Swann Street Confidential

Returning To The Scene Of The Crime.

Nearly four years after Robert’s murder and the 1500 block of Swann Street is abuzz once again.  But not how you think.

Long gone are those sultry summer days when Swann was thick with the MPD and G-Men; the narrow, leafy street  near impassible immediately after the murder.

Swann was still very active in the weeks that followed, as evidence techs dismantled and carted away pieces of the century old house for forensics testing.

According to a tipster of ours in the 1500, it wasn’t Johnny Law that was back on Swann recently.  No, this was a far more quiet and discrete visitor: a gumshoe.  A private eye.

After nearly four years, could even the sharpest PI sniff out anything new going door-to-door like a Fuller Brush salesman?  Canvassing the residents of Swann Street, many who might not have even lived there on the night of the crime?

What’s left to learn or find?  There’s no smoking gun.  Maybe a missing knife?

Noir romanticism aside, it seems the Swann PIs were less like Sam Spade and Mike Hammer and more like any suit you cross paths with on the mean streets of DC.  Make that a pantsuit; this shamus was a she.   And guess whose payroll this dame was on.

Our informant’s tip follows, all off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.

“Gentleman – This morning an investigator for the defense, I believe from Cozen O’Connor, came to my house on the 1500 block of Swann to ask me a few questions about the murder.

This is the gist of it:  First she established whether or not I had been home the night of the murder (I was)…..

She asked if I had heard anything or had noticed anything out of place in my yard, etc.   I told her no on both counts.  In fact I was unaware that anything had happened until the following morning when I stepped out my front door and saw all the police cars and TV crews.

She then asked if and when the police had spoken to me.   Hmmmm…

I informed the investigator that the police did come to my house the following day…  they were outside the house for weeks;  if I had anything to report I could easily have told them.”

And of course, a few questions come up.  Again, what would a Swann Street Sherlock be able to dig up from one of the neighbors so long after the fact?

The PI’s questions seem rather tame and innocuous.  What’s a PI cost the defendants?  Fifty bucks a day easy, plus expenses.  And are Bernie Grimm’s snoops peeping into keyholes anywhere else, like out in Oakton?

Cozen’s Lady Detective should ring up Philip Marlowe.  He nailed it once.

“He was (found in a) position that always means the same thing: he had been killed by an amateur.  Or, by somebody who wanted it to look like an amateur job.”

-posted by Craig

20 comments for “Swann Street Confidential

  1. Hoya Loya
    03/24/2010 at 8:56 AM

    I like your informant’s response. This is clearly part of an effort by Grimm and company to muddy the waters.Recollections are no doubt dimmed after four years and they are probably hoping they will turn up random odd facts and observations that will supplement the maybe-not-Victor handprint and raise doubts and/or support the intruder story (someone heard a noise, saw someone walking down the street, etc.) whether or not reliable after all this time. And to ask why police didn’t turn up or follow these other leads instead of framing the poor trouple because of their innovative lifestyle.

    If the three are innocent and Robert’s killer is still out there, why didn’t the trouple help Kathy hire a P.I. three years ago when the trail and memories were still relatively fresh?

    • Robert
      03/25/2010 at 2:31 AM

      HOYA Spot on. I think that the other bloggers make good points as well.
      P.I. Looks like poision ivy to me.

  2. CDinDC
    03/24/2010 at 9:31 AM

    Perhaps the defense team PI is hoping a neighbor will say “oh, now that you mention it, I recall hearing a bump in the night outside my bedroom window.”

    Then the defense can say “seeeeee, SOMEONE was prowling around the neighborhood that night looking for a house to break into.”

    Something to bolster the “intruder theory.”

    • former crackho
      03/24/2010 at 9:53 AM

      Once again, interesting information and thank you, guys! Or maybe they were seeking to find ANY suspicious information regarding lurkers in the back alleys Swann street, other robberies, etc. which could help them claim that the area is known to have potential intruders, etc. Grasping at straws if you ask me. Or perhaps to show that the police didn’t fully investigate the intruder theory and simply focused on the gay trouple from the beginning?

      Off topic, I was in South Florida at a convention last week and looked for any Dylan ads in the gay rags but didn’t see one.

      • DCTim
        03/25/2010 at 8:59 PM

        I was also in FL at the same (FRU) convention and made a point of checking out the Miami Shores home. No obvious sign of DW or anyone else…no car in the drive, etc. Not that it means nobody was home; I didn’t check that far.

    • Hoya Loya
      03/24/2010 at 11:19 AM

      Glad the three of us are in agreement.

      But while this sort of information might be used to shed doubt on the indentity of the killer, I don’t see how what people outside 1509 heard or saw would help explain away the clean-up, lack of blood, the wrong knife or the inconsistencies of the 911 call.

      Is Bernie looking ahead to a possible murder trial despite the reassurances to the contrary by the prosecution?

      • former crackho
        03/24/2010 at 6:44 PM

        Or maybe the civil suit?

        • Hoya Loya
          03/25/2010 at 11:52 AM


          This sort of scattershot “evidence” works its mischief best in the criminal context where all the defendants need to do is establish reasonable doubt.

          In the wrongful death suit, the standard is the lesser “preponderance of the evidence” and if Kathy makes her case, the burden shifts to the defense to establish their alternative theory more concretely. Having the neighbor down the street on the third floor say she say someone suspicious on Swann Street once and that the police ignored her won’t cut it.

          The most famous example of how this works is the O.J. case where the “Dream Team” shot holes in the prosecution’s evidence to create “reasonable doubt” in the mind of the jury, but where the Goldmans prevailed in their later civil suit where the burden of proof was easier.

          • former crackho
            03/25/2010 at 1:06 PM

            Thanks Hoya… I have no doubt Kathy will be successful in her suit.

  3. AnnaZed
    03/24/2010 at 12:35 PM

    Interesting that the trouple couldn’t see their way to investing in any independent investigating back years ago when it might have made some sort of difference (provided that you thought the elves theory had any legs in the first place) yet now they have the frivolous extra cash for such sleuthing, very odd.

    Anyway, as Hoya Loya points out, even the presence of swarming gangs of anti-Asian thugs publicly sharpening their kitchen cutlery on the sign posts in the neighborhood wouldn’t explain away the central facts of the matter at hand: the altering of the crime-scene, multiple lies to investigators and the conspiracy to miss-lead the authorities as to what happened to Robert on the part of the residents.

  4. Penelope
    03/24/2010 at 2:40 PM

    PIs only cost $50 a day?

    I wonder if the defense is trying to establish that the prosecution is hiding witnesses. Or they could be making the case for police incompetence, if they find people who weren’t interviewed.

  5. CJ Biggs
    03/24/2010 at 6:56 PM

    Defense counsel is obviously hoping to find a witness who says something like, “Yes, come to think of it, a few items from my yard might have been stolen on (or around) the night of the murder.” They’ll then use that witness’s testimony to try to support their theory that an unknown third party was prowling the neighborhood and was the “real killer.”

  6. Clio
    03/24/2010 at 8:31 PM

    So, the great Bernie Grimm has been reduced to outsourcing his dirty work to $50 a day temps: don’t let Greta read this post!

    This fishing expedition does strike me as the worst kind of window dressing: lawyers looking busy knowing that they are about to lose. Check, please!

  7. Carolina
    03/24/2010 at 11:22 PM

    These people cannot be serious, can they? Are they hoping for their own Kato Kaelin? They should be careful what rocks they overturn.

  8. Friend of Rob
    03/25/2010 at 12:24 PM

    Maybe they just need this guy to get familiar with the territory so that they have somebody to put on the stand.

    • Clio
      03/25/2010 at 9:43 PM

      FOR, I thought that the $50 a day gumshoe was “a dame.” At any rate, once again, women are key to the resolution of this case. The defense’s Mata Hari, though, may not stand a chance against Diane Durham and Dr. G.

  9. CuriousinVA
    03/26/2010 at 9:19 AM

    I just keep getting waves of O.J. Simpson and I’m sure old Joe is thinking about that absurdly successful murder defense as well.

    I think they just want to be able to depict a “Rush to Judgment” – the cops were so eager to pin this on the Trouple that they didn’t even talk to neighbors, witnesses etc. They’ll hope to find something, anything, that they’ll build into the most monumental missed piece of evidence ever!

    But, don’t forget Joe. Dear OJ was found “guilty” in a civil case and ultimately, his life as he knew it was destroyed following the murder even with a jury acquittal.

    • Robert
      03/26/2010 at 6:48 PM

      If I understand you correctly, what you are saying is that something is better than nothing. And I would certainly agree with that.

      In OJs case, I am not sure that his life was so bad prior to his more recent criminal conviction, but admittedly I don’t know all the facts.

      If I had to choose, I would personally prefer a criminal conviction to a civil judgment.

    • Robert
      03/26/2010 at 7:04 PM

      Postscript: Former LA County Deputy DA Bugliosi wrote a bestselling book, Outrage, on the acquittal of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. By some it is considered the best book on the case.
      Very critical of prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, Bugliosi pointed out what he regarded as glaring mistakes made by the prosecution in the course of the trial.
      In other words, it was Bugliosi’s opinion that it was not so much that the defense attorneys won the case as that the prosecutors lost it.

      Bugliosi took Clark and Darden to task for not allowing the jury to hear the tape of Simpson’s statement to police about cutting his finger the night of the murders.

      Bugliosi also said the prosecutors should have gone into more detail about Simpson’s abuse of his wife. He said it should have been made clear to the mostly African-American jury that Simpson had little impact in the black community and had done nothing to help blacks He stated that, if he had been prosecuting the case, he would have put at least 500 hours of preparation into his final summation, and that it was obvious that Clark and Darden had waited until the night before to prepare for it.

      • Clio
        03/28/2010 at 12:19 PM

        Thankfully, Kirschner and Martin are not Clark and Darden, even if the DC police made inexcusable errors in this case. Why wasn’t ALL of the defendants’ initial testimony in Anacostia recorded, Chief Lanier?

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