Secrecy Worthy of the Soviet Union
Since deadly assault of 12/2/01, local and state officials have treated the case with a secrecy that would seem more appropriate to Soviet Russia than to Vermont. This started with the refusal of authorities to release Woody's body to his family except under the condition that it be destroyed (cremated), and suppression of public domain information such as the contents of the 911 call. Only after the Attorney General's office released its findings, four months after the shooting, was any substantial evidence in state police custody released to the public. Yet even as of September, 2002, the autopsy and ballistics reports, and the audio records of the 911 call and police radio calls have yet to be released to the public.
Prior to April the Vermont authorities released virtually no information sought by the family and friends of Woody or the public to answer the many unanswered questions, despite a clamour from the public and subpoenas by the family's attorneys. Local officials, to their credit, released some information. State's Attorney Dan Davis disclosed a few details of the autopsy to the Woodwards, including the fact that one of the bullets had entered Woody's lower back; and Chief Martin released some information about the 911 and police calls.
At the state level, however, the wall of silence was unbroken. Attorney General Sorrell refused to give any information to Woody's bereaved parents even under the condition that they sign sworn statements to keep any such information in confidence. These officials had refused to even let the Woodwards see the knife that was the pretext for the killing of their son. The Woodwards' attorneys filed subpoenas for information, all of which were ignored by the Attorney General. Then around March 7, Sorrel filed a motion with a federal court to halt all discovery by the Woodward's attorneys for the duration of Sorrel's investigation.
These public officials invoked as their reason for this secrecy the assertion that any disclosures might threaten the integrity of a possible future prosecution by tainting a jury, yet it is clear there was never an intent to call a grand jury, only to carefully spin the evidence around a theory that would exonerate the shooters. And it was clear from December third, when the State Police made their remarkable press release, that the law enforcement arm of the state of Vermont was not competent to conduct an impartial investigation. The price for the 4 months consumed by Sorrell's flawed 'investigation' includes the increasing remoteness of the December 2 events in the memories of the eyewitnesses, and the passing already of one witnesses, Tommy Thomas, whose detailed account of the shooting was strikingly at odds with Sorrell's.
What is Mr. Sorrell hiding by keeping the autopsy and ballistics reports secret? Justice for Woody's objstruction of justice document provides an answer.