McNair Case: Many Questions Remain

steve mcnair Sahel Kazemi CBS

From the start the Nashville Police Department seemed to view the Steve McNair murder investigation as an open and shut case.

In the five months since the former NFL star quarterback for the Tennessee Titans of July 4, local police put hundreds of man-hours into the case, officially closing their investigation last Friday. But despite all the nagging questions, they held firm to the conclusion they reached very early on: the 36-year-old McNair, a married father of four, was murdered at a downtown condo he rented with a friend by Sahel "Jenni" Kazemi, his 20-year-girlfriend, before she .

"I think she had her mind set on killing the man that she … could not live without," said Homicide Detective Pat Postiglione at a press conference last Friday. "She figured if she couldn't have him then nobody would."

Both Postiglione and chief spokesman Don Aaron said the crime scene provided all the evidence they needed. "When it all comes down to the science of the crime scene, and a detailed analysis of the crime scene," said Aaron, "we concluded that, no question she killed Mr. McNair and then killed herself."

For the police, last Friday's marked the final chapter of the case. Gilliam told police he sold Kazemi the murder weapon, a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol. For his part, as a convicted felon in possession of a gun, Gilliam was given a sentence of 30 months in prison despite what Judge Todd J. Campbell called a "very serious and violent criminal history," including a second-degree murder conviction at age 16 and several robbery and assault convictions.

Judge Campbell's court was silent as he announced his decision, except for the wracking sobs of Gilliam's fiancée and mother of his 2-year-old daughter. For some the scene seemed slightly out of kilt given the fact that phone records show Gilliam and Kazemi exchanged more the more than 200 text messages and calls in the three weeks prior to the two deaths - a much deeper relationship than police originally claimed and one of many contradictions and investigative errors exposed as part of a two-part CBS News investigation into the case on "The Early Show" in October.

Part One
Part Two

"The messages that he sent to her clearly indicate he wants to be around her," said spokesman Aaron. "He was pursuing her. There was a desired relationship."

The 34-year-old Gilliam, an out of work car salesman, was the man in the middle of the case from the start - a case that upon close inspection proved far more complicated and far less certain than some in the Nashville Police Department saw it. Last Friday, local police officially admitted Gilliam had been a suspect in the case, otherwise confirming every aspect of our investigation while adding a few more intriguing details about Gilliam's relationship with Kazemi.

Yes, he had texted or talked with her 49 times the last full day of her life; yes, he had called and talked with her for three minutes at 12:02 a.m. on July 4, two hours before she and McNair supposedly died, and texted her - "u good" - at 1:17 a.m.; yes, he had repeatedly changed his story on how they met and when he sold her the gun, the final answers being outside a bar downtown and July 3, around 6 p.m.. And, oh yeah, turns out Gilliam also lied about his whereabouts the night of the two deaths - his alibi of hanging out at a friend's house cracked in half after that friend, a bail bondsmen, told investigators that Gilliam was never around that night.

Yet despite all the inconsistencies, contradictions and outright lies, Gilliam was eliminated as a suspect. The reason, said Postiglione, who supervised the investigation, is that Gilliam's cell phone records placed him about 18 miles from the crime scene on the night in question. And, Postiglione said, no "third party" presence was ever established at the crime scene.

"Do we have some suspicious people out there? Yeah, we do," he said. "But none of that changes the dynamics of what occurred inside that room."

To put any additional questions to rest the Nashville PD just released their final case summary - 250-plus pages of statements, interviews, diagrams, lab analysis, that police say never contradicted their conclusion: Kazemi did it.

But a careful reading of the report appears to raise as many questions as it answers.

Where did they find the gun?

One of the more intriguing aspects of the crime scene is language used by police spokesman Aaron and others in pinpointing the location of the murder weapon. On the day of the deaths Aaron told the press the gun was found "close" to Kazemi's body and then "near" her body. The next day Aaron told reporters, "We think that the gun was underneath Ms Kazemi's body when officers entered the residence. It was not initially visible and was only discovered late in the process of the scene."

A supplemental report filed by an officer that same day (July 5) puts the pistol "underneath Kazemi's body near her hands." For those scoring at home, that means in a 24-hour period the gun moved from "close" to "near" to "not initially visible" to "underneath Kazemi's body near her hands," which diagrams show were by her waist.

Fast forward to the final case summary written on September 4 - the gun appears to have moved yet again. According to the report, it was "observed underneath Ms. Kazemi's head." Somehow, over a five month period, the murder weapon - according to police statements - traveled the length of Kazemi's torso.

At his press conference Postiglione said of the weapon: "There was blood around the entire weapon. When you move the weapon up, you can actually see the imprint of the weapon just lying on the floor, you can see the imprint, which would suggest that nothing moved, nothing was moved." Still, the inconsistent location of the gun makes one wonder about the validity of other crime scene reports.

Was someone else inside the condo that night? Or before police arrived?

According to an officer who arrived on scene at 3:15 p.m. on July 4, both the back door in the dining room leading to a balcony deck and the door leading to the garage were found unlocked. Conceivably, an intruder could have entered or exited the condo from either area.

Another intriguing third party figure surfaces in a supplemental report to the case.

In it, Sgt. John Nicholson states upon arrival at the scene he was informed by lead investigator Charles Robinson that "three citizens, friends of McNair, had been through the apartment prior to police arrival."

Three citizens? Public reports repeatedly named only two people who set foot inside the condo before police arrived - Wayne Neeley, McNair's roommate, and another friend who Neeley called to the scene, Robert Gaddy. So who is Citizen No. 3? Who else was in that condo before police ever arrived?

Did McNair's roommate tell the truth?

Neeley told police that he first arrived at the condo at around 12:40 p.m. He walked through the living room - the crime scene -- thinking the male and female were both asleep - somehow missing all the blood and bullet holes - before entering the kitchen and getting a beer from the refrigerator. From there, Neeley said, he walked back to the living room and finally noticed the blood, stopping to pick up a shell casing. At this point Neeley told police he still didn't recognize the male victim as McNair. He then exited the condo and called Gaddy, who arrived about 15 minutes later and immediately exclaimed, "Oh my God, it's Steve!" By the time Gaddy called 911 at 1:35 p.m., 55 minutes had passed since Neeley first showed up. Which begs these questions: how did Neeley not know it was McNair, a guy he'd lived with for at least three years? And what happened during that nearly one-hour interlude before police and medical personnel arrived?

The police said they "looked at" Neeley as a suspect. Postiglione went so far as to call his story "ridiculous." But in the end they chalked it all off to Neeley being in a "state of shock" and determined he had "told the truth."

"If he was involved," said Postiglione, "I would think he would come up with a whole lot better scenario than that one."

Was Jenni Kazemi afraid for her life?

According to the case summary, Adrian Gilliam says he sold Kazemi the gun after she told him someone had been beating on her door and trying to kick it in, and was "threatening her life." If that's true who was it? What was she so afraid about?

So it appears what you have here is not an easily reached conclusion but rather a host of contradictory elements. Could Jenni Kazemi have killed Steve McNair and then herself? Yes. But you'd have to believe a 20-year-old girl who friends and family said never fired a gun in her life got scared for her life and bought a weapon as protection only to go crazy four hours after she left work, eight hours after she allegedly bought it, killing the man she loved, the man she thought she was about to move in with, who had just wired $2,000 into her account to ease her financial troubles. And then after shooting him four times execution-style - twice in the chest and twice more in the head - sat down right next to him on the couch, in all that blood, wearing just a pink tank top and pink shorts, and put a 9-mm pistol to her right temple and shot herself. I guess it could happen.

Or one can wonder about a moving murder weapon, an unidentified third party entering the condo before police, statements that make no sense, an alleged threat on Kazemi's life and a host of other questions and circumstances, including one that took place outside Judge Campbell's court moments after Adrian Gilliam Jr. had been sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison, the lowest end of the federal guidelines.

Inside Campbell's court Gilliam had stood before the judge and struck a somber tone. "My heart goes out to the families of the victims," he said. "I have learned a lot of lessons."

But according to an eyewitness no sooner had Gilliam exited the court than his mood shifted. Gone was the humbled man…replaced by the cock-sure ex-con, smiling and joking around with security.
  • Armen Keteyian

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