- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) — On a scenic hillside near San Francisco, criminal defense lawyer Daniel Horowitz and his wife were building their dream home on a site swarming with contractors.

It was there that Mr. Horowitz found his wife slain Saturday night.

Authorities have yet to disclose a motive in Pamela Vitale’s slaying and refused yesterday to say what direction the investigation had taken. But one of Mr. Horowitz’s colleagues said the killing appeared to have nothing to do with any legal clients, who included drug dealers, murderers and other hardened criminals.

Neighbors told the San Francisco Chronicle that the property was so busy with contractors that the couple left a note explaining how to use the coded keypad to open their security gate. Court documents indicate that they also had feuded bitterly with a neighbor over his attack dog and his reputed drug use.

Lawyer and longtime friend Ivan Golde said yesterday that police were closer to solving the case, but authorities said those remarks were premature.

“There is a potential suspect, but it’s not a former client,” Mr. Golde said outside the courtroom where he and Mr. Horowitz were defending a woman in a closely watched murder case.

A judge declared a mistrial in the case yesterday because of the press coverage of Mrs. Vitale’s slaying.

As construction on their home progressed, the couple feuded with Joseph Lynch. Mr. Lynch had sold Mr. Horowitz and his wife an adjoining 4-acre lot where he had a deal to live for 10 more years in a camper.

Mr. Horowitz sought a restraining order against Mr. Lynch in June, but it was not granted. In a court filing, Mr. Horowitz accused Mr. Lynch of “creating misery at Hunsaker Canyon Road,” and said he was “using methamphetamine and drinking heavily and during these periods he is delusional, threatening, violent and dangerous.”

“He has become almost evil,” the lawyer wrote.

Mr. Lynch, 54, said he often had an amicable relationship with the couple but also acknowledged to the Associated Press that there had been friction over the years.

Mr. Lynch said the request for the restraining order probably stemmed from “when I was driving through their property trying to get to the back ranch. I was speeding. I’m kind of a reckless driver.”

Mr. Lynch said his attack dog once lunged at Mr. Horowitz. Police were called, and Mr. Lynch said he got rid of the dog.

Mr. Horowitz’s attorney, Robert Massi, said his client is not a suspect and that he has an alibi for the hours before his wife was found. Mr. Horowitz had breakfast Saturday with Mr. Massi and then spent the afternoon working with colleagues on his latest murder case before returning home and finding his wife about 6 p.m., Mr. Massi said.

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