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John and Patsy Ramsey have settled a libel suit against Time.com and its parent company, AOL Time Warner, which the Ramseys say unjustly called their son, Burke, a suspect in the slaying of his sister, JonBen�t. A federal judge in New York City approved the settlement after a hearing Monday. The terms will remain confidential, according to the Ramseys’ lawyer, attorney L. Lin Wood Jr. Ramsey v. AOL Time Warner, No. 00-CV-3477 (S.D. N.Y. July 2, 2001). Wood says the settlement excludes any claims arising out of a separate libel claim for $35 million against AOL Time Warner Inc. and Courtroom Television Network that Wood filed in Atlanta two weeks ago. Ramsey v. AOL Time Warner, No. 1:01-CV-1561 (N.D. Ga. June 15, 2001). The suits accuse Time.com and Court TV individually of promoting Burke Ramsey as a possible suspect in the 1996 Christmas slaying of his younger sister. Wood says Time.com and Court TV circulated the allegations against Burke on their Web sites and, in Court TV’s case, on an hour-long television show. Boulder County, Colo., District Attorney Alexander M. Hunter had declared publicly that Burke, now 14, was not a suspect in his sister’s death. Hunter’s sworn affidavit, dated Oct. 20, 2000, affirms that the district attorney first had announced that Burke was not a suspect before tabloids published those allegations in May 1999. The Time.com Web site “basically republished portions of the tabloids,” including Star and the Globe, that erroneously identified Burke as a suspect, Wood says. The story, he says, was “a ringing endorsement of the Star story.” Star, Globe, and their parent company, American Media Inc., also have settled libel claims the Ramseys filed against them in U.S. District Court in Atlanta last year. Wood says the Court TV news release promoting its Nov. 5, 2000, “Crime Stories” episode on JonBen�t’s murder included as “flat unattributed fact that Boulder police and the Boulder D.A. had been focusing on Burke as one of the prime suspects during the investigation.” On the show, a panel of experts — among them former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, former L.A. police officer Mark Fuhrman; Larry Pozner, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; and columnist for The Denver Post Chuck Green — discussed who was the most likely “prime suspect” in JonBen�t’s murder, according to the transcript. They later were asked to cast secret ballots with the name of the person they believed killed JonBen�t. Wood says a booking agent for Court TV called him the day before the broadcast and asked him if he would provide commentary both before and after the show. “Do they think I’m going to participate in the public trial of my client?” he says he responded. Then, he says, he warned the agent, “Don’t air it. You’re going to be a damn fool if you broadcast it.” EX-DETECTIVE SUBPOENAED IN ANOTHER RAMSEY CASE In another case stemming from JonBen�t’s murder and the hunt for her killer, a former Boulder police detective whom the Ramseys are suing for libel has been charged with failing to appear in court. Although he had been subpoenaed as a witness in the Colorado case, Steve Thomas never showed up, according to The Trial Tracking Bulletin. Thomas was to testify in a criminal case against Colorado lawyer Thomas Miller and his client. Miller was acquitted June 14 of charges that he tried to help his client, a handwriting expert, buy a copy of the ransom note found in the Ramseys’ home after their daughter was killed. Charges against Miller’s client, Craig Lewis, were dropped in exchange for a $100,000 donation to an ethics in journalism program at the University of Colorado. But Thomas still faces a failure to appear charge. Wood says he has been monitoring the case because he has subpoenaed Thomas to appear at a deposition in Boulder next week. Wood says he has subpoenaed Thomas as a witness in a civil libel suit filed against the Ramseys by a Boulder man whom police had questioned in connection with JonBen�t’s death. That man, Christopher Wolfe, has accused the Ramseys of killing their own daughter. But, in a separate action, the Ramseys have sued Thomas for $80 million, claiming that he libeled them by publicly blaming Patsy Ramsey for her daughter’s murder. Ramsey v. Thomas, No. 1:01-CV-0801 (N.D. Ga. March 29, 2001). Wood says Thomas’ attorneys have indicated they will fight the subpoena. But the Atlanta lawyer says Thomas injected himself into the case when he published his book, “JonBen�t: Inside the Ramsey Investigation.” “He’s going to be a witness in multiple cases,” Wood says. In addition, Wood says that in the Miller criminal case, Thomas claimed he was not served with the subpoena. Wood says Thomas refused to open the door to the process server, who then left the subpoena on the former police officer’s doorstep. “That’s good service,” Wood claims. His subpoena of Thomas was delivered the same way, he says.

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