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Questions remain in Ronni Chasen slaying; police investigation continues

December 9, 2010 |  7:51 am


Despite a major break in the slaying of Ronni Chasen slaying investigation, questions remain about exactly what happened, and Beverly Hills police said the investigation is continuing.

Authorities said they believe a Hollywood man shot Chasen during botched robbery and that he acted alone.

One thing is clear: preliminary ballistics tests showed the handgun that Harold Martin Smith used to shoot himself in the head in the lobby of a Hollywood apartment building was the same weapon that killed Chasen on Nov. 16 as she drove her Mercedes-Benz sedan along Sunset Boulevard after a film premiere.

But police have not released details of any other evidence in the case, and detectives said their probe of the case is 60-70% complete. It's unclear if there was any other physical evidence found at the scene that connects Smith to the crime.

Police were seeking videotapes from both public and private cameras along Sunset. It's not known if any of that footage showed Smith.

Although police said Chasen appeared to be the victim of a random robbery, officials have not said whether any of Chasen's property was found in Smith's possession.

And police said they are convinced that Chasen was not the victim of a professional hit. Detectives, however, have not said what convinced them that Smith was acting alone.

Smith, a 43-year-old unemployed laborer with a rap sheet stretching back to the early 1990s, committed suicide last week as detectives attempted to question him about Chasen's killing.

Snowden said preliminary ballistics tests showed the handgun that Smith used to shoot himself in the head in the lobby of a Hollywood apartment building was the same weapon that killed Chasen.

Smith, who had been evicted from the Harvey Apartments and was wanted by authorities for violating his probation, "was at a desperate point and was reaching out and doing desperate measures," Det. Sgt. Michael Publicker said.

"Most likely it was a robbery gone bad," he said.

Investigators believe Chasen was stopped at a traffic light at Sunset and Whittier Drive when Smith approached on a bike — his only known mode of transportation — and attempted to rob her, Publicker said.

Chasen was shot repeatedly in the torso. Her car continued traveling on Whittier until it crashed into a light pole.

Chasen's purse was in the car when neighbors found her, and Publicker said there was no indication that Smith ever entered the car. Police recovered a bike in the area, but Beverly Hills police have not yet examined it, Publicker said.


Ronni Chasen shot in botched robbery; gunman acted alone

Ronni Chasen slaying does not appear to be a professional hit

Tipster who linked suspect to Ronni Chasen slaying vindicated by ballistics match

-- Andrew Blankstein