He and others say that cold cases solved in recent years are typically reopened because of DNA or other hard, forensic evidence – not a change in testimony.
“It’s too easy for attorneys to undermine the credibility of a witness that has changed his testimony after such a long time,” says Laurie Levenson, professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “Memory doesn’t typically get better over time, and it’s too easy to sabotage credibility by simply asking, ‘Why did you not come forward before?’ or ‘What is your motivation for coming forward now?’ ”
Wood was found drowned near Santa Catalina Island off the southern California coast in 1981. That night, she was with Mr. Wagner and Christopher Walken, who all shared drinks onshore and then continued drinking aboard the boat, where Wagner and Mr. Walken began arguing. Wood went to bed during the argument, and when Wagner came down to say goodnight, she was gone, according to previous accounts.
Speculation was that she accidentally slipped and fell overboard. But Mr. Davern's new comments support speculation that Wood and Wagner were involved in a lover's quarrel about Walken before the accident.