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Georgia Simpson

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Georgia Simpson

Bill Pavelic
Robert Shapiro on Bill Pavelic
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By Georgia Simpson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2007

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“...Pavelic felt that there was no private investigator in town better at living inside the collective mind of the LAPD than himself. He was an expert on the department's rules and procedures. He'd been on the force for eighteen years, won hundreds of medals, commendations, favorable incident reports...”

“...Bill Pavelic was especially proud of his street sense. He had been one of the few (LAPD) Caucasian cops; he liked to tell friends, who understood how things really worked in the black community. He got so deep into it that he saw things, he was certain, through nonwhite eyes. He discovered that African-Americans and dark-skinned immigrants of all backgrounds had a lot to fear from the LAPD. When the department couldn't prove something, some cops had no problem framing people who couldn't fight back. Pavelic complained loudly, and soon enough he was seen as disloyal. Before long, he was out...”

"...I know (LAPD) Robbery-Homicide Division. I've actually seen them frame innocent people. You can't take anything for granted..."

“...Pavelic studied the LAPD's crime-scene logs. He called friends at LAPD to see what else he could learn. He put in twenty-hour days, and finally what happened in the early hours of June 13 started to come together...”

“...Pavelic got a call from an officer on another matter. As they spoke, he realized that the cop was connected to the Simpson investigation. He said the department thought there was more than one killer. The wounds suggested each victim was murdered with a different weapon. Goldman's injuries indicated he had fought fiercely before he died...”

“...Pavelic felt that there was no private investigator in town better at living inside the collective mind of the LAPD than himself. He was an expert on the department's rules and procedures. He'd been on the force for eighteen years, won hundreds of medals, commendations, favorable incident reports...”

“...It was Pavelic who gave them their first real hope, however elusive: He saw corruption in the police casework...”

“...Under any circumstances, Pavelic would have looked for it. His career with the LAPD had ended in angry protest. In 1984, Pavelic had testified against fellow officers who killed a fleeing suspect. One cop was fired, another suspended for six months. Pavelic assumed he was stigmatized forever. But by 1990, he'd made it to supervising detective in the Southwest Division. Then he got in trouble again.

His men were investigating a date rape at USC when their bosses began showing a heavy-handed interest. Pavelic, his partner, and their immediate supervisor eventually concluded that then-chief Daryl Gates and a deputy chief were listening to the suspect's father, a prominent lawyer with influence inside the department.

Pavelic and his men protested publicly. And Bill raised similar charges again before a "people's tribunal" when activist groups held hearings on the LAPD after the Rodney King beating. Pavelic told the crowd that lying and covering up were the norm in the department. That earned him a desk job. In 1992, he and the brass reached an accommodation. He took a disability pension for asthma and chest pains. He told one doctor he'd rather spend time in a gulag than go back to work...”

“...When Shapiro called, Zvonko "Bill" Pavelic was in his basement office at home in Glendale, cut off from everything. Pavelic finished his investigations that way. He isolated himself with his computer and his tapes from mid-morning till midnight or later. He allowed himself only one break, for dinner with Maria and the kids. He was proud of his tight, loyal family. That was one reason he worked at home in the big house that Maria kept so well...”

“...Robert Shapiro called just before eleven P.M. They'd worked together three years. Pavelic liked the lawyer's style-intellectual, highly organized, well prepared. Shapiro's particular genius, he thought, was laying a foundation so solid that the case was a winner no matter who presented it. They had won every case they'd worked on...”

“...Would Pavelic like to join the defense team in the Simpson case? Shapiro asked. "Are you available?" Naturally Pavelic said yes. He apologized because he couldn't make Shapiro’s first meeting the next day. But he shifted into gear mentally while he was still talking. He'd need Maria to clip newspapers. He knew he had to identify the documents already being generated in the case. The prosecution's discovery file would undoubtedly be voluminous..."

“...Bill Pavelic met Robert Shapiro at his office in Century City. Elegantly appointed with original art, Baccarat and Lalique crystal. Polished and expensive, like its occupant. Then they moved to a conference room. Their forty-five-minute meeting ranged over the entire case. Nothing would be easy, Shapiro said. An arrest might be coming soon. He needed the investigator to do what he did best, run parallel with the police detectives and figure out how they saw things; then, as soon as possible, move their own investigation ahead of them. As always, the first days were the most important...”

“...His one experience with O.J. Simpson was part of his police history. When Simpson was one of the runners carrying the Olympic torch before the 1984 games in Los Angeles. Pavelic was assigned to protect VIPs. He and Simpson had talked briefly in the special seating section. Around that time, the International Olympic Committee's Life President, Lord Killenin, nearly died choking on his food. Pavelic had saved his life and he thought Simpson might remember the incident...”

“... He put his background to work as a private investigator and learned to make his computer think like a cop. That was why he was so concerned with early discovery material. If you took the documents, the crime reports, the logs, the affidavits and connected them to each piece of evidence, then considered how each cop might view it, then you could make a pretty good guess where the department was going with the case. You could see who'd like one thing, who favored another. Sometimes you could see their destination and arrive there ahead of them...”

“...As an ex-cop, he drew on his knowledge of what the police do at a crime scene. They don't always go by the book. They cut corners-some officers more than others-but their reports make them sound like Boy Scouts. Pavelic knew how to read between the lines of police verbiage and find the hidden stories in the photographs the D.A. had turned over...”

“..Pavelic knew that Robbery-Homicide, the elite corps of detectives from LAPD, would be assigned the case when it became known that Simpson's ex-wife was involved...”

“...As a private investigator, Pavelic was particularly good at following law enforcement paper trails. He was immediately suspicious of the lack of specifics in the Bundy and Rockingham reports. Pavelic's red alert signals flashed as he studied Phil Vannatter's affidavit for the Rockingham search warrant.

No indication who found the bloody glove. Nothing about going into Kato Kaelin's room. Very little information about the murders at Bundy. Nothing about climbing the wall. Vannatter's affidavit said they learned, after talking to Arnelle and Kato, that Simpson had left on an "unexpected" trip to Chicago. More important, the information about Arnelle and Kato was a handwritten addition to the typed affidavit. Had the judge or someone else asked a question during the hearing that prompted Vannatter's addendum? Bill knew they'd called Cathy Randa and learned from her that Simpson's trip was a planned business trip. The detective had misrepresented the facts about the departure in order to obtain the search warrant. O.J.'s departure was not "unexpected." Vannatter knew that. Pavelic knew then that Vannatter had been forced into a further material omission, the omission of the fact that they had scaled the wall at Rockingham before obtaining the search warrant. He also noticed that the affidavit said that Simpson took the flight "in the early morning hours of June 13, 1994." That expanded the window available for the killings. The cops further "observed" the glove on the back walkway "during the securing of the residence." Whether intentional or not, the language suggested that the LAPD investigators had assumed at once they had a crime scene.

Vannatter wrote that "scientific investigation" confirmed that human blood was found on the Bronco. Pavelic knew that at the time he wrote the affidavit, only a routine presumptive test had been done.

Detective Vannatter had more than twenty years on the force, but his affidavit was amateurish. Why had he omitted so many damaging details? Pavelic suspected that the LAPD was rearranging things and embellishing information. Vannatter and Lange, for example, had failed to log themselves out of Bundy when they went to Rockingham. The police logs showed them signing out at ten A.M. as if they'd never left Nicole's condo.

He also noticed that the criminalists didn't list how many samples of each bloodstain were taken. A deliberate omission? No doubt in Pavelic's mind.

A few days before the preliminary hearing, Shapiro received a twenty nine-page memo outlining every mistake Pavelic saw...”

“...The week before, only two days after the Bronco chase, Pavelic had put together a memo for Shapiro asking for sixty-eight pieces of LAPD paperwork, ranging from communication tapes and follow-up investigative reports to the watch commander's daily reports. He also requested the table of contents for the murder books, which contained virtually everything the detectives had...”

“...Earlier in the week, when Mark Fuhrman said he had found the glove, Pavelic was stunned. This was the guy who found the glove? That night Pavelic went to his computer. By now he had a program in place that tracked every individual involved in the case: what evidence each person looked at, what reports each one filed...”

He couldn't find a single LAPD report identifying Fuhrman as the cop who found the glove. Not even the search warrant affidavit. As far as you could see in the paperwork, Fuhrman hadn't noticed the blood on and in the Bronco. He hadn't gone over the wall, hadn't interrogated Kato Kaelin. In fact, he hadn't been at Rockingham that morning.
The Bundy crime-scene log listed Fuhrman arriving at 2:10 A.M., leaving at ten A.M. Period. At Rockingham, he was logged in at 5:l5 the following afternoon and left at 7:10 P.M.

If the logs were to be believed, Fuhrman had never left Bundy to go to Rockingham with Vannatter, Lange, and Phillips. He hadn't returned to point at the Bundy glove while a police photographer snapped a picture. He didn't take a Polaroid of the Bundy glove to Rockingham so Vannatter could make a comparison. The man who wasn't there.

Pavelic started to put the facts together. Robert Deutsch, a lawyer Pavelic knew, called him that night. "Bill, do you realize who this Fuhrman is?" "I guess I don't." Fuhrman had been part of the Britton case, which Deutsch and Pavelic had worked together. A black man armed with a knife had robbed and brutally beaten people at automatic teller machines on L.A.'s West Side in 1988. Fuhrman was part of a CRASH Unit stakeout team that spotted Joseph Britton threatening someone with a knife at an ATM. Britton ran. He claimed he tossed the knife over a hedge before the cops chased him down. The CRASH team said Britton waved the knife at them.

They shot him six times. Most of the bullets came from Mark Fuhrman's gun. Britton claimed that Fuhrman walked back to the hedge to get the knife and dropped it beside him. "Are you still alive, nigger?" he sneered at the wounded man. Britton went to prison and sued the LAPD for using excessive force. Fuhrman was that cop. Once reminded of the connection, Pavelic remembered that the Britton incident was just one item in a hefty dossier.

Years earlier, Pavelic had checked out everyone on the CRASH team and found pure gold under Fuhrman's name. The detective had filed for a disability pension in September 1981. He wanted out because of stress. The records said that a department psychiatrist had given him a temporary medical leave a month before he filed. The detective complained that he was getting angrier and angrier at "low-class" people, notably Latino and black gang members-angry enough to kill someone. In one of the interview summaries, a doctor reported that Fuhrman used the word "nigger."

Pavelic knew that in April 1982 the Workers Compensation Appeals Board had judged Fuhrman temporarily disabled and given him time off. But a year later the Board of Pension Commissioners looked at a thick stack of contradictory psychiatric reports and concluded Fuhrman should go back to work.

"I'm going to need the pension reports and Fuhrman's psychological profiles," Bill told his friend. Deutsch was happy to send them to Shapiro.

Some therapists wrote that Fuhrman shouldn't carry a gun. Others felt he was exaggerating the street trouble he saw in hopes of bailing out of a job he didn't like with a golden parachute. The LAPD had an unusually large number of officers applying for stress pensions in those days. It was getting expensive. The force wasn't about to let anyone out easily. Fuhrman appealed the Pension Board judgment to Superior Court. That put his psychiatric evaluations on the public record.

Bill also began hearing from LAPD friends who had watched the preliminary hearings. "Please be advised that several LAPD police officers and detectives have contacted me and are eager to help O.J.," he wrote in a memo to Shapiro. "If there is one common denominator in these phone calls, it is that Mark Fuhrman is a pathological liar."

Of course, nothing is ever simple in an investigator's life. Pavelic began to suspect that the LAPD was sending him disinformation. Anything to make the defense waste time and money.

A letter signed "Blue" from a writer claiming to be a black LAPD lieutenant advised O.J. to hire Johnnie Cochran, and concluded: “All stops are being pulled in your case. Strings are being pulled across the country. The L.A.P.D. and the D.A. do not want to lose your case, so beware. I know for a fact that lies are being blended into your case."

Web Site: Bill Pavelic

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