Livermore Police Department Officials Deny Media Reports



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The Livermore Police Department released a statement Tuesday denying earlier media reports that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been hindering the investigation of the murder of a lab employee.

The statement was released in response to news reports that the lab has not been cooperating with police in the investigation into the Oct. 20 murder of Lee Scott Hall, a lead designer for the National Ignition Facility.

The facility, which is under construction, is a laser complex designed to maintain the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapon's stockpile. Over the last year, the facility has been criticized as over budget and behind schedule on its construction. Additionally, some of the facility's critics have accused it of violating a nuclear test ban treaty.

Police said two of Hall's coworkers found him dead in his home after he failed to report for work. Hall had been badly beaten and then repeatedly stabbed with a long blade, according to police.

Following the incident, various media reports suggested that Hall's murder was in some way related to his alleged whistleblowing regarding a design flaw in the facility's laser. The reports also alleged the lab withheld evidence from the police in an effort to cover up a conspiracy to prevent Hall from exposing problems at the lab.

But lab spokesperson Susan Houghton said yesterday that Hall did not intend to expose a major flaw in the project.

"Mr. Hall was not a whistleblower," she said. "(This murder) has nothing to do with his work on the NIF. While he was a well-liked employee, the work he was doing on the NIF was in no way a major problem."

Houghton added the murder may have nothing to do with the lab.

"The fact that he happened to work at that lab was coincidental," she said. "This has nothing to do with the Lawrence Livermore lab."

Livermore police Chief Ron Scott said the lab has been highly cooperative during the investigation.

"The lab has a good relationship with the police department," he said. "The information about that is totally inaccurate."

Because the investigation is ongoing, Scott said he could not comment on the particulars of the case. He did say the police have evidence in their possession that could be helpful.

"The forensic evidence is being looked at," he said. "That's taking a little while. There are other pieces of information we still have yet to get. They soon will come into our possession."

Jon Krauss

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