"The court finds that Mr. Paulle has played fast and loose with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles district attorney's office and Scotland Yard in the continuing investigation of this case. . . . The court finds Mr. Paulle is and has been very sly. He's clever. He's manipulative. He is deceptive, and he is mendacious and an extremely weak individual. . . . He . . . has lied from the outset and he continues to do so."
Felt He Had Larger Role
Brown, who has since been elevated to the Superior Court, explained in a recent interview that she believed that Paulle had a larger role in the murders than he admitted.
But she said that, under the law, she had no choice but to let him go when then-Deputy Dist. Atty. Coen acknowledged that the only substantial evidence against Paulle came from Paulle's mouth.
Coen said recently that he disagreed with Brown's interpretation of the law, but conceded: "Perhaps I should have given him conditional use immunity (in the letter). Added a couple of more words on there. That would have sewn it up."
The district attorney's office immediately appealed Brown's ruling, but lost in Superior Court and at the Court of Appeal.
The appellate panel declared that the district attorney's letter had provided Paulle with unconditional use immunity. "Although they could have included truthfulness as a condition of use immunity, they did not do so," the court said.
The appellate court further said that Paulle's statements were not freely and voluntarily made.
The court viewed Paulle "as a confused lay person without counsel trying to cope in a trying and complex situation."
The appellate court said Paulle had twice indicated a desire to speak with a lawyer and that, at that point, interrogation should have stopped.
In a unanimous opinion, the court said authorities gave Paulle "inconsistent signals" about his immunity deal. They told him he had immunity, but kept advising him that anything he said could be used against him in court. They told him he would lose his immunity if he lied. But they also told him he could go home if he admitted he was lying and told the truth. The court said this "implied promise" that Paulle could go home if he told investigators what they wanted to hear amounted to compelling him to answer questions.
In 1986, the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting the Court of Appeal decision stand.
At some point in the appeals process, most of the case file was unsealed, although transcripts and tape-recordings of Paulle's statements to police remain sealed by court order.
Paulle, who has returned to England, cannot be charged unless entirely new evidence is discovered that does not derive from his own statements.
Nor can he be compelled to testify against Rader.
But authorities said they are not at a standstill.
They said they are still pursuing leads.
"We're still looking for the bodies," prosecutor Felker said recently.
There is no rush, he said. "We don't want to prosecute this man (Rader) or anyone else and find out a few years down the road that we could have done a better job if we had waited."