After former NFL quarterback Steve McNair was found shot to death alongside his mistress a year ago, authorities in Nashville quickly zeroed in on the 20-year-old woman, endorsing a murder-suicide theory.
The superstar athlete was 36 and had just retired after a storied career with the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens when he was killed on July 4, 2009. Although the case was closed, with Sahel Kazemi blamed for both deaths, a former Tennessee cop believes there was a cover-up, and wants the case reopened.
"There are too many coincidences in this case for it to be a murder-suicide," said Vincent Hill, a former Nashville police officer who expressed his doubts on NBC's "Dateline," wrote a book on the case and was subsequently contacted by the retired football great's family.
Among the circumstances prompting Hill to question the official line:
- McNair was shot in the temple, more consistent with an execution than a crime of passion.
- Kazemi allegedly bought the murder weapon days earlier from an ex-con, which Hill finds implausible because gun dealers typically won't sell weapons to people they don't know.
- McNair, who was an auxiliary cop in Mississippi, had a Glock in the condo where he was killed, which Hill believe indicates Kazemi had no need to buy a gun on the black market.
- McNair was known to carry large amounts of cash, but had just $7 on him.
Hill believes Nashville cops rushed to close the case in order to protect the reputation of former Police Chief Ronal Serpas, now the police chief in New Orleans.
"He's all about stats and numbers," Hill told The Baltimore Sun. "What would you rather sell: two unsolved murders, one of them being Steve McNair, or just put it on her, close the case and pacify the world?
Hill and Alvin Simpson, a psychology professor at Alcorn State University who knew McNair when he played there, plan to stage a mock trial, reviewing phone records, text messages and other evidence.
But authorities said the pair are wasting their time.
"Detectives with decades of cumulative homicide investigative experience worked hundreds of hours to develop the facts surrounding the circumstances of these deaths," current Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said. "Without any doubt, I remain confident in the murder-suicide conclusion."