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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oops, Typo: Cops Did *Not* Sit on Hugues de La Plaza Medical Report For Year and a Half

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 11:32 AM

click to enlarge Hugues de la Plaza
  • Hugues de la Plaza
With CBS' 48 Hours preparing to show its take on the beguiling Hugues de La Plaza case on Saturday, much has been made of an elusive medical report the show's producers managed to turn up. In it, former San Francisco Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Ferenc concludes, unambiguously, that dual French citizen de La Plaza was murdered. This contradicts current S.F. Medical Examiner Dr. Venus Azar's claim that the cause of death is indeterminable as well as the SFPD's theory that de La Plaza stabbed himself to death and, as he expired, somehow hid the knife in an impenetrable location.

Initial stories put the date of Ferenc's report at February of 2008 -- meaning the San Francisco Police Department ostensibly sat on it for the better part of 20 months before notifying de La Plaza's friends, family, and their lawyer, Bill Fazio, of the report's existence. Yet, it turns out, this isn't quite the case. Ferenc inadvertently wrote the wrong year on the report; that 2008 should have been a 2009. So the cops sat on the report for around seven months.

Not that Fazio isn't still peeved.

"I think February is a hell of a long time," he told SF Weekly. "February to September -- how long is that?"

It is unclear if the Los Angeles Police Department investigators who went over the evidence in this contentious case got the chance to peruse the report. And, to Fazio's knowledge, Ferenc and Azar have not yet met face to face to chat about it.

"I don't think Dr. Ferenc's report, after being requested by the police department, was given the importance it clearly had during the investigation," said Fazio. "Since they requested this from a well-known forensic pathologist they should have had their expert, Dr. Azar, sit down with Dr. Ferenc."

Fazio, who knows Ferenc from his days as an Assistant District Attorney and the doctor's previous job in San Francisco, noted the 2008 date listed in a prior SF Weekly article. When he called up Ferenc, the doctor realized he'd made a typo.

"There's no conspiracy here," said Fazio. "The report was clearly generated in 2009."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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