JonBenet suspect in DNA plea

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The Independent US

DNA evidence, considered a potential key to solving the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, has emerged as an early battleground in the case against John Mark Karr.

Karr's public defender, Seth Temin, said Friday that any DNA samples taken from his client could not have been legally obtained. He asked a judge to prohibit prosecutors and police from conducting any DNA testing without first notifying the court and the defense. "Biological evidence reveals highly private and sensitive information about a person," Temin wrote. "Mr. Karr's right to privacy can only be protected by giving him the opportunity to be heard on this issue prior to collection of a sample."

District attorney's spokeswoman Carolyn French said prosecutors would respond after reviewing Temin's court filings. There will not be much public comment: Boulder County District Judge Roxanne Bailin issued a gag order forbidding attorneys and authorities from publicly discussing most aspects of the case. There is no doubt the defendant eventually will be required to provide a DNA sample, even if the one being contested is thrown out, said Scott Robinson, a Denver attorney familiar with the case. "If there is probability for an arrest warrant there is clearly a cause for an a DNA swab," he said Saturday. "His defense lawyer wants an expert present for testing to make sure they get an equal amount of tested material."

Karr's first appearance in Boulder County Court is scheduled for Monday. He has not been formally charged in JonBenet's death. After JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, found her body in the family's basement on Dec. 26, 1996, police collected DNA from blood spots in her underwear and from under her fingernails. Investigators have said that some of the DNA was too degraded to use as evidence, but that some was of sufficient quality to submit to the FBI in 2003. The sample did not match any of the 1.5 million samples in the agency's database at the time, according to the Ramsey family attorney.

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