MARTINEZ, Calif. – Despite fearing for their safety, criminal defense lawyer Daniel Horowitz (search) and his wife allowed easy access to the sprawling hillside compound they were building — even posting a note on the gate that explained how to open it.
The number of people with access to the property — where contractors, neighbors and others came and went — could complicate the investigation into the killing of Pamela Vitale (search), whose body was found by Horowitz in their home's entryway over the weekend. An autopsy revealed Vitale, 52, was beaten to death.
MSNBC said Horowitz told its legal reporter that his wife had a head wound and defensive wounds on her hands and other parts of her body.
"She fought like hell," Horowitz said in an interview published Tuesday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Authorities said Monday they had no suspects in custody. They questioned several people, including Horowitz and Joseph Lynch, who sold the couple an adjoining four-acre lot where he had a deal to live for 10 more years in a camper. Both were cooperative, said Contra Costa County (search) sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee.
"You could just walk right around the side of the gate, there are countless ways to get in here," Lynch told The Associated Press. "There are too many ways to come in undercover, without being in a vehicle or going on the road."
The couple sought a restraining order against Lynch in June, but they dropped the petition.
The sheriff's office has said they were not focused on any one individual, and were considering a wide range of motives.
Horowitz's co-counsel and friend Ivan Golde said Tuesday he believed police were narrowing in on a suspect. "From what I have heard, an arrest is imminent. It will occur," Golde said on NBC's "Today."
Horowitz was so worried about his safety that he owned a gun and other weapons because of his line of work defending criminals including drug dealers and killers, Golde said. Golde said he was worried about his own safety as well, and that police had warned him to be careful. He wouldn't say why.
Golde and Horowitz were defending Susan Polk in a high-profile murder case until a mistrial was declared Monday because of publicity from Vitale's slaying. Horowitz was not in court.
Lynch, 54, said Monday he has known Horowitz for more than a decade, and that they occasionally clashed. He said the latest incident was this summer, when his young attack dog lunged at Horowitz. Police were called and Lynch said he returned the dog.
In a court filing seeking the restraining order in June, Horowitz accused Lynch of drug and alcohol abuse that made him "delusional, threatening, violent and dangerous."
"Most important to me is that he stay away from my wife, Pamela," Horowitz wrote.
Horowitz, 50, told the Chronicle on Monday he dropped the request for the restraining order because Lynch had started a drug rehabilitation program and was trying to get his life back on track.
"It was mainly my decision not to go through with it," Horowitz said. "Why hit a man while he's down, and why do something that would just stir up his anger?"
Lynch said he was on the property on the day Vitale's body was found, walking his German shepherd and building a door for the dog when he heard the sirens of police descending on the scene.
Horowitz's lawyer, Robert Massi, said his client has an alibi for the hours leading up to when he found his wife. Horowitz had breakfast Saturday with Massi and then spent the afternoon working with colleagues on the Polk case before returning home and finding his wife about 6 p.m.
"My biggest nightmare is that whoever killed her waited and watched for me to leave the house," Horowitz told the Chronicle. "If I'd been home, I would have won that fight."
Horowitz and Vitale were in the process of building a 7,000 square-foot hilltop home on the property, which is surrounded by pasture and a wooded canyon in the wealthy suburb of Lafayette, about 20 miles east of San Francisco.
Horowitz, a television commentator on the Scott Peterson trial, has handled a wide range of criminal cases — from white collar federal crimes to more than a dozen death penalty murder cases. Vitale worked at her husband's law practice, creating and managing databases.