DeMocker trial: Investigator details probe into ‘drug gang’ claim

Steven DeMocker 12

PRESCOTT – The chief investigator at the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office, Randy Schmidt, testified in the Steven DeMocker murder trial Thursday, detailing the investigation that led officials to discount the “voice in the vent” story and anonymous email that suggested a Phoenix “drug gang” killed Carol Kennedy.

DeMocker is accused of killing Kennedy, his ex-wife, in July 2008, by beating her to death with a golf club, a charge he has denied since his arrest.

Schmidt, a 40-year veteran investigator, was in 2009 tapped to check into DeMocker‘s claim that an unknown fellow inmate used the Camp Verde jail’s ventilation ducts to tell him that Kennedy was killed because she had knew too much about a drug deal. Schmidt also investigated an anonymous email sent to DeMocker‘s attorney at the time, John Sears, outlining the same story.

Schmidt was put in charge of the inquiry because, he said, “Mr. Sears told me he did not trust the (Yavapai County) Sheriff’s Office to investigate it.”

Schmidt first tried to track down the source of the email, but was unsuccessful; the Phoenix Internet café from which it had been sent had no record of who sent it.

The prosecution played a 90-minute audio recording of an interview DeMocker gave to Schmidt. In it, he denies knowing anything about the source of the “voice” or the email.

“I was sitting on my bunk,” DeMocker said on the recording, “and someone called me to the vent” to give him a message, adding that the ventilation system was commonly used to communicate in the jail.

Schmidt investigated 38 people who had been in the same dorm of the jail where DeMocker had been held. It took nearly a year to track them down, he said, and none of them offered “anything of evidentiary value.”

The FBI was enlisted to study the email, and it came back with conclusions that it was written by a female who knew or was related to DeMocker, and there was “little doubt in their minds that it was a bogus email,” Schmidt said.

He noted a number of similarities between DeMocker‘s description and a September 2007 home invasion case on Williamson Valley Road in which two men, directed by a woman, allegedly attacked a man with a crowbar over a drug deal gone bad. No arrests have been made in that case and Schmidt said it could have been used as a “blueprint” for DeMocker‘s story and email.

When she was confronted, DeMocker‘s daughter, Charlotte, “completely” admitted her involvement in writing the email and sending it, Schmidt said, as did DeMocker‘s then-girlfriend, Renée Girard.

DeMocker, however, has never said he made up the story itself.

The county attorney tacked on more charges after the investigation was complete.

Late in the day, the prosecution called its final witness, YCSO Deputy Doug Brown. He’s expected to be on the stand for two more days when court reconvenes on Wednesday. The defense said it would be ready to call its first witness Friday, Sept. 6.

Source: Scott Orr

The Daily Courier

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