"The next time, she was so mad at me she screamed 'I know how to get rid of you!
I will tell on you and get you out of my life, just as I did Scott.'"
- Letter to Scott’s attorney by Troy S., Vanessa S.' partner in 2003 (TroS_03, p. 4-5)
An All-Important Witness
It cannot be overstated how important Vanessa S. was for the prosecution and Scott's conviction, so we are going to look at her and her statements in great detail. We will begin with the story she told to the police and to the prosecution and how it relates to the evidence at the scene as well as to other witness statements and known facts. This part is especially important, as her account is also the state's accepted version of events. This is what Scott got convicted for and, if nothing changes, also for what he will be executed.
After the testimony we look at factors that would have impacted Vanessa S.' credibility had they been discussed at the trial, mainly her history of mental illness and extreme substance abuse – but also accounts of what Vanessa S. had to say about the murder, when she was not talking to the police, as well as possible motives to make false statements.
Vanessa S.' Testimony
“During the testimony that I heard, Vanessa lied about coming back to the trailer, stealing the truck, and being scared for her life. If I had been called to testify at the trial, I would have testified to what really happened that night at the trailer.”
- Affedavit of Tanzy L., (TanL_12; p. 2)
The events as told by Vanessa begin with Chris G., Scott and herself leaving a trailer in the evening, driving Chris G.’s truck (MAR_07; p. 7).
Two people see them leave, Tanzy L. and Robert J., and both agree that they borrowed a car owned by Danny L., Tanzy’s husband (TanL_07; p. 2, RobJ_99_01; p. 5). This is important, as both witnesses also agree that Vanessa S. later that night comes back to steal Chris’ truck (TanL_07; p. 2, RobJ_99_01; p. 5). Vanessa S. doesn’t give a precise time for when they left, but Tanzy L. had come home from work at 9:30 PM and saw them leave some time after that (MAR_07; p. 27).
Reason for the Trip
Allegedly, Scott had tried to convince Chris G. for three days to make a trip to the forest. Vanessa S. claims the plan was to retrieve and then sell some weapons Scott had stashed away there, so they can buy drugs. She also says Scott had told Chris that the weapons were so heavy it would require three people to take them away (VanS_99_02; p. 19).
The prosecution used this part of the story to show the murder was premeditated (MAR_07; p. 73). There is no proof for this, but Vanessa S.’ statements. Scott denies he was the reason behind Chris G.’s trip to the forest. He says he was let out of the car close to a friend’s home and had agreed with Vanessa S. to meet again next morning. The friend in questions was Christina F. who comes home from work around 1:00 AM and indeed finds Scott asleep on her couch
(ChrF_12; p. 2).
Vanessa S. then describes how the three of them drive to a cabin in the woods, park the car and hike for at least one hour to another cabin (MAR_07; p. 7). The way Vanessa describes the hike, Scott and Chris G. used cocaine multiple times, while she smoked marijuana (SvA_06; p. 1). Scott was carrying Chris G.’s shotgun, Chris G. had the only flashlight (MAR_07; p. 8). When they came close to the second cabin, Vanessa S. estimates the time as 10:00 or 11:00 pm, they were walking downhill, single file on a narrow trail. Suddenly and without warning, Scott pushes Vanessa S. away and then shoots Chris G. in the back from about 2 feet away. Vanessa S. falls to the ground and covers her head. Scott fires several shots more, but Vanessa S. does not see what happens (VanS_99_02; p. 19).
This account of the shooting is inconsistent with the evidence at the crime scene and can simply not have happened in the way described:
Chris G.’s shirt was found neatly draped over a nearby rock, fixed in place with another rock, suggesting the he had been taking a break from the hike. The shirt was not bloody or damaged, and we can assume Chris G. did not wear it during the attack (McCrary_13; p. 6, 7). Vanessa S. claims the attack happened while walking down a trail, not during a break.
There was a blood stained knife on top of the victim’s duffle bag (McCrary_13; p. 6). The victim had no knife wounds (p. 6). The knife was not tested at the time, but the blood was found to be human blood in YYYY (XXXX, p. X). It cannot be tested for DNA anymore, as the knife was stored incorrectly (XXXX, p. X). The police did not ask nearby hospitals, if anyone with a knife wound had come in during the night of the murder (McCrary_13; p. 11). The jury did not hear there was a knife with blood on it found at the scene (MAR_07; p. 54). In Vanessa S.’ story, the knife simply does not exist.
Despite massive injuries, there was very little blood found at the scene, making it likely that the murder actually did not happen right where the body was found (MAR_07; p. 30). Vanessa did not mention the body being moved.
Chris G’s shotgun, the alleged murder weapon, was later recovered at the trailer by the police; no similar weapon was ever found in the forest, where Vanessa S. had claimed Scott had buried it (MAR_07; p. 30). The weapon retrieved from the trailer was never tested (McCrary_13; p. 8-9). It is worth mentioning that Scott never entered the trailer again.
Chris G.’s handgun was fired once and then jammed with the casing casing stuck in the weapon (McCrary_13; p. 8). Vanessa S. claimed that Chris G. “never got his gun out” and was “murdered in cold blood” (p. 5).
The scene was littered with loose ammunition, a magazine loaded with 45 caliber ammunition, a gun holster and an ammo pouch as well as spent and unspent shotgun shells (McCrary_13; p. 5-6), suggesting attempts to reload and a moving gunfight (p. 7-8).
The idea of a moving gunfight is strengthened further by Dr. Butt.’s assessment that the shot to the knee came from several yards away and likely hit the victim first, with the shot to the back coming second and from much closer range (McCrary_13; p. 3, 8). McCrary concludes that with “the victim incapacitated and likely bleeding profusely from the damage to his femoral artery, and his handgun jammed, the offender could have easily and safely approached him to deliver the final round of buckshot into the victim’s back.” (p. 8) This is an entirely different series of events than described by Vanessa S.
The version of events Vanessa S. gave to the police is just one of many versions she told to various people (MAR_07; p. 32). In some of those Scott kills Chris G. by kicking or shooting him in the head (p. 32). In others, Vanessa S. herself is the killer (TroS_12; p. 02). All of her versions have one thing in common, though: Not one fits the evidence at the crime scene (see Alternative Stories). Once the body was found, the news of the murder had spread quickly, for example: Robert J. learned about it in a phone call with his mother on Monday, June 12th 1999, just one day after Chris G.’s body was found (RobJ_99_01; p. X). Vanessa S. got only two material facts of the crime right, that the murder weapon was a shotgun and the rough location of where it happened. This is information that in all likelihood was circulating freely. Vanessa S. completely failed two very important tests for any eye witness – providing any knowledge only a true witness can possess and not including too many details that directly contradict the evidence at the scene.
Vanessa S. claims that, when the shooting stops, Scott grabs her and they both retreat to the porch of the nearby cabin (VanS_99_02; p. 20). Chris G. is still alive and moaning, as if in great pain (p. 20). After a while Scott goes down on his belly to get closer to Chris G., so he can throw rocks on him (p. 20) . Presumably to check, if Chris is still alive and whether it is save to rob Chris G. of his money and drugs. According to Vanessa S., this goes on for 7 to 8 hours - with Scott repeatedly throwing rocks at Chris G. (p. 20). Around dawn they first start to walk back, then have a joint after which Scott goes back to the victim and tells Vanessa S. to return to the cabin in 5 minutes, which she does. Scott throws some more rocks at Chris G and a short while after that they hike back to the car (p. 20). When leaving the location of the murder, Vanessa S. hears Chris G. emptying his gun (MAR_07; p. 8-9, 26). In at least one of her statements, Vanessa S. also claims Scott now has 1,000 $ he did not have before (VanS_99_01; p. 6).
That Chris G. was supposedly alive for many hours and Scott was throwing rocks at him was an aggravating factor contributing to Scott receiving the death penalty. And it is yet another part of the story that simply cannot be true:
Dr. John Butt, the state’s medical examiner, clearly states that Chris G. can never have lived that long (McCrary_13; p. 4, 7). He points out that Chris G. had multiple severed arteries and must have lost consciousness within minutes - and that is is unlikely that he lived longer than 1 to 2 hours, probably not even that long (MAR_07; p. 5).
Robert J. states Vanessa S. returned to the trailer around 11:00 PM to 00:00 AM (MAR_07; p. 29). Tanzy L., as the only sober witness present, puts her return at around 10:30 to 11:30 PM (p. 28). Tanzy L. explicitly states that Vanessa was gone for “about 1 to 2 hours” (TanL_07; p. 2). This makes it seem highly unlikely that Vanessa S. had enough time to have been present during the murder at all. She certainly did not witness Chris G. suffer all night.
Christina F. confirms that she found Scott asleep on her couch, when she came back from work around 1:00 AM. She also states that she woke him up and he appeared normal and not intoxicated (ChrF_12; p. 2).
That Vanessa S. heard Chris G. empty his gun in the morning is completely unbelievable and was most likely nothing but a bit of extra dramatisation. She would not have had the time to be there, there were no additional 45 caliber casing found at the scene other than the one jammed in the gun, and Chris G. must have already died at that point in time.
Chris G. had 1,944,05 $ on him, when his body was found, making it unlikely he was actually robbed (McCrary_13; p. 2).
To be done.
Trip to S. and Credit Card Use
To be done.
The Car Sale
To be done.
Time at Lillie E.'s Place
To be done.
Trip to Denver
To be done.
Going to the Police
To be done.
Credibility as a Witness
"If Mr. Allen's attorneys had had access to the abovementioned records of Ms. S. there is considerable information in them that bears upon her veracity, her character, and the dependebility of her testimony."
- John F. Warren III, Psychologist (JohW_07; p. 25)
Over time, Vanessa S. has told the story of the murder to various parties. If we compare her stories, it quickly becomes apparent that she changes her account depending on whom she talks to and what purpose she is pursuing. Here is an overview:
Police and prosecution: Her statement to the police and prosecution is analyzed in detail above. Here we want to point out that Vanessa S. stresses again and again how afraid she was (VanS_99_02; p. 20, 22, 23, 24). Scott is a strong, dominant figure, pushing and dragging her around (p. 19, 20), commanding her to steal things (p. 22), forcing her to use the victim’s ATM card (p. 22), burning through powdered cocaine as fast as they could buy it (p. 22), and trying to make her walk into alleys, where she feared he wants to kill her (p. 23, 24). Her stated reason to go to the police also was her being afraid for her life, after he had told her he wants to come home to turn himself in to the police (p. 24). In short, Vanessa S. was a victim too.
Troy S.: Vanessa S. met Troy S. during her pre-trial incarceration and they became romantically involved (TroS_12; p. 01). When she was released on house arrest, she moved in with him (p. 01). Troy S. states she told him multiple times that she wanted the big roll of cash and the cocain Chris G. used to carry around (TroS_03; p. 02) and that it was her idea to jump Chris G. (p. 03), but that Scott did not want to hurt him (p. 03). According to Troy S., Vanessa S. described how she told Scott that “if he ever wants her pussy again, that he would get her that money and that cocaine” (p. 03). Troy S. also says she claimed to have used witchcraft on Scott and to have made him agree by using sexual favours (p. 04). Troy S. states that Vanessa claimed to have pulled the trigger herself, as “the pussy motherfucker couldn’t do it and I had to do it myself” (TroS_12; p. 02). Troy S. adds that Vanessa “still sits around and laughs about how easily she manipulated Scott” (TroS_03; p. 04). In this version of events, Vanessa appears as the great manipulator, a witch that controls and manipulates men with her powers and her sex. Scott on the other hand is only an emasculated shadow of his alter ego from the statement to the police, reduced to craving Vanessa S. and bowing to her will, but ultimately unable to do the deed, so she has to do it herself.
Dolly P.: Dolly P. was a cellmate of Vanessa S. during her pre-trial incarceration (MAR_07; p. 32). Here the story is about her boyfriend killing a guy by kicking or shooting him in the head, after the victim had refused to hand over money for more drugs (DolP; p. 01). The victim is being killed right after getting out of his truck, not on a hike through the forest (p. 01). Her boyfriend says that “he killed the son of a bitch” and she says “let’s go. let’s go” (p. 01). They take the victim’s wallet and leave the scene to buy more crack (p. 01). After that they return to throw rocks at the victim, so they can see, if he is dead (p. 01). The victim doesn’t move, so they leave (p. 01). Dolly P. adds that Vanessa S. never showed any remorse for her crime and had stated that “the worthless motherfucker should have gave (sic) us the money, wouldn’t get killed, if he had, we needed the money to get high” (p. 01). In this version Vanessa S. and her boyfriend appear to be ruthless, Bonny & Clyde-style criminals who would kill just about anyone, even if it is only for a bit of cash to buy crack.
It's worth pointing out again that none of these stories fit the evidence from the crime scene. Also, the jury heard nothing about these alternative versions, despite the fact that both prosecution and defense knew about them (XXX_XX, p XX). As with many other points discussed so far, we will get back to this under THE TRIAL.
Mental Health & Substance Abuse
To be done.
Manipulative Behaviour & Habitual Lying
To be done.
Threats & Possible Motives
To be done.