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Jun 28 2010

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Slaying of Yale's Annie Le subject of new book; possible motives examined

By Randall Beach, New Haven Register

Raymond Clark III is not even close to facing a jury for murder and felony murder charges in the slaying of Yale graduate student Annie Le, but already a book is about to be released containing theories as to why he allegedly might have killed her.

The scenarios, based on speculation by experts and those who know Clark, are included in Stella Sands’ book, “Murder at Yale: The True Story of a Beautiful Grad Student and a Cold-Blooded Crime.” It will be published this week; the New Haven Register obtained an advance copy.

The theories, outlined in a 12-page section of the book, have been introduced in previous media stories: It was a case of workplace violence at the Yale animal research lab where Clark and Le came into contact and he grew enraged that she ignored cleanliness rules; Clark was furious that Le was about to be married and had rejected his advances; it was a “racially-motivated hate killing”; Clark might have been taking steroids and exploded in a fit of “‘roid rage”; he suffers from Intermittent Explosive Disorder and flew into an angry tantrum; or he was jealous of Le for being on a successful career path while he was a lab technician cleaning mouse cages.

ARCHIVE: THE ANNIE LE CASE
Le, 24, who was conducting research at a Yale lab building on Amistad Street, disappeared Sept. 8. Her body was found behind a wall in the building five days later, on what was supposed to be her wedding day. Clark, then also 24, was arrested Sept. 17 after police said lab tests of his DNA linked him to the crime scene.

The 247-page paperback is the latest entry of the “St. Martin’s True Crime Library” by St. Martin’s Press. The same publisher issued Brian McDonald’s “In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood.” It was based on McDonald’s interviews with Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of the two men charged with the Cheshire triple homicide in 2007. Those two cases have not gone to trial either.

Although the cover of Sands’ book has a photo of a stunned-looking Clark during his arraignment in Superior Court and the teaser line, “She had a bright future; he had a dark past,” Sands said she has been careful not to “convict” Clark.

Asked about the front cover language and a line on the book’s back cover that Clark “had a secret dark side that was about to come to light,” Sands said, “That’s not under my control. That’s promotional. It may or may not be true.”

“I’m not a jury,” she said. “I cannot say that he’s guilty. I can only state the facts, do my research and present it. I cannot convict him — then I’m doing something terrible, then I’m prejudicing him.”

Public defender Joseph E. Lopez, one of Clark’s two attorneys, said he has not seen the book but is aware of it. “She never called us,” he said of Sands.

When asked about this, Sands said she didn’t call Lopez or Clark’s co-counsel, Beth A. Merkin, because Sands didn’t think they would talk to her before a trial.

Lopez called the “dark past” line on the book’s cover “ridiculous” and “sensational.” He said he is familiar with Sands’ other books, including “Behind the Mask” and “Baby-Faced Butchers,” which he said are of the “sensational crime genre.”

“My guess is people will read this book and have no further idea what really happened,” he added.

Merkin alluded to the book’s imminent release when members of Clark’s family recently broke their silence about the case. Raymond Clark Jr. described his son as “loving, caring, kind-hearted.” He said this was “unlike the picture that has been painted of him.”

“They do know the book is coming,” Lopez said. “That may have been some motivating factor, subconsciously” in speaking out.

Sands said she tried to interview Clark and his family for her book, but received no response.

But she did interview several people who grew up with Clark. “To a person, they said he was lovely.”

Sands was rebuffed in her attempt to speak with Jessica Del Rocco, Clark’s high school girlfriend in Branford. However, Sands quotes Del Rocco’s reported statements that Clark was angry and controlling and forced her to have sex with him. She filed a police report but decided not to press charges.

Sands asked two prominent local attorneys, Hugh Keefe and Glenn Conway, who are not involved with the Clark case, to discuss its legal issues for her book.

Conway agreed with Sands’ request to imagine a possible sequence of events, based on available forensic evidence. He speculated about a “violent altercation” between Clark and Le over work rules or sexual advances. Conway said Clark might have then hit her, panicked and tried to hide her body.

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