, 'What if we did this now?' or 'What if that happened?' "

Kane, 49, joined former District Attorney Alex Hunter's team in June 1998, about 18 months after JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her Boulder home.

He led the 13-month-long grand jury probe that concluded Oct. 13, 1999, with no indictments issued in the case.

JonBenet's parents remain under an "umbrella of suspicion" in the death.

Kane spent many hours questioning John and Patsy Ramsey about their daughter's murder. He said he believes they have yet to give him the straight story.

"When I met with them, I never felt that they were genuine," Kane said. "I always felt like I was talking to a press secretary who was giving responses with a spin.

"I always felt like their answers were very careful and, in some cases, scripted. And that caused me a lot of concern."

Kane said one of the biggest mistakes in the case was that officials didn't take it to a grand jury in the early going.

"I think the major problem with this case was the hard-core evidence gathering," Kane said.

He believes a grand jury should have been impaneled promptly -- not necessarily to secure a rapid indictment, but in order to use a grand jury's broad powers to subpoena witnesses and, equally important, personal records.

"I had this argument with them until the day (former Boulder prosecutors) Pete Hofstrom and Trip DeMuth were off the case" in August 1998, Kane said.

"That's what a grand jury is for, because a grand jury can order someone to produce documents. It's up to the DA's office to say, 'There's an awful lot of things we need to know about, and the only way we're going to know about it is by getting these records.'

"Instead, it was almost two years later when we started issuing subpoenas for information, and the trail sometimes grows cold. A lot of businesses don't keep records that long," Kane said.

Many people connected to the case claimed they tuned out the constant chatter it sparked in the media. Not Kane.

"There were lots of times, sitting in the (Boulder justice center) war room at night, I'd flip on the TV and they'd be doing a program about this case, and somebody would say something, and I'd say 'Darn, I wish I'd thought of that,' " Kane said. "And then, I'd follow up on it."

On occasion, such brainstorms still lead Kane to call and share ideas with Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. And, periodically, he'll get a call from Beckner seeking Kane's thoughts on any new wrinkle in the case that might have arisen.

Kane has had virtually no contact, however, with Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan. She inherited the case from Hunter after his retirement in January.

"I don't feel slighted" by Keenan, Kane said. "I worked that case intensely. I had my shot. I did everything with the information that I had at the time to try to come up with an answer. And it didn't happen.

"Maybe what this case needs now is someone coming to the case for the first time, who may have a light bulb come on."

Kane moved back to his native Pennsylvania and spent the time since November 1999 in private practice doing primarily civil litigation.

He returned Dec. 10 to the Pennsylvania State Department of Revenue, as deputy director for taxation. He had been working at that Pennsylvania state agency when Hunter picked him to pilot the Ramsey grand jury.

Kane, a divorced father of two girls -- Kathleen, 17, and Madeline, 13 -- makes his home in Mechanicsburg, Pa., less than a mile from where his daughters live with their mother.

Asked if he's frustrated that no one has been charged in JonBenet's slaying, he didn't hesitate: "Lots. In a word, lots. I didn't sign on there to not come up with a conclusion that was not prosecutable."

Kane participated in two interviews with the Ramseys after joining the case. In the first, he was teamed with former homicide investigator Lou Smit for an interrogation of John Ramsey that spanned three days -- June 22 to 24, 1998.

More recently, he traveled with Beckner to Atlanta for interviews with John and Patsy Ramsey, conducted Aug. 28 and 29, 2000, in the office of their lawyer, L. Lin Wood. Those contentious sessions ended with the Ramseys and the Boulder officials calling the interviews a waste of time.

Reflecting now on his interviews with the Ramseys, Kane said, "I never felt like I was getting a spontaneous response

"John Ramsey always left me with the impression that he was a very smart man, and he is very careful at answering questions," Kane said. "Whereas, Patsy struck me as somebody that just had an answer in advance of the question, and just kind of resorted to an 'I don't know' if she didn't have an answer in advance."

Kane said that with more than half a dozen books published and two movies made about the case, people could assume they know everything there is to know about the murder -- other than who did it, of course.

But, he said, such an assumption would be wrong.

There remain "dozens" of secrets, he said. "Absolutely. Dozens. And a lot of what the public thinks is fact is simply not fact."

He wouldn't disclose any of the former or correct any of the latter.

The legacy of the Ramsey case for Kane, personally, is that it left him in bad need of a vacation from criminal law.

"I got burned out on the cat-and-mouse aspects of it, after spending a year and a half focused on nothing else but that case," Kane said. "The process of going from small point to small point to small point, trying to find the truth, can be very intense and frustrating.

"Sometimes it's rewarding, but after doing it for a year and a half on this one case, I was just glad to get a break from it."

Contact Charlie Brennan at (303) 892-2742 or brennanc@RockyMountainNews.com.

December 18, 2001
2002-11-21: Webbsleuths Forum (http://www.webbsleuths.com)

Charter Member
6685 posts Nov-21-02, 08:57 AM (EST)

4. "The purpose"
In response to message #3

... Kane's job was to get an indictment of Patsy Ramsey - - I believe that with all my heart. He was very willing to ignore anyone who wanted to suggest an intruder did it - - and more than willing to use someone like Don Foster to help with his dastardly deed.

Kane did NOT bring in the Ramseys to be questioned in that room - - and why? I believe because he didn't want the Grand Jury to see for themselves how sincere, gentle, and innocent they are.

Kane refused me entrance. Said if he brought me in that would be admitting he was using Foster so he couldn't do that. He was wrong when he thought I would slip silently in the night. Thanks to some very good friends, I exposed Donald Foster in a way no one could ignore - on 48 Hours. (Probably better that way - - if I went into the Grand Jury and exposed him, I wouldn't be able to tell you all about it - - - but now I can post all I want - - Ah... American Justice.)

Kane tried to refuse Lou Smit- - butheagain failed because that very honourable gentleman wouldn't be denied his truthful voice. Hewent to court and FOUGHT to speak. And he won.

The grand jury is supposed to look at ALL the evidence - - they didn't get to do that. But they were not, in the end, the means for Kane to get an innocent person indicted.

I would invite all members of the grand jury to join us - - post as Americans with opinions. They don't have to discuss anything that went on in that room - - but they do have a right to post thoughts on the case. I wouldn't reveal who they were - - and wouldn't expect they would, either.

I would invite Kane, too. But him - - I would want him to admit who he was. (Don't hold your breath - - he isn't going to come here - - he couldn't handle it.)