http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4958237,00.html Boulder police in cross hairs Former investigator: Leads were ignored in JonBenet murder By Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News August 31, 2006 A former Boulder deputy district attorney caught up in the JonBenet Ramsey case in its earliest phase said he was prohibited from chasing leads that pointed to an intruder committing the crime. In a situation he described as unique in his legal career, Lawrence "Trip" DeMuth said he and his team of investigators in the Boulder District Attorney's Office were restricted from conducting any investigative work on their own, and that their suggestions for pursuing intruder-related leads were routinely ignored. "We were restricted to reading police reports, from which we developed a lot of intruder leads," DeMuth said. "And then we were prohibited from pursuing those leads." DeMuth, speaking publicly for the first time about his frustrations during his 21 months investigating the case, wouldn't put the blame on one person, but noted that the DA's office was serving in an advisory role to the Boulder Police Department. "So the role that we were assuming was allowing the police to decide what direction the investigation followed," DeMuth said. DeMuth is the latest to uncork pent-up frustrations from the decade-old case that has left scars throughout Boulder County's legal and law enforcement community. Former Boulder Detective Steve Thomas, who takes a view opposite of DeMuth's, gave interviews for the first time in several years after the case against John Mark Karr collapsed Monday. Even Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, who has long been reluctant to discuss the case in detail, gave a lengthy phone interview Wednesday in response to DeMuth's assertions that police were interested only in John and Patsy Ramsey as possible suspects in their daughter's murder. Beckner called the notion that police didn't look hard at other suspects an "urban myth." DeMuth "should be a little bit careful about how hard he pushes that," Beckner said, noting that he can document that Boulder police looked into more than 160 potential suspects, and that, in many cases, their investigation included blood, hair and fingerprint samples. "So, to say we only looked in one direction and no one else was investigated is simply not the case." But DeMuth insisted that the Boulder department's "myopic" focus on the Ramseys prevented its officers from following the evidence wherever it led, and left them pursuing other leads only half-heartedly, or ignoring them altogether. "The vast majority of our leads were not pursued by anyone," DeMuth said, adding he's in a position to know "because I saw the police reports. I saw what was pursued." His team was assembled to look at different scenarios, a standard procedure for prosecutors who must find all the holes a defense team could exploit during a trial. But the police, who would normally be cooperative, resisted his efforts, DeMuth said. He said the lack of collaboration on the case between DA investigators and police detectives "was inconsistent with every other homicide investigation I worked on between 1990 and 2000," including others involving Boulder police. DeMuth's boss at the time, former Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter, couldn't be reached for comment. Beckner didn't deny that the DA was prevented from following leads, but said the two departments share responsibility for the friction that developed between them. "They were out there doing things . . . that we didn't even know they were doing until after the fact," Beckner said of DeMuth's team. "He has to share in that role of not working together." Beckner said there were times when DeMuth's team, including former Colorado Springs homicide detective Lou Smit, who was brought out of retirement to help out on the case, wouldn't give up on suspects even after forensic evidence and an alibi cleared them. "You've got to be able to put someone at the house," Beckner said. "That the fact that they're a weirdo or a strange character doesn't make them the killer of JonBenet. "You've got to be able to put them at the crime scene, and if you don't have any evidence to do that" then what can you do? But DeMuth said police needed to look deeper, and that he believes suspects were cleared too readily. There are probably early leads in the case that should be re-examined, he said. "If you talk to somebody for five minutes and conclude they had nothing to do with the intruder case, that's not really looking at somebody," he said. "I can't say 100, 140 or 75 (suspects were investigated). I'm just saying it's really easy to make a comment that you looked at 140 people." DeMuth went partially public in 2001, when he said he believed it was more likely that an intruder killed 6-year-old JonBenet, strangling her in the basement of her three-story Boulder home. At the time, he went on NBC's Today show to speak in support of Smit, who went public with the evidence he said supported the intruder theory. But until now, DeMuth hasn't described the frustrations of working the case inside the district attorney's office, where he, along with Boulder County sheriff's Detective Steve Ainsworth and Smit, came to see the evidence differently from the way the Boulder police saw it. It seemed possible that supporters of the intruder theory had been vindicated with the arrest of Karr earlier this month in Thailand. But their bubble burst with Boulder DA Mary Lacy's stunning announcement Monday that Karr's DNA didn't match the DNA recovered at the crime scene, and that Karr wouldn't be charged. Smit has largely stayed out of the media spotlight in the past few years as Lacy's office has taken over the case from the police. He declined to be interviewed for this story. But, told of DeMuth's complaints Wednesday, Smit said he was presenting an accurate picture of events. DeMuth didn't hold back. He said the police department's investigation violated the most basic tenets of police work: to follow the evidence wherever it leads, not "investigating to support a result you want to see happen." "You have your suspicions and your beliefs, you're pursuing them, you're chasing down every lead, and all the sudden you trip over something that causes you to take a left turn . . . that's good police work." DeMuth said the police department often withheld police reports about the case, blaming slow typists. That changed, he said, when Smit joined the DA's team. The police, believing Smit would back their views, started turning over material much faster, DeMuth said. "Lou comes on and I've got boxes of typed reports and photographs," DeMuth recalled. Then, "as soon as the cops got wind of the fact that Lou thought someone else did it, the typists got real slow again. "If that's not a clear signal that the police department was results-driven and myopic, I don't know what is. "Do they want to follow the evidence wherever it goes, or are they trying to control the outcome of the investigation?"