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Chasen murder autopsy contradicts Beverly Hills Police case?

Autopsy information released Thursday may contradict the Beverly Hills PD account of the shooting murder of Ronni Chasen.
December 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A detail in the county coroner's autopsy report in the shooting death of publicist Ronni Chasen may contradict the Beverly Hills Police account of the murder. The L.A. County Coroner's Office released the autopsy report of the November 2010 murder on Thursday.

In the coroner's report, an informant/witness statement says an "unknown vehicle pulled up and someone fired approximately 4 gunshots into [Chasen's] vehicle." Beverly Hills Police had concluded that Chasen was killed by Harold Martin Smith, a transient ex-convict who was riding a bicycle, in an attempt to rob her.

Chasen drove approximately a quarter-mile further before crashing on the night of November 16, 2010. She was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. The veteran publicist had just attended a movie premiere.

Smith fatally shot himself as police approached him for questioning in a Hollywood apartment building a month after Chasen's murder.

Ryan Katzenbach, a documentary producer, has questions. He told Eyewitness News by phone that he filed a lawsuit to obtain Chasen's autopsy report which has been on a security hold for three years.

Katzenbach says he has been frustrated time and time again, trying to obtain information from Beverly Hills police. Investigators determined that Smith's gun was the same one that shot Chasen, but Katzenbach wants answers to the bigger picture.

"I am wondering if there was a greater conspiracy in, you know, to murder Ronni Chasen and perhaps the gunman was, in fact, a patsy for the greater conspiracy," said Katzenbach.

Beverly Hills police says it stands by its investigation and has been trying to respect the privacy of Chasen's family. However, the department has released key details through its forensic specialist Clark Fogg.

Fogg co-authored "Beverly Hills Confidential" with investigative reporter Barbara Shroeder.

"It really was just a botched robbery attempt," said Schroeder.

She says statements in the autopsy are misleading. It says a witness saw the shots coming from a vehicle, yet detectives later said Smith was likely on foot.

Shroeder says detectives never had a witness, that the statement was a preliminary theory that had been given to the coroner, not a fact.

"What that officer should have said, had he been correct, he should have said somebody shot her and left the scene," said Shroeder.

Despite the curious details, Shroeder says it's case closed.

"Who gets murdered on Sunset Boulevard, you know? It had all the makings of a hit but all the facts and all the evidence did not point at that," said Shroeder.


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