Chris Benoit’s Dad to Author Muchnick, Part 2: WWE/McMahon Lawyer McDevitt and the Pennsylvania Coroner

Mike Benoit, father of the late Chris Benoit, has resumed his email correspondence with me. As recounted in the “Notes on Sources” in CHRIS & NANCY, Mike had stopped talking to me in the spring of 2008, in the middle of my research for the book.

“Both you and [WWE lawyer Jerry] McDevitt are not on my Christmas card list, believe me,” Mike wryly noted today.

But far more important is the substance of Mike’s new message to me:

Shortly after my son’s tragedy I traveled to Atlanta  to meet with my lawyers. While in Atlanta I wanted to visit Dr Kris Sperry. Dr Sperry is the chief ME  for Fayette County and was responsible for helping me make a decision to allow my son’s brain tissue to be examined. During my visit with Dr Sperry he told me about a call he received back in June 2007 from another ME. At the time the caller asked numerous questions about the tragedy and suggested to Dr Sperry that there was a very high probability that Daniel died first. Sperry dismissed the suggestion as he believed and shared with me at that time that Nancy died first then Daniel and then Chris. The ME at the time also encouraged Dr Sperry to test for fragile X in Daniel.

Fast forward February 2008 Dr Omalu is being questioned on the witness stand in the trial of Dr Cyril H. Wecht. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dr Wecht was charged with 41 counts including mail fraud and theft from an organization receiving Federal funds. During Dr Omalu’s testimony he is asked by Dr Wecht’s lawyer if he was the doctor that had examined Chris Benoit’s brain. Dr Omalu thought at the time “where is this going”. Dr Wecht was acquitted on all charges.

As Paul Harvey used to say “and now the rest of the story.”

It turns out, according to my lawyers, that the ME that called Dr Sperry back in June 2007 was Dr Cyril Wecht. The lawyer that defended Dr Wecht in his 2008 trial was Jerry McDevitt. Do you think that Jerry would have asked Dr Wecht to make that call back in June of 2007? Would that be considered an attempt to obstruct justice? Jerry McDevitt is a smart man and I am sure he would not do that. The fact of the matter is that the ME in Fayette County never officially confirmed the sequence of death between Daniel and Nancy.  That could also raise some interesting questions and it is likely where Dr Wecht was going.

***

My analysis begins with minor corrections: Dr. Kris Sperry is chief medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Dr. Cyril Wecht’s 2008 trial resulted in a hung jury, not acquittal.

Wecht, former coroner of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is a story of his own. The prosecution of him was extremely controversial and included speculation that Wecht, a Democrat, had been targeted in a purely partisan fashion by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. Indeed, Buchanan became a poster child for widespread charges that the Bush Justice Department was politicized. After the hung-jury mistrial, Buchanan originally sought to retry Wecht, but she finally dropped the charges in June of this year after losing a key procedural ruling on evidence.

Jerry McDevitt was, indeed, Wecht’s defense lawyer. It gets better than that. In January 2008, Congressman Bobby Rush’s House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection held hearings on steroids in sports and sports entertainment. Every single invited head of a sports league or union or entertainment entity testified, with one exception: Vince McMahon of WWE (husband of WWE chief executive and current Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon). McMahon explained that he was declining the invitation because McDevitt was unavailable to accompany him. And that was because McDevitt was preparing for the start of Dr. Wecht’s trial.

Irv Muchnick

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