It would be the first case where "The Bugs Bunny Defense" was used in a courtroom. Around 2:50 pm on April 26, 2007, the LA County Police Department received a shocking 911 call. A Whittier-area woman named Linda Duffey Gwozdz told the dispatcher she had accidentally shot her husband. When police arrived at the home, they found 50-year-old Pat Duffey dead on the couch, a large pool of blood beside him with blood spatter on the wall. Pat's left hand was in his pants pocket, and his right knee was supported by a pillow due to circulation issues. It looked like he had been sleeping. However, Linda claimed that the two had been joking around and speaking in dueling Elmer Fudd voices when she accidentally fired what she thought was an empty gun. Linda was adamant the whole thing was a horrible accident, and police believed her... at first.
The combination of Linda Duffey Gwozdz's charm and lack of motive, as well as a heavy caseload for detectives, resulted in a five-year gap between the shooting and Linda's eventual arrest. Despite being connected to Bugs Bunny, the case becomes increasingly ominous as details unfold.
Linda Duffey Gwozdz Claimed She Accidentally Shot Her Husband While Quoting Elmer Fudd
Linda Duffey Gwozdz told police that she and her husband, Pat Duffey, were playing a game when a terrible accident occurred. Linda had picked up one of Pat's revolvers and jokingly said, "No more bullets?" in an Elmer Fudd voice, which was not uncommon for the couple, who often "morphed" into cartoon characters. So when Pat allegedly replied, "No more bullets," in his own Elmer Fudd impression, Linda fired what she thought was an empty gun in a "fan-fire" motion, similar to what's depicted in old Westerns.
It was at that moment that Linda shot Pat in the head, killing him. A frantic Linda called 911 and admitted that she had accidentally shot Pat, and a years-long investigation into what really happened between Linda and Pat on the fateful April day ensued.
Linda Also Claimed She'd Never Fired A Gun In Her Life
In addition to being a radio engineer and private pilot, Pat Duffey was also an avid gun enthusiast. In fact, Linda told authorities that Pat had planned to go to the shooting range the day he died. However, Linda did not have the same interest in guns. During her interview with police, she stated, "I'm not really familiar with guns. I'm not afraid of 'em, but I've never shot a gun in my life."
While it's not unreasonable to believe Linda wouldn't share Pat's hobby, this statement would come back to haunt her as police continued their investigation. In fact, her familiarity with guns would come into question following Pat's autopsy, where the medical examiner determined that Pat had been shot in the head not once but twice.
One Lead Detective Believed The Story, While His Partner Did Not
Detectives Shannon Laren and Shaun McCarthy were assigned to investigate Pat Duffey's death, which involved an initial search of the crime scene as well as interviewing Linda. Laren says he didn't believe Linda's story about accidentally shooting her husband, but McCarthy struggled to find a motive for Linda to commit murder.
McCarthy told 48 Hours that he thought Linda was "odd at best, eccentric at worst." As far as McCarthy was concerned, Linda didn't fit the profile of a killer, and he wasn't about to assume her guilt. However, as the investigation advanced, McCarthy would find it increasingly difficult to believe Linda's story.
The Manner In Which Linda Said She Fired The Gun Proved To Be Nearly Impossible For An Amateur
During her first interview with detectives Laren and McCarthy, Linda explained she had shot Pat's revolver in a "fan-fire" style that involved holding down the trigger while rapidly depressing the hammer in order to quickly fire multiple shots. Linda blamed the rapid firing on how she accidentally shot Pat, but experts weren't so sure. The shot Linda described is typically done using a single-action revolver, and Pat Duffey did own two such guns. However, Linda had used his double-action revolver in the fatal shooting.
Firearms expert Tracy Peck conducted an exhaustive study where she used the same gun and ammunition that Linda did to recreate the shooting sequence she described and found it to be nearly impossible, especially for someone who claimed to know little about guns. Peck noted that the sound and recoil of the gun would have also stopped Linda from firing a second shot. Detective McCarthy said that when this information was presented to Linda, she had a "light bulb" moment and changed her story.