Voices: How I uncovered the bombshell Gwyneth Paltrow group chat revelation
Lately, I’ve been watching trials online as a bit of a hobby. It started in April with Depp v Heard, then there was South Carolina v Alex Murdaugh, and recently it has been Sanderson v Paltrow. But I never expected to have a hand in bringing the case to a close.
On 21 March, day one of the trial, during defence attorney Steve Owens’s opening statement, he brought up defence exhibit 102 (DE102), an email from plaintiff Terry Sanderson to his three daughters. The subject line read “I’m famous...” and in the body it said, “here’s what happened from my friend and eyewitness...”. Then, there was this web link that apparently nobody had been able to access.
I decided to click the link and see where it led. I started by taking screenshots of the video images of DE102 from day one and day three, comparing them to make sure that the link was complete. It was. I typed the link into Google and hit enter, which then redirected me to the login page for Meetup.com. I didn’t have an account and didn’t particularly feel like creating a login, so I used my Google account. I submitted my email, then my password, and I was in.
This couldn’t be this easy? Perhaps the problem they were having was that it was redirecting to the login page? Hilarious and unbelievable. They had been trying to access this for seven years? It was truly dumbfounding. A series of pictures and comments were then instantly available to me, all of which would completely alter this case.
The first thing to pop up was a picture with a comment posted by user “Very Terry” (aka Terry Sanderson) on 26 February 2016 to a Deer Valley skiing event page for the Ski And Board In Utah group, now known as Salt Lake City Skiers And Snowboarders. It seemed the best thing to do was screenshot everything I found, so I did.
The picture was of a Deer Valley employee named Whitney, who ended up being called as a witness, and was the person who skied down the hill with Mr Sanderson in a toboggan. The comment read: “Whitney kept me entertained while probing me with Questions to elevate my senses. A dedicated outdoor person and horse lover from Michigan. She also took me down in the toboggan by herself and won the DV Women’s Downhill race contest. A sweetheart!”
There had to be more to this link, and there was, the most interesting of which I found on the skiing event page. Aside from the list of 10 attendees, I also discovered back and forth comments between Sanderson and trial witness Craig Ramon (user name Craig R.) whose comments seem to contradict some of their sworn testimony in the trial.
Former group member Scott F., whose user profile is now deleted, commented “Great day! Thanks for organizing! I hope you feel better Terry. A bump on the head sucks, but at least it wasn’t something important.. :p ;)”
(He was there that day, and said it wasn’t important? Or that it was at least minor enough that he could make jokes about it?)
“Very Terry” himself replied: “Yes, Kurt, you organized a perfect day... for skiing thank you! That’s true, Scott.. I still have my wheels...! Was nice to get to know you a bit today...”
(What? A perfect day? After what he claims transpired, how in the world is that a perfect day? No wonder these comments from the day of the incident were never disclosed by the plaintiff’s lawyers.)
It was not until the next day that Craig Ramon put his two cents in, with: “Scott, Terry was not doing the man thing! Terry had a bad hit to the head. You do not have the ski patrol take you down the hill if you have a pain in your ass.”
Terry replied: “Yup, Scott, kind of unusual for helmeted skiers to get the toboggan ride for something other than knees... Yup, Craig, I was so happy to see that sled show up... I really did not know up from down...”
(But he had previously stated it was a perfect day? Something didn’t seem right.)
Two days after the incident, Craig commented: “Scott the thing you did not see was Terry was knocked out cold. Bad hit to the head! Not to sure if Terry has broken ribs. I did see the hit. Terry did not know his name. I asked Terry what his name was and he did not know. Scott it scared the hell out of me.”
Scott replied: “Please forgive my week attempt at gallows humor. Any blow to The Head is a serious matter. I am very glad it was not more serious, and hope there are no repercussions!”
Terry responded with: “I got it Scott, thanks! It’s great to know Craig had my back and still does..! âï¸ Thanks to all for your concern.. it’s official, at least two broken ribs and a concussion. The ribs only hurt when I move...ð”
(The exchanges continued in a similar vein.)
Seven days after the incident, Craig left one final comment, arguably the most important of all. It stated: “You cannot make this up. Gwyneth took out Terry last week. Last Saturday her son broke his arm skiing at Park city. Gwyneth was staying at the Montage. She took her plane out of Million Air airport. I wish I did know so many people. What makes me mad is that Gwyneth took out Terry and just took off.”
After some digging, I found suggestions that Terry and Craig had been attending events together before the incident, despite saying in court that they were not friends. Using Google Maps, I looked up the law offices for the defence attorneys and gave them a call at 8:30 mountain time on day four of the trial. I explained who I was, what I had found and how I had done it.
I thought that was it, and went back to watching the trial with my friends. All of a sudden the defence began talking about how a person watching the trial contacted their law office with new evidence. We all started laughing and saying, “no way!”
My friends said they were talking about me, but I didn’t believe it at first. I assumed a bunch of people were contacting them saying the same thing. The next thing I know, my phone rings and it is CourtTV looking to schedule an interview. I was blown away. Now the internet is saying things like I work as a tech investigator, hah! Well where is my paycheck?
Gwyneth Paltrow was found to be not at fault. Terry Sanderson is found to be 100 per cent at fault. Although I am not surprised, I do feel like the team I was rooting for just won the big game. And it was a big game.
It is hilarious to think I may have helped in a tiny way. But everyone knows it was her excellent legal team that did the long hard work. I never intended to make them look bad by being surprised how easy it was for me to access the link, I was just nervous during my first live television interview and probably too honest.
Congratulations to Gwyneth and may her legal troubles be over for now. Maybe she will send me an autographed candle for my efforts.
The next trial on my horizon is New Mexico v Alec Baldwin. That should be very interesting...