ARCHIVE 6/16/08: WWE Lawyer Jerry McDevitt’s Letter to Author Irvin Muchnick, And Muchnick’s Reply

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May 20, 2009
ARCHIVE 6/16/08: WWE Lawyer Jerry McDevitt’s Second Letter to Author Muchnick
May 20, 2009

WWE Lawyer Jerry McDevitt’s Letter to Author Irvin Muchnick, And Muchnick’s Reply

Monday, June 16th, 2008

(email, 6:59 a.m., June 16, 2008)
Dear Mr. Muchnick:

Typically, WWE has ignored your so-called “reporting” and associated attempts to promote your upcoming book seeking to cash in on the murders committed by Chris Benoit last summer.  Perhaps you have confused WWE’s disregard of you as a license to print increasingly bizarre and defamatory statements regarding WWE and/or Mr. McMahon in your effort to create some illusion of WWE complicitly in Mr. Benoit’s decision to commit capital murder.

My purpose in writing is to dispel any such illusion you may have and to advise you of certain facts.  Thus, any further repetition of similar falsehoods by you will be treated as a reckless disregard for the truth.  We have reviewed certain statements contained in your so-called Top Nine List of supposedly “unanswered questions” regarding the murders committed by Chris Benoit.  In reality, none are questions at all but rather your uninformed musing and falsehoods.  We address each below.

  1. If these charges are sustained at the eventual trial of Dr. Astin, it would indicate that Chris Benoit and Nancy Benoit were both abusing prescription medications at the time of the murders.
  2. As a reporter, I would think you might be more interested in finding out whether estate assets are being transferred in their entirety to the surviving children of Chris Benoit or are being diverted elsewhere, including to persons with no legal right to state assets.
  3. Indeed, the disdain for Mr. Ballard is evident to anybody who speaks to the actual investigators.

Likewise, your insinuation that Mr. McMahon in some unspecified way kept authorities from charging Jimmy Snuka for murder in 1983 is an odious lie.  I gather this lie was told to support some inference that Mr. McMahon in some way influenced the investigation of the Benoit deaths.  I would note that Mr. McMahon never spoke to any of the officials investigating the Benoit murders, so your attempted inference that he did something improper in Benoit’s case, or would have any reason to do so, is also false.

  1. There is not a shred of evidence anywhere that Chris Benoit told anybody what he had done—orally, by text message, or by any means—before taking his own life.
  2. Your desire to create a story out of whole cloth is no excuse to ignore facts of record.
  3. “Who Let the Dogs Out” – Is the suggestion of this non-issue that unnamed WWE personnel used their alleged, but non-existent, two hour head start to go to Benoit’s house for some reason to leave the dogs out?  Exactly what purpose would be served by anybody leaving the dogs out anyway?
  4. WWE’s Policies – Once again, no real question here; just hyperbole.
  5. They have refused to do so.

In regard to the alleged concussion issue, I further note that you have posted the comments of Michael Benoit on your web site regarding the new indictment of Dr. Astin together with Mr. Benoit’s statement that “the findings of Doctors Bailes, Omalu and Cantu that the underlying cause of the tragedy was the condition of my son’s brain.”  Mr. Benoit also characterizes the indictment of Dr. Astin as not alleging anything improper with the prescriptions given Chris Benoit for painkillers and muscle relaxers, stating the amounts were not excessive.

First of all, in none of the public comments of which I am aware has any doctor, including Drs. Bailes, Omalu and Cantu, stated that alleged concussions caused Chris Benoit to commit the first degree murders of his wife and son.  In fact, I distinctly recall Drs. Bailes and Cantu stating they could not render such an opinion.  I would further note that SLI’s purported findings came out before any of the police investigative work was made public.  I rather doubt that any reputable physician who has read that report would render an opinion that alleged “concussions” made Chris Benoit hog tie his wife and then brutally murder her in the fashion depicted in the police report, and none has to date.  Secondly, the allegation of the new indictment portrays a much different scenario than Michael Benoit portrays, in fact charging Dr. Astin with not only prescribing an illegitimate amount of drugs to both Chris and Nancy Benoit, but also charging him with conspiracy with some of the recipients of his prescriptions to further distribute the drugs.  As Michael Benoit surely knows, since he is the executor of the estate, the house where the murders were committed had no mortgage.  Instead, the builder was paid by a series of payments totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all payments were consistently made by Nancy Benoit from various accounts.

In closing, try as you might, Chris Benoit, and only Chris Benoit, is factually, legally, and morally responsible for the murders of his wife and child and his decision to commit suicide rather than face the legal consequences for committing two first degree murders.  Notwithstanding your desire to shift blame to WWE by your ill-conceived conspiracy theories in order to promote yourself or a book, please try to get your facts correct in the future.  Rest assured WWE will not stand idly by if you don’t.
Jerry S. McDevitt

(email, 8:49 a.m., June 16, 2008)

Mr. McDevitt:

I will post the text of your email. I think independent observers would agree with my position that the questions I am raising constitute a search for the full truth of the entire surrounding narrative – not with your position that they show reckless disregard for the truth. I have never said or suggested that anyone other than Chris Benoit committed the double murder/suicide.

Inter alia, you object to my reference to the 1983 death of Jimmy Snuka’s girlfriend. My chapter about that incident in my book Wrestling Babylon discusses the recollection of an investigator that Vince McMahon served as Snuka’s “mouthpiece” when he was interrogated by the police.

Your bullet point no. 8 has no specifics. No. 9 goes off on a tangent about Michael Benoit. As for the others:

1. Vince McMahon’s no-show of the Congressional hearing. Your objection to the term “no-show” comes down to semantics. The controversy was well documented in the mainstream media, as well as in my post “Wrestling Is Back on the Congressional Radar Screen,”

2. Dr. Astin/Signature Pharmacy/DEA. I am far from the only journalist who has raised questions about how promptly WWE acted on the information given to it by the Albany district attorney, and how consistently the Wellness Program in general has been executed. I do not quite see the point of your complaint about my commentary on Dr. Astin’s indictment; the essence of the commentary is my wondering aloud why charges related to steroids were not part of the indictment. For your part, you offer an articulate argument for the prosecutorial discretion that was exercised here.

3. Civil litigation. Nowhere have I said that there is a civil lawsuit on file against WWE, so I do not understand your complaint. Thank you for the background on estate law and pointers to further areas of reporting.

4. Fayette County authorities – threat or menace? Your comments on the Fayette County investigation are valuable additions to the public record. WWE’s vice president for corporate communications, Gary Davis, long ago stopped responding to my communications. I am happy to have a direct conduit of future communications.

5. WWE’s head start. Analysis of telephone call transaction data indicates that calls to Benoit ceased around 11 a.m. Monday, June 25, 2007 . WWE’s first call to 911 was after 1 p.m. What that all means cannot be determined. Good and aggressive advocate that you are, you say that it means nothing.

6. Yo, Scott and Chavo. Mr. McDevitt, please share with me Chavo Guerrero’s “nationally broadcast versions of exactly what happened and when, including when he advised WWE of Chris Benoit’s text messages,” and I will promptly publish them. I will be especially interested in how these versions explain the 30-hour gap between when Benoit sent Guerrero and Scott James (Armstrong) messages, and when the WWE timeline says company executives were told of them.

7. Who let the dogs out? I have reported on this issue several times on my blog. Benoit’s texts said the dogs were in the enclosed backyard area by the pool, but when the sheriff’s deputies got there, the dogs were loose in the general area near the front gate. I also have said that there are two possible innocuous explanations. One is that Benoit, who was surely deranged at that point, was not telling the truth in his text messages about the location of the dogs. Another is that the fence around the pool area did not contain the dogs.

Irvin Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick