The heat between Jerry McDevitt and Mike Benoit has escalated in the past six months, ever since Benoit told Irv Muchnick that one of the reasons the McMahons lacked character and integrity was:
Having their lawyer attempt to get our lawyer to believe that Nancy killed Daniel and then Chris killed Nancy, suggesting it would be in both our best interests.
Jerry McDevitt also approached our lawyers and said, "You know, it's in our best interest to work together. We've got a pretty good idea of what happened here." So, they were trying to push the theory of Nancy killing Daniel, Chris coming back to the house, finding it and killing Nancy. That was in their best interest. It took them out of the loop completely. They were trying to influence the investigation in that way.
This led to Dave Meltzer finally reporting Benoit's claim, though inaccurately stating that he only alluded to it in his press conference when he actually out right said it and not making clear McDevitt made his indecent proposal to Mike through his lawyer Cary Ichter, in the November 3rd Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
Benoit did not bring this up in his speech, but what he was referring to and what he has noted in the past is that shortly after the incident where Chris killed Nancy and Daniel Benoit, that McDevitt proposed to him the idea of putting out a story that Nancy killed Daniel and then Chris killed Nancy. McDevitt, according to Benoit, said that this would make the family feel better and Benoit claimed McDevitt was surprised when he turned down the offer.
Cue a letter of complaint from McDevitt to Meltzer, which wasn't surprising given that Meltzer inaccurately reported Benoit's claims, and a partial retraction from Meltzer in the November 15th Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
In last week's issue, regarding the item that Jerry McDevitt spoke to Michael Benoit and said they should present a united front and say that Nancy killed Daniel and then Chris killed Nancy, was inaccurate and we wish to retract that. There was no conversation directly between Michael Benoit and Jerry McDevitt. All communications between the two were through Benoit's lawyers.
Here's snippets of McDevitt's reaction to Meltzer's reporting:
From front to rear, everything is a complete lie and total fabrication, and highly defamatory to my good name and reputation. I have never had any conversation with Michael Benoit in my life. Moreover, although I am familiar with some of Mr. Benoit's false statements, I have never read anywhere else where he claimed to have had such a conversation with me. ... In writing, we told them we would not pay them one penny because his son murdered his family and found the whole notion somewhat incredible. ... According to Irv Muchnick, Michael Benoit later claimed he didn't know his attorney had demanded millions, which I found rather doubtful, and that his attorney was an `asshole,' ... He has yet to explain why he had that same attorney enter into sealed agreements related to the Estate assets of Chris Benoit, why he played games in doing so with the order of death issues, or whether he received any money from the estate personally. ... On the official findings that Chris Benoit murdered Nancy first and then Daniel, all of the estate of Chris Benoit was to go to his two surviving children by his first marriage. Instead of seeing to that happening, he entered into a sealed settlement agreements and others to hide from public scrutiny who got what of the estate, and it did not all go to Chris’ surviving children.
Of course, Meltzer's partial retraction wasn't good enough for McDevitt or WWE, so Meltzer had a second nasty legal letter land on his door step, so he subsequently gave a more nuanced retraction in this week's Observer. Here's a summary of the latest state of play between Mike Benoit, Meltzer and McDevitt:
- McDevitt apparently provided Meltzer with all written correspondence that ever took place between McDevitt and Benoit's lawyer Cary Ichter, which led to Meltzer's more nuanced retraction that there was no written evidence to suggest that his original story in the November 3rd Observer was true.
- However, McDevitt did write the following to Ichter on September 25th, 2007: "As you know, although the District Attorney's hasty conclusions are now accepted fact due to extensive media repetition, the reality is that none of the evidence gathered at the scene has been made available for review by independent experts and interested parties to determine whether the initial investigation conclusions are even correct. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, questions began to surface as to whether the District Attorney's rushed statements regarding the order of death were even correct."
- Mike Benoit still insists that the suggestion to conspire to work together to muddy the waters over the order of death did happen, but verbally in a private meeting between Ichter and McDevitt in Atlanta. He also has a letter from Ichter to the Toffoloni family informing them that WWE would suggest that Nancy killed Daniel if they ever decided to sue WWE.
- Lots of confusing details were reported about Cary Ichter, unbeknownst to Benoit, attempting to procure for Mike Benoit's grandchildren a multimillion dollar settlement from WWE's Atlanta lawyer John Taylor, whilst Ichter was a member of Georgia's Athletic Commission and pushing them to regulate professional wrestling. The most interesting claim in these back and forth letters was Ichter suggesting on December 13th, 2007 that Taylor had only engaged him in a misleading discussion about a possible settlement in order to procure access to certain tissue samples (i.e. Chris Benoit's brain).
- In response to McDevitt's smear campaign in the November 15th Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Mike Benoit made clear that Ichter was Martina Benoit's choice to represent the estate, that he did not play games with the order of death as McDevitt suggested he did, that it was not his choice to seal the settlement agreement and that he did not profit at all from the estate. Benoit defiantly concluded that "I will not retract one word from my press conference in Hartford. As a matter of fact, I am sorry I missed several facts".