4:18pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Burke Ramsey Files $150M Defamation Lawsuit Over Claims He Killed JonBenet
JonBenet Ramsey's brother Burke isn't taking renewed speculation that he murdered his little sister lightly — in fact, on Thursday, he filed a $150 million defamation suit against a forensic pathologist who said as much to the media.
Ramsey claims Werner Spitz has a "disturbing history of making false statements related to the brutal murder of young girls," according to the complaint filed by attorney John Lesko in Michigan state court.
Spitz is one of several investigators consulted for the recent CBS special The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey who pointed the finger at Burke. CBS has not yet been sued, but this suit indicates a separate defamation claim will be filed "in the near future" in California.
It's a Sept. 19 radio interview Spitz did with CBS Detroit that is at the center of this complaint, though.
"Defendant Spitz has once again interjected himself into a high profile case to make unsupported, false and sensational statements and accusations — this time accusing Burke Ramsey of JonBenet's brutal murder," writes Lesko. "In the Interview, Defendant Spitz claims Burke, age 9 at the time of his sister's death, bludgeoned her to death. Defendant Spitz made this accusation without ever examining JonBenet's body, without viewing the crime scene, and without consulting with the pathologist who performed the autopsy on JonBenet."
The suit claims Ramsey is a private citizen and, until he spoke with Dr. Phil in September, had never voluntarily discussed his sister's death with the media. That point alludes to a determination that will likely play a large role later in the case. If the court finds that Ramsey is a limited purpose public figure, he'll face a much tougher battle in proving defamation.
Ramsey is seeking $100 million in punitive damages plus another $50 million in compensatory damages. He also wants the court to order Spitz to retract all defamatory statements regarding Ramsey and bar him from publishing similar statements in the future.