EXCLUSIVE: Key witness in death investigation of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi speaks to I-Team

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Monday, February 25, 2019
Key witness in Adachi death investigation speaks to I-Team
A key witness to the case spoke to ABC7 I-Team's Dan Noyes, telling him details about her conversation with Caterina, a witness to Jeff Adachi's final hours who disappeared before police could question her.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The ABC7 I-Team interviewed a San Francisco realtor, Susie Kurtz, who is a key witness in the Jeff Adachi investigation.

EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Adachi tried to fire medical examiner heading his death investigation

She told Dan Noyes, "He's been a big part of my life I would say for the last few years." When Noyes asked, "And platonic?" Kurtz answered, "Absolutely platonic."

Kurtz told police and the I-Team that she gave keys to the Telegraph Place apartment to Adachi, who was excited about his friend, Caterina, coming from out of town. Kurtz says Caterina told her Adachi complained about stomach pains at a nearby restaurant, they took an Uber to the apartment, and he then became unresponsive. After Caterina called 911 on Adachi's cell phone, she called Kurtz: "Well, she was hysterical and she said, Susie, Susie, Susie, something is wrong with Jeff, please come. I don't know what to do."

The police report obtained by the I-Team says medical personnel left Caterina in the apartment. She was all alone in what police later considered to be a possible crime scene. Police sources tell me officers are now upset they were dispatched three hours after the 911 call. By then, Caterina was gone. She has not been questioned by police about what happened that night.

VIDEO: ABC7 obtains SFPD report on Jeff Adachi death

Adachi Investigation

Acting San Francisco Public Defender Matt Gonzalez tells Dan Noyes that Jeff Adachi sought medical treatment during the last trial he would ever work. The San Francisco public defender represented tenant rights attorney Carlos Argueta. On Dec. 18, a jury found Argueta not guilty of second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter for a fatal stabbing South of Market in 2015.

Gonzalez tells Noyes that Adachi had "a persistent cough" during the trial and that Adachi saw his primary care physician, who referred him to a specialist. That second doctor performed a battery of tests. It is unclear at this point what type of specialist Adachi saw and what those test results showed.

When Adachi passed away Friday evening, reports circulated that he had suffered an apparent heart attack, but the San Francisco Police Department provided a statement to the I-Team saying the cause of death is yet to be determined and that there are "no signs of foul play".

The I-Team has learned an autopsy is being performed Sunday.

In the police report obtained by the I-Team, officers responding to the scene had suspicions about the handling of the case. Here's the timeline:

5:41 p.m.: Female named "Caterina" calls 911 using Adachi's cellphone

5:51 p.m.: Paramedics arrive and begin performing CPR

6:29 p.m.: King American ambulance #11 departs with Adachi

6:39 p.m.: Ambulance arrives at CPMC

6:54 p.m.: Time of death, as pronounced by Dr. Chandra

But, for some reason yet to be explained, police were not called to the scene until 8:37 p.m., nearly three hours after that 911 call first came in. And as officers were en route, dispatch canceled the call. Officer Adrian Payne wrote in the incident report, "Based on the suspicious nature of the call, I phoned the medical examiner." Director of Operations for the Medical Examiner's Office Christopher Wirowek told Payne, "He did not have reason to believe 46 Telegraph Place contained a crime scene but the death was still under investigation."

Based on that phone call, officers rushed to the location, "to locate a possible crime scene".

After police arrived, Wirowek brought witness Susie Kurtz, a San Francisco realtor, who explained she provided keys to the apartment upon Jeff Adachi's request.

As the I-Team reported Saturday night, Kurtz explained to police the woman identified only as "Caterina" told her that Adachi and Caterina were out to dinner when the public defender complained of stomach pain. They took an Uber back to the apartment and Adachi became unresponsive. In addition to calling 911, "Caterina" called Kurtz who told police that "Caterina sounded hysterical and told her something was wrong with Jeff."

Kurtz told police that "Caterina was left alone in the apartment after she and all other medical personnel had gone". So, Caterina had sole access to what police considered to be a possible crime scene for approximately two hours before police arrived.

By that point, she was gone and police sources tell Noyes they have been unable to locate her.

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