Walter Elliot was the chairman and owner of Archway Studios in Los Angeles, California, and the husband of Mitzi Elliot. He came from a fairly wealthy Florida family that had made its money in phosphate mining. In the early 1980's he sold his interest in the phosphate operation for $32 million, moved to California and acquired Archway Studios. He took it from a marginal studio to a major industry player.
Mitzi, his second wife, had announced her intention to divorce him. He believed that she was carrying on an affair. In July of 2007, he went to his Malibu home to confront her. He claimed that he found his wife and her lover, Johan Rilz, murdered. Police did not believe him, in part because tests showed gunshot residue (GSR) on his hands and clothing. He was charged with the murder and hired Jerry Vincent to represent him at trial. His bail was set at $20 million which he posted. He had also agreed to pay a hefty fee to Vincent - $250,000 upfront and another $250,000 when the case went to trial. When Vincent was shot and killed in November of 2007, Elliot's case was reassigned to Vincent's colleague, Mickey Haller, and Elliot elected to retain Haller as his counsel. Elliot insisted on two things - only one lawyer and no delays.
In getting up to speed on the case, Haller learned that Vincent believed he had a "magic bullet" for winning. What Haller didn't know was that Elliot had conspired with Judge Mary Holder and others to plant a "sleeper" on the jury who would argue and vote for acquittal no matter what. In addition, Haller found a weakness in the prosecution - Elliot had been transported in the same police car that had earlier carried a man who had fired 94 rounds, producing a huge amount of GSR that was transferred by contact to Elliot.
Despite the GSR transfer, Haller believed that Elliot was probably guilty. At one time he told Haller that he was the California man for a Florida-based organized crime operation, but that was all false. Then, at a dinner meeting with Haller, Elliot confessed to killing his wife and Rilz, knowing that it could never be used against him. The family of Rilz saw that Elliot was likely to escape punishment and they had him killed, along with his assistant and lover Nina Albrecht. The killer was never identified. Elliot was 54 years old at the time of his death.