Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Washington State Patrol Declined to Affirm Suicide Verdict, Legal Document Indicates

A legal record obtained publically through the King County Superior Court indicates that the Washington State Patrol (WSP), in 1995, declined to affirm the Seattle Police Department’s determination that Kurt Cobain committed suicide.  The basis provided by the WSP for not affirming the suicide verdict is that the Patrol “lack[ed] sufficient information” to do so.

The decision by the Patrol to not affirm the SPD’s determination is notable in that it diverges from the SPD’s adamant and unequivocal position since 1994 that Mr. Cobain’s death was thoroughly investigated and accurately diagnosed as suicide.

The document in question is a formal legal pleading, called an “Answer,” that was submitted to the court as part of the WSP’s defense against Courtney Love’s 1995 lawsuit against the WSP.   That lawsuit sought to bar the Patrol from releasing the “suicide” note and a comparison letter, also known as the “Rome” note.

As required by court rules, the WSP document provides specific responses to each assertion, put forth as a “fact,” by the opposing party (Ms. Love).  The applicable assertion by Ms. Love, contained in paragraph number “2.10” of Ms. Love’s Petition for Permanent Injunction, is that the “SPD concluded its investigation, and confirmed Mr. Cobain took his own life.”

The WSP, pursuant to court rules, had the option of responding to this assertion by 1) admitting it was true; 2) denying that it was true; or 3) claiming, as the Patrol did, that it lacked sufficient information to form an opinion as to the truth of the claim that Mr. Cobain’s death was accurately classified as suicide.

Relevantly, at issue in the 1995 lawsuit against the WSP was the WSP’s interpretation of the “suicide” note, which, again, notably diverged from the SPD’s position with regard to the note.  As the legal document also indicates, the WSP declined to admit both that the greenhouse note found near Mr. Cobain’s body was “a personal letter to his family” or that the greenhouse note and comparison letter contained “deeply personal and intimate thoughts of Mr. Cobain directed principally to his spouse and daughter,” claiming again lack of sufficient information to do so. 

Importantly, but for the initiation of the lawsuit by Ms. Love, the Patrol was prepared to release both the “suicide” note and the comparison letter into the public domain.

The Cobain file published online by the Seattle Police Department in 2015 contains the legal pleadings and affidavits (AKA “declarations”) from Ms. Love’s legal team, but not the legal records submitted by the WSP in its defense, including the legal record at issue in this article.

Norm Stamper, the chief of the SPD at the time of Mr. Cobain’s passing, recently acknowledged that errors were made in the investigation into Mr. Cobain’s death and that, if chief again, he would reopen the case.  Chief Stamper noted in particular that the behavioral patterns of those with a motive to see Mr. Cobain dead should have been studied.

A 2014 review by the SPD of the 1994 investigation into Mr. Cobain’s death, however, reaffirmed the suicide verdict.  The full scope of that review, though, appears very limited and a number of its conclusions, arguably as a result of bias stemming from severe investigative errors committed during the 1994 investigation, appear forensically unsound. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Peek Into Courtney Love’s 1995 Lawsuit Against the Washington State Patrol and a False Assertion to the Court

Following Kurt Cobain’s death in April of 1994 the Seattle Police Department turned over to the Washington State Patrol (WSP) the greenhouse “suicide” note and an additional comparison letter purported to have been written by Kurt Cobain months before his death.  These documents were turned over to the Patrol for purposes of conducting handwriting comparison analysis so to establish that the “suicide” note was in fact authored by the deceased.  Upon conclusion of this analysis the WSP returned the original documents to the SPD but retained in its possession copies of the two letters.

Thereafter, in September of 1995, a public disclosure request seeking the “suicide” note and the comparison letter was submitted to the WSP, which, if granted by the WSP, would result in the public having access to these documents for review and inspection.  The WSP took the position that the letters were not exempt from disclosure and that, accordingly, the WSP would publicly release them pursuant to the disclosure request.

In October of 1995, in response to the WSP’s stated intention to release the documents, Courtney Love sued the WSP to prevent disclosure.  The Washington law firm representing Ms. Love contended that disclosure would violate her privacy rights and cause her irreparable harm.

At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, public accusations claiming Ms. Love was involved in Mr. Cobain’s death had already been leveled.

In support of the firm’s contentions, it submitted multiple “declarations” to the Court by individuals with knowledge of the contents of the “suicide” note.  Declarations are written statements, signed under risk of penalty of perjury, by individuals claiming to have personal knowledge about a given legal issue.  They are an extremely important part of the judicial process in helping to ensure judges are fully and accurately informed about the vital issues they must decide upon. 

One of the declarations submitted to the Court was that of Seth Lichtenstein’s, an attorney to Courtney Love at the time of the lawsuit’s filing, who unequivocally asserted in his declaration that the greenhouse note “is a personal letter written to Courtney and Frances by Kurt…” (Emphasis added.)  This declaration was obtained publically through the King County Superior Court and, unlike the copy contained in the SPD’s publically available online file, is in un-redacted form. 

Mr. Lichtenstein’s assertion bolsters the lawsuit’s claim that release of the “suicide” note by the WSP would violate Ms. Love’s privacy rights.  The assertion also happens to be entirely inconsistent with the contents of the note.

For as is commonly known among those who have taken an interest in the circumstances of Mr. Cobain’s death, the “suicide” note is directed, in large letters at the outset, “To Boddah,” Mr. Cobain’s imaginary childhood friend, and the body of the letter predominantly articulates Mr. Cobain’s feelings about his career in music.  In addition, a signature is provided after the letter’s body which includes both a first and last name (“Kurt Cobain”), which is inconsistent with a personal letter directed to a family member.  Only in a brief end-note, following the signature, in what appears to be an entirely different style of handwriting, are there intimate words directed to Ms. Love and Mr. Cobain’s daughter.

Notably, Mr. Lichtenstein was at the time of his declaration a partner in Rosemary Carroll’s southern California law firm – Codikow & Carroll.  This fact is particularly concerning with regard to Mr. Lichtenstein’s declaration to the Court, for as we know, Rosemary Carroll, Ms. Love’s and Mr. Cobain’s attorney at the time of Mr. Cobain’s death, appears to have been highly suspicious of Ms. Love’s role in Mr. Cobain’s passing and stated that she was of the opinion that the “suicide” note was not written by Mr. Cobain, but rather that it may have been forged, and that Mr. Cobain’s death was not the result of suicide.

These assertions by Ms. Carroll were captured by clandestine audio recording shortly after Mr. Cobain’s death but well prior to the lawsuit against the WSP, and the assertions are relevant with regard to whether Ms. Carroll, who as an attorney was and is bound by attorney-client obligations, had informed Mr. Lichtenstein, prior to his declaration, of her doubts about the “suicide” note and the cause of her client’s death.

It should be noted, however, that only select portions of the recordings, obtained without consent by then-private investigator Tom Grant, have been made public and because Ms. Carroll appears to have remained publicly silent on the matter a complete understanding of her beliefs is still unknown, including knowledge of the potential pressures Ms. Carroll has faced that may have, understandably, altered her behavior.

In the end, the Court in matter against the Washington State Patrol (WSP), despite having viewed the greenhouse note, would rule in favor of Courtney Love, barring the WSP from releasing the “suicide” note and comparison letter.

.         .         .

As an addendum, at about the same time the suit against the WSP was filed, in late October 1995, Bryan Collucio, Ms. Love’s attorney in the WSP matter, reached out to the Seattle Police Department in an attempt to have the SPD eliminate all Cobain case records and copies thereof in its possession. Mr. Collucio claimed elimination of the records was necessary on privacy grounds.  Such an act, however, would be unlawful, and Norm Stamper, the chief of the Department at the time, would wisely deny the request.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cobain Case Contact Information Summary (to Date) and an Acknowledgment of Your Efforts

(NOTEEmail and mailing address information is included at the end of this post.)

In the last several months I've recommended that Cobain case supporters reach out to certain Seattle and King County officials with regard to the necessity that the investigation into Kurt Cobain's death be reopened.

Those officials were 1) Kathleen O'Toole, the Chief of the Seattle Police Department; 2) Dr. Richard Harruff, the King County Chief Medical Examiner; 3) Daniel T. Satterberg, the King County Prosecuting Attorney; 4) Councilman Bruce Harrell, the Chair of the Seattle Public Safety Committee; and 5) Edward B. Murray, the Mayor of Seattle.

The suggested content of communication, in addition to citing case evidence and other information you wish to communicate to these officials, was to request that Chief O'Toole reopen the case; that Chief Medical Examiner Harruff change the “manner of death” finding from “Suicide” to either “Undetermined” or “Homicide”; and with regard to Prosecuting Attorney Satterberg, Councilman Harrell and Mayor Murray, it was suggested that you request the assistance of these three officials in helping to bring the SPD into compliance with the law enforcement obligations owed to former Seattle citizen and resident Kurt Cobain.

Additionally, as part of your communication, it was also suggested that you provide a link to Soaked In Bleach (which is available via Netflix on November 15) and cite some of the compelling testimony contained in the film, such as former SPD Chief Norm Stamper's assertions that he would 1) reopen the case if he were chief again and that 2) the behavioral patterns of those with a motive to see Mr. Cobain dead should have been investigated.

For those that did reach out to some or all of these individuals I want to acknowledge your efforts and commitment and to say that your communications have more of an impact than you may know. So great job! Also, for those that have placed their name to a petition or have engaged in other means of advocacy for a reopening of the case, well done.

It should be highlighted that one of the great strengths of the Cobain case is the presence of a large contingent or army of supporters who passionately believe in the cause. This passion, when channeled into action, is an invaluable resource and asset – it's a source of strength and power and should be leveraged, rather than dormant on the sideline. You have always been a key ingredient in obtaining justice for Kurt Cobain and, accordingly, the use of your voice towards that end is extremely important.

It should also be highlighted that the use of your voice right now is especially significant given the current and ongoing impact Soaked In Bleach is having towards achieving our goal. To use a military term, your voice is like a “force multiplier” – it's enhancing the overall effort and bringing us closer to the outcome we all desire.

That said, if you haven't had a chance to yet, please consider reaching out to the aforementioned individuals. I can also be contacted via email if you have questions at kurtfraser45@gmail.com.

Again, well done and keep up the good work!

CONTACT INFORMATION TO DATE (Email and Mailing Address):

1) Kathleen O'Toole, Chief of Police, Seattle Police Department

Email: Kathleen.OToole@seattle.gov

Mailing Address:
610 Fifth Avenue
PO Box 34986
Seattle, WA 98124-4986

2) Dr. Richard Harruff, King County Chief Medical Examiner

Email: richard.harruff@kingcounty.gov

Mailing Address:
Box 359792
325 Ninth Ave
Seattle, WA 98104-2499

3) Daniel T. Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney

Email: dan.satterberg@kingcounty.gov

Mailing Address:
Room W554
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104-2362

4) Bruce Harrell, Councilmember and Chair of the Seattle Public Safety Committee (committee name abbreviated)

Email: bruce.harrell@seattle.gov

Mailing Address:
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

5) Edward Murray, Mayor of Seattle

Email: ed.murray@seattle.gov
Mailing Address:
PO Box 94749
Seattle, WA 98124-4749

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why Did Both Occupants of Kurt Cobain's Home Fly Out of Seattle Just Prior to the Discovery of His Body?

It's no small matter that both occupants of Kurt Cobain's Seattle home took flights out of Seattle in the days immediately prior to the discovery of his body.

According to the police report, Michael “Cali” Dewitt, a live-in nanny who was also a drug addict at the time, was transported by taxi from the Cobain home to the airport on Thursday, April 7, the day prior to the discovery of Mr. Cobain's body, whereupon Dewitt flew to Los Angeles. Jessica Hopper, the other occupant, was Dewitt's girlfriend who was visiting him while on vacation from a Minneapolis school; according to Charles Cross, Hopper was transported from the Cobain home to the airport on Wednesday, April 6, whereupon she flew back to Minneapolis.

The April 6 date of Hopper's departure is supported by multiple statements given by Hopper to Everett True, wherein, by way of example, Hopper states that she departed “midweek” and that she was present when Eric Erlandson arrived at the estate from Los Angeles, which is reported by Cross to have been on Tuesday, April 5.

Dewitt and Hopper appear to be the only individuals residing at the Cobain estate at the time.

As is widely known, Mr. Cobain's body would be discovered on the morning of April 8 in the greenhouse, which was located just next to the main residence that Dewitt and Hopper had been occupying. No legible fingerprints were discovered on the shotgun discharged into Mr. Cobain and, among numerous other questions of evidence, the results of his toxicology revealed a triple-lethal dose of heroin, suggesting he was incapacitated prior to discharge of the firearm. The official date of Mr. Cobain's death is listed as April 5.

Both of the aforementioned departures appear to have been abrupt and, in the case of Jessica Hopper, extremely emotionally charged – Hopper asserts that she was so distressed that she vomited in the driveway while departing the estate and that “I was sick for two days when I got back because I was such a mess.” The level of this distress is echoed in a recent and highly emotional audio clip wherein Hopper is questioned about her experiences while at the Cobain home at the time.

Both Dewitt and Hopper appear to have been befriended by Mr. Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, when they were minors; Dewitt asserts that Love took him “under her wing” approximately four years prior to Mr. Cobain's death, when he was sixteen; Hopper indicates that Love befriended her approximately two years prior to Mr. Cobain's passing, when she was either fifteen or sixteen. Ms. Love has a history of violence and manipulation and engaged in a number of suspicious behaviors near the time of her husband's death, including misrepresenting her identity in a Missing Persons Report filed with the Seattle Police Department.

According to Rosemary Carroll, Ms. Love's and Mr. Cobain's attorney at the time, Mr. Cobain was in the process of divorcing Ms. Love and removing her from his unfinished will near the time of his death. A prenuptial agreement was also in place.

Norm Stamper, The former Chief of the Seattle Police Department at the time of Mr. Cobain's passing, has recently stated that he would reopen the Cobain case if he were chief again and that the behavioral patterns of those with a motive to see Mr. Cobain dead should have been studied.

Notably, additional statements by Hopper to Everett True bearing on the date of her departure from the decedent's home are strangely contradictory in nature, with Hopper twice unmistakably indicating that she left the Cobain home for Minneapolis on the same day she and Dewitt observed Mr. Cobain in Dewitt's bedroom, which was on Saturday morning, April 2. As indicated above, however, this April 2 date of departure is an impossibility given Hopper's various other assertions to True. Why is Hopper offering obviously contradictory accounts bearing on the date of her departure from the decedent's home?

Given the high volume of troubling evidentiary concerns relating to Mr. Cobain's death, Dewitt's and Hopper's departures are highly relevant and need to be probed in depth by authorities. It's worthwhile here to keep in mind that Dewitt and Hopper chose not to merely depart the Seattle residence of Mr. Cobain, but chose to leave the state of Washington altogether.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Crumbling Foundation

I've noticed of late a certain degree of discouragement regarding the fact that, despite the compelling testimony and evidence featured in Soaked In Bleach, the Cobain case has not yet reopened. While this naturally is frustrating given the various remarkable and factually-indisputable proclamations in the film from leading law enforcement and forensic voices, be reassured that as a result of this testimony a massive and irreparable crack has been created in the foundation of lies bearing on the circumstances of Mr. Cobain's death.

Norm Stamper's and Vernon J. Geberth's testimony, among others, is on record, it's there forever, and each day that someone new sees and hears former Chief Stamper express unhesitatingly that he would reopen the case if he were chief again and those with a motive to see Mr. Cobain dead should have been scrutinized, or former NYPD Lieutenant-Commander Geberth assert that the 1994 investigation team committed cardinal errors in death investigation protocol, that foundation of deceit grows more fragile and closer to collapse.

And this of course is what those disinterested in accountability have feared all along. 

It's the reason that the deceased has been shamelessly dragged through the mud in order to falsely hype the suicide myth and to thereby deflect the proper location of suspicion; it's why those cease and desist letters were sent to theaters in an attempt to deter an obviously proper and legal exercise of the First Amendment; and, among many other examples, it's why an unlawful campaign to sabotage the ratings of Soaked In Bleach was carried-out.

Know too that those disinterested in accountability want you to lose faith – they want you meek and to succumb to a sense of futility; for this is how they maintain control and avoid meaningful scrutiny of their actions.  Don't give them that power.
The fact is the remarkable and courageous testimony of Chief Stamper, and others, is out in the open and can't be “put back in the bag” – it's going to continue, in various ways, to fissure and erode that illegitimate foundation set in place over twenty-one years ago until, finally, the accountability and justice long-withheld from Mr. Cobain is secured.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Seattle Police Department's Opportunity of a Lifetime

One of the important revelations contained in the recent Shawn Helton article about the March 18, 1994 incident at Kurt Cobain's Seattle residence is that SPD Homicide investigators appear never to have inquired into the circumstances of that incident as part of their “investigation” into the death of Mr. Cobain.

As indicated in the article, newly revealed testimony from SPD Detective Everett Edwards, the responding officer to the March 18 event, plainly and credibly contradicts Courtney Love's dramatic and self-serving version of events which predictably portrays Mr. Cobain as on the brink of suicide.

This said, it is frequently the case that investigative bodies intentionally avoid certain paths of inquiry, even when it's entirely proper and necessary to pursue them. This usually occurs in sensitive, high profile matters where to pursue a certain line of investigation would be detrimental to interests deemed “superior” to the integrity of the investigation itself. So the scope of inquiry gets dumbed-down; relevant matters are cast aside or disingenuously downplayed as unimportant; and all the while the investigative team falsely trumpets their efforts as thorough, rigorous and consistent with standards of professionalism.

Sadly, in all of this, the rights of the victim are forgotten about. The interests of the one who has paid the ultimate price are subordinated to considerations bearing on departmental pride, career aspirations and simple politics. It's a mindset driven not by the moral and legal obligations of the badge but by fear – and since the deceased cannot speak out, this breach of professionalism is often carried-out with relative ease.

With regard specifically to the Cobain case, certain individuals within the SPD know full well, given the severe lapses in the 1994 investigation, that pursuing certain obviously relevant and necessary lines of investigation risks opening up a “can of worms” that, once opened, won't wriggle back into the can. It will mean, finally, that the extraordinary breach of care that occurred over twenty-one years ago will have to be accounted for, in the public eye and under media scrutiny.

As daunting as this all sounds, however, for those in a position to reopen the case, it is actually the chance of lifetime – for if approached head-on, with diligence and integrity, and fearlessly undeterred by where the evidence may lead, this leader could rightfully trumpet the Seattle Police Department as a national beacon of reform and law enforcement excellence to be emulated by other departments throughout the nation. Accordingly, those in leadership positions need not view the Cobain case as a dark void to be avoided at all costs – for it's just the opposite: a rare leadership opportunity for the courageous person in the Department who seizes it.

And the fact that the Seattle Police Department is currently under federal oversight should not be a reason to flinch at this opportunity – again, directly the opposite: taking ownership and responsibility for the lapses of judgment which occurred two decades ago and correcting those errors by way of a thorough and disciplined reinvestigation into Mr. Cobain's death represents the precise kind of commitment to justice and reform that the federal government wants to see out of the Department. It's precisely this type of difficult yet head-on accounting for past mistakes that will best reflect upon the SPD as it continues to navigate through this period of federal intervention.

Relevantly, one of the most remarkable aspects of the Cobain case has always been the pure strength of the evidence indicating that the suicide verdict was misplaced. From the decedent's startling blood-morphine concentration, which suggests he was incapacitated prior to being able to discharge the weapon; to the absence of legible fingerprints on multiple key crime scene items, to wit: the shotgun, the two chambered shells and the discharged shell, and the red pen stuck through the “suicide” note; to the location of the spent shell casing, which was found due opposite of the firearm's ejection port; to, among numerous other items of evidence and witness testimony, the strangely crafted note discovered near the decedent's body. This, taken in conjunction with the highly suspicious behavioral patterns of individuals with motive, plainly indicates that the investigative foundation necessary to reopen the case is solid and therefore not subject to rational criticism.

Accordingly, the leader or leadership team within the Seattle Police Department responsible for spearheading a reopening of the case would be able to rest assured that they are on firm evidentiary ground in taking such a step.

In this regard, one need only turn to the former Chief of the Department at the time of the victim's passing, Norm Stamper, who unhesitatingly stated in Soaked In Bleach that he would reopen the case if he were chief again and that the behavioral patterns of those with a motive to see Mr. Cobain dead should have been studied. In addition, there are the supporting proclamations in the film of former NYPD Homicide Commander Vernon J.Geberth and the former President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Dr. Cyril Wecht, among other notable law enforcement and forensic leaders who have expressed concern regarding the circumstances of Mr. Cobain's death.

This all, of course, is to make the obvious point: a reinvestigation into the decedent's 1994 passing should not be viewed by the Seattle Police Department as a liability to cower from, but rather as one of those rare opportunities to attain redemption and to thereby propel the Department courageously forward.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Contacting Councilman Harrell, Mayor Murray and Prosecuting Attorney Satterberg

In addition to contacting SPD Chief Kathleen O'Toole and the King County Chief Medical Examiner, contact should also be made with those in positions of oversight or influence with regard to the law enforcement conduct of the Seattle Police Department.

In this regard, correspondence should be sent to the Chair of the Seattle Public Safety Committee, Councilman Bruce Harrell (the full name of this oversight body is the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee); the Mayor of Seattle, Edward B. Murray; and to the King County Prosecuting Attorney, Daniel T. Satterberg.

Each of these individuals plays a vital leadership role in local government in the Seattle area with regard to matters bearing on justice and accountability and are therefore in a position to assist.

The contact information for these three individuals is listed at the end of this post.

(Please note: this is by no means an exhaustive list of individuals or government bodies that are in a position to help.)

Content of Communication

1) The main thrust of your communication to each of these individuals is your concern or belief that the Seattle Police Department is not able to carry-out its law enforcement responsibilities with respect to the death of former Seattle resident and citizen Kurt Cobain.

2) Request assistance from each of these individuals in helping to bring the Seattle Police Department into compliance with this former resident's death.

3) Highlight former SPD Chief Norm Stamper's testimony in Soaked In Bleach and provide a link to the film. Indicate that Chief Stamper expressed genuine concern over the circumstances of the victim's death and stated unhesitatingly that he would reopen the case if he were Chief again; indicate that Chief Stamper further asserted that “We should in fact have taken steps to study patterns involved in the behavior of key individuals who had a motive to see Kurt Cobain dead.”

4) Include other evidence and testimony from Soaked In Bleach, or elsewhere, that you believe will help these local government leaders better understand the troubling nature of Kurt Cobain's death.

5) Thank each individual for reviewing your correspondence and for their commitment to justice and accountability.

Please note: these are just suggested points of communication.  The most important thing is to communicate what is true to you.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you would like further guidance regarding drafting this communication. My email is kurtfraser45@gmail.com.

Great job everyone!


Councilman Bruce Harrell
Chair of the Seattle Public Safety Committee
(Long form name of Committee: Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee)

Mailing Address:

PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Telephone: 206-684-8804

Fax: 206-684-8587

Website – Bruce Harrell: http://www.seattle.gov/council/harrell/

Mayor Edward B. Murray

Mailing Address:

City of Seattle
PO Box 94749
Seattle, WA 98124-4749

Daniel T. Satterberg
King County Prosecuting Attorney

Mailing Address:

King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue, Room W554
Seattle, WA 98104-2362

Telephone: 206-477-1200

Fax: 206-296-9013