Evidence evaluation

Forensic & Security Consultants Corporation

President H. Dale Nute
V. President Stephen B. Milliken
SEC: TREAS James E. Halligan

12 August 1994

Capital Collateral Representative
1533 C South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32310


Paul Scott
Agency Case No: 194

To evaluate the evidence in the referenced case.

Transcripts of portions of testimony in trial of Paul Scott
Reports from Palm Beach County Police
Medical Examiner's report
Laboratory reports of Palm Beach County Crime Laboratory
Investigative photographs
Evidence in custody of Clerk of Court Palm Beach County
Deposition of Bernadine Bernard
Reports of Rhode Island Police Department
Clemency statement of Paul Scott
Transcript of guilty plea of Richard Kondian
Transcript of portions of post conviction hearing of Paul Scott
Affidavit of Richard Kondian
Affidavit of Robert Avera
Affidavit of Jeff Walsh
Affidavit of Valerie Cooke


I prepared a chart listing actions alleged to have occurred in the death of James Alessi. This listing was taken from the statements made by Richard Kondian to the police in Rhode Island in 1979, at his plea in 1979, at a 3.850 hearing for Paul Scott in 1986, and in an affidavit in 1990; from the statements of Paul Scott upon arrest in 1979 and at a clemency hearing in 1983; and from the opening and closing statements of the prosecutor in the trial of Paul Scott. The actions described in these statements were sequenced in order to compare the statements for congruence. The physical evidence was then evaluated with respect to the actions listed, particularly against the in congruent ones. This evaluation forms the basis for the conclusions below.

The crime scene drawing prepared for trial was examined against the investigative photographs and as far as possible against the investigative reports. The attached drawing adds a number of details and corrects a couple of errors. There is some uncertainty about the errors due to inadequate photographs and because the police, laboratory and court all used different numbering sequences. The apparent errors include: labeling #30 (penis swab) as being on the guest book (#69); placing the guest book (369) and its blood spot (350) on the dresser rather than the floor as in the photograph; a chair shown at the kitchen table is shown in photographs as in the middle of the kitchen floor with apparent blood on it; the three inch circle of blood on the floor in the doorway to the bath/bedroom area of the house was omitted.


The extensive physical evidence in this case appears quite useful for corroborating investigative information. Much of the inferences from the physical evidence however, were not correlated to the investigative information which led to some conclusions being presented at Paul Scott's trial which are probably erroneous. The investigative questions of importance in this case that physical evidence contributes to answering include: identifying the two assailants as being present in he house was by the straightforward use of fingerprints. The medical examiner's autopsy also identified the cause of death in a straight-forward manner even to a tentative description of the weapon as being object with a 135 degree angle.Interpreting the rest of the physical evidence was less straightforward and apparently receive less emphasis.

The most obvious and significant omission in the prosecution's case is the three-inch circle of heavy blood in the doorway by the TV. The omission is obvious as the circle was documented at the scene by photographs both with and without rulers. The omission is significant as the identification of the murder weapon is problematic.Mr. Kondian repeatedly admits hitting the victim with a champagne bottle while the prosecutor alleges that Mr. Scott killed the victim with a bear statue. The circle of blood is three inches in diameter which is consistent with a three-inch diameter champagne bottle. A three inch bottle, when striking a spherical object the size of a skull at an angle, can leave a defect with roughly a 135 degree angle. The quantity of blood that would have still been on an object in order to leave this amount on the floor two rooms away from the body is consistent with the amount expected to be on an object used to inflict multiple lows of the intensity inflicted on Mr. Alessi. Nothing else reported at the scene, including the bear statue, has anything approaching the quantity of blood that would be consistent with the murder weapon. Given the position of the bear statue in the crime scene, it is consistent with having fallen from the small white stand lying near the couch during the struggle. The evidence strongly implies the use of a bottle and excludes the bear statue.

A second inference concerning a probable weapon was ignored by the prosecutor in his closing argument. The glass paperweight was not only heavy enough to cause some of the head wounds of Mr. Alessi but was located an arm's length from the heaviest blood stain of Mr. Alessi on the dining room floor. This object also contained fingerprints in blood which show no attempt at being developed either by powder or by chemical enhancement. The handling of the paperweight since the crime however, has destroyed so much of the detail of the prints that an identification very probably could not be accomplished at this time. The glass paperweight was associated with Mr. Kondian by his blood being on it. This evidence is consistent with Mr. Scott's statement that Mr. Kondian struck the victim "in the head with a paperweight over and over."

A third inference from the physical evidence, ignored by the prosecutor, concerns the actions leading up to the assault. Mr. Kondian referred to Mr. Alessi as being "stark naked," being a "fag" and trying to "mount him on the couch in a sexual position." The "stark naked" condition of Mr. Alessi is certainly indicated by the lack of any bloody clothing at the scene and by no physical indication that his clothing was forcibly removed before or during the fight. Also indicated by this statement is the inference that Mr. Kondian was also at least partially unclothed at this time, as it would be somewhat futile for Mr. Alessi to attempt to sexually mount a clothed person.

The prosecutor made an inference in his closing argument that was not adequately documented and for which no evidence had been admitted. Examining the photographs himself, he opined that the assailant was left-handed because wounds are on the right side of the victim's head and the blood spatters are on the wall behind and to the left of the victim. Although this would be the case for a left-handed assailant using a fore-hand swing, a right-handed person using a back-hand swing would give a pattern indistinguishable to the layman. The variables due to the position of the assailant with respect to the victim and to the multiple positions that the victim's head could assume further complicate the examination. The prosecutor likewise asserted that Mr. Scott had not picked up a pencil since the testimony the wounds were on the right side of the victim's head and, based on that, insinuated that Mr. Scott was left handed. The insinuation is not only a non sequitur but appears to be unsubstantiated by any evidence.

The inference by the prosecutor that Mr. Alessi was the person thrown against the wall because of the 5 1/2 to 6 foot blood stain is flawed in two respects. First, the pattern of blood was inadequately interpreted. Testimony that the stain is 5 1/2 feet exaggerates the size as recorded in the photographs. The pattern of the blood itself may also be misleading. It shows some repetition which suggests the person was pushed against the wall more than once which makes the stain appear wider and suggests that the person had more blood in him than he actually did. The photographs do not adequately document the stain to determine whether the stained pattern contains fabric marks from clothing or not nor was the blood type of the blood determined. Second, the size of Mr. Alessi with respect to either Mr. Scott or Mr. Kondian would make it somewhat more likely that he threw one of them against the wall. This would of course have required that one of them have blood on him but the size of the stain does not exclude either of the defendants. Consequently, the evidence is as consistent with the statements by Mr. Scott and Mr. Kondian that is was Mr. Kondian who was thrown against the wall as it is with the inference by the prosecutor that Mr. Alessi was thrown against the wall.

The explanation of the prosecutor as to the ripped screen on the porch ignores a statement allegedly made by Mr. Scott to Inv. Collins and by Mr. Kondian at his guilty plea that they pushed out a porch screen when running from the scene. The explanation he presents in closing argument, that Mr. Alessi tried to get away from them and the screen was pushed out in the enduing struggle, further ignores the lack of evidence of a struggle on the back porch on which were a rug, chair, and plants all of which appear undisturbed in contrast to the disarray in the family room, foyer, dining room and living room.

The prosecutor also referred, in his closing argument, to blood staining as evidence of a chase around the dining room table. The evidence in the reports reviewed and introduced at the trial is insufficient to adequately document this assertion. The nature of the staining could give different interpretation.s

The victim was tied with a telephone cord and three electrical cords. The knife which apparently cut the cords, shows evidence of two different burn marks consistent with causing a short while cutting electrical cords. The descriptions of the ends of the electrical cords is not adequate to draw a firm conclusion, however, it would appear more likely that the person cutting the cords cut two live wires rather than cutting one twice.If the circuit breaker was working properly, it should have tripped with the first short and thus th3e second short would have had to be caused by cutting another cord on another circuit. Mr. Scott's fingerprints are on the blade along with other partial prints apparently insufficient for identification. The prints identified were made by the tips of Mr. Scott's fingers. The orientation of the prints are more consistent with them being made while picking the knife up or moving it than with holding it in a position for use. This evidence is consistent with Mr. Scott's statement that he cut the cords at Mr. Kondian's direction. An apparent lack of judgment is indicated by twice cutting off of the plug and then cutting the cord again further up, when he could have unplugged each cord and cut it only once as was done on one cord.. An even more dramatic lack of judgment is indicated by cutting an electrical cord without unplugging it causing a short which burned the knife, and then doing it again.

Blood found in the shower indicates that one of the assailants showered before leaving the house. Findings on this blood eliminated it as being from mr. Alessi but were insufficient to differentiate between Mr. Kondian and Mr. Scott. Mr. Kondian's left hand was severely cut and drops of his blood were identified on the foot of the bed and on the dresser in the master bedroom leading to the shower. The bed is on the left side of a person going to the shower and the dresser is on the left side of a person leaving the shower. These facts are consistent with Mr. Kondian taking a shower after the assault and support the statement of Bernadine Bernard that Mr. Kondian's hair was wet and his finger still bleeding when she came back to the hotel.

At the time of Mr. Scott's trial, the only statements to be corroborated were those of Mr. Kondian to the Rhode island police, Mr. Scott's statement to Invs. Collins and Savidge, and the statement of Vincent Soutullo. Some inferences were thus not apparent as they would now be with an additional three statement from Mr. Kondian and a clemency statement from Mr. Scott and a statement from Bernadine Bernard. Evaluating these statements is also difficult as the statements, even of the same person, often conflict. Physical evidence can assist in evaluating the truthfulness if the statements. many of the assertions made in the statement can be supported even if not proved, or else indicated to be unlikely or perhaps refuted.

Information available to me does not indicate where the fingerprints of Mr. Scott were found on the magazine on the coffee table in the living room. Their location may support Mr. Scott's clemency statement that he was reading the magazine while Mr. Kondian and Mr. Alessi were having sex. The semen on Mr. Alessi's penis certainly supports Mr. Scott's statement that Mr. Kondian and Mr. Alessi were having sex even though it does not prove it. It may also support Mr. Kondian's statement that Mr. Alessi was trying to rape him.

Since the toxicology report from Mr. Alessi does not contain an analysis for the presence of marijuana or PCP, I can not determine if it supports or refutes the assertions of both Mr. Kondian and Mr. Scott that the three were smoking the marijuana in a social situation. Not finding any residue of a "joint" tends to indicate otherwise while the presence of the tin of apparent marijuana on the floor tends to support the assertion. The presence of two glasses in the family room, one on the couch and one on the floor by the couch, support the assertion of a social situation.

Portions of Mr. Kondian's statements are consistent with (or at least not contradicted by) his other statements and with Mr. Scott's clemency statement and also are supported by the physical evidence. These portions include:

- The evening began with drinks.
- Mr. Scott was wandering around the house (reading a magazine?) while Mr. Kondian was in the family room with Mr. Alessi.
- A struggle between Mr. Kondian and Mr. Alessi ensued.
- Mr. Scott participated in the struggle.
- Mr. Scott hit Mr. Alessi with a vase that broke.
- A violent struggle took place.
- Mr. Kondian cut his finger in the struggle, possibly on the wire on a champagne bottle.
- Mr. Kondian hit his ring in the struggle.
- Mr. Kondian lost his ring in the struggle, possibly by catching it on the wire on a champagne bottle.
- Mr. Scott and Mr. Kondian picked up their girlfriends and drove to Orlando in Mr. Alessi's car.

Portions of Mr. Kondian's statements however, are contradicted by his other statements or by Mr. Scott's clemency statement. These portions include:

- whether Mr. Kondian had previously had sex with Mr. Alessi before that evening.
- whether Mr. Scott was using drugs earlier that evening.
- whether robbery was a motive.
- the persistence of Mr. Scott in the struggle.
- the condition of Mr. Alessi when they tied him up and when they left.
- that Mr. Kondian and Mr. Scott left together, and - who was driving when they left.

Of these contradictions in Mr. Kondian's statements, physical evidence indicates:
- that robbery was not the motive since there is no evidence that valuables were removed from the house nor even that the house was methodically searched as the blood drops alluded to by the prosecutor are in locations consistent Mr. Kondian going to the shower or with being left when the cords were cut;
-that Mr. Kondian and Mr. Scott did not leave together since the pushed out screen indicates an exit for one person and the use of the keys to drive the car indicates a second person would have more likely left the house but unlocking the front door if the house key was on the same key ring..

Portions of Mr. Kondian's statements are contradicted by the physical evidence including:
- whether Mr. Kondian had sex with Mr. Alessi before the struggle began since there are indication his clothes were off and Mr. Alessi had semen on his penis.
- that Mr. Kondian left without showering since he was known to be bleeding and there is no evidence that Mr. Scott was and the the blood found in the bedroom and bathroom were consistent with Mr. Kondian's blood.
- that at least one of them did not go back to the florist shop at some time after the assault since some items believed to be from the florist shop were later recovered from the girls accompanying the defendants.

Mr. Scott's statements upon arrest are very confusing since I am unable to determine with any certainty which person the indefinite pronoun "he" refers to in the description of the various actions.
Furthermore, there appear to be some conflicts between the two versions of his initial statement as reported by Mr. Collins and mr. Savidge. Depending on whether "he" refers to Mr. Scott or to Mr. Kondian in the different portions of the statement, the statement would support or contradict details that were consistent in the other statements of Mr. Kondian and Mr. Scott. Mr. Scott's clemency statement however, is consistent with Mr. Kondian's and with the physical evidence as indicated above. In addition, his statement contradicts Mr. Kondian's (or Mr. Kondian's is silent on the point) but is supported by the physical evidence in the following instances:

- Mr. Kondian hit Mr. Alessi with the paperweight,
- Mr. Scott hit Mr. Alessi with a chair,
- Mr. Scott cut the cords including the live wires.

The primary inconsistency in Mr. Scott's clemency statement is that robbery was the motive for going to Mr. Alessi's house for the reasons discussed above.

The crime scene evidence indicates a disorganized crime which is consistent with the statements of Mr. Scott and Mr. Kondian that there was no prearranged plan to kill Mr. Alessi. There is no evidence that they took a weapon or any means to control Mr. Alessi into the house although they knew that Mr. Alessi was a much larger man. On the contrary, the evidence indicates weapons of opportunity or even desperation -- a vase, a flower pot, a paperweight, a kitchen knife and a bottle -- and restraints of opportunity seized with undue haste -- a telephone cord and electrical cords. Mr. Kondian leaving his ring and watch at the scene is another indication of lack of the deliberation of an organized crime as alluded to by the prosecutor.


The most significant crime scene evidence not presented at Mr. Scott's trial was the evidence of a bloody circle on the floor consistent in diameter to a champagne bottle and consistent in quantity of blood to that expected to be present on an object used as the fatal weapon in this case. This evidence is consistent with the statements of both Mr. Scott and Mr. Kondian that Mr. Kondian struck the victim with a champagne bottle. The prosecutor's inference that the bear statue inflicted the fatal blow is unsubstantiated by the lack of blood on the statue. The only other item at the scene with the size, weight and strength to inflict the fatal crushing blows was the glass paperweight in the dining room but the blood on it was associated with Mr. Kondian.

The most significant, unsubstantiated crime scene that was presented at Mr. Scott's trial was the prosecutor's inference from his examination of crime scene photographs that the assailant was left handed. The complexities of the variable involved in this case are beyond the capabilities of the layman to evaluate, particularly from the photographs available in this case. The prosecutors's insinuation that Mr. Scott was left handed was also unsubstantiated by any evidence.

Submitted by:
H. Dale Nute
Forensic Science Consultant -