Some queer consequences seem to flow from both the original investigation and the re-examination by Todd Bluff and Suzannah Fedorowicz.
One, Rebecca’s cause of death was internal bleeding from excessive bruising, yet the autopsy showed there were no significant cuts on her body (except for a small cut on the back of her head and scratches), no bone fractures, and only two bruises—one on her head—were described as swollen in the autopsy. The other swelling was in her genital area. Rebecca’s “labia majora at the mons pubis [was] visibly expanded by hemorrhage,” or swollen, but no other parts of her external genitals showed signs of any bruising or injury and “the hymen [appeared] to be intact.” But the tissues of the “vestibule, external to the hymen, [were] bright purple and [bruised].” Despite that, multiple doctors said the evidence of a trauma in her genitals was inconclusive.
Even Stott, in his opening statement, admitted to the jury that it was “remarkable” that Rebecca didn’t have any broken bones. Blow after blow, strike after strike, Rebecca was—in theory—struck hard enough to bruise numerous times, covering 65 percent of her body, prosecutors claimed, but not once was a blow strong enough to cause swelling, much less seriously cut her skin or fracture a bone.
Click here to read the Re-Examination Files
authored by Todd Bluff and Suzannah Fedorowicz
On the other hand, Todd and Suzannah’s re-examination has its own mystery. The follow-up investigation accuses officials and the defense attorneys of a total of 258 crimes, mostly perjury, that caused what they say are false convictions. In the investigation, as well as in interviews, Todd and Ferosa Bluff accuse Athay and Brass of neglecting the clients’ prescribed trial strategy, which they say was to argue that no crime had been committed at all (Brass argued in the opening statement that Rebecca had indeed been murdered, but said prosecutors had not proven she was murdered by Ferosa Bluff and Andrew Fedorowicz). Summed up by Andrew Fedorowicz, that strategy is “no crime, no criminals.”
But that raises the question: Why didn’t the defense present a medical expert at trial who could discuss the blood-disorder theory? Stott, not unsurprisingly, speculates the defense simply couldn’t find an expert who disagreed with the prosecutions’ experts. “Believe me, if they could, they would have,” Stott said, explaining that Brass and Athay are among the most prominent and experienced defense attorneys in the state. Athay did not return multiple calls requesting comment. Brass cited attorney-client confidentiality as his reason for not commenting for this story. (ed. note: the following sentence is an update of the original publication) During the prison interview, Ferosa Bluff was asked to write and sign a note freeing Brass from is professional duty to secrecy, but she refused without explanation.
The Bluffs blame the defense attorneys for not hiring a medical expert. Also, when asked why she and Andrew did not testify at trial, Ferosa Bluff again blames the defense attorneys, saying she thought she was going to testify. But if they were angry about their defense attorneys’ performance during trial, their actions didn’t show it. They rehired the same men to handle their appeals—and paid them additional fees to do so, Ferosa Bluff says. She can’t remember, however, any confrontation she had over the defense strategies.
The Bluffs say they were in the back seat and rehired the same attorneys out of naiveté and trust in their grand reputations. Ferosa seemed to be in the driver’s seat, however, just months earlier, when she fired her initial attorney, McCaughey, over a dispute regarding trial strategy. McCaughey wanted Andrew and Ferosa to have separate trials, but they refused and he was fired. Ferosa accuses Brass of also diverting from her trial strategy, but can’t explain why she rehired him for the appeals shortly after that disappointment. The Bluffs also blame those defense attorneys for again drifting from their belief that Rebecca simply wasn’t murdered. Without her input or authorization, Ferosa claims, Brass blamed Andrew Fedorowicz for Rebecca’s death in her appeal. She says now that she personally has always maintained that both are innocent.
In self-penned lawsuits, the Bluffs and Fedorowiczes sued the defense attorneys in federal court in 2009, but the suits were quickly dismissed.
Andrew Fedorowicz could not be interviewed because he refused to sign a Utah Department of Corrections media release form that indemnifies the department against any harm that comes to an inmate as a result of participating in a news media interview.
But Todd and Suzannah’s re-examination is successful at raising questions about the blood-disease theory by matching virtually every injury captured in photos to a noncriminal explanation. While one doctor testified at trial that he sees children diagnosed with ITP every month, none of the doctors were asked if they ever examined a patient who died from the disease, a rare but documented occurrence, or what symptoms they believe such a patient would exhibit. Moreover, it’s not clear that anyone with medical expertise has ever compared the autopsy and pictures to descriptions of ITP and weighed whether there is any reasonable chance that a blood disease could explain it all.
After their parole hearings in October, in which were told that maintaining their innocence would count against them, they both did so anyway. Andrew was issued a natural-life sentence by the Board of Pardons and Parole. Ferosa Bluff will be reconsidered for appeal no sooner than 2023.
Several naysayers of Todd and Suzannah’s investigation have dismissed it outright. Parole Board hearing officer Micklos called the reports biased. Jentzsch calls them desperate. Innocent convicts deserve a new trial, Jentzsch said, “But there’s no new evidence, that’s the problem. They’re just allegations. ... The case was solid and all the information was there.”
Todd Bluff is compelled to continue the fight for Ferosa and Andrew’s release for several reasons: His younger daughter who he had with Ferosa has not seen her biological mother since she was 2 years old, not even in prison visits, which are forbidden by the court. He says his faith in the justice system has evaporated and he wants to raise the issue of false convictions in the U.S. justice system.
Also, he feels that clues and documents he’s never seen have trickled out of the justice system slowly over the past decades. For example, testing of the sex toys for human tissues and possible DNA was barely mentioned at the trial—the only comment was Brass ambiguously stating they were “negative.” He believes that Ferosa or Andrew’s packets of information from the parole board may contain documents related to this testing that he’s never reviewed.
He hopes that one day he’ll receive a document he’s never seen before that shatters the prosecution’s theory of the case, or perhaps a chorus of experts might review the case and agree that his friends are innocent. Under Utah’s Post-Conviction Remedies Act, a convict who is factually innocent of all charges may receive a new trial at any time if new evidence is discovered.
The last reason he has for his crusade is Rebecca.
“One day, I’ll be face to face again with her; I believe that,” Todd Bluff says. “Her name was used to do this ... and I can’t abide by that.”
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