Friday, July 29, 2016

Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 35

 Michael Thomas Gargiulo, in custody, date unknown

July 14, 2016
It's been awhile since I've had the chance to update everyone on the Gargiulo case. Not a lot has changed, except that Gargiulo now has counsel he likes and appears to get along with.

I attended the pretrial hearing on Thursday, July 14 in Dept. 108. The last pretrial hearing I attended was on January 27. I missed pretrial hearings on February 29 and April 11.

8:35 AM
In the hallway on the 9th floor I see Dale Rubin. I reintroduce myself to him. Right beside him is a sharply dressed attorney I've seen many times around the courthouse, but I don't know his name. I introduce myself. He is defense attorney Daniel Nardoni and Rubin's second chair on the Gargiulo case.

8:47 AM

Deputy DA Dan Akemon and his intern arrive on the 9th floor. DDA Akemon goes over to chat with Rubin and Nardoni. Defense investigator Chris Nicely is here. Chis is an exceptionally nice guy and I've enjoyed the conversations we've had over the last few years. 

8:50 AM
48 Hours producer Greg Fisher arrives around the same time as LA County Sheriff's detective Mark Lillienfeld. They chat for a bit before Greg comes over to say hello. Over the years, several of Detective Lillienfeld's colleagues have mentioned what a phenomenal detective he is.  

8:58 AM
There are about three dozen people in the hallway. It's a good mix of jurors, general public and counsel. 

9:05 AM
Down at the other end of the hallway headed this way I see Deputy DA Garrett Dameron, DDA Akemon's co-counsel. 

9:15 AM
Inside Dept. 108, I take a seat in the second bench row. Greg joins me. I give him a short update on the case. As we enter, there is a pretrial hearing in another case. Judge Ohta's regular court reporter and court clerk are at their desks. The other hearing is quickly over. 

9:16 AM
Judge Ohta tells his bailiff, "Let's have Mr. Gargiulo."  A few minutes later, the DA's Chief of Media Relations, Jane Robison arrives.

9:18 AM
While the bailiff is retrieving Gargiulo, Judge Ohta, Rubin and Nardoni have a friendly chat. Rubin jokingly tells the court that he and his new co-counsel can't stand each other.

When Gargiulo is brought out he looks the same as when I last saw him. Orange jumpsuit, bald head and clean shaven. As Gargiulo sits in his assigned chair, Rubin puts his left hand on his client's upper back. Gargiulo then leans right to speak to the bailiff and then his new co-counsel.

The court goes on the record. The defendant is before the court. The parties state their appearances. Daniel Nardoni then tells the court that they have "two Daniels," and asks Judge Ohta if he would like to call DDA Akemon "Dan" and himself "Daniel" or "Danny." Judge Ohta pauses a minute before he responds, "I'll probably call you by your last name."

It looks like this is the first time Mr. Nardoni has appeared on the record in Dept. 108 representing Gargiulo. I recently reviewed all the court clerk's minute notes on this case. It appears Mr. Nardoni was appointed on May 27, 2016 in Dept. 123.

As I've mentioned before, Dept. 123 is the 987.9 judge appointed for this case. This is where all defense requests for expenditures are reviewed and approved.


The case calendar is 3 of 90. Rubin tells the court that the defense team is set now. They are trying to come up to speed on the facts of the case. They request a return date of September 14. By that time they will have "digested" the materials.

The court asks Gargiulo if he waives his right to a speedy trial and that the next hearing will be on September 14. "Yes, your honor," Gargiulo responds.

The people put on the record that they turned over discovery pages numbered 30,904 to 31,491. The discovery has officially passed 31,000 pages. Mr. Nardoni verifies they got the discovery last week.


The defense tells the court that Mr. Gargiulo received from a medical person an order for bottled water. The Sheriff's have not been compliant with that order. The defense asks if the court can order that.

Judge Ohta tells the defense that they need to file a habeas [motion?] that [the Sheriff's?] are not compliant. Judge Ohta adds, "File it with me and I'll look [it] over."

Mr. Nardoni asks the court for an order to be able to take his laptop with him when he visits Gargiulo at the jail. Judge Ohta states he will sign that order.

And that's it. Next hearing is September 14, 2016.

When I step onto the elevator, I believe I recognize a detective. I ask him, "Are you Detective Thomas Small?" He tells me "Yes." He also adds that this is his last day. He's retiring as of today. Detective Small is a legendary LAPD Homicide Detective at the Hollywood Station. He was the lead detective on the murder investigation of victim Ashley Ellerin.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper," Penalty Phase Verdict Watch Day 2


 Lonnie Franklin, Jr., in custody, 2015
Photo Credit: Pool Camera

UPDATE 6/8 NOTE: A summary page has been developed of all the witnesses who testified in the penalty phase, with links to the pages of their detailed testimony.

UPDATE 6/7  Day 9 Part II has been published. This concludes all the prosecution witnesses who testified in the penalty phase.
UPDATE 6/7 Day 9 Part I has been published. This includes the testimony of the German witness. Sprocket.

UPDATED 4:03 PM spelling, grammar, clarity
UPDATED 3:45 PM spelling, grammar, clarity and afterword
Monday June 6, 2016
9:08 AM
I'm still out in the hallway of the 9th floor of the downtown Criminal Justice Center. All the jurors have not arrived yet, so deliberations have not started. Judge Kennedy's bailiff is chatting with the jurors who have arrived. There are about seven or eight jurors here.

9:10 AM
Marissa Gerber from the LA Times arrives on the 9th floor. A cameraman is here and a reporter I know by sight but I don't know her name. Three members of the Anderson family have arrived.

9:12 AM
Terri Keith from City News is here.

9:14 AM
Quite a bit of laughter coming from the jurors chatting with the bailiff. Judge Kennedy's bailiff is really a funny guy.  Local ABC 7's Miriam Hernandez is here.  Miriam looks lovely today, as always.

9:18 AM
The jurors and the bailiff head into Dept. 109.

9:19AM
The jurors gave a single buzz that they have started deliberating.

9:27 AM
NBC's Patrick Healy arrives and chats with the cameraman. Besides the fires, this case may be the only 'big' news in the area.

9:45 AM
Smiling, Judge Kennedy came out and said hello to the media.

9:48 AM 
BUZZ! BUZZ!  A question. The court clerk goes back to ask. The clerk comes out carrying a container and tells the media that it's "food related." The jurors wanted to share some of the food they brought with the alternates.  I believe it's tamales.

10:00 AM
Scriptwriter MW arrives.  A while ago, Terri left to check into her office.

10:13 AM
LA Times reporter Marissa Gerber enters Dept. 109 and plugs in her laptop. The bailiff enters right after and scolds a few of the reporters on their cell phones.

10:22 AM
Buzz! Buzz! The bailiff goes to check. Morning break.

10:34 AM
Well known sketch artist Mona Edwards arrives and starts a conversation with Miriam. Miriam's network hires Edwards to do courtroom sketches.

10:40 AM
The jurors file in and reenter the jury room.

10:41 AM
Buzz! They are deliberating again.

10:43 AM
Mona Edwards leaves the courtroom.

10:56 AM 
Reporter Terri Keith returns. She immediately opens up her files and starts working.

10:59 AM
Deputy Sargent Westphal returns and stops by the bailiff's desk. He was here earlier this morning when the jurors were waiting for everyone to arrive.  It was a short visit.

11:11 AM
Mary Alexander [mother of victim Alicia Alexander] and two of her son's are in the courtroom.

11:21 AM
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ! We have a verdict. The bailiff went back to check on the jurors.

A few minutes later, Judge Kennedy comes out to view the gallery. The bailiff comes out from the jury room. The bailiff and the judge go back to discuss a time.

Verdict will be read at 12:30 PM

The jurors deliberated about 3.5 hours on Friday and about 1.75 hours today, for a total of just over five hours of deliberations today. 

11:30 AM
The bustling has already started with the media. There is a camerawoman setting up the camera.

11:46 AM
I'm in the cafeteria grabbing a quick lunch. Seven of the jurors are sitting at a table, having their last meal together. It's been a long journey.

At around 11:38 AM, the bailiff closed the courtroom to the media since the court staff were taking their lunch early, and would be working through their normal lunch hour.

12:15 PM
The 9th floor is busy with lots of press. I see interns that are working for the DA's office. Mary Hearn from the court's Public Information Office is here. The three alternates are on the 9th floor. New reporters are Dave Lopez, Reporter Claudia from KNX, and Christine Pelisek, the reporter who broke the case. I saw KFI's Eric Leonard in the first floor lobby when I first went downstairs to grab a bite to eat.

There are quite a few conversations going on at once, but the floor isn't very packed.

12:20 PM 
DDA Tannaz Mokayef arrives to hear the verdict. I see the two clerk interns who worked on the case arrive. Two of the DA's victim advocates are here. I also see another group of young looking DA interns.

Head Deputy Patricia Wilkinson arrives and it let into the courtroom along with several other DA's.
DDA Silverman is on the floor along with Detective Daryn Dupree. She is hugging family members and telling them, "We're done!"

Seymour Amster arrives. Family members are being let into the courtroom first.

12:28 PM
Inside  Dept. 109. DDA Silverman tells the family that they don't have to talk to the media if they don't want to. DDA Silverman makes it clear that if the defense team does speak to the media, she will not be there. There are family members here, but not nearly as many as were here for guilt verdict.

Amster is here but the rest of his defense team is not. The media and the bailiff are getting the logistics together as to when they can turn their camera and microphones on.

12:34 PM
The courtroom is packed. There are quite a few interns from the DA's office, as well as other DA staff and superior court personnel.

12;35 PM
Amster tells someone the gallery, probably one of the reporters, that Beth Silverman will probably speak, ... and after he says her name DDA Silverman interrupts and says, "Mr. Amster doesn't speak for me and never does."

Still getting the last bit of logistics ready.

Three deputies by the courtroom door. Three additional deputies in the well besides the bailiff.

No live transmission from the courtroom. Only a live transmission to the 12th floor, who sends out the live feed.  It doesn't make any sense.

12:42 PM
The bailiff goes to get the defendant.

More family members arrive at the last moment.
The defendant is brought out.

12:44 PM
The court takes the bench.

Caution members of the audience to maintain their dignity.  Court orders the jurors and alternates to be brought into the courtroom.

12:45 PM
The jury enters.

Judge Kennedy greets the jury. Juror #2 was the jury foreperson on this part as well. The verdicts are handed to the bailiff who hands them to the court.

Clerk will read the verdicts.

COUNT 1 DEATH

COUNT 2 DEATH

COUNT 3 DEATH

COUNT 4 DEATH

COUNT 5 DEATH

COUNT 6 DEATH

COUNT 7 DEATH

Family members weep behind me.  Mary Alexander shakes.

COUNT 8 DEATH

COUNT 9 DEATH

COUNT 10 DEATH

COUNT 11 DEATH

The defense has the jurors polled.

Judge Kennedy: All of the jurors have entered into the affirmative.

This has been a very long process we started picking you as jurors in December of last year.

You have been an absolutely exemplary jury ... toward all the respect you've shown to the staff and the attention you paid for in this case.  You now know more about DNA than 90 % of the population.  I know that listening to evidence like this is not easy. There we a lot of very gruesome details that you had to listen to over and over again and yet you maintained your composure and dignity... when I look at you, and our alternates, ... but you are just as important as the original 12. We had such a committed group that made personal sacrifices ... to stay on as long as you did.

I've been on the bench almost 28 years, ...28 in October. You are, without a doubt just the finest group of jurors we've had in terms of how you dealt with people and with each other ... and I'm really going to miss all of you. I'm going to, [I wish I could] bottle you and save you for all my other trials.

The court tells them they cannot be called for jury service for a year. The court speaks more to their jury service. You come from all kinds of backgrounds and ethnicity and some not born in the US. And we have 12 people, ... who have to tackle this monumental task, and you respected each other and kept your composure and had a great attitude towards this process, and you are the best of the US.

The court tells them about if they want to speak to the media it is their decision. She tells them that the court will protect their identity. However, once they speak, their identity is out.

You are relieved from all the admonitions I put on you on this case. You can read and talk about it with anyone. Absolutely free of those limitations. I will tell you that, you are also free to speak to the attorneys. You can come to future proceedings in this case if you wish to.  As I said, you've been such an extraordinary group, and want to thank you so much for your participation. We're going to miss you.

The court continues to thank and praise the jury.

The jury goes back to the jury room to get their personal belongings. DDA Silverman and DDA Rizzo stand as they leave.

Judge Kennedy tells the gallery that the jurors have asked to leave privately so the bailiff will escort them out.

Setting a sentencing date.  August 10th.  The court tells counsel they have to go through the record to verify the transcripts. If you seek a continuance beyond August 10, please let the court know as soon as possible.

Amster addresses the court. He has selected August 10, to accomplish all these tasks.  It will [be the defense who] most likely is to ask for continuance. Their drop date would be August 3, to ask for a continuance, then the court could let the prosecution know if they are going to grant it, so they know to notify the victim families.

Defendant is remanded. People start to pack up.

DDA Silverman hugs Detective Dupree as she exits. Now DDA Rizzo hugs Detective Dupree.  People file out of the courtroom.

3:45 PM
I'm home now. Here is my update on what happened after the courtroom was cleared.

Several victim's family members spoke to the press on the 12th Floor lobby.  Then the prosecutors answered questions from the press and introduced everyone from their team. I tape recorded those interviews and it will take me a while to get the highlights transcribed. I will be concentrating on getting my notes on the last day of the people's case completed, the defense case next and then closing arguments.  In-between that, I'll also try to bring you some still photos from the press conference. I have to have someone help me in blurring out faces of people who did not agree to be photographed.

After the prosecution finished speaking, I headed towards an elevator. I didn't see until the elevator doors were closing that Seymour Amster started to give the press a statement. I did not stay for it; my feet were about to give out and I needed a break. However, I did hear about it from other reporters.

Mr. Amster was said to have been screaming at the press. DDA Silverman was still on the 12 floor and called out to Amster during his statement. I don't have Beth's exact quote, but it was something to the effect of, You don't need to scream, the camera's right in front of your face.


I waited in the ground floor lobby for the prosecution team to emerge from the elevators. It was easy to see on everyone's faces that a great weight had been lifted off their shoulders. The sentencing still has to happen but basically, that's just a formality. It's over. The jury has spoken and the verdicts read into the record. Franklin will stay in LA County custody for the time being.

I learned that DDA's Paul Pzrelomiec and Jamie Castro will go back to their regular assignments in different divisions. It is unknown whether the law clerks, who, having passed the bar and are full fledged attorneys now, will stay with the DA's office. Detective Dave Holmes is happy to get his partner Detective Dupree back. They've got many more cases to work on together.

In the courthouse lobby, I watched as Detective Holmes and a staff assistant took photos of the team. The biggest decision on their minds after that, was where to go for lunch.

Thank you all, for reading T&T.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper," Penatly Phase Verdict Watch Day 1

Lonnie Franklin, Jr, left, Def. Atty. Seymour Amster, right.
Photo Credit, Al Seib, Los Angeles Times

Friday June 3, 2016 - Verdict Watch 10:47 AM
The bailiff takes the evidence book and the verdict forms back to the jury room.

10:57 AM
It's very quiet in here. ABC's Miriam Hernandez is the only other person in the gallery besides myself and scriptwriter MW.

The clerk is busy on the phone. The ticking of the clock is the loudest noise in the courtroom now, even though all three of us in the gallery are working on our laptops.

11:11 AM
In the eerily silent courtroom, I'm working on the detailed testimony from the people's final witnesses, a week ago Thursday: The German woman, the JAG officer, the Army records supervisor and the three victim impact witnesses. Currently, I'm in the middle of the JAG officer's testimony.  So I'm flipping back and forth between this tab and my work on that entry.

11:21 AM
The clerk answers a phone call question about closing arguments.

11:35 AM
A deputy enters and asks the clerk a question. Then a woman enters. It's a older woman from the public who has attended the trial off and on for the last couple of weeks. It appears she thinks she left a pair of shoes in a bag inside the courtroom. She speaks to the clerk. The clerk asks her to wait for the bailiff to return.

11:40 AM
The clerk is hard at work at her desk. I can see files being organized and I hear sounds of heavy stapling, stamping of forms and occasional typing.

11:49 AM
I notice something I've never noticed before. On the wall behind the bench, just to the right of the US flag, in-between the clerk's desk area and the bench, is a round white button of some sort. It's about 3 or 4 inches round, set withing a square. It's down low, lower than the thermostat that's to the left of the flag.

11:54 AM
I ask the bailiff. He tells me it's a light switch controlling lights over the judge's bench.

11:56 AM
The bailiff opens the door to the custody area. He calls in, "Franklin, are you good?" I believe Franklin replies, "I'm good."

11:58 AM
BUZZ! BUZZ! The bailiff tells us, "That's either a question or break time," as he heads back to the jury room.

Break. The jurors leave for lunch.

Judge Kennedy comes out and smiling, watches as the jurors leave. One juror tells judge Kennedy, "I loved your necklace yesterday."

And we are on lunch break.

1:30PM
The bailiff unlocks the door and the jurors file in. There is some pleasant banter between the jurors and the bailiff.

2:13 PM
In the gallery, it's just me, Miriam Hernandez, MW, and a news camera operator I've seen around trials for a long time. The bailiff and the clerk have been having a conversation that's been keeping both of them in stitches for about 10 minutes now. I can also hear some conversation in the back support rooms among other court staff members.

There's not much to talk about, except when the jury might come back with a verdict. In the James Fayed case, the jurors deliberated five days before coming back with a death penalty verdict. Like I've said time and time again, I don't try to predict what a jury will do, because juries will surprise you.

 2:46 PM
Not a peep from the jury. All quiet in Dept. 109.

Judge Kennedy comes out to ask her clerk a question. Judge Kennedy is wearing a dark green olive dress with a brown cinched belt. From where I'm sitting, it's a white looking beaded necklace.

3:06 PM
Tracy from the DA's victim advocate program drops by with DDA Tannaz Mokayef drop in to see what's happening. We chat the Fayed case and the Kelly Soo Park case. DDA Mokayef prosecuted the three accomplices connected to Pamela Fayed's murder.

3:14 PM
The bailiff comes over to where Tracy and DDA Mokayef are sitting to join their conversation.

3:24 PM
Buzz! Buzz! It's either a question or a break. The bailiff goes to check.

The bailiff comes out. The jurors have a question but no paper. Someone is on hold on the phone but the bailiff says they don't have to come over.  The bailiff states they jury is going home.

5:05 PM
I'm home. It's clear from what I observed and overheard that the jurors asked if they could go home early. The clerk or the bailiff went back to Judge Kennedy's chambers to ask. Right after it was approved, the bailiff told the gallery and he went over to let the jury know.

While this was going on, the clerk was on the phone with possibly one of the attorneys. That's what I believe.

Jurors return Monday at 9:00 am to continue their deliberations.