Sloan Bashinsky Jr.
When someone consistently misstates facts, I figure one of two things is happening: (1) He is careless about gathering and stating facts; (2) He is intentionally trying to muddy the water on some issue.
I've read scores of lawyer-prepared documents over the past 12 years, so I am intimately acquainted with tactic No. 2. A lawyer spends three years of his life and tens of thousands of his dollars to receive formal education in tactic No. 2. In fact, I've come to realize that the presence of a law degree means that a person has an unusually high level of training in the art of deception--and it doesn't mean much else. It certainly does not mean the person has an enhanced interest in justice (snort).
Sloan Y. Bashinsky Jr. has made it a habit to misstate facts about my reporting on the death of his younger brother, Alabama attorney Major Bashinsky. Writing on a variety of blogs from his base in Key West, Florida, the elder Bashinsky has repeatedly stated that he supports the official finding of suicide in his brother's death. He even has provided a motive that apparently has escaped officials--that Major feared he was about to be outed as bisexual and was so traumatized that he took his own life.
This runs counter to my reporting, which has shown numerous reasons to doubt the suicide finding--and there is nothing wrong, of course, with Sloan Bashinsky taking issue with me. But in the process, he has consistently made misstatements about my reporting. I've written it off as falling under item No. 1; after all, Sloan is a guy who says he takes guidance from angels, his "board of directors," who speak to him in dreams.
I figured that Sloan was too busy communicating with celestial beings to get a full grasp on earthly matters, such as my blog posts. But I'm starting to wonder if something else is going on. After all, Sloan Bashinsky has a legal education, practiced law for 12 years in Birmingham, and has written several books on legal issues. If he wanted to muddy the water on a certain topic, he probably would be pretty good at it.
Why would Sloan want to obscure matters related to his brother's death? I don't know, but he resorted to deceptive tactics again in a post dated July 29, 2012, at his blog Good Morning Birmingham. These most recent false statements about my reporting are not new; he's made them a number of times. I haven't responded until now because, as noted above, I figured Sloan was distracted by conversations with angels--and that might account for his confusion. But on the chance that there is a purpose behind these "mistakes," I thought now might be a good time to clear the air.
First, Sloan's most recent piece is a response to my post of last Thursday titled "Brother Suggests He Knows Who Caused the Death of Alabama Lawyer Major Bashinsky." My post focused on a recent report from Sloan in which he went into details about his theory regarding the trauma that prompted Major's suicide. In fact, Sloan gave enough specifics that, in my mind, it strongly suggested he knew who had tormented his brother--and why. Most revealing were these words:
The person who was about to out Major had it in for him. Something very nasty had happened between them. It was very personal. And it was very real.
Those four sentences hint that Sloan knows of a specific person who had a specific beef with Major. I don't see any other way to read them. He even says it all was "very real." How can that be, unless Sloan knows of a "very real" person acting in "very real" ways?
But Sloan says in his post from yesterday that I had it all wrong. In fact, he calls my piece on the subject "bizarre" and sent a comment to my post, wondering how I got such an idea. I responded that it came from a serious reading of his own words. I added that perhaps I should not take a serious approach to reading his work in the future. (You can check out Sloan's comment and my response at this link.)
That's what made me decide it was time to address Sloan's misstatements about my reporting on his brother's death. (Speaking of bizarre, isn't it strange that I, who never met Major Bashinsky, have questioned the official findings and pushed for a legitimate investigation, while his brother has taken the stance of, "Move along, there's nothing to see here"?)
Let's consider three matters that Sloan consistently has gotten wrong about my work:
* Stippling Vs. A Contact Wound--This has become "old reliable" for Sloan; he uses it in just about every post on Major's death. In so doing, he always misstates what I have written on the subject.
Sloan has written that I claimed in one of my posts that Major did not die of a contact wound. In fact, Sloan went down this path again yesterday:
I sent a comment down to Legal Schnauzer. Don’t know it (sic) Shuler will publish it. He declined to publish my reply to one of his previous articles, in which he invented that the gunshot wound to Major’s left temple was not a contact wound: muzzle presed (sic) against skin when the gun (pistol) was fired. Shuler wrote that the gun was fired from a foot or so way, contrary to the coroner’s finding that it was a contact wound.
That, unfortunately, is not what I wrote on the post in question, which ran on July 20, 2011, and was titled "Suicide Finding in the Major Bashinsky Case Springs Major Leaks."
What did I actually say about the possibility of a contact wound? I said the report from the medical examiner (ME) contradicts itself on the subject, making it impossible to know what really happened--and indicating that investigators were sloppy in their work.
I explained that stippling, a pattern of abrasions around a contact wound, is a key factor in determining range of fire. I cited a scientific article titled "Practical Pathology of Gunshot Wounds" and quoted its finding that "the presence of stippling indicates that the muzzle of the gun was within 2 feet of the victim’s body when it was discharged."
I proceeded to quote from the ME's report on the wound in the Major Bashinsky case: "The gunshot wound does not have stippling."
Those are the ME's words, not mine. The words in the article are a pathologists's, not mine. Taken together, they mean the shot that killed Major Bashinsky was fired from more than two feet.
Sloan Bashinsky repeatedly has attributed this finding to me, when it is based on the clear words of scientists. Sloan also conveniently ignores what I went on to write in my post of July 20, 2011:
In the case summary of the Bashinsky autopsy, the report states "the decedent had a perforating contact gunshot wound of the head with resultant skull fractures and perforation of the brain as described."
Contrary to Sloan's statements, I quote the ME saying it was a "contact gunshot wound." In fact, Sloan probably knows about this reference to a contact wound only because I reported it. The problem, of course, is that this statement conflicts with the finding about the absence of stippling, which would mean it was not a contact wound.
Once and for all, let me be clear: I have never said that I know what kind of wound it was; obviously, I'm not trained in such matters. I've reported that the ME's report says in one place that it was a contact wound--while saying in another place that it was not. That is a fact. Did the author of the ME report know what he was doing? It doesn't look like it.
* The Death of Suzanne (Pilkerton) Bashinsky-Ash--Ms. Bashinsky-Ash was the stepsister of Major and Sloan Jr., and I reported on her death in a post dated September 20, 2010. Sloan has written several times that I had suggested foul play was involved in her death. As recently as yesterday, he wrote that I tried to make "something sinister" out of her death. Here is what I actually wrote on the subject:
Suzanne (Pilkerton) Bashinsky-Ash, age 57, died in mid June in Birmingham. She was Major Bashinsky's stepsister and the biological daughter of Joann Bashinsky, who was Sloan Bashinsky Sr.'s second wife and now is director of Golden Enterprises. . . . The only reporting on Suzanne Bashinsky-Ash's death has been a standard obituary, and we've seen nothing to indicate it was anything other than a natural death. But she was adopted by Sloan Bashinsky Sr., meaning two of his four children died between March and July of this year . . .
I stated that I saw nothing to indicate Ms. Bashinsky-Ash's passing "was anything other than a natural death." I stated that two of Sloan Bashinsky Sr.'s four children had died within roughly four months of each other--one at age 63 and one at 57. That's it. How is that "something sinister"? Beats me.
* The layout of the Highland Park Golf Course, where Major Bashinsky's body was found--Sloan has on a number of occasions cited the layout of the Highland Park Golf Course, and the adjoining neighborhood, to support his theory that it is an unlikely place for a murderer to dump a body. In fact, this might be the No. 1 reason Sloan has cited for his belief that Major walked into the pond and shot himself in the head, while tying himself up with rope and duct tape to make it look like murder.
Sloan undercuts himself, however, because his "facts" about the golf course layout are way off base. He admitted as much when I confronted him on this issue in an e-mail exchange back in March.
Sloan wrote to me after I had published a post about nationally known private investigator Paul Ciolino and his interest in Major Bashinsky's death. Ciolino had just appeared on a CBS News report about the death of boxer Arturo Gatti. Sloan wanted to get in contact with Ciolino, and in the course of the e-mail, wrote the following:
I remain convinced the crime scene was too improbable for murder site, or to dump a body in the middle of the hazard, after being hauled there from somewhere else and dragged from a vehicle over the low wall adjacent to the sidewalk, next to a busy road, across from a subdivision on a bluff. Then dragged up the incline, over a low chain link fence, across the cart path, into the hazard, and then pushed into the middle of it. I imagine the perp would have wanted to get caught, to choose that site for murder or body disposal.
I've been to Highland Park Golf Course many times, and I know how it, and the adjoining tennis center and neighborhood, are laid out. I could not let Sloan's misstatement pass and sent this response:
For what it's worth, your memories about the layout of the Highland Park Golf Course are off target. Anyone can pull a vehicle into the parking lot and then walk directly onto the hole that features the water hazard. I've done it myself. There is no wall or fence to cross, and it's maybe 250-300 yards from the lot to the water, downhill all the way.
It would be extremely easy to put a body (or any number of other objects) into a cart and roll it on the paved path down to the water. The parking lot is open 24/7, so it would be no problem to accomplish this task after dark.
This doesn't prove what happened, of course, one way or another. But I've read your comments before about this being an unlikely place to drop off a body because of the layout. In fact, it's a very convenient place to do such a thing. Couldn't be easier.
Here is Sloan's reply:
What I described, Roger, was the short way to get to the pond, perhaps 20 yards from just below the pond on Highland Avenue. What you describe is the long way, from the parking lot area up the hill, above the first T. Either way you slice it, lousy choice of site to kill someone, or dump a body. The back side of Lake Purdy, off Grant's Mill Road, much better site, for example. Many much better sites, thousands probably, than the golf course pond.
I wasn't going to let that slide either. My response:
What I describe is the easy way, and it would be easy, any way you slice it. It's a perfect place to kill someone, or dump a body, if you want the body to be found--to send a message.
Sloan said it would be "the easiest way to get caught." So I replied:
Easiest way to get caught? Are you serious? Your vehicle is in a parking lot, off the street and out of the way. If you do it in the middle of the night, the chances of getting caught are almost nil. You admit, in your previous e-mail, that your scenario involves a vehicle parked "on a busy street." Yours is the scenario that would be hard to pull off and easy to get caught. Anyone familiar with that golf course would know not to do it that way.
Did Sloan and Paul Ciolino ever wind up getting in touch with each other? I don't know. I sent an e-mail to Ciolino on April 2, asking if he and Sloan had been in touch. Ciolino had always responded to my e-mails, but he did not respond to that one, and I've heard nothing more about his interest in the Major Bashinsky case.
As for Sloan Bashinsky, his motives remain unknown to me. I have no prior experience in communicating with someone who talks to angels, so figuring out Sloan might be beyond my grasp.
I do get the impression that he would like to tie a nice bow on his brother's death and store it in a closet where no one will raise questions about it again. I also get the impression that he very much wants to discredit me, no matter how many misguided statements he has to make in the process.
That leaves me with this question: Why?