Tuesday, July 07, 2009

McNair File: Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Questions to be asked based on published Tennessean reportage:

Report: Though many questions remain, investigators now know that Sahel Kazemi bought the gun that ended her life and killed former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair. Kazemi bought the semi-automatic pistol on Thursday evening from a person Nashville police have not named. She made the purchase the same day she was bailed out of jail by McNair for a DUI charge. Both were found dead less than 48 hours later, in a condo McNair rented.

Analysis: The Kazemi DUI was issued very early on Thursday morning, in essence, late Wednesday night. This means that the gun was purchased much later in the day on Thursday.

Report: Police still aren't classifying the deaths as a murder-suicide, although state medical examiner Bruce Levy said it's a possible scenario based on the evidence. McNair was found dead with four gunshot wounds—one bullet in each temple, and two to the chest—on the couch, Levy said. The autopsy showed that three of the shots were fired from at least three feet away. One, to the head, was shot at close range, he said.

Analysis: Who was so pissed off at Steve McNair that they felt impelled to shoot him, not once or twice, but four times? His killing looks more like vengeance than the result of a lover's quarrel. And how invested was Kazemi in McNair, given that she knew him less than five months? He was giving her gifts, and she was apparently living the life of a party girl. Why kill the golden goose?

Report: Kazemi, 20, died of a single gunshot wound to the head and fell to the floor. The pistol was found underneath her body, police say.

Analysis: These facts are consistent with murder-suicide. If that's what happened. No report yet on the gunpowder analysis on her hand. But if there is no gunpowder on Kazemi, then she is a murder victim as well. She might easily have been fatally shot once in the head, whereupon the killer then turned the gun multiple times on McNair. Or it happened the other way around, meaning she stood in horror and watched McNair being shot.

Report: The woman was not old enough to carry a handgun legally or purchase one from a gun dealer. The person who sold the gun to Kazemi is not in custody and may not be charged because the seller may not have known Kazemi was under 21, police said.

Analysis: If the person who sold her the gun is known, seems like they'd be in custody for one good reason or the other. At least as a person of interest. So what's the law? If you sell another person a gun, are you suppoosed to check identification to assure the legal age of the purchaser? Can you sell a gun to a 12-year-old and get off by saying you "didn't know the person was under 21"? How easy is it to purchase a gun from someone? And how easy was it for Kazemi to do so? Does she have friends who carry guns, and one just happened to have one to sell to her that day?

Report: There still are no definite answers as to what prompted the deadly shootings. Police are continuing to interview people who knew Kazemi and McNair.

Analysis: Well, we should hope so. There are people who might've been very pissed off at McNair. Namely, his wife—if she knew he was screwing around on her—and Kazemi's former boyfriend, whom she had lived with for quite some time until McNair came onto the scene.

Report: The fact that the gun was Kazemi's "certainly raises the likelihood" of a murder-suicide scenario, Levy said. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is analyzing ballistics evidence and gunshot residue collected at the scene. Police have not determined whether gunshot residue was found on Kazemi's hand. "We are beginning to make some headway in trying to understand what took place," said police spokesman Don Aaron. "It may be that we'll never know exactly why this happened."

Analysis: "Raises the likelihood" is pure speculation, and definitely not fact. Levy offers a bureaucratic suggestion based on Kazemi's gun ownership. That means nothing. McNair was a known gun owner. Kazemi heretofore was not. What's the connection? In the absence of gun residue on Kazemi—indicating she fired the gun—the possibility exists that a third party shot them both, then planted the gun underneath her, after making sure her fingerprints were placed on the gun.

Report: After questioning several people, including Kazemi's ex-boyfriend, Keith Norfleet, police said they are still far from a motive but learning more about the dating relationship between Kazemi and McNair, who was married to Mechelle McNair.

Analysis: This is a no-brainer. Ask the question: Who gets something out of this deed?

Report: Aaron said detectives were concerned about the length of time it took McNair's friend to call police once he discovered the bodies. Wayne Neely, who rented the condo with McNair, got there before 1 p.m. local time Saturday, but police weren't called until another friend arrived at 1:35 p.m. McNair and Kazemi had been dead for several hours by the time their bodies were found, police said. Aaron said they did not believe the bodies were moved. When asked if other evidence may have been moved, he said he couldn't comment.

Analysis: Being concerned is good. Neely's actions aren't entirely out of bounds. He might've been very shaken. Still, this needs to be explored to satisfaction. To say you "do not believe" the bodies were moved is misleading police verbiage. That is speculation only. There usually is a way to determine if bodies have been moved after a killing. What continues to plague the investigation is the fact that, apparently, five shots were fired in that location, yet not a single soul says they heard anything. Are those condo walls so thick as to muffle five gunshots?

Report: Mechelle McNair has not spoken publicly about the death.

Analysis: Nor should we expect her to.

Report: Kazemi's family has said she believed McNair was in the process of divorcing his wife when they met at her job at Dave & Busters several months ago and began dating. There is no record of divorce filings for the couple.

Analysis: Anyone who's ever been involved in a complicated thing like this knows how difficult and drawn out events prove to be. It could have been years before McNair was fully divorced. The financial aspects can get very contentious. Kazemi's family probably knew none of the details, and, like everyone else it seems, are only speculating.

Report: Bishop Joseph Walker, the pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, said he had no indication there was trouble in the McNairs' marriage. When they came to service, they came together. They had not been in to see him for counseling.

Analysis: Natch.

Report: McNair had two arrests in Nashville. He was arrested on a DUI in 2003 that was later dismissed, and in 2007, he was arrested on an owner-operator DUI because his brother was charged with drinking and driving in his car while McNair was a passenger.

Analysis: McNair also carried guns. He was a hero on the football field, but a bit of a drinker and somewhat thuggish in other areas of behavior. Hardly a saint.

Report: There was no cause to arrest McNair when he was a passenger during Kazemi's DUI stop on July 2 because Kazemi was a co-owner of the Cadillac Escalade and bore the responsibility, Aaron said. Kazemi was driving 54-mph in a 30-mph zone, according to court records. She told police she was not drunk, but high. She later said it had been eight hours since she drank any alcohol. The court records don't mention McNair and a second person riding in the car. Though McNair was an owner, police did follow procedure when they released McNair, said Nashville criminal defense lawyer Nathan Moore." Absolutely, they did the right thing," Moore said of the officers letting McNair take a cab. "He had no legal obligation keeping her from driving the SUV. It was registered in both their names."

Analysis: Yes, no legal obligation. But how weird is it that McNair beat a hasty retreat into a cab, leaving his girlfriend to deal with the cops? And who is this third party also in the car? Not to mention, what kind of idiot person drives 54 MPH down Broadway at any time of day? Stupid, careless people all the way around.

Report: Officer Shawn Taylor, who stopped Kazemi, also was the officer who arrested McNair in 2003. The charges were dismissed and expunged.

Analysis: The poetic justice is thick. Taylor took a lot of heat during the 2003 incident, mainly from a public that was on McNair's side and wanted to see him beat that rap.

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