The Hartman Report on the Special Prosecutor's Report

The Hartman Report on the Special Prosecutor's Report
by Pat Hartman

Originally published at
March 11, 2008

The still-unsolved murder of a beautiful red-haired woman 21 years ago. A wrongly convicted man, released after nearly a decade of incarceration. A trio of obvious suspects ignored. A cop with a bizarre and unstoppable fixation. A heroic cop who risked her career to do the right thing. A forensic psychologist whose word can lock someone up for life. Four separate investigations of official wrongdoing. The true crime enthusiast who hasn't encountered this case yet will find a story destined to become a classic, as complicated and fascinating as those of Nicole Brown Simpson, JonBenet, or the Black Dahlia. For a complete background on the case see Free Tim Masters Because.

The hearings are over, Tim Masters is free, and the Special Prosecutor's Report (released February 15, 2008) seeks to ease our minds and reset our bullshit detectors to zero. Not so fast, boys.

The report is attributed to Don Quick, undoubtedly with input from team members Mike Goodbee, Thomas Quammen, Frank Spottke and Dan Michals. Perhaps because it is only a quasi-official document, it's written clearly and even with some narrative grace.

Quick's team was assigned in early 2007, after the defense accused the Larimer County bunch of prosecutorial misconduct. The Special Prosecutors were expected to deal only with post-conviction issues having to do with the 35c motion filed by Tim Masters (the one that said he had inadequate lawyering at his trial.) As Quick points out, in this case, the Special Prosecutors played a role different from their usual one. They set out to determine whether Tim got a fair trial. Also, they were called upon to "weigh the merits of his claim of actual innocence."

How many defense lawyers does it take to convict a client?

The report lists the grounds on which Tim Masters filed his 35c motion, a roster of the things he claimed his original trial counsel did wrong or failed to do. This is, after all, the subject matter for which the hearings were created. There's been a lot of talk about what a lousy job Fischer and Chambers did, ranging from not taking certain legal steps before testimony even started, to letting a juror sleep through part of the trial. No doubt, they could have done better. But no matter how much blame anyone feels inclined to place on those two lawyers, they were hobbled and handicapped by the absence of all the things that weren't surrendered as discovery. There's still plenty of blame remaining, to dish out to the prosecution and the police.

The report says, "The defense was not denied access to the evidence section of the police department and, in fact, accessed evidence there during the pendency of the case." About that, there are only two words to say: Thom McAn. Anyone who cares to do a little research will find a close scrutiny of the shoeprint evidence to be rewarding - especially in conjunction with a certain evidence envelope.

When discussing Tim Masters, anyone who says, "Yeah, but the jury convicted him" needs a reality check. No jury can do a good job when they are shown only a fraction of the meaningful evidence, and snowed under with an avalanche of non-evidence, and especially when they are outright lied to.

The Report

At the start, the Special Prosecutors promised to go wherever the evidence took them, which wasn't far enough. We saw tantalizing glimpses of a justice system gone Kafkaesque, but the termination of the hearings left a lot of unslaked curiosity. When the DNA evidence showed up, and Masters was abruptly released, someone was saved by the bell. It's great that Tim got out when he did, absolutely - but it also meant the planned additional hearings were vacated. No doubt this is in line with the law as written. But one thing about the law is, an exception can almost always be found if the motivation is there. Given the revelatory momentum the hearings had gathered, a person can't help wishing they had continued, and wondering if there could have been some way for that to happen.

Reading between the lines, it seems like the Special Prosecutors were disappointed, too. They had planned on "presenting testimony and having a public hearing on several issues." We are told that Jolene Blair and Terry Gilmore, the judges who were deputy DAs back in 1999 when they prosecuted Masters, wanted to testify.

What a coincidence - Tim Masters, wearing civvies for the first time in nearly a decade, walks out the front door on the very day when the two judges were to start answering questions. We'd had every reason to believe they would be heard from, along with Jim Broderick and Becky Hammond. One of the Special Prosecutors said he wanted to bring in Marsha Reed. And we were dying to hear from that quack Reid Meloy. Even Judge Weatherby became impatient with procedural details. After days of testimony from the original trial defense team, Erik Fischer and Nathan Chambers, it was proposed that the judge take charge of some boxes of documents. But he was eager to move forward. "Let's get on with some witnesses," he said, "… the people who know the answers…there is one person in my mind I want to know if is going to testify..."

One of the declared purposes of the report is to give the public some insight into the issues left unaddressed. Which is a nice gesture, though it would have been more edifying to see defense attorney David Wymore dismantle a few witnesses. The other stated reason for the report is to correct media inaccuracies. At the moment, only one inaccuracy is apparent. Some news reports seem to imply that only four problems were found. Actually, there were many. But we'll get to that.

This is incidental, but interesting: If the Special Prosecutor's office had wanted to, it apparently could have avoided ever opening the whole can of worms. A news report in August 2007 said that Quick at that point had the option "to submit a joint request with the defense team for a new trial - or to petition the court to exonerate Masters." It seems that taking one of those courses would have effectively left a lot of things covered up.

Incomplete explanations

In 1992, several years after the murder of Peggy Hettrick, an effort was made to arrest Tim Masters. Quick says the arrest warrant was then withdrawn because of "certain questions." In reality, there was only one question, and it was about the severed nipple, which the police had regarded as holdback information, naively believing that, even after 5 years, it was a confidential detail known only by members of their department. How did Tim know about? Three FCPD officers flew out to Philadelphia to ask him. The answer: he heard it from an Explorer Scout. In the days immediately following the murder, the police had those high school kids out there combing the field looking for - you guessed it: a severed nipple. There probably wasn't a student in the school who didn't know.

Quick goes on to say how in 1997, Dr. Reid Meloy was hired as an "expert witness," and how a new arrest warrant was created, "bolstered" by the expert opinions of the forensic psychologist. In reality, here's how it worked: Officer Broderick fed Meloy information about Tim Masters. Meloy combined Broderick's theories with those of Roy Hazelwood, plus a heaping helping of his own bizarre observations, and came up with the damnedest Rube Goldberg contraption of half-baked notions you ever saw.

One of the things we missed out on was an exploration of the role of an expert witness. Is the expert witness supposed to examine the evidence independently, or be spoon-fed by a cop who does all the homework, marks the (according to him) relevant parts of the evidence, and indicates to the expert exactly what he will be paid to say? Yes, witness preparation is valid, but where does preparation end, and coaching begin? Where does coaching end, and the whole performance become outright theater?

The mood in the courtroom reached absurdity more than once, as documents were unearthed from here, there and everywhere, to defense team exclamations of, "We never saw this stuff!" and Special Prosecutorial cries of "Well, don't blame us, we never saw it either!" Eventually, Judge Weatherby told the two sides to conduct an "omnibus" meeting, and figure out once and for all which documents had not been correctly shared. Of course, this only made matters worse, as another ton of brand-new-to-the-defense documents were disclosed. Although happy to have them, Wymore expressed dismay about the need to recall witnesses he thought he was done with, to question them about these new things.

The Four Stipulated Items

As the Special Prosecutors tell us, "certain police reports and witness statements were not given to the original trial prosecutors" - or, it naturally follows, to the original trial defense attorneys. Consequently, Quick's team filed a paper called "SPECIAL PROSECUTOR'S OFFERED STIPULATIONS" describing a few of the many items that had been withheld from discovery at the 1999 trial. Anyone who sat through those hearing knows we're talking about a multitude of withheld items, not just the four named here.
The Meloy "Extractions"- 274 pages of psychobabble fabricated by the old windbag. Not even the original prosecutors got this, and nobody thought to ask for it, although Meloy's reports referred to his "extractions." Actually, it's possible to see why this was overlooked. It's a weird way of referring to a set of opinions, and sounds more like it would be excerpts from Tim's writings and drawings, used to back up the opinions. One assumes that an "extraction" is extracted from some larger body of work. So the confusion is almost understandable. Another funny thing about these extractions: Broderick gave this material to Roy Hazelwood, but not to his own prosecutorial team.
The Anniversary Surveillance - Information on the week-long, tri-locational, dozens-of-officers-involving, much-overtime-pay-accruing stakeout of Tim Masters. This operation was staged a year after Peggy Hettrick's murder, and featured a psychological experiment where various stimuli were used to try and goad the 16-year-old into a violent response. This was done "at the suggestion of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." Too bad they didn't take some other FBI suggestions, such as (translated from officialese), "Forget that stupid idea. We're not watching your back on this one."
Dr. Tsoi's statement to Officer Reed - A plastic surgeon was asked for his opinion of the wounds to Peggy Hettrick's body. Officer Marsha Reed says she wrote a report, which nobody has seen to this day. Too bad it got lost. The doctor's opinion, not surprisingly, would have been exculpatory of Tim Masters - in other words, indicative that he didn't do it. They got a different guy to testify instead. Further on, the report talks about Dr. Allen, the forensic pathologist who testified at Tim's trial. He said the cuts looked "like a mutilation" not a medical procedure. Dr. Tsoi would have said the cuts were surgical, and made by somebody like a doctor. And Linda Wheeler-Holloway, experienced investigator of both sex crimes and homicide, has said that she wouldn't even class what was done to Peggy as "mutilation," because of the control and deliberation exercised by the wielder of the instrument.
Statements of Roy Hazelwood - The former FBI crime scene expert and "profiler" gave Broderick $2000 worth of good advice that was ignored, and told him some of his theories were bunk. Once Hazelwood understood what a madman he was dealing with, he politely extricated himself from the case.

But there were many more

The report says, "As to the four items described, we found no evidence that the trial prosecutors ever had these items in their possession to turn over to the defense…There was, therefore, no evidence that the trial prosecutors hid or destroyed any of this evidence."

So the Special Prosecutors officially admitted that trial attorneys Fischer and Chambers were not given these four items to work with. Out of the many possibilities, how were the four items picked? The criterion seems to have been that these items were not revealed to Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair, either. So don't blame them. The purpose seems to be to minimize the wrongness of withholding things from the defense. If the police refuse to honor the discovery requirement, if they don't let the defense have stuff, yeah, sure, that's naughty. But the real message seems to be: refusing to give information to your own side, the guys who are on the same team, that's really messed up. And it is, and somebody needs to be blamed for it.

The legal point of these "discovery" issues is that it matters when evidence isn't shown to the defense, if it could have changed the outcome of the trial. The law also recognizes the cumulative effect. Maybe a little piece of evidence here or there wouldn't have cleared the defendant, but the weight of all of them together adds up to significance. If ever there was a case that illustrates the meaning of "cumulative," we see it here.

This is how a good part of the hearings went: David Wymore would familiarize original defense counsel Fischer or Chambers with a document. He'd ask if they'd ever seen it before. No! He'd ask if knowledge of the thing would have been useful at the 1999 trial. Yes! He'd ask if the thing should have been turned over to them in discovery. Yes! He'd ask if the police and DA were blameworthy for not turning it over Yes! Then on to the next piece of evidence. For a while there, the ambiance was not courtroom, but factory. Document after lost document just kept coming along the conveyor belt.

More than four: let's look at a few of them

*Notes and letters showing that Dr. Reid Meloy did not function as an independent expert, but as a full-fledged member of the prosecution team. His analyses and opinions were constantly adjusted and shaped to fit the needs expressed by Gilmore, Blair and Broderick, whose input to the process of Meloy's cogitations was more than generous. As one hand washes the other, Meloy's input to their processes was also extravagant - for instance, he practically wrote the arrest warrant, and definitely approved it. Legally, this wasn't in his job description.

*A notation that tipped off the defense to the existence of the "McClellan Binders" - a series of notebooks full of information about this snafu'd case that were used (please don't laugh, because this really is not funny) for teaching purposes. We're talking about hundreds of separate documents. Even when this set of ring binders was finally turned over to the defense in the autumn of 2007, several volumes were missing.

*The "Niemann box," a treasure trove of goodies from the FCPD records department which somehow never found their way to the original defense team.

* A scholarly article about mutilation, whose conclusions contradicted the prosecution's theories, and would have pointed more toward Dr. Hammond than toward Tim Masters. This would probably come under the heading of exculpatory evidence.

* A police report, from shortly after the murder, and very close to the crime scene, of a willie-wagger who looked like Richard Hammond.

*Jim Broderick's special cache of notes. Tell you what, when they set that box up on the bench for Judge Weatherby to examine, it was impossible not to think of a kid on Christmas morning.

*A letter from Broderick to the FBI mentioning how a part of Tim Masters's interrogation the day after the murder was accidentally taped over. This may refer to the same incident in which a supposedly private conversation between the 15-year old and his father Clyde Masters was illegally taped. When the transcription of that talk was given to Dr. Meloy, Clyde's lines were removed. One of the FCPD trademarks in this case was to deprive even their own experts of necessary information.

* The "to-do" list of officer Tony Sanchez, who, when working the Richard Hammond case, wrote himself a note that said "Look into Hettrick." Other officers also testified that Hammond was discussed as a potential Hettrick murder suspect. This contradicts the state's position, which is that Hammond was never considered, and never should have been considered.

The List of 94

One important document was turned over to the defense before the original trial - a roster of people who were looked at with varying degrees of attention, whose suspect potential ranged from impossible (for instance, known sex offenders who happened to be locked up when Hettrick was murdered) to improbable. This is good news because, well, it was turned over, making it something of a rarity. Bad news because it was next to useless. Three of the most stellar potential suspects are treated thusly:
*Donald Long is noted with three words. At the time, he was suspected of the murder of Linda Holt. He later confessed to, and was convicted of, killing Holt and another local woman. To this day, no one has explained why Long was not considered in the Peggy Hettrick murder.
*Matt Zoellner: The "List of 94" says he allowed his house to be searched, and he took a lie detector test. It doesn't say whether his results came out as "inconclusive" as those of Tim Masters. It says Zoellner was ruled out by investigators. It doesn't mention that his knife collection, shoes, and car were not tested for Peggy's blood. It doesn't mention how his whereabouts at the time of the murder were verified by a woman who said she spent the night with him. As alibis go, this one rates somewhere between ridiculous and pathetic. The report doesn't explain something a lot of us still puzzle over: Why was Zoellner's candidacy for the position of murderer so readily dismissed? It's well known that most murdered women are killed by husbands or boyfriends. Occam's Razor, the principle of accepting the simplest explanation as the most likely one, should have suggested that this murder was a "domestic." A guy might dispose of a woman who was becoming tedious, and slice off a couple of souvenirs, the parts he liked best, to remember her by. That seems much more feasible than some intricately convoluted scenario involving a stranger whose actions can only be explained by a pricey expert. How did the "boyfriend" slide so effortlessly out of the picture?
And this blindness was not in effect only in 1987, after Peggy was killed. Just a few months ago, when defense team investigator Barie Goetz obtained the DNA "standards" from the Fort Collins Police Department, he was carelessly given the entire DNA sample that had been collected from Zoellner. As Greg Campbell reported, "They had no interest in keeping any standards from another suspect, telling Goetz he could have all of the DNA collected from another person who was investigated for the crime… That DNA belonged to Hettrick's former boyfriend, Matt Zoellner." What's up with that?
* Richard Hammond is not mentioned at all.

The important things to know about Hammond

* In 1987, when Peggy was killed, Dr. Richard Hammond should have been considered, because according to the police department's own theories, he was at least as good a suspect as the 15-year-old boy across the street. Hammond may not have yet entered his body-builder phase, but he was bigger and stronger than the skinny adolescent. Hammond lived no farther from the body dump site than Masters did, and had surgical skills that Masters did not have. Hammond did not have a criminal record, but neither did Masters. Becky Hammond said her husband was home in bed all night. Clyde Masters said his son was home in bed all night.

* In 1995, it became public knowledge that Hammond had been filming women and girls who used the toilet in his downstairs bathroom, and couples who used the spare bed. The scandal brought a week of notoriety for Hammond, followed by his suicide. At that time, he should definitely have been regarded as a suspect in the cold-case Hettrick murder.

* In 1996-1999, the murder case was reinvestigated preparatory to nailing Tim Masters. Knowing what they knew then about Dr. Hammond, with his crimes a very recent memory, there's no way in hell the cops can be forgiven for not making him a suspect. It doesn't matter that he was dead: Hammond should have been promoted to the top of their list. He even matched their bogus "profile" better than Tim did. The thing to remember about Hammond is, even if it turns out that he wasn't the killer, he very well could have been, based on what was known at the time. He should have been a prime suspect, and the very facts of his existence, proclivities, and proximity, had they been known at Tim's trial, would undoubtedly have changed the outcome. The failure to consider him as a Hettrick murder suspect at that point is incomprehensible, and it looks very much like a deliberate crusade to pin it on Masters and nobody but Masters.

Why this matters

The report says, "The People would assert that because Hammond cannot be proven by the defense to qualify as an alternate suspect, as a matter of law, that the failure to disclose information relating to his matters does not warrant the relief sought by the defendant." Some of us People, however, feel that the authorities made it impossible for anything to be proven by anybody.

Here's what it boils down to. If Hammond had officially been named a suspect, then the state would have had to give information about him to the original defense lawyers before Tim's trial, as "discovery." At that time, knowledge of Hammond's dual careers - professional surgeon and DIY pornographer - would have thrown a ton of reasonable doubt on the guilt of Tim Masters - enough doubt to acquit him, probably. Remember, the trial was nearly ten years ago. Hold that thought and…

Fast-forward to 2007, when we all became well-informed Hammondologists, once Tim's post-conviction lawyers and some wide-awake journalists called attention to the doctor. Many people considered him a beaut of an alternative suspect, right up until late 2007, when the DNA revelations were made. Since then, some people have stopped believing that Hammond killed Hettrick. Others are still not convinced. Either way, this is according to what we know, or think we know, now.

Okay, rewind back to the 1999 trial. At that time, knowing what was known then, the twisto doctor should have been in the equation. But the defense was not informed about any possible Hammond relevance, because he wasn't a quote, suspect, unquote. No, he was a "person of interest." It's a matter of semantics. The police were meticulously careful never to deem him a suspect, and because of that fine distinction in terminology, our present-day Special Prosecutor cannot decree that information on Hammond was wrongly withheld. Slick move!

Who was thinking what in '95?

The report says, "Terry Gilmore, Jolene Blair and Investigator Linda Wheeler-Holloway all indicate that they had never, during the course of the pre-trial investigation, considered Dr. Hammond as a suspect in the Hettrick homicide" And we'll get to them. But first, let's consider the people who did see Hammond as a suspect back in 1995 (8 years after the murder) when his filming activities were revealed; when he was taken into custody, released, and then died by his own hand, all within a week.

One of the big breakthroughs for Tim's post-conviction defense team was finding a notebook where FCPD officer Tony Sanchez, lead investigator in the Hammond matter, had written "Look into Hettrick." This is solid proof that the idea had, at the very least, entered Sanchez's mind, whether or not he endorsed it. He might have written the note to oblige another officer, Dave Mickelson, who had watched some portion of Hammond's collection of home-brewed porn videos. Mickelson made the connection between Hammond's obsession with female sex organs, the nearness of the Hammond house to where Hettrick's body was found, and the fact that she had been known to house-sit (which is how Hammond recruited women to secretly film.)

Mickelson suggested that the doctor should be looked at for the murder. He was in Crimes Against Property at the time, and didn't have the standing to influence the Hammond investigation or do much of anything, really, except express his opinion. One of his opinions was that the planned destruction of all the videotapes, both the viewed and the unviewed ones, should not be carried out, because film of Peggy Hettrick might be found among them. Mickelson's concerns were ignored by Sanchez and by the next person up the chain of command, the supervisor of Crimes Against Persons who, not surprisingly, was Jim Broderick. Mickelson was told that the tapes had to be burned for legal reasons. He testified that at one point he was threatened with the loss of his job.

Sanchez also viewed some of the videos and checked Hammond's background, finding only parking violations. After these feeble gestures, it was decided that Hammond couldn't have killed Hettrick because he had no previous criminal record, and besides, no violent acts were seen in his hundreds of home-made videotapes. To know this was an startling feat of clairvoyance, since only a small fraction of the tapes were viewed before being burned.

Amazingly, Sanchez has said that he was working without a complete set of tools. The partial vulvectomy that had been performed on Hettrick's body was "holdback" information, kept even from some police officers, supposedly to prevent leaks to the press, so Sanchez didn't know about it. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the excision of the nipple was known by all, and that alone should have been enough to raise a red flag, regarding the medical man/amateur porn king. Second, a biker who had been questioned soon after Peggy's murder came to police attention because an informant overheard him wondering how anybody could call what was done a mutilation, since it was "just a slice to the chest and a stick to the pussy." (This man, incidentally, also knew Donald Long, and took a polygraph test passing every question except "Do you know who killed Peggy Hettrick?") As with the nipple, it's very difficult to believe that any member of the FCPD, not to mention the DA's office and everybody else in town, didn't know about the other cutting. This kind of information just does not remain secret.

Sanchez testified that Hammond picked up women in bars, but said he didn't know at the time that Hettrick was sometimes picked up by men, especially well-dressed ones, in bars. And Sanchez, nominally the lead investigator, hadn't read the psychological profile of Hammond generated during his evaluation between the arrest and the suicide.

Troy Krenning, another officer involved in the Hammond case, also saw some of the videotapes. He later testified to knowing Mickelson's views about Hammond's possible guilt in the Hettrick murder, and said it wasn't difficult to imagine that Mickelson's theory was known throughout the department. Krenning had also associated Hammond's proximity and pornography with the Hettrick murder. (On the other hand, in January 2008, a comment in response to an online news report said, "Troy… certainly did not feel that way during some of the Masters investigation…he told me face-to-face that Masters was guilty and with a surprising amount of vehemence." But maybe that was early on, before the Hammond thing broke.)

Ray Martinez, who was also an officer in '95, testified that he "knew the geography of where the homicide occurred and where [Hammond] lived." He thought, at least in retrospect, that Hammond "certainly should have been investigated in reference to the Peggy Hettrick homicide." And he was clear that the idea was brought up or suggested at the time. "The thought apparently crossed our mind."

So, as we've seen, at least four FCPD officers did make the Hammond/Hettrick connection and believe it was meaningful, back in 1995, and many more were aware of the connection. Despite all this, Hammond was cleared of any involvement. Whoever let this happen wasn't doing their job, and neither was their boss or their boss's boss.

It was, at best, a major error and, at worst, a deliberate refusal to make a genuine effort to solve the murder. Someone with a suspicious mind could think Hammond was so thoroughly ignored because Peggy Hettrick's real killer was already known to be neither Hammond nor Masters. Perhaps the real killer was someone who needed to be protected at any cost - a valuable drug snitch, for instance. Maybe it wasn't incompetence or "professional courtesy" to a doctor that caused Hammond to go unscrutinized. Maybe, since it had already been decided that the murder would be pinned on Masters, Hammond was truly irrelevant. Hey, why not? We've seen, over and over again, that nothing is too bizarre for this case.

An unexpected exception

Among the FCPD personnel who in 1995 mentally associated Hammond with the murder eight years previous, there was one surprising omission: Linda Wheeler-Holloway. Why surprising? Because back in 1992 she was, as lead investigator on the Hettrick murder, one of the three who flew to Philadelphia. On that trip she not only realized there were no grounds for serving the arrest warrant, but became filled with doubt about Tim as the designated suspect. "I wasn't sure he didn't do it, but I sure wasn't sure he did do it." On returning, she irritated her bosses by wanting start from scratch, with the suspect field wide open. Her position was very well known around the cop shop, and very unpopular.

When the Hammond affair came to light, Wheeler-Holloway was on the scene. She was then a patrol officer, having rotated to that service in accordance with department policy. Assigned to search the Hammonds' bedroom, she was in a position to observe the view from the window - a view that included the spot where Peggy Hettrick's body had been abandoned. It might seem that, as the only known proponent of the Maybe-It-Wasn't-Tim revolution, she'd be the one to go on the alert. But it was not so.

"People are too Monday-Night-quarterbacking this Hammond thing," she says. "If I didn't make the connection, it wasn't obvious." She wasn't thinking it, and wasn't aware of anyone else thinking it. And if she had thought it, there would have been complications. In the back of her mind, Wheeler-Holloway harbored a conviction that if the Hettrick case were ever reopened, even with such a promising suspect as Hammond now in their sights, the rest of the department would veer unswervingly back to Tim Masters, and it would be deja vu all over again. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.

It was only later, when a colleague she ran into at a conference proposed a connection between Hammond and Hettrick, that the penny dropped. "It's like I got hit right between the eyes. That's the first time I really thought, "Duh," about Dr. Hammond, because it just really hadn't crossed my mind." After many years of effort, Linda Wheeler-Holloway became the one person, aside from his defense lawyers, most responsible for Tim Masters attaining freedom in January of 2008. One of the questions she now asks is, "If they really had concerns, why didn't other people stand up and say something louder? It's one thing to tell your buddies or say it over a beer, but it's something else to go do something about it."

The prosecution in '95: what were they thinking?

Appended to Quick's report are the transcripts of interviews conducted in August, 2007, one with Jolene Blair (Exhibit B) and the other with Terry Gilmore (Exhibit C). Sadly, reading them does not lead to an understanding of how the Special Prosecutors reached their conclusions. Based on the same material, other conclusions are possible.

Here's what the team came up with. According to the Special Prosecutor's Report, "The requisite evidence or facts establishing a link of Dr. Hammond to the Hettrick murder that would designate him as an alternate suspect under the law did not and do not exist." The operative phrase here is "under the law." The reason he's not a suspect is because nobody labeled him as such - but they did treat him as such, if only in a very limited way and for a very short time. "There is no evidence of an act directly connecting Dr. Hammond to the stabbing death of Peggy Hettrick," the report goes on to say.

So, let's talk about evidence and facts and acts.

They say "There is no blood or blood spatter evidence connecting Hammond in any way to Peggy's death." and "There is no fingerprint, hairs, fiber or other trace evidence connecting Hammond in any way to Peggy's death." Well of course there isn't, because nobody ever looked for it. If Hammond's car, garage, basement, office, and clothing had been inspected on the day when Peggy's body was found, who knows what might have turned up? But at the time of the murder, he was totally off their radar. He was just that nice doctor across the street from the body dump site, who was in bed with his wife all night.

There were, incidentally, none of these kinds of evidence to connect Tim, either.

They say, "There is no DNA evidence connecting Hammond in any way to Peggy's death." At the time when the Special Prosecutor's Report was written, nobody seems to have been in possession of an indisputable Hammond DNA sample. What they had was a highly questionable envelope the doctor supposedly licked. How could any lab make a match with anything?

There was no DNA evidence to connect Tim, either.

They say, "No person has ever come forward to claim that Hammond admitted any relation to or involvement in Peggy's death." Oh, this is how we solve crimes? We sit around and wait for a snitch put the finger on someone? Because nobody blew him in, he didn't do it? This is so lame. Especially when the one person who could have most effectively snitched him out was given instant immunity. You heard right. Becky Hammond got a lawyer, not the same one her husband had, and, quoting Terry Gilmore, this lawyer "would not allow the police to talk with her unless she was granted some kind of immunity from prosecution." Gilmore says he talked to his superiors and "then if we all agreed that that was appropriate, okayed it."

Wow, it's that easy to avoid prosecution? Who knew? How come everybody's not doing it? The police, by the way, gained nothing from the Hammond Immunity (doesn't that sound like a Robert Ludlum thriller?). If you look up "stonewall" in the dictionary, Becky's picture is there.

Nobody ever claimed that Tim admitted involvement in Peggy's death, either. Except for the police and Dr. Meloy and the DA's office, that is. When it comes to evidence in the form of possessions or productions, Hammond had at least as much, and would have had way more, if it hadn't been destroyed. The effort put forth was very unequal. The police watched every movie that Tim possessed - Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween II, stuff like that - looking for clues. Of the pornographic films Dr. Hammond actually made, they watched a few and burned the rest.

Hammond had a clean record, they say. So what? Everybody starts out with one of those. Hammond's record was clean - until it wasn't. In 1987, the murder year, his record was no cleaner than Tim's. And later, at the time of Tim's trial, it's only in the most technical sense that Hammond had a clean record. True, he escaped having an official record, because he took himself out before they had a chance to charge and convict him. This is not a very impressive argument.

They say, "In sum, there is no act directly connecting Richard Hammond to the stabbing death of Peggy Hettrick." Well, guess what. There was no act directly connecting Tim Masters to it either - yet he served nine and a half years in prison.

Special treatment equals special relationship

The report contains quite a lot of discussion about Hammond, and finds, of course, no evidence of any non-disclosure problem, or of any special relationships. The party line is, Hammond had nothing to do with any of this, and therefore, nobody could have possibly done anything improper on account of him. Terry Gilmore first said he had never been at the Hammonds' house, then after consulting with his wife, said that he had been. His wife knew Becky Hammond from church. But it really doesn't matter if the Gilmores and the Hammonds, or the Blairs and the Hammonds, were bosom buddies, golfing partners, or barely knew each other. All three families were from the upper stratum of society. Admit it or not, we have a class system in America, and the members of the ruling class protect each other.

Gilmore was the screening deputy when Dr. Hammond was arrested and immediately sent off to a hospital for evaluation of his mental health. Charges hadn't even been filed yet, the police didn't even know what they had, at that point. For all they knew, Hammond's oeuvre might have included snuff movies. Concerning his criminal history, Gilmore told the Special Prosecutors, "I don't recall reading any reports prior to signing or okaying the bond." He was let go, because as Gilmore said, "…the concern everybody had was his mental stability." Isn't that all warm and fuzzy! What about his actions? This guy was caught doing some serious pervert stuff, with victims numbering in the hundreds, and the scope of his activities was as yet unknown. But there was no special relationship, no sirree.

Before killing himself, Hammond wrote a nice bread-and-butter letter to Gilmore thanking him for the leniency and expressing how, as Gilmore says, "He was upset about all the publicity and was angry at the police department…." Awwww. "I berated myself for letting him out on bond," Gilmore says, "because maybe he'd of still been alive." Yeah, and maybe he'd have been held accountable for his wrongdoings, but nobody gives much of a shit about that. And Gilmore's vagueness about the whys and wherefores of Becky Hammond's immunity amounts to willful ignorance.

Here's a question: Why didn't the suicide of Richard Hammond suggest, to at least some law-enforcement minds, that he needed to avoid the consequences of something even more sordid than potty pictures, something much worse, that the police might have been on the verge of learning? After all, everyone used plenty of imagination when conjuring up guilt scenarios for Tim Masters. Why not apply a bit of that creativity to Hammond's situation? What was so desperate to avoid, that he killed himself to escape it?

First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain

A mountain of evidence, is what the police had on their hands after Hammond's death. Over 300 self-produced videotapes and a couple of storage sheds full of assorted porn, which flames took over eight hours to consume. Why was it burned? As Gilmore said, "You got a police department that's in possession of all this stuff that they obviously don't want to make public or have disseminated…." Well, if the police can't keep something locked up and undisseminated, who the hell can? That's why they have secure evidence storage facilities. Are we to infer that even if the police locked it up, they couldn't be trusted? Was there a danger that some cops would be selling the dirty movies, or what?

Meanwhile, the case had been "specialed out" - turned over to another jurisdiction. Why? The Jolene Blair interview says, "…people that were on the video tapes might have some relationship to employees of the district attorney's office. I don't know who…." The Terry Gilmore interview says, "I don't think I ever was aware of who they were…." Then who the hell does know? Surely, some living person must still work there now, who worked there then. Why is there a deep, dark mystery about the reason for the removal of the local DA's office from that situation? Aren't these things supposed to be documented? This is the government, right? Gilmore says, "I don't know that I've ever seen that motion." How could he not have seen the paperwork that took away his authority over the case? What was the connection between Dr. Hammond and the DA's office, to cause that office's withdrawal from the case? Why don't we know?

So. The local authorities no longer were officially in charge of Hammond's evidenciary legacy. Yet someone here ordered its destruction. Who? Blair says, "…the City Attorney requested that the District Attorney file a motion for the destruction of those tapes…and I think our office did file a motion to destroy the evidence…" Gilmore says he doesn't remember participating in the decision or signing the request, although he read in the newspaper that he did both. And he acknowledges that involvement by the city attorney's office "wouldn't have happened on a normal basis."

So Quick's report says, in regard to the Hettrick murder, "The defense cannot prove that Richard Hammond 'committed some act directly connecting' him with the crime charged. In fact the weight of the evidence concludes otherwise." The weight of what evidence? Those people destroyed all the evidence. This is, like, so Catch-22. Destruction of evidence in a murder case - isn't that obstruction of justice? Isn't that, like, a crime? What they did here was destroy stuff that should have been evidence in a murder case.

Who was thinking what in '99?

In the four years between March 1995 (Hammond's week of infamy) and March 1999 (Tim's trial), what went on in the minds of the police? In late 1996, the Hettrick case was retrieved from cold storage and reopened in a big way, but still with only one name on the suspect list. Most of the department was deeply engaged in trying, yet again, to build a case against Masters. He was arrested in August of 1998.

After Tim's arrest, Krenning, Mickelson, Sanchez, and Martinez, whatever opinions they might have held, didn't talk to the defense attorneys. Dave Mickelson says he attempted to break the code of silence once, with a passing remark to the Public Defender, tipping him off to look at Hammond. But because Tim wasn't being represented by the Public Defender, the hint fell on sterile ground.

At the recent hearings, Troy Krenning testified that he assumed the defense attorneys knew about Hammond, and knew about Krenning's thoughts about Hammond, and he assumed that they would call if they wanted his take on it.

At the trial, Linda Wheeler-Holloway was a prosecution witness. Only a recognized expert is allowed to give an opinion, but she anticipated that Tim's lawyer might ask her for one anyway, and told the prosecutor "if the defense asked me for my opinion about Master's guilt, that I would tell the truth, which was that I had serious doubts that they were trying the right person. I told Blair that if I was asked the question, that she had better be ready to object to me being asked for an opinion, because I would tell the truth." Although she hadn't yet made the connection between Hammond and Hettrick, frustration with the inadequate investigation of the whole Hammond matter still rankled. There had been more to it than ever got into the papers, and with a little digging, who knows what might have been unearthed?

The point here is: we now know that at least four officers made the connection as far back as 1995. That means the Hammond information should have been part of the discovery material when the trial took place. It's difficult to see how this could be disputed.

Jim Broderick, of course, was still monomaniacally focused on Tim Masters. The report describes him as "meticulous and detailed in his work. He wrote voluminously…" They got that shit right. He wrote so voluminously because he was doing the work we paid Meloy tens of thousands of dollars to supposedly do. One of the documents newly excavated during the hearings is Broderick's chore list from the summer of 1998. The category "For Gilmore - exculpatory covered?" included the item "Take out Meloy ref to doc extractions." This is interpretable as a clear intention to deliberately withhold mention of the Meloy Extractions - one of the four items the Special Prosecutor's office has named in its stipulation list.

Although Lt. Jim Broderick was obviously thinking about how to conceal things, this report emphasizes that there is no evidence of non-disclosure by him, and we are not for a moment to believe that the officer intentionally hid anything, from either the prosecutors or the defense attorneys at trial time. "Our stipulation makes no such finding of intentional hiding," it says. Oh, puh-leeze! (See previous paragraph.) Even if we suspend our disbelief far enough to grant that the trial prosecutors, Gilmore and Blair, were pure as the driven snow, somebody hid and held back stuff. If it was not hid and held back, then where was it, all that time? The Special Prosecutors say, "We found evidence that certain reports and statements were not provided to the trial prosecutors or to the trial defense attorneys…." Well then, who exactly was it that did the "not providing"? If not Broderick, then who? And one issue that no one has even addressed yet is the astonishing number of physical evidence items that have gone missing over the years. That should be a whole separate investigation - which would make, what? Five?

The Special Prosecutors did many things, "including reviewing all of the documents." This is disingenuous. For some time, they were not able to review all the documents, because some documents were kept from them - yes, kept from the Special Prosecutors - until late 2007, when the hearings had already been in progress for weeks. Ever the cowboy, Broderick held on to a plethora of material right up until the very last second and beyond. Not even a subpoena pried the stuff loose until he was darned good and ready to give it up. Even so, we can't know how much relevant paperwork will never see the light of day. He had a lot of years in which to bury it.

The prosecution in '99: What were they thinking?

In his interview, attached to the report, Terry Gilmore is asked about what he was up to during the long re-investigation of the Hettrick murder. He remembers being called and asked questions, chiefly relating to the 1992 Philadelphia trip. Otherwise, he doesn't remember much. No "major events," certainly.

Documents read out during the recent hearings reveal a more active role for the deputy DA. In late 1996, Broderick noted a meeting with Gilmore to discuss what they hoped Roy Hazelwood would do for them. In late 1997, Broderick's notes speak of telling Gilmore to expect a tape from Dr. Meloy. (He had only been retained days before, so this might have been, what, a sample of previous work?) The following month, Broderick, Gilmore, and Marsha Reed got together at the Holiday Inn to welcome Reid Meloy to town (apparently not a memorable "major event" in the life of Terry Gilmore. Sorry, Dr. Meloy.) They visited the scene where Peggy Hettrick's body was found, and the police evidence room. In June '98, there was a conference call between the same four participants, perhaps one of many.

But even all this hobnobbing with world-class experts on sexual homicide didn't ring any bells for Terry Gilmore, who never for a moment thought about Dr. Hammond. "I had absolutely no reason to believe he was involved in any way with Peggy Hettrick's murder," he says. "We had no inkling that [Hammond] was a possible suspect….it just never even occurred to us…."

And Jolene Blair says, "Dr. Hammond….wasn't even a blip on the screen. No one thought of him, no one talked about him." Maybe not around her, but Jack Taylor, another officer, testified at the hearings that in 1999, Hammond was pretty much common knowledge.

But Blair says, "...the crimes that he apparently perpetrated are so different than the Peggy Hettrick homicide…" Is she kidding with this? It's all about crotches, lady. This is the guy who had a camera zeroed in on the pubic area, who had a rating system for various individual components of the female genitalia, who painstakingly edited his productions. Dr. Hammond's hobby is way closer to the Peggy Hettrick homicide than anything Tim ever did. But they say there was no "pairing of sex and violence" in Hammond's productions. You know, the videotapes of which only a small percentage were watched before they were burned. Meanwhile, Tim's trial included such "pairings of sex and violence" as a sketch of a knife on the same school notebook page as a sketch of the cover of a men's magazine.

Alternate suspects? What alternate suspects?

Before charges were filed against Tim, there was a meeting in the DA's large conference room that included, Jolene Blair says, "all of the police officers that had been involved" in the Hettrick case - even some who had since retired from the force. She says, "Nobody voiced any reticence or reluctance or hesitancy or maybe we ought to look at this alternate suspect…" Gilmore was asked, "Did anybody indicate to you that they felt someone else may have done it or we should look into someone else before we file charges?" He said, "Not that I recall. I think we went around to everyone and I just asked them all and, everybody was comfortable…." How nice for them.

In another part of her interview, Blair says, "I think the PD tried very hard to consider all possibilities…" Here's something to wonder about: If nobody ever told this prosecutor anything, how could she measure their dedication to considering all possibilities? Especially when, according to everybody, there were no other possibilities? The most ridiculous thing we are asked to believe is: at the time of Tim's trial, absolutely no word of a possible Hammond-Hettrick connection had trickled through the grapevine to the ears of the prosecutors. Not a hint, not a smidgen of a clue.

Gilmore was specifically asked whether Hammond was mentioned at this meeting. He had "No recollection of any conversations where anyone proposed that he was a suspect in the Hettrick murder case." Blair says "…that investigation of Tim Masters was void of anything related to Dr. Hammond" If we must believe it, then we must. She goes on to say that because the video scandal had happened three or four years earlier, "Dr. Hammond wasn't fresh in our minds."

Hold onto that thought, and fast-forward to late 2007, during the hearings, when this conversation took place between original trial lawyer Erik Fischer and Jolene Blair. These are her words: "We talked about the fact that the defense now was trying to raise Richard Hammond as an alternate suspect. And I told him how ridiculous that was...And I said, 'and the allegation that we somehow kept him a secret is also preposterous.'" She goes on to say the Hammond affair was "all over the media. I mean, everybody knew…what happened with Richard Hammond and his circumstances was no secret." She was scolding Fischer for not being aware of Hammond when preparing for the trial back in 1999. He was supposed to have known all about Hammond, and been equipped to offer him as an alternate suspect. Yet, at the same time, Blair and Gilmore maintain that in 1999, Hammond was a non-factor, such a total non-issue, he was totally off the prosecution's radar. But Judge Blair! Didn't you say the Hammond affair was all over the media? Everybody knew? Everybody, that is, except the prosecutors, who obstinately, mulishly refused to even let him onto their screen.

And what alternate suspect list?

There seems to be some confusion about this. Erik Fischer testified that he asked Terry Gilmore for whatever alternate suspects they might have, and was given a "weak list", which would have been the "List of 94." This is something the prosecution should have turned over, and did turn over; yet for some reason felt compelled to deny having done.

Tom Quammen asks: "Did you give to the defense alternate suspect evidence or information?" Gilmore's answer: "Not that I recall. You mean like a list or anything? No I don't recall ever being any request and I don't recall us ever having any such thing as an alternate suspect list or anything like that." Michael Goodbee asks if there was a specific request made by one the defense trial counsel for information relating to alternate suspects considered in this case. Gilmore's answer: "I have no recollection of that ever occurring." Frank Spottke asks: "You were never asked by the defense lawyers for any alternate suspects or if you had any alternate suspects?" Gilmore's answer: "No. Not that I remember."

If they truly didn't know certain things, why was that?

Who knew what, and when did they know it? That's the gist of all high-profile inquiries. But awareness is one of the most difficult things to prove. There are several different ways of not knowing. One is by causing it to be understood that there are things you don't want to know. By whatever means, you get the idea across to your support staff that plausible deniability will be maintained. "Don't ask, don't tell" is a time-honored and widely-used strategy for the maintenance of blissful ignorance, and there may have been some of that going on. Linda Wheeler-Holloway says not. But that could be because people of very high integrity often don't even realize the evil that goes on around them. They're just not tuned in to the wavelength.

Here's a troubling contradiction: Troy Krenning testified in the hearings that, before the Masters trial, he stated many times that they were going after the wrong guy. "I had plenty of conversations with Jolene Blair about it…It was the beginning of the end of a friendly relationship."

Let's revisit the four areas of non-discovered evidence that were stipulated: the Meloy extractions, the anniversary surveillance, the Tsoi statement, and the Roy Hazelwood material. It seems that out of the many things that weren't given to either side in discovery, it was particularly important for the prosecution to claim ignorance about these.

But surely, the prosecution did know about the overwhelmingly pervasive role played by Meloy. What about all those phone conferences and meetings? The prosecution knew that Meloy practically wrote the arrest warrant, and that he approved it in a later form. His deep involvement at that stage was inappropriate, and the prosecutors were well aware of it.

The prosecutors knew Tim had been under some kind of surveillance in1988, although they may not have been aware of the scale of the operation. But somebody was. It had been a whole year in the planning. Scores of police officers knew about it, as did Lt. Deryle O'Dell, police chief Bruce Glasscock, a vice president at American Federal Savings, and the FBI. If the surveillance/psychological experiment didn't produce results, the police had planned to close the books on the case. It's hard to believe the DA's office didn't know.

Another way to avoid knowing things, is to not ask the right questions. For instance, "What ever happened with that big surveillance?" Apparently neither of the prosecutors asked that one. "What about that Tsoi fellow, the plastic surgeon? Where's the damn report?" Nobody asked that one, either. Back in '92, the failed arrest warrant contained references to the "profile" that never existed. Gilmore reviewed that document. Why didn't he ask for the FBI profile which supposedly backed it up? Because if there never was a profile, it was really much better not to know. Gilmore had been in on the negotiations with Hazelwood. "Where's the Hazelwood report that we paid $2000 for?" he might have asked, but apparently didn't.

As the Bible tells us, those who have ears will hear, and those who have eyes will see. Conversely, those who don't have ears or eyes will neither hear nor see.


Once again: The Special Prosecutor's Report tells us, "Neither Jolene Blair nor Terry Gilmore contemplated Hammond as a possible suspect in the Hettrick homicide during their time as prosecutors on the Hettrick case." Okay, suppose we take their word for it. For the sake of argument, let's say they never, ever had Hammond in mind. What does this tell us?

Maybe it tells us that Hammond is just one more of the things that should have been turned over to the lawyers on both sides. Another count of misbehavior against the police department. Fine, but just because, like all the other things that weren't turned over, this wasn't turned over, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It exists as much as those already-stipulated items exist.

Hammond should always have been a factor, by their own standards. Here's why. The first time around, when the brand-new murder was investigated in 1987, who was looked at? All known sex offenders in south Fort Collins. The "List of 94" started out with fewer than 94 names. The first version of it was a handwritten roster of known sex offenders in the geographical area, compiled by sex crimes investigator Linda Wheeler-Holloway from the information in her cabinet full of known sex offender files. Granted, Hammond was not then known as a member of that species.

But after he blossomed, when the scandal occurred in 1995, it is unconscionable that his artifacts were not examined for a connection with Peggy, and unforgivable that they were destroyed. That he didn't stick around to be tried and convicted is irrelevant. He was a known sex offender in south Fort Collins. Why, during that whole period of 1995 through 1999, didn't the police or prosecutors look at him? Not a man who doodled little drawings like Tim Masters, but one who had an elaborate studio setup, and who videotaped the genitals of hundreds of women? Why didn't anybody look at this pervert who lived right across the street from where Peggy's body was found - the most notorious sex offender ever to dwell in south Fort Collins? How could they not have? It adds up to more than willful ignorance. It looks very much like a decision was made and adhered to.

A day late and a dollar short, the buck stops here

There's an interesting line in the Special Prosecutor's Report. Even if the trial prosecutors actually never got the things they say they never got, they still "were responsible for discovery of this information because it was in the possession of the investigating agency." And that's as it should be. That means the District Attorney's office is in charge of keeping the cops honest, which it failed to do. The DA is supposed to keep the police in a position where, whether through fear of consequences or respect for the law, they wouldn't dream of withholding evidence.

On learning that the prosecutors are responsible for knowing about all evidence, and for turning over everything to the defense in the discovery process, even if they themselves don't have it, some have cried "Unfair!" Is it right that the prosecutors should be held accountable for not revealing things they themselves didn't know? Let's take a closer look at this.

There's a well-established principle of citizens being held responsible for what they didn't know. If you give someone a ride, and are stopped at a checkpoint, and your passenger's backpack is found to be full of cocaine, you can bet that your car will be seized and you will be charged. People are currently serving time for less. If the principle of responsibility for things they didn't know can be used against citizens, it can damn well apply to the authorities too, who are being paid hefty salaries to know everything.

The principle of people being responsible for the subordinates they control, is well established. If a dog bites someone, the owner is responsible. If a minor commits vandalism, the parents are made to pay. The investigative agency is presumed to be under the control of the DA's office just as surely as your dog is presumed to be under your control. No way should the trial prosecutors be let off easy.

The Special Prosecutor's Report concludes thusly: "Our office has provided information to each of [the three other ongoing investigations.] It would be inappropriate for us to comment on our conclusions until each of these investigations have been completed." So, what was all that stuff in the report, if not commentary? It certainly set the tone. Don't be surprised when the other three investigations all fall into line. Watch for the trial prosecutors to not be disciplined for anything. Watch for Lt. Broderick to be completely let off. As for the investigation of Peggy Hettrick's murder, it's too little, too late. Watch for it to fizzle into oblivion. also first published:
Free Tim Masters Because
An Open Letter to Larry Abrahamson
The Meloy Massacre
Is It Mark Fuhrman Time?
Freedom: Day One