Court appointed lawyers for Kathy Carpenter strongly believe she is innocent in the case of Nancy Pfister’s death. On Friday, June 20th, attorneys Greg Greer and Kathleen Lord held an unusual meeting with reporters. Greer said, “in thirty two years, I have not had a case like this.” You can hear audio of the meeting here.
Note: Below are mostly unedited recording of presentation given by court appointed attorneys Greg Greer and Kathleen Lord. Edited for volume. See below for story about Greer and Lord's concerns.
Greer and Lord say law enforcement officers made a mistake, virtually at the start of the investigation, that meant she was wrongfully jailed. They argue Carpenter was arrested largely because of a transcription error in her 911 call. That’s when Carpenter reported she had found Pfister’s body. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation transcribed what she said and a single word was incorrect. What Carpenter actually said on the 911 call was that she saw blood on the "headboard." In the CBI's transcript headboard became "forehead," which implied to investigators that Carpenter knew details about the murder. Greer showed a written copy of the transcript, which says this:
Dispatch: “What’s your friend wrapped in?”
Caller: I don't know, I don’t know. I saw blood on her forehead.
Greer: “And if you’ve seen the scene there, and if you see Nancy Pfister’s forehead, then you saw more than you said you saw in the closet. The trouble is, [Carpenter] never saw [Nancy’s] forehead. But they believed she said she saw her forehead, and that was a slip-up."
Greer confirmed error by playing a recording of the call for reporters, saying,
“That was their sole basis for focusing on her. And really saying that she saw things she couldn’t have seen with the story she was telling. And they went off of forehead. And they kept going off of forehead. And Kathy kept saying, ‘I didn’t say forehead.’ "
Greer and Lord are worried that the Denver CBI agent who made the mistake with the transcription included a note with the transcript that said, “After me listening to this 911 call, Kathy Carpenter is guilty.”
Greer and Lord believe that bias and the transcription mistake snowballed throughout the investigation. They argue questioning was often unfair, up to twelve hours at a time, with Colorado Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney interrogators pushing Carpenter to crack, and say more about what happened. After watching videos of questioning, Greer and Lord believe she stuck to the same story: “It’s the same facts, again and again that she tells. She actually spent over twenty hours in recorded interrogations, and kept telling them, this is what happened. This is what happened, and remained consistent throughout twenty hours of time.”
Greer and Lord played video clips showing CBI and District Attorney agents alternately accusing Carpenter of faking the 911 call, then making an about-face and telling her the call was the truth and she couldn’t avoid it. Greer also maintains those investigators pressured Carpenter not to get an attorney, encouraging her to make a confession instead.
The CBI has not responded to a request for comment about the 911 call mistake and interrogation methods. District Attorney Caloia, whose investigator played a role in the questioning, maintains interrogations were normal and fair. She also said this:
“There was a mistake on that particular transcript. However, the statements made by Kathy Carpenter, were things that she said over and over again in her investigation. So the mistranscription is there, but it was a very minor piece to this matter.”
More will likely come to light when and if additional case documents are released in the coming weeks.