At her press conference on Tuesday, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk repeatedly asserted that Madison police and Dane County DA Brian Blanchard drew a line in the sand as to what details the county was able to release regarding the 911 call from murder victim Brittany Zimmermann.
Falk said the cops and Blanchard had agreed that the only details from a 40-page report on the matter prepared by 911 Center director Joe Norwick that could be released were those in a two-page fact sheet.
Asked whether she could prove that these entities had insisted on secrecy, Falk pointed to emails to the 911 center from Madison Police Capt. Carl Gloede. But the most recent of these was dated April 14, nearly three weeks before they were being used to justify Falk's reticence.
Falk said police officials and Blanchard had reaffirmed their desire for suppression of all other details at a meeting earlier that day (May 6). Isthmus followed up with an email to Blanchard, asking:
"Could you please tell me what restrictions exactly you asked County Exec Kathleen Falk to respect with regard to the release of information about Brittany Zimmermann's 911 call? It is at your insistence that basic information about the time and duration and content of the call is not being released? Have you asked the county not to reveal if it asked the dispatcher whether she hung up on Zimmermann or was hung up on, and what the dispatcher replied?"
In his reply to Isthmus, Blanchard denies he insisted on secrecy but confirms that the group as a whole agreed information on the timing, duration and content of the call should not be released. (A 911 Center union rep has since said that the call lasted about 90 seconds, the dispatcher asked three times "what's your emergency?" and the only sounds heard in response were some kind of movement.)
Blanchard also said the issue of how the call ended -- Norwick told reporters the dispatcher hung up; Falk said no one knew; and the dispatcher, through her union, says the call was terminated on the caller's end -- might be "the subject of an interview with a suspect or suspects in the killing or the subject of an interview/testimony by some third party to whom a suspect has or yet will make statements related to the homicide."
This raises the tantalizing prospect that the tape contains sounds that could be traced to Zimmermann's killer or killers.
Here is Blanchard's reply, in its entirety:
I sat in a room yesterday morning with representatives of the 911 Center, Madison Police, the Mayor's Office, and the County Executive. The group discussed in detail facts that we as a group thought might hurt an investigation or potential prosecution and what items did not appear to hold that risk. Nothing was done at my insistence, nor could it have been. I am not the records custodian of the records at issue, and I don't oversee any aspect of the 911 Center. It was a consultation. As I recall there was agreement, after discussion, on pretty much every point anyone raised.
There was agreement that timing, duration, and content of the call should not be released at this time. We did discuss facts related to the question of whether the communicator hung up to end the Zimmerman call and settled on the language in the release. I believe the manner in which the call was ended involves facts that might be the subject of an interview with a suspect or suspects in the killing or the subject of an interview/testimony by some third party to whom a suspect has or yet will make statements related to the homicide. We also discussed briefly what the communicator said during the Zimmerman call and settled on the language in the release.