Newcomers to this blog are advised to begin with the first two posts, Just the Facts, Ma'am and Case Solved, which explain in very general terms why I believe I've solved this case. Some important questions are answered in the following post, Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, Misdirections. After that feel free to browse whatever topics might interest you (see blog archive).

NB: If anyone has trouble posting a comment, email it to doktorgosh (at), and I'll post it for you.

Notice to readers of my Kindle book: I recently noticed that, on certain devices (though not all), the Table of Contents begins with Chapter One and omits the Introduction and Preface. Since the Introduction is especially important, I urge everyone to make sure to begin reading at the very beginning of the book, not the first chapter in the Table of Contents. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Probable Cause

In several recent posts, I've considered the case against John Ramsey in the context of a potential criminal trial. And, as is well known, conviction in a criminal case must be based on proof beyond reasonable doubt, admittedly a difficult standard. But the standard in bringing a suspect to justice, i.e., trying him before a criminal court, is much less demanding. The prosecutor need only show probable cause that the person in question committed the crime.

In order to properly assess the likelihood of a successful prosecution, we must therefore approach the matter in two separate steps: indictment, based on probable cause; and conviction, based on proof beyond reasonable doubt. My goal in creating this blog has been to bring John Ramsey to justice, i.e., develop a strong enough case against him so that a reasonable and responsible District Attorney would feel justified in bringing the case before a judge or a Grand Jury, on the basis of probable cause. Though I'm convinced he murdered his daughter, I have no problem with the principle of innocent until proven guilty and I would never deny that he is entitled to a fair trial. My goal is not to see him get the chair or rot in jail, but to see him put on trial and given every opportunity to explain his actions and defend himself in a court of law. After all, I could be wrong, and I'm perfectly willing to stand corrected.

Several commenting on this blog or posting on Internet forums have claimed conviction would be impossible because his lawyers could always plead reasonable doubt, arguing for the possibility of an intruder, regardless of how unlikely that might be, or suggesting that Patsy or Burke might have committed the crime, with John as an accessory after the fact (which would no longer be prosecutable due to the statute of limitations).

My response? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's take things one step at a time and not jump to conclusions. The first question to ask: is there probable cause, based on the facts of the case, to assume that John Ramsey sexually molested and murdered his daughter? And my answer is yes. There is more than enough evidence pointing to John and only John committing both crimes.

The key, of course, would be a systematic refutation of the intruder theory. It would not be necessary to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an intruder could not possibly have entered the home, because reasonable doubt plays no role at this stage of the process. It would only be necessary to point out what I've already pointed out over and over on this blog, i.e.: all doors were locked; no sign of forced entry at the window; all the intruder "evidence" is inconclusive; no reason for any intruder to write a ransom note while in the home; etc., etc. For details, see here, here and here.

A different type of evidence is provided when we systematically analyze John's story about breaking the basement window the previous summer. I go over his testimony at length in four separate posts beginning here. If you follow my argument closely, you'll see that there is most certainly probable cause to conclude that story is a blatant lie. What has never been recognized before, and thus makes my analysis equivalent to new evidence, is that this is actually an alibi. If he didn't break the window the previous summer, then the window could only have been broken by either an intruder, or John himself, the night of the crime. Since there is no evidence of forced entry at that window, then the former explanation makes no sense, telling us John was the one who broke that window the night of the crime and that, yes indeed, his story is an alibi. And a pretty lame one at that.

On the basis of the above arguments, I see no problem in establishing probable cause for believing that John was at the very least involved in the coverup, thus implicating him in the crime as well, and essentially nullifying any possible intruder theory.

When we consider the crime itself, it would not be difficult to argue that John, as the only mature male in the house, was more likely by far to have sexually assaulted his daughter, and that the person who killed her is most likely to be the one who assaulted her. In my opinion there is no way John's attorneys would want to even suggest that Patsy or Burke committed these crimes, with John as accessory after the fact, because that would totally destroy both his credibility and theirs and would do no good in any case. In the criminal trial, with their backs against the wall, they might possibly want to use such an argument to foster reasonable doubt, but it would have no bearing on probable cause, since John remains the most likely by far to have committed a sexual assault.

As far as the "ransom note" is concerned, the prosecutor could simply claim there is no way of knowing who wrote it, and that it doesn't really matter once probable cause for assault and murder has been established. And once again it would be a fatal mistake on the part of the defense to make any attempt to argue that Patsy wrote it. For one thing, that would also destroy John's credibility and for another, even if Patsy did write it, would John's attorneys really want to argue that Patsy killed her daughter? They would have no choice but to forge on with their hopeless intruder "evidence."

The wild card in the deck would, of course, be Burke Ramsey. And we have no way of knowing what he might want to say or do. But even if he were to corroborate his father's version of what happened, there would still be probable cause to indict John, as the testimony of a family member must always be taken with a grain of salt.

So, I'm sorry, but I see no reason why John could not be indicted on the basis of probable cause. As for the next step, reasonable doubt when he's on trial, I'll tackle that in my next post.


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  17. well they were there--almost--according to Steves book---The threshold for prosecution, as defined by Boulder Deputy DA, Pete Hofstrom, in the early going of the Ramsey case, was as follows:
    “If experts could determine prior vaginal abuse, and we could get an expert to identify the author of the ransom note, then the investigation would have reached a “turning point” toward prosecution.”
    Steve Thomas, JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, page 244

    We had reached one of the two levels that Deputy DA Pete Hofstrom had said would mark the turning point toward prosecution—all of the experts we consulted agreed on prior vaginal abuse. We still needed the second point, an expert opinion that Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note.
    Steve Thomas, JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, page 254

    Commander Beckner shook his head. “We may never file a case, Steve. You need to prepare for the eventuality that this case might not be prosecuted.” That was language straight out of the DA’s office, and it sounded to me as if he were already throwing in the towel.
    Steve Thomas, JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, page 258

    Lucky John getting ruled out so early from writing the note--cause if he had not been with the opinion that indeed there was prior sex abuse he would have been basted and roasted like a Thanksgiving Turkey. but we do have to give it to Steve---he knew early on that there was no intruder. and he believed the prior sex abuse evidence. and he knew that one of the parents was responsible for the whole fiasco. but he just went down the wrong path that JR set out before him. the path that said JR didnt write the note so that only left PR. poor Steve--he almost got it right.

    1. Good summary. It's incredible to me that the combination of acute and chronic vaginal injury didn't point Steve straight at John to begin with. Instead, he accepted the decision to rule him out, apparently without question. And decided that Patsy must have been the abuser. How strange. If he'd gone after John he probably could have made a case. But he'd have had to go after those "experts" first.