US family leaves Singapore frustrated with inquest

AP News
Posted: May 23, 2013 7:05 AM

SINGAPORE (AP) — The parents of an American software engineer found dead in his Singapore apartment last year left the city-state Thursday before the end of a coroner's inquest, saying they had lost faith in the process. Their lawyer said they would push for a U.S. congressional investigation.

Rick and Mary Todd believe their son Shane Truman Todd was murdered in June 2012 and that evidence of suicide presented by Singapore police was faked.

Rick Todd told reporters at the airport before they left for their Montana home that they felt there was no point in staying. His lawyer Gloria James-Civetta said the family's departure marks a "closed chapter" with regards to their involvement in the inquest, and confirmed their plans to initiate a congressional investigation into Shane's death.

"Our next step from today is using the court of public opinion," Rick Todd said. "If our government wants to talk about industrial espionage and murder, we're more than willing to help."

Although the Todds have abandoned the inquest, Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers confirmed that it may read out five statements from the Todd family next week.

During the inquest, state counsel presented evidence of links to suicide websites on the 31-year-old's laptop, as well as suicide letters written to his family members and loved ones.

Shane Todd's parents told The Associated Press in March that they believe he may have been murdered over his research in the U.S. into material used to make heat-resistant semiconductors, a technology with both civilian and military applications. The Todds have received assistance in the case from U.S. senators and the FBI.

Edward Harris Adelstein, a medical examiner based in Missouri who was engaged by the Todd family, has questioned the suicide finding and testified by video. On Tuesday, he withdrew evidence that Todd may have been strangled with a cord, and debated with government lawyers over his speculation that "well-trained assassins" may have been involved in Todd's death.

Medical examiners David Fowler and Valerie Rao testified Wednesday and rejected Adelstein's assassin theory. Fowler said that markings found on Todd's hands were commonly seen in hanging cases. He said he found nothing suspicious about a bruise Adelstein found on Todd's forehead.

The Todds have said that while they were in Singapore, they found a hard drive in their son's apartment that contained thousands of documents he had backed up from his work computer. After having it analyzed by a computer forensics expert, they found a draft of a project outline between the Institute of Microelectronics — Shane Todd's former employer — and Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the development of a device that utilized gallium nitride.

The heat-resistant material has civilian uses in products like LED screens and cellphone towers, and military applications in things like radar and satellite systems. Todd had been trained in the U.S. on proprietary equipment that produces the material but is restricted for export because of the potential military applications.

Huawei has said it had no cooperation with the Institute of Microelectronics related to gallium nitride. IME has said neither Todd nor the company was involved in any classified research.

The FBI has supported Singapore police claims that the hard drive had been handled by Singapore authorities who were checking for evidence, and not by an unknown person as previously believed.

The coroner's inquest will end May 28. The final outcome determining the cause of death will not be able to be appealed.