John Suthers not only one to blame for botching serial killer Scott Kimball's case, author says
Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett's campaign against John Suthers for Colorado Attorney General is running ads arguing that Suthers let serial killer Scott Kimball remain free as an informant, while Garnett put him behind bars. Texas-based author Ed Coet, who's written a book inspired by Kimball, his second cousin, doesn't dispute that -- but he believes Garnett should be pointing the finger at others, too, including staffers at the Boulder District Attorney's Office.
Coet's book, SLK -- Serial Killer, to be released by PublishAmerica in November, is a novel inspired by Kimball -- and he insists that it's no apologia. "It's not sympathetic toward Scott Kimball in any way, shape or form. He's a ruthless, evil serial murderer."
Nonetheless, Coet got to see another side of Kimball. "His mother, Barb, is my first cousin, but she's more like a sister to me than a cousin -- and when Scott was young, I was more like an uncle to him. But I mostly knew him as a kid. When I went away to the military" -- he served twenty years in the Army, many of them as a counter-intelligence officer -- "I would only see him at family gatherings when I came home on leave. But I didn't know anything about Scott's long criminal history at all, until he ended up in the news for being investigated as a serial murderer. My brother called me from Colorado to let me know, and I called Barb. She told me she was keeping it secret because she was so embarrassed."
To take readers inside Kimball's mind, Coet says he did a great deal of research into his activities, including events that went beyond the killings of which he's been convicted. He points to the book's eleventh chapter, entitled "Unthinkable," which "relates to Scott's attempt to kill his own son, and also to take a contract out on his own mother."
During the 2004 incident, Coet says, "Scott basically pushed a steel grate on his son, causing him severe brain damage, and then put him in a Jeep ostensibly to take him to the hospital -- but he then pushed his son out of the moving Jeep."
Kimball's son survived this ordeal, despite an extended stretch in a coma, and Coet says an assortment of local law enforcement agencies, including the Louisville Police Department and the Adam's County Sheriff's Office, opened an investigation. "They were going to bring Scott up on charges of attempted murder, but the surgeon who worked on Scott's son, who I identify by a pseudonym, thought he wouldn't make a good witness because of extensive brain damage.
"Well," he adds, "they made a mistake."
According to Coet, Kimball's son, who's now seventeen, remembered the entire incident vividly, and continues to do so to this day. Had law enforcement pursued Kimball then, Coet believes, he could have been put behind bars many years before he was finally convicted, in 2009. He cites a January 2007 meeting at which he says a number of representatives from local agencies, including Katharina Booth of the Boulder DA's office, were present. Eventually, though, prosecutors decided not to pursue the case against Kimball.
In the Boulder Daily Camera's sweeping report about Kimball, published earlier this year, Booth said she believed Kimball's son. Nonetheless, Coet feels the Boulder DA's office should have pushed harder to find another medical expert to examine the boy and determine that his testimony would have been reliable. Instead, much more time would pass before Garnett, who came to the office in 2009, would be able to nail Kimball.
"Stan Garnett is putting out a lot of ads, saying John Suthers was responsible for Scott because he signed the paperwork making him an FBI informant," Coet says. "And I don't dispute that he had some responsibility. But what needs to also be understood is that had the Boulder District Attorney's Office followed up, they probably would have been able to put Scott in prison at that time."
What's Garnett have to say about that?
"I'm criticizing John for what happened with Kimball because it fit an ongoing pattern of bad management in the U.S. Attorney's Office from December of 2002 until January of 2005, when John was appointed attorney general," Garnett says. "I believe he was a poor manager and was out of touch with what was going on in his office, and nothing illustrates this more dramatically, and more tragically, than the Kimball case.
"Nobody was paying attention, nobody was tracking what was happening with Kimball. John said to the Post, 'It's a shame that this didn't reach the upper reaches of the U.S. Attorney's office.' But it's not that big an office."
What about the failure to file against Kimball in the matter involving his son?
"That's an interesting issue," he says. "It was reviewed by both the Boulder and the Adam's County DAs, because the alleged crime happened in both jurisdictions -- and both of them made the decision that the case couldn't be prosecuted, based on the evidence available at the time. Certainly, somebody could have developed different evidence, but they didn't. And when we sat down to prosecute Kimball for murder cases in January 2009, the focus was on these other cases, not on the situation involving his son. But as very well documented by the Daily Camera, that case brought Kimball to the attention of my office -- particularly my deputy, Katharina Booth."
As Garnett acknowledges, "There have been a lot of arguments that different people at different times should have caught Kimball earlier. But I've focused on the role of the U.S. Attorney's office, because it's such an illustration of poor management -- and that's the issue between me and John."
This explanation doesn't satisfy Coet, who sees scapegoating Suthers as overly simplistic. "There's plenty of blame to go around," he says. "That's one of the things my book talks about -- the long history of failure by law enforcement in terms of letting Scott off the hook, so he could offend and offend and offend again, until he eventually offended as a serial killer."
Page down to see an extended Garnett spot about Kimball and Suthers:
More on Stan Garnett and John Suthers from our Marijuana archives: "Stan Garnett urges John Suthers to help MMJ grower Chris Bartkowicz: That's likely!"