Karr accepts transfer

Colo. to collect suspect in JonBenet killing


LOS ANGELES -- A stressed John Mark Karr agreed yesterday to return to Colorado to face charges in the death a decade ago of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

Karr looked pale in his first court appearance in the United States, and his lawyer described him as "getting a little bit stressed out."

"Yes, Your Honor," he responded when a judge asked him if he understood that he could fight extradition.

"He was very tentative," said his lawyer, Haydeh Takasugi, a deputy public defender. "It's a very trying experience for him."

Karr landed Sunday in Los Angeles on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand, where he was arrested last week.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin advised Karr that Colorado authorities had asked that he be detained on allegations of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and sexual assault.

With dozens of reporters and photographers waiting, Karr appeared in standard jail garb - an orange jumpsuit. He was shackled at the waist for a court appearance that was over in less than five minutes.

Takasugi said Karr had objected to wearing the jumpsuit to court, but his request to wear street clothes had been denied.

Karr was cooperative and understood the legal proceedings, she said. The decision not to fight extradition means that Colorado authorities have 30 days to pick up Karr.

"It was his call," Takasugi said.

In Colorado, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle complained that his department is "being hounded about the extradition."

Pelle said in a news release that the "timing for any extradition is a security issue and is not public information." He suggested that it would happen in the next 10 days.

He also said that inmates charged with crimes against children are kept away from the general inmate population.

"Mr. Karr will not be paraded or exposed to public view during his transfers to or from the county jail, and there is little to gain from news crews hanging out at the jail," Pelle said in the statement.

Los Angeles County Superior Court spokesman Alan Parachini said he could not state a timetable for Karr's transfer.

"Our understanding is that no one is in town from the Boulder County district attorney's office or sheriff's office. The latest information we have is that they will send someone tomorrow for him," Parachini said.

When Karr's flight arrived from Bangkok on Sunday night, he was routinely booked into the county jail for an overnight stay.

Authorities later learned that the Colorado investigator who had taken him into custody, accompanied him on the flight and dropped him at the jail had rushed back to Denver for an unspecified emergency. Los Angeles authorities then charged Karr with being a fugitive, in order to detain him for Colorado officials.

Karr was identified through the efforts of an amateur sleuth, University of Colorado journalism professor Michael Tracey, who has made several documentaries on the Ramsey case. Tracey was a notable defender of the girl's parents, who were identified as suspects.

The British-born academic carried on an e-mail correspondence for four years with a person believed to be Karr. It wasn't until May that the e-mails concerned Tracey enough that he went to investigators.

At that point, investigators traced the e-mails and began hunting in earnest for Karr. Last week, they found the 41-year-old teacher in Thailand.

Some observers have said Tracey's unorthodox role in the case makes for a bigger challenge for prosecutors.

Karr has said he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died on Dec. 26, 1996, in the basement of her Boulder home. He said her death was accidental.

Prosecutors have not disclosed their evidence.

In Los Angeles yesterday, Takasugi said Karr specifically rejected an offer of representation from lawyer Patience Van Zandt, who was once Karr's attorney in an unrelated matter.

Both Van Zandt and an associate, Jamie Harmon, toured the morning television shows yesterday, telling of having spoken with Karr in the jail in Los Angeles.

"He didn't want to be represented by them," Takasugi said.

John Spano writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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