The couple have maintained their innocence after finding their young daughter JonBenet Ramsey slain in the basement of their home on Christmas night 1996.
A grand jury convened in the case indicted the couple with a class II felony, child abuse resulting in death. Members of the grand jury and others in the case told the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera the panel handed down the criminal indictment, but District Attorney Alex Hunter declined to sign it, believing the evidence didn't amount to enough to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
Grand juries are only required to determine probable cause to indict someone of a crime.
"We didn't know who did what," one juror told the Camera, "but we felt the adults in the house may have done something that they certainly could have prevented, or they could have helped her, and they didn't."
But the fact that the grand jury handed down the indictment was never disclosed in 1999, leading some legal experts to question whether Hunter acted properly -- and leading the public to believe the investigation had exonerated the Ramseys, the report said..
In an email, University of Colorado Law School professor Mimi Wesson, told the Camera, "The Colorado statute governing grand jury practice says ... that '(e)very indictment shall be signed' by the foreman of the grand jury and the prosecuting attorney."
In other words, Hunter should have acknowledged the indictment, then moved to dismiss the charges in open court, rather than simply ignore the grand jury's finding.
The statute of limitations on the charge expired three years from JonBenet's death.