An autopsy report made public 3 years after the murder of publicist Ronnie Chasen in Beverly Hills has revealed little new information about the killing.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s investigator sent to the scene noted detectives believed Chasen’s killer had fired from a passing car, but a police official said that was simply the investigators’ best guess at the scene and not a fully vetted finding.
Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden announced a year after the murder – that a parolee named Harold Martin Smith had shot Chasen after riding up to her car on a bicycle.
Smith killed himself at an apartment building on Santa Monica Blvd. as police approached to question him, and Chief Snowden said a gun found was consistent with the one that fired the bullets that killed Chasen.
The now-public autopsy report says Chasen was shot several times and died immediately.
Some of Chasen’s friends said they were skeptical of the police department’s findings.
The report was released because a documentary filmmaker, Ryan Katzenbach, sued when the police and coroner refused to release investigative documents to him – but clearly had already shared them with the author of a book about Beverly Hills murders.
“Beverly Hills Confidential” was co-written by a Beverly Hills Police Department officer or employee who was given access to the murder case and police photos.
The Hollywood Reporter said Chief David Snowden had given away copies of the book as gifts.
-- Eric Leonard