Theranos · Curtis Flowers · Decomp

Plus: A sad loss for the true crime community

Elizabeth Holmes continues the good fight. Her felony fraud trial was expected to kick off last month, but was delayed — like so many potentially delightful things; looking at you, Wonder Woman: 1984 — by the pandemic, and is now ramping up to opening arguments in March 2021. [“Happy birthday to me?” — SDB]

The Bay Area News Group reports that the disgraced Theranos founder’s latest effort to call the trial off entirely was made late last week, in the form of “a barrage of new legal motions”; these include claims that the federal judge overseeing the case has made critical errors, saying he “failed to consider whether Ms. Holmes acted for the benefit of investors,” her attorneys say.

Part of the filing is so fun that I’m just going to drop a snip from reporter Ethan Baron’s story on the case, as I can’t do any better:

In another motion, Holmes wants seven of her 12 fraud charges tossed out, on the basis that prosecutors have introduced a “cryptic and tortured definition of the term ‘investors’” that “would expand exponentially the scope of the alleged scheme to defraud.”

“What does ‘business partners’ mean?” the motion said. “That undefined term could sweep in any number of individuals, companies, or governmental entities with which Theranos engaged in transactions. Which business partners? How is the government alleging that such business partners ‘invested’ in Theranos?”

Indeed, what does “business partners” mean? What does “mean” mean? If a fake blood test is performed in the woods, will the pope also shit there? Expect those, and other pressing questions, to receive answers in the coming weeks. — EB

That’s right, the Theranos trial has been scooted to March. That’s great news for everyone at Best Evidence, because — as our longest-standing readers know — Sarah and I have committed to cover the case, live, if BE reaches 2,000 paid subscribers by the time the trial kicks off.

Ideally, we’d do that from the courtroom (I don’t live that far from the San Jose courtroom it’s slated for), but if coronavirus remains a concern still, we’ll do it via live feed, which is even better in a certain sense because that way we won’t have to brush our hair and can text during arguments. However, we can’t afford to take that time off without a subscriber base of at least 2,000, hence the drive.

Of course, when we first launched this plan, we didn’t expect (who did) that so many folks would be out of work or otherwise strapped for cash. We understand! If you want to help support but can’t spare the $5/mo or $55 a year, be our cheer squad and encourage others to join up! That’s a huge help, too.

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True crime writer Shanna Hogan has died. Hogan was the author of books like Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story: A Beautiful Photographer, Her Mormon Lover, and a Brutal Murder and Dancing with Death: The True Story of a Glamorous Showgirl, her Wealthy Husband, and a Horrifying Murder, the latter of which I tore through after a previous guest left it behind at a vacation rental I enjoyed last year.

She’s been a published author for over a decade, but was only 37 when she died, the victim of an apparent swimming pool accident. Her friend and former editor, Ray Stern, wrote a sweet appreciation of her life for the Phoenix New Times, and if you scroll to the bottom of the story, you’ll find links to some of his favorite crime writing of hers for the alt weekly. She leaves behind a husband of nearly 20 years and a 15-month-old son, a GoFundMe for the family says. — EB

Curtis Flowers can finally move on. Flowers, the subject of the second season of the In The Dark podcast, was released after 23 years in prison last December after the United States Supreme Court overturned his conviction, saying in their ruling that the prosecutor in his six trials for the same quadruple murder racially profiled jurors.

Flowers’s release was only conditional, however, as it was on prosecutors to decide if he wanted to pursue charges yet again. The Associated Press reports that “Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch filed a motion to dismiss the charges after lawyers in her office spent several months reviewing the evidence and the history of the case,” a dismissal that was granted last week. “I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for twenty three years,” Flowers said in a statement. “I want to say that I believe there are other men, men that I met on the row, whose cases deserve to be heard and considered.” — EB

Well, I feel bad about slagging the most recent Halloween movie now. OK, I liked 2018’s Halloween a lot, but one thing bugged me — what did these dumb true-crime podcasters think they were going to get out of Michael Myers, I wondered many a time as I considered the film.

Well, I was wrong, I guess! The AP reports that true-crime podcaster Phil Chalmers interviewed serial killer Dellmus Colvin for his podcast Where the Bodies are Buried (which, as you may know, “features Phil conducting behind bars interviews with incarcerated psychopathic serial killers”) and got details on a new slaying Colvin said he committed.

During the interview, Colvin reportedly told Chalmers about a woman he met at a truck stop on 2004 or 2005 along Interstate 80; Colvin killed her, and dumped her body at a truck wash further down the freeway. Police say that last week, they found two bones that might be human at the site, and are currently awaiting forensic analysis. — EB

Our longform true-crime open thread remains open, and I’m a little bummed no one said “Wired” yet. It’s true, the magazine’s more known for tech than transgression, but almost every month there’s a juicy true crime (or tc-adjacent) read.

For example, this month, we’ve got “Could a Tree Help Find a Decaying Corpse Nearby?” It’s a fresh look at the “body farm” endeavor that’s intrigued many a true and fictional crime writer — but this piece is less about whodunits than gardening, botany, and how what’s in the soil changes the look of what’s growing above it. You’ll feel sciencey-er for having read it. — EB

Wednesday on Best Evidence: I have a feeling that my long-ago co-60 Days In chronicler has some thoughts on local jails she’d like to share.

What is this thing? This should help. Follow Best Evidence @bestevidencefyi on Twitter and Instagram. You can also call or text us any time at 919-75-CRIME.