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San Diego sheriff blasts 'Dr. Phil' shows about Coronado death as 'sensationalism'

November 15, 2011 |  8:25 pm

Rebecca1San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore was not impressed with the two-part "Dr. Phil'' show that examined the death of Rebecca Zahau, including an autopsy by a well-known pathologist that found supposedly troubling facts overlooked by the county medical examiner.

"This is nothing more than sensationalism at its lowest point and the family is only enduring more suffering from this insensitivity," Gore said in a statement hours after the second part of the show was broadcast Tuesday on the CBS affiliate in San Diego.

Gore said nothing mentioned in the show has convinced him to reopen the investigation into Zahau's death or to doubt the findings of his detectives, the medical examiner and the Coronado police that Zahau, 32, committed suicide.

"The case remains concluded," Gore said.  The show, spread over two days, "altered and misrepresented facts, as well as omitted pertinent facts altogether," he added.

In his statement, Gore also sought to discredit comments made by a lawyer representing Zahau's family, a private investigator and pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht about supposed overlooked evidence involving DNA and use of a computer after Zahau's death. He noted that none of the guests on the show had contacted the Sheriff's Department with evidence.

The Zahau family reached out to the "Dr. Phil" show because it hoped a further investigation would prove that Rebecca Zahau was murdered. Wecht, known for his involvement in high-profile cases, said that although he thinks it's possible she was killed, he cannot make a final conclusion.

Gore criticized Wecht for not contacting the Sheriff's Department or medical examiner with an offer for county personnel to attend the autopsy, "as is normal protocol" among pathologists.

Zahau was found nude and hanging from the balcony of her boyfriend's Coronado mansion July 13.

Gore had declined an invitation to appear on the show but did speak, off camera, with the show's host, Phil McGraw, while the heavily promoted show was being prepared. In his statement, Gore referred to McGraw as an "entertainment psychologist."

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Rebecca Zahau. Credit: Associated Press