Boulder Skies at Dusk

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Time takes everything but the Truth ~ True Detective

Part 7. Steve Thomas Deposition

Q. You knew the state of the evidence as it existed in the case as of March 2001, true?
A. That was during the period which -- no, the grand jury had concluded -- no, I -- no, I wasn't inside the police department reviewing evidence at that time either.
Q. But what you did know and you had actual knowledge of was that a grand jury had 3 met for some 13 months and had not issued an indictment against John and Patsy Ramsey, right?
A. I don't know that. Do you know that?
Q. Sir, was an indictment issued? Do you have information there was an indictment of my clients that nobody has bothered telling them or me about?
MR. HOFFMAN: Actually, Lin, Patrick Burke has information that he should have told you about which he announced to the media that according to him the grand jury actually took a straw poll. Why don't you ask Patrick Burke. MR. WOOD: Let me tell you, Darnay, that won't count against my time. MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. MR. WOOD: But you're right, it was a straw poll; it was a vote not to indict. Thank you for bringing something to my attention that I already knew. MR. HOFFMAN: Okay.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Would you answer my question, sir? It's pretty simple. You 4 know that no indictment was issued by the grand jury, true?
A. I don't know what the grand jury did.
Q. I'm not asking you what they did in terms of whether they voted or not, sir.
MR. DIAMOND: I think he's asking you --
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) I'm asking you whether they issued an indictment to indict John and/or Patsy Ramsey? MR. DIAMOND: -- are you aware of any public report of such an indictment.
A. No.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) You also know that after the grand jury was dismissed that Alex Hunter stated publicly that all seven of the prosecutors in the case unanimously agreed that this was not a case where they felt that evidence was sufficient to justify at that time a prosecution. You know that, too, don't you, sir?
A. That Hunter --
Q. Made that statement publicly?
A. Made the statement that his advisors supported that decision?
Q. Seven prosecutors, not his advisors, seven prosecutors, you know that, don't you, sir?
A. I know that statement was made.
Q. Do you have any knowledge to contradict the accuracy of that statement, that is to say that some of those seven did not so agree as Mr. Hunter stated? Do you have anything to contradict that factually?
A. You would have to poll them, Mr. Wood.
Q. I'm polling you. Do you have any information to contradict that, Mr. Thomas?
A. No.
Q. Now, you understand, I trust, the difference between probable cause to arrest someone and sufficient evidence to justify a criminal prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Do you know the difference?
A. You say you do. You're asking me if I know the difference --
Q. I'm asking --
A. -- between probable cause and 6 beyond a reasonable doubt?
Q. Listen to my question. Do you understand the difference between probable cause to arrest an individual and sufficient evidence to justify a criminal prosecution of that individual to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; do you know the difference?
A. I believe I do.
Q. Can we agree that police officers who are investigating a crime may form a belief that there is probable cause to arrest but the question of who makes the decision of whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a criminal prosecution is within the domain and province of a prosecutor, isn't that the way it works, sir?
A. Typically, yes, sir.
Q. And there's a third category because you know the difference between probable cause to arrest and sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the difference between a finding of guilt, you know that difference, too, don't you, sir?
A. I believe I do, yes, sir.
Q. You know the difference between saying somebody is arrested for a crime and somebody has been found guilty of a crime? You know that difference, don't you, sir?
A. Yes.
Q. It's a big difference, isn't it?
A. Sometimes is and sometimes isn't.
Q. You don't think there is a big difference between someone being arrested for a crime and someone being found guilty of a crime? MR. DIAMOND: Are you talking about the quantum of proof, sir?
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Answer my question.
MR. DIAMOND: Otherwise your question is gibberish.
MR. WOOD: If that's a statement --
MR. DIAMOND: Yeah, I object on the grounds that --
MR. WOOD: -- it's an asinine statement.
MR. DIAMOND: I object --
MR. WOOD: It's not gibberish it is very clear.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Do you know the difference, sir, between someone being arrested for a crime and someone being found guilty of a crime; do you understand that?
A. I've often arrested people who were guilty of a crime and were subsequently convicted of a crime.
Q. And you've probably arrested a lot of people who were not found guilty of a crime, didn't you?
A. I doubt it.
Q. You don't think that happens on a frequent basis?
A. That police officers, or are you talking about me, Mr. Wood?
Q. Police officers in general. I won't go back into your background at the moment on that?
A. That innocent people are sometimes arrested?
Q. That people are arrested for a crime and ultimately not found guilty of that crime?
A. I don't -- I don't have those statistics in front of me; I don't know.
Q. But you don't fight the idea that that happens, sir, do you?
A. I think --
Q. Surely you don't think anybody that is arrested is actually found guilty, I hope?
MR. DIAMOND: I think his first question is withdrawn. Can we hear the second question again?
MR. WOOD: Yeah. Listen carefully. It may be gibberish again to you.
MR. WOOD: It's not gibberish in Atlanta. Maybe it is out in LA on the left side.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) You don't fight the general concept, sir, an idea that people are arrested for crimes that ultimately they are found not guilty of committing?
A. There is a difference between being found not guilty at trial and being innocent, Mr. Wood.
Q. It's the difference between being not found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt even where there may be probable cause to arrest, there is a difference, isn't there, sir?
A. I don't understand your question.
Q. You don't understand, then, the difference between there being probable cause to arrest compared to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
A. Yes, I have already answered that.
Q. You do understand it?
A. For the third time.
Q. Is the answer yes for the third time?
A. Yes, for the fourth time.
Q. Thank you. Four times is a rule of thumb. I like to get it at least three, four is even better. Thank you. Have you ever had an opportunity to review any of Darnay Hoffman's handwriting experts' reports, that would be a report from David Liedman, Cina Wong and another individual named Tom Miller?
A. No.
Q. Do you know whether they were ever tendered to the prosecution or to the police department and rejected as not credible?
A. It's my understanding and this may have been even after I left the police department, that Mr. Hoffman made his experts available to the prosecution.
Q. And they declined saying that they were not credible or do you know?
A. I don't know.
Q. You don't know that. You do know that there were other experts that reviewed Patsy Ramsey's handwriting and did not find evidence of authorship, true?
A. Who were those?
Q. Do you think there were not three other people that looked at this and did not find that there was evidence to find that she wrote the note?
A. I don't know who you're referring to.
Q. Well, there was a Secret Service examiner, Mr. Dusak?
A. Right.
Q. Speckin Laboratories?
A. Mr. Speckin, yes.
Q. Right. And there is one other, help me. I can pull it if you want me to?
A. Alfred, Alford, Edwin Alford.
Q. Did you look at their conclusions and remember them?
A. I did.
Q. What was Mr. Dusak's conclusion?
A. Mr. Dusak, I believe, his official conclusion on his report for courtroom purposes was no evidence to indicate.
Q. No evidence to indicate that Patsy Ramsey executed any of the questioned material appearing on the ransom note, was that Mr. Dusak's conclusion?
A. Among other things.
Q. And he was a document analyst for the United States Secret Service, right?
A. Right.
Q. Then we have Mr. Edwin F. Alford, Jr., police expert, examination of the questioned handwriting, comparison of the handwriting specimen submitted has failed to provide a basis for identifying Patsy Ramsey as the writer of the letter. Is that his conclusion?
A. I remember Mr. Dusak. If you have a document that would help --
Q. This is Mr. Alford.
A. I know. I remember Mr. Dusak. If you have a document that would help me refresh my memory on Mr. Alford, I don't recall --
Q. Not beyond what I have just told you, but if that helps you refresh you one way or the other what I've just told you is I believe Mr. Alford concluded?
A. Will you repeat his --
Q. Sure.
A. -- what he concluded.
Q. The examination of the questioned handwriting comparison with the handwriting specimen submitted has failed to provide a basis for identifying Patricia Ramsey as the writer of the letter?
A. If that's what the report says. I certainly don't disagree with --
MR. DIAMOND: He's asking you whether that refreshes your recollection.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Do you recall Mr. Alford coming to that conclusion?
A. To a -- yeah, I think that's the conclusion.
Q. And then Leonard
A. Speckin, he said that he found no evidence that Patsy Ramsey disguised her handwriting exemplars. Did you -- were you aware of that conclusion by Mr. Speckin, a police expert?
A. Among other conclusions, yes.
Q. You understood enough about the handwriting analysis that a legitimate handwriting questioned document examiner analyzes not just similarities, but also has to analyze and account for dissimilarities, right?
A. If you say so, Mr. Wood, I'm not --
Q. I'm asking you, sir.
A. No, I'm not a handwriting expert and don't purport to be.
Q. So you can't --
A. If you're asking me about my layman's knowledge about handwriting science I would be happy to answer your question.
Q. I'm asking you about your understanding of the science when you were the, quote, one of the lead detectives. Did you not listen to what the experts were 5 saying and what their bases were and did you not grasp the fundamental idea when you were listening that they were saying we've got to analyze both similarities and dissimilarities? MR. DIAMOND: Objection. Compound. You may answer.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Did you understand that to be the case or not?
A. That was among many things that I understood them to look at.
Q. Thank you. Do you know the names? You gave me a couple but for the record I would like to make sure I've got them. I would like to get the names of the Boulder police officers who took over in effect the Chris Wolf case. You gave me a couple; let's make sure we've got them all. Could you give them to me now on the record?
A. I think Commander Beckner assigned Detective Carey Weinheimer to complete the Chris Wolf investigation in early to spring of '98.
Q. Anyone else?
A. I don't know if he was working with a partner or not.
Q. That's the only name you know?
A. Right.
Q. And I take it you don't know firsthand or secondhand what caused the Boulder Police Department to go back and choose to investigate Wolf and get his non-testimonial evidence in February of 1998?
A. What prompted that?
Q. Yeah.
A. That he was still outstanding, if you will.
Q. A suspect?
A. It's whatever you want to call him.
Q. What did you call him?
A. There were several people who were suspicious in this case to me and I'm not going to quibble if we want to attach suspect to Chris Wolf.
Q. It's the word you used in your book you referred to him as a suspect, didn't you?
A. As I said, I don't have a problem with calling Chris Wolf a suspect.
Q. Any -- did Darnay Hoffman or Chris Wolf ever make any demands on you to retract the statement that he was a suspect in your book or threaten to sue you for publishing a book calling him a suspect?
A. Not that I'm aware of.
Q. Just a couple more, then we'll break. Are you aware of Mr. Wolf's prior employment history?
A. My encounter with Mr. Wolf, as you said, yielded little information. Other than what Jackie Dilson may have provided, I don't know.
Q. Did you make a copy, I know you said something about you weren't sure if you had copied it. Do you know whether you actually made a copy of your master affidavit when you were copying these police files after you left?
A. I don't know. My answer is I don't know.
Q. Would it help to ask you whether you know whether you relied on it in writing your book?
A. No, I don't think so.
MR. WOOD: Darnay, are you there, Darnay? Hello?
MR. DIAMOND: Probably a good time to break.
MR. WOOD: I guess we're going to take a break. Could we do this. I'm going to ask him when we come back -- since we've lost Darnay I'm going to ask him about five questions or so that address some areas, two or three of which were marked as confidential in the Wolf deposition. And what I believe the protective order says is that, before doing that, I need to let him see it and you all will agree that he will abide by it in effect, sign on, and keep that information confidential. Can we agree that you all can do that while we're at lunch?
VIDEO TECHNICIAN: Did you want this on the record? MR. WOOD: Is that okay?
MR. DIAMOND: I'll talk to him at lunch. He may not want to be subject to the confidentiality order.
MR. WOOD: Only subject as to Wolf's testimony.
MR. DIAMOND: We will talk over lunch.
MR. WOOD: That he has designated confidential.
VIDEO TECHNICIAN: The time is 12:58. We're going off the record. This is the end of tape two. (Recess taken from 12:58 p.m. to 1:54 p.m.) (Exhibit-2 was marked.) (Videographer Intern present after recess.)
VIDEO TECHNICIAN: The time is 2:04. We're back on the record. This is the beginning of tape three.
Q. MR. DIAMOND: He's doing well by some standards.
MR. WOOD: He's doing well by my standards. You don't need to put that on the record in case my wife, present wife, and last wife number four sees it.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Mr. Thomas, I'm going to go back and make sure I'm very clear. The copies that you made of the police file information before you turned it back into the Boulder police, you knew you were not authorized to copy that material and keep it, didn't you?
A. Not necessarily. This was my work and briefcase.
Q. So if it was the Boulder Police Department report and your briefcase, you thought you had a right to copy it and keep it after you left the department; is that your testimony?
A. If I later had to testify or if there was a question about what I returned to the department, that would satisfy that.
Q. Did you check with anyone within the department to make sure that was the department's policy and rules?
A. No, there was little conversation with the administration after I left.
Q. As I understand it, you remember 1 last seeing these documents and the box that had these documents in it, the ones that you had been sent from the Boulder Police Department people after they learned that you were writing the book -- MR. DIAMOND: I'm sorry, after?
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) I thought that he told me he started getting them in early 1999 after he announced he was writing the book; isn't that true? MR. DIAMOND: Okay. I misheard you.
A. That's right.
Q. (BY MR. WOOD) The anonymous ones from whom you clearly believe were Boulder police officers?
A. That's right.
Q. I was confused and hopefully it won't happen too often but it may not be the last time, but as I understand your testimony, you haven't looked for that box, you just recall that you saw it sometime last perhaps this March of 2000, right?
A. Yes, I had that box March of 2000. 2
Q. So you don't know because you haven't looked today whether that box is still in your possession, custody or control? You don't know one way or the other because you haven't looked for it, right?
A. Right.
Q. I'll give you a subpoen
A. I'll get you to acknowledge as I hand it to you, sir, would ask you to go now and look for those documents that at some point are consistent with the exhibit attached to the subpoen
A. Do you acknowledge that I handed you that subpoena?
MR. DIAMOND: I will. So stipulated.
MR. WOOD: Thank you.
MR. DIAMOND: You asked us to consider a request during the lunch hour with respect to confidentiality.
MR. WOOD: Yeah, but I realized you had already agreed to do the confidentiality deal because of the social security number.
MR. DIAMOND: But I've agreed that I might designate portions of this deposition subject to a confidentiality order. In terms of subjecting my client to the terms of an order that he is otherwise not subjected to, we have decided we don't want to do that. And so I would ask you simply just ask him questions and don't -- refrain from disclosing --
MR. WOOD: I'll ask him whatever I feel is appropriate.
MR. WOOD: You can decide or Darnay can decide what you and he want to do about it but, as I understand it, you don't agree to be part of the protective order that is available that Sean has reviewed prior to the deposition today?
MR. DIAMOND: With respect to third-party materials, that's correct.
MR. WOOD: Would you sign on in any potential?
MR. DIAMOND: What's that?
MR. WOOD: You either accept the order for Mr. Thomas or you go get a new order that says that Mr. Thomas' deposition in some part is confidential.
MR. DIAMOND: Mr. Thomas isn't accepting the confidentiality order.
MR. WOOD: Fine.
MR. DIAMOND: I may well designate portions of his deposition confidential.
MR. WOOD: Then when you do that, you will have signed on to the protective order.
MR. DIAMOND: I disagree, but that's a matter for the --
MR. WOOD: Well, you will get a new protective order.
MR. HOFFMAN: That is a matter for the judge to decide.
MR. WOOD: Right, it is. We won't count that part against my time, I hope?
MR. DIAMOND: We'll count from 2:05 against your time.
MR. WOOD: That won't be part of it.
MR. WOOD: Let's go.
MR. DIAMOND: -- you're wasting your time.
MR. WOOD: No, you're wasting my time. Let's go forward.
MR. WOOD: Did I give you a copy, too, Sean? I think I gave you --
MR. SMITH: I think so. I may have the original.
MR. WOOD: -- two copies and the original that I handed to the detective, former detective, excuse me.
MR. SMITH: I may have the original.
MR. WOOD: Yeah, I just wanted to make sure I didn't give you all my copies.              (c) 2023