By Clayton Sandell
ABC News’ Clayton Sandell and Carol McKinley report:
A Colorado judge today ordered the partial release of grand jury documents related to the 1996 unsolved slaying of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.
The documents, dating back to 1999, contain a list of “possible charges” against her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, “based on the fact that the child had died and there was evidence that a sexual assault of the child had occurred,” Judge J. Robert Lowenbach wrote in his order granting the release.
Grand jury members had secretly voted in 1999 to indict the Ramseys on charges of child abuse resulting in death, ABC News sources confirmed in January.
But the Boulder County District Attorney at the time, Alex Hunter, refused to prosecute the case against the Ramseys, citing insufficient evidence.
The documents are expected to be released Friday. Attorneys for John Ramsey have not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.
A reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sued current Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett in September, seeking to have the documents made public.
Garnett’s office turned over 18 pages of documents to judge Lowenbach for review earlier this week.
Garnett also submitted to the judge a letter on behalf of attorneys for John Ramsey Monday that said, in part, “if the unprosecuted indictment is to be publicly released, the Court should also order the release of the entire grand jury record.”
Judge Lowenbach denied that request. Garnett has not returned ABC News’ request for comment.
JonBenet’s body was found beaten and strangled in her family’s Boulder home Dec. 26, 1996. The killing is still unsolved.
Former District Attorney Mary Lacy, who succeeded Hunter, cited a new DNA analysis of JonBenet’s clothing in 2008 that cleared the Ramseys of any involvement in their child’s death.
Lacy wrote in a letter to John Ramsey that “no innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion, especially when public officials have not had sufficient evidence to initiate a trial in a court of law.”
Bill Wise, a deputy district attorney under Hunter in 1999, says the release of the documents won’t make much difference in the 17-year-old case.
“It’s all academic. The statute of limitations has passed,” Wise told ABC News today. “We’re still no closer to finding JonBenet’s killer.”
John and Patsy Ramsey, who died of ovarian cancer in 2006, always denied any role in their daughter’s slaying.
“I did not kill my daughter,” Patsy Ramsey told ABC’s Barbara Walters in 2000.
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