Burke Ramsey’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, has vowed to sue CBS over its recent two-part documentary “The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey,” calling the series’ suggestion that Burke Ramsey is responsible for his sister’s 1996 death “outrageous” and “unconscionable.”
“I can’t come up with a word strong enough to describe how I feel about this show,” Wood, a longtime lawyer for the Ramsey family, told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga Thursday. “Their story is based on fiction, fantasy, lies and misrepresentation.”
This December marks the 20th anniversary of the death of JonBenét Ramsey, the 6-year-old child beauty queen who was reported missing on Christmas 1996 and discovered dead in the basement of her family’s Boulder, Colo., home the following day.
The case immediately attracted national media attention, and because it remains unsolved, it has continued to pique public fascination in the two decades since. The Boulder police initially suspected JonBenét’s parents, John and Patsy, and her then 9-year-old brother Burke of having staged a gruesome murder scene, including a ransom note, to cover up an accidental death. But no charges were ever filed against the young girl’s family, and in 2008, the Ramseys were completely cleared of suspicion by prosecutors.
Yet in the CBS program, which aired this Sunday and Monday, a new review of old evidence leads an investigative team, including a forensic scientist, a pathologist, a criminal behavioral analyst and a former FBI profiler, to conclude that it was probably Burke who killed JonBenét.
Pointing to evidence that the slain 6-year-old had some undigested pineapple in her stomach at the time of her death, the investigative team suggests that JonBenét must have taken a piece of her brother’s pineapple, prompting him to strike his sister on the head with a flashlight in a fit of rage.
During his Thursday interview with Yahoo News, Wood passionately rejected the documentary’s conclusion.
“Let’s get the facts and the evidence out there,” he said. “JonBenét didn’t die from a blow to the head. She died from strangulation with the garrote and the rope that was around her neck. That’s the physical evidence, uncontroverted from the autopsy.”
“The blow to her head was delivered shortly after her death,” he added. “Perimortem.”
Wood went on to argue that “the whole premise of the show is false in saying that she died from a blow to the head.”
“They put up a charade to try to fool the public that this was a legitimate new investigation when it was anything but that,” he said.
“CBS should be ashamed of itself,” Wood said. “Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace — who I knew — they, I’m sure, are rolling over in their graves that CBS would connect itself to this type of a tabloid lie.”
For its part, CBS said the network “stands by the broadcast and will do so in court.”
“That statement means nothing to me,” Wood told Yahoo News. “I’m confident because I know the evidence in the case. They’re never going to be able to show that there was a meticulous investigation of their story.”
For the past 20 years, Wood argued, Burke has “had to live with the burdens of his sister being murdered, his parents accused and media frenzies periodically, [and] his mother dying in 2006.” Now, at 29, “for the rest of this young man’s life … he’s going to have to live knowing that in any personal, professional or business relationship, people are going to Google him. And what’s going to be there? ‘CBS proves Burke Ramsey killed his sister.’”
Wood said he plans to file the lawsuit within the next 30 days, explaining that the law requires CBS be given “a reasonable period of time” to retract the program.
“I don’t expect they will,” he said. “That’s not my experience with the media.”