Friday, September 26, 2014

Samuel Little Sentencing, Cameron Brown & Michael Gargiulo

UPDATE 9/29 3:45 PM Correction to Gargiulo story

UPDATED 8:00 PM Added notation on Gargiulo's appearance.
UPDATED: Added photos

September 25, 2014
Mr. Sprocket came to court today to take notes for me on the Michael Gargiulo case. It’s partly a favor for all help I’ve been giving him, but mostly because he has recently acquired a new client, a series of restaurants and one of the locations is in downtown LA. After court he will introduce himself to the restaurant manager and see what the parking situation is like for the White Whale Work Truck.

For those of you who have been asking, Mr. Sprocket is doing fantastic since his heart attack May 30. He has even weaned himself off of two of his medications. We are both very grateful for all the love and support send our way.

Deciding Where to Start
We first step inside Dept. 108. I greet Gargiulo's two investigators, Chris Nicely and Christian Filipiak who are sitting in the back row. There is a preliminary hearing in progress on another case that Filipiak is assigned. There are several members of the public in the gallery for the prelim. I inquire with Filipiak if Gargiulo will be filing any motions today. Filipiak is not aware of any. It's a good guess that the case will just be continued because of the prelim.

I see DDA Garret Dameron in the well of the court, but I miss catching his eye. DDA Daniel Akemon hasn't arrived yet. I tell Mr. Sprocket to move up to the second row when Gargiulo comes out.  He moves up there imediately. I'm hoping he will take good notes, but this is Mr. Sprocket. Note taking is not his forte.

I then leave Dept. 108 for Dept. 107 for the Samuel Little sentencing and the Cameron Brown pretrial hearing.  I know that in Dept. 107, I will be allowed to use my laptop for both cases.

Defense attorney Michael Pentz, Samuel Little (Pool photo)
Samuel Little Sentencing
I had previously attended a pretrial hearing in this case in January. I was hoping to attend the trial, because I've always wanted to cover one of DDA Beth Silverman's cases. Real life responsibilities meant it didn't work out this year. Silverman is co-prosecuting Lonnie Franklin, Jr., aka the "Grim Sleeper" with DDA Marguerite Rizzo, so there is a chance I may get to attend one of her cases in the future.)

Samuel Little, who accumulated rap sheets in 24 states over a 56 year period, was linked to the murder of three women by DNA. Little was convicted on September 2, 2014, of the cold case murders of Carol Alford, 41, Audrey Nelson, 35, and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46 from July 1987 to September 1989.

Inside Dept. 107. I note there is a new court reporter. DDA Silverman is here. Judge Lomeli is behind his clerk, David's desk. He is not in his robes. There are signs on the rows in the gallery. Second row for media; third row for the public. The victim's families are in the first row.

DDA Craig Hum, who is prosecuting Brown, is chatting with a younger blond woman in the well. I believe it's one of his clerks or an intern. Attractive LAPD Cold Case Detective, Mitzi Roberts is also in the well. Detective Roberts use to be partnered with Rick Jackson, who is now retired.

Now Beth is chatting with members of the victim's families. Some of the women in the first row are wondering if they can show photos of their loved ones. Yvonne, from the DA's office is standing right beside Beth. At some point, Beth is sensitive with the women in the front row. She shows them where they will stand at the podium, and that she will be standing right beside them while they are giving their impact statements.

There are three cameramen in the jury box, one of them being award winning photographer Nick Ut, from the Associated Press. Most judges allow the filming of sentencing, so I'm not surprised that there is a camera here.

There’s a bit of chatter between Beth and a few people in the gallery second row. Another camera operator shows up with his equipment and joins the other photographers in the jury box. The defense attorney comes out from the holding area. Media reports indicate Little's attorney is Michale Pentz, a be-speckled, slightly graying, youngish looking man.

DDA Silverman is now chatting with Detective Roberts, and DDA Hum listens, smiling. Judge Lomeli’s bailiff is giving instructions to a second bailiff. It appears he is pointing out family members to him.


The bailiff gives notice to people to turn their cell phones off. Judge Lomeli comes out in his robes. The defendant is in a wheelchair, in a brown dark green jumpsuit. Court is called to order. People v. Samuel Little. The court indicates the parties are here for sentencing. "I understand there are certain individuals who want to address the court?"

Mr. Pentz informs the court that the defense does not want to be heard. The court indicates they will proceed with impact statements. Little's defense attorney Mr. Pentz had turned his chair around, so that he can give his full attention to Ms. Nelson while she makes her statement.  The first woman stands before the podium. She states her name, "Sherri Nelson, Audrey Nelson's sister. ... Audrey's life was taken August 14, 1989." 

She pauses. Beth is there to support her. "I never dreamed this would be my sister's story. ... I remember Audrey as a loving and caring sister. ... She doted over me as I was 10 years younger. ... She had a degree in cosmetology. ... She would fix my hair in [braids?]?" 

She disappeared, and the family didn't hear from her for over four years. At some point, they learned she was a prostitute. More years passed and they got a call that she had been burned in a fire. 70% of her body had third-degree burns. Audrey recovered and had a daughter, Pearl, that her parents adopted.

Sherri continued, "I received a call in August of 1989, to positively identify my sister. ... She had burn scars I told them ... that matched the coroner's report. ... I cannot image the tragedy that [befell my sister??]."

As I watch Sherri give her impact statement, her left hand, holding her written statement, shakes uncontrollably. She continues to read her statement quickly, and I can't keep up with it.  She starts to sob. "This was never supposed to happen. ... I hope to God I never have to bury a child of my own."

She had a conversation with her brother about contacting the LAPD Cold Case unit.  Within days of that (conversation?) they received a call that there was a DNA match.

I watch the expression on Beth Silverman's face. She looks quite sad. Sherri thanks the detectives who worked on her sister's case. Tim Marcia, Rick Jackson, Mitzi Roberts. She also thanks Yvonne [Santiago?] "...who without her support, would be impossible."

Ms. Nelson mentions that she is here with her mother, but I'm not sure I see Audrey's mother in court. Sherri states that Audrey ".... was a very agile and athletic child. She took tap and ballet and that she was very graceful. ... She worked on the farm and milked the cows and was very gentle with them. ... Whatever Audrey touched, it turned to beauty. ... Her father went to the grave not knowing who took his daughter's life." Beth Silverman interjects and asks Sherri how old Audrey's mother is. "Eighty-nine," Sherri answers.

Sherri then reads a statement from her brother, whose first name I miss recording.  The brother's statement mentions the time they lived on the farm together, and about the wonderful times he had with his sister. "Innocent times, that he will always cherish. Audrey was only one year older."  The brother's statement also thanks the detectives by name.

These victim impact statements are painful to listen to, and it's always been difficult for me to remain detached, and not let the tears form in my own eyes. I'm rarely successful.

Sherri is finished and another woman stands in front of the podium to speak. It's Audrey's daughter, Pearl Nelson.  "My name is Pearl Nelson. Audrey Nelson is my mother. ... She's a beautiful soul."  Pearl then tells the court about her mother. "She had a heart attack. ... She was badly burned in a fire. ... She gave birth to me. ... I was in her arms for a year before she gave me up to her parents. ... she did this to give me a better life. ... I was 13 when the police showed up and that she had been murdered. ... and no one knew who had done this. ... What I do know is that I responded to her and I missed her daily. ... She loved me and I loved her and a reunion had been taken away from me."

I believe Pearl then states that Audrey had two other children that are unknown to her.

"I have a 9 year old daughter who I have named after her," Pearl adds. "I'm here for all the other families like me who are broken, damaged by Samuel Little. ... This brings me closure today, to see him sentenced and to go away. ... And this is a great justice that has been done."

The next woman steps forward and is asked to state her name.

"Lori Burrows your honor. ...I'm one of the few survivors. I didn't have anything prepared today. ...
So many beautiful people who have lost so much. ... I so sorry to everybody here, who have lost so much. ... He will not rob us any longer. ... I claim this back in Jesus' name."

Another woman steps up to the podium. It's Guadalupe Apodaca's niece.

"Diana Flores, from [?] ... I was was the first family member, [?] ... came to me with photos of Guadalupe. ... I didn’t have a clue. I knew her, and she didn’t deserve to die the way she died.
And my nephews didn’t deserve to grow up without a mother."

Diana sobs. (Even as I write this, I am back in that courtroom, listening to the family members cry.)

Diana continues, "But I know he won’t hurt nobody ever again."

Another woman steps forward and states her name.

"Mary Louise Frias. ... The man that that took my godmother, my mother's sister."

I believe at this point, after Ms. Frias tells Little that he has no soul, Little speaks out, "I didn't do it!" I believe Judge Lomeli addresses Little.

Ms. Frias continues, "God will judge you and he will be there. ... Thank you for all the hard work you've done to bring this man to justice. If it wasn't for the DNA ... we wouldn't be here today."

A man steps up to the podium. He states his name is Tony Zambrano and the son of Guadalupe. He looks over at Little and gives him a very hard stare. "I'm here to tell this piece of shit, you fucked up!"

I believe Judge Lomeli admonishes Mr. Zambrano about his language.

Tony continues, "You took something very dear to me. ... Like I said you messed up big time. ...
I’ve been looking for you for a very long time. ... I have friends in prison."  Little says something back but I'm not quick enough to get it. Mr. Zambrano yells back, "You hurt my mom! ... Fuck you!"

Little angerly responds, "I didn’t do nothing to your mom!"

More angry words are exchanged between Little and Mr. Zambrano. Mr. Pentz leans in and speaks to his client. It appears Little wants to address the court. I'm not sure who says it, possibly Little, but someone says, "I'm just going to tell the truth." Judge Lomeli addresses Little, "Just read your statement sir."

Little speaks out, "This conviction was brought on by lies, and liars coached by liars." Little then states something to the effect that he didn't get a fair trial because there was evidence that wasn't allowed in. Little also states that he was labeled a serial killer with no bodies. That this was a lynching based on speculation and that there was no proof.  Little mentions shoe prints and ring marks along with other evidence that he states was withheld from the trial.

Little's rant is over and Judge Lomeli moves onto sentencing.  Little was convicted of three murders and the special circumstance of multiple murders. Judge Lomeli sentences Little to three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. That, in occurrence with special circumstances, he will compose consecutive sentences. Judge Lomeli reads the rules of the court to explain the continuing circumstances, mentioning the exceptional cruelty that his victims experienced. Judge Lomeli stated there were no mitigating factors. Three consecutive life terms, one for each count.

The court then continues with the fines that Little is ordered to pay and that he is to provide DNA samples. Judge Lomeli and Mr. Pentz go over the credits that Little acquired while in LA County custody. Mr. Pentz has calculated his credits as 624 days.  Mr. Pentz states that he has already filed Little's appeal. There's nothing further from either party and the court states that they are in recess.

As Little is wheeled back into the jail area, he raises an arm in defiance. Family members in the gallery applaud as he is taken back into custody. Detective Roberts hugs many of the women and there are smiles and congratulations. Silverman informs the gallery that there will be a press conference on the 12th floor with the families. I'll have to miss that because the Brown hearing is next.

Samuel Little Sentencing Media stories
LA Times - South LA Serial Killer Sentenced (Includes photos of family members)
CBS News - CrimeSider
Gulf Herald/AP
ABC News (video of some of Little's statement in court, family speaking to the media)

Inspiration Pont, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. A 120 ft cliff 
where Brown is alleged to have thrown his 4-year-old 
daughter, Lauren Sarene Key to her death, November 2000.

Cameron Brown pretrial hearing

After most of the people file out, Patty Brown, Cameron Brown's wife enters Dept. 107 and takes a seat in the second bench row near me. Patty asks me about the hearing. I give a brief explanation of the Little case and that this was his sentencing. Patty replies, "Well, happy they convicted someone who is actually guilty." I took this as a reference to her husband, whose innocence Patty firmly believes in. Patty, noticing my laptop shows me her laptop in her purse. She notes that mine looks “very light.” I explain to Patty that my laptop is a MacAir.

Aron Laub comes out from the back chamber rooms and take a seat at the defense table.  Judge Lomeli's bailiff starts to wheel Samuel Little out and Mr. Laub temporarily moves to the jury box.

DDA Hum grees Laub. "Mr. Laub. How are you, sir? ... What are we doing?" Laub speaks so softly I miss what he replies. The defense investigator, Rick Ross is not here today. It appears Hum and Laub go over their calendars, deciding on a mutual date to return. Judge Lomeli, Laub and Hum speak off the record.  I overhear a date. They decide on November 7th. Counsel and the court discuss possibly calling for a jury in late February and having the trial start in March. Three bailiffs are in the courtroom, preparing to bring Brown out. There must be a Sargent present, each time Brown is moved from one place to the next. I then overhear something about picking a Thursday, and then a new date, the second week of March 2015 for jury selection.

Judge Lomeli asks counsel, "How long this thing will last?" DDA Hum replies, "Six weeks." You can see that Judge Lomeli is surprised by the look on his face. "Really! That's a long time." I believe DDA Hum replies, "That how long the last trial..." There is a bit of banter and someone, possibly the clerk states "five-and-a-half" weeks. Hum jokingly replies, "What are you, Judge Perry?" As I saw during the Stephanie Lazarus trial, Judge Perry's reputation for efficiency is well earned.

Judge Lomeli asks if the case will be a "battle of the experts." Hum replies, "Certainly, that will be an aspect." Judge Lomeli asks for a date in November to bring him (Brown) back and to make the November date zero of 60. They will then tweak that, to go into March.

Judge Lomeli and DDA Hum chat a bit about what other cases Hum has in Lomeli's courtroom. Judge Lomeli comments on the defendant he just sentenced and then reminded counsel that they agreed to a pre-screened jury. Judge Lomeli asks Mr. Laub to sign the pre-screened jury document.

9:35 AM
Brown is brought out and the cases goes on the record. I believe Judge Lomeli addresses Brown. It's something about a "threat of motion" after Mr. Laub was reappointed to his case. I believe this is in reference to what happened at the last pretrial hearing. The court states that he will deny Brown's motion, because he had already relinquished his pro per status. Judge Lomeli tells Brown that it appears to the court that Brown is trying to manipulate the system, and the court is not inclined to afford you any rights to represent yourself.

Judge Lomeli states that he had planned to go to trial in February, but the defense investigator is not available and won't be available until the second week in March. Court orders March 12, 2015 for pre-screend jury selection.

Brown speaks up. He thought the trial was going to be in April.

Judge Lomeli informs Brown they are going to bring him back on November 7th.  Judge Lomeli informs Brown of his rights, that he has a right to proceed to trial in 60 days. "Do you agree for now to bring you back on November 7?"  Brown replies, "Before I anser that, I would like to comment on ... I have a right to comment on my attorney." Judge Lomeli asks, "What y do you want to commet on?"

Brown explains, "The reason I went pro per ... the problems I had with the attorney. ...
It feels like I was working on the case more than he was."

Judge Lomeli states that this sounds like a Marsden issue, and he asks everyone to step outside the courtroom. When a defendant makes a Marsden motion, the prosecution and general public are excluded from the hearing.

Everyone moves out into the hallway. I ask Mr. Sprocket to update me on the Gargiulo hearing. Mr. Sprocket took horrible notes, and he's of no help. I'll have to find out what happened from other sources.

Judge Lomeli's bailiff comes out into the hallway and speaks to Hum. Apparently, Brown had to be removed from the courtroom. Patty Brown is confused, up in arms. She doesn't understand what has happened.
Deputy came out and told Hum that brown had to be removed from the courtroom.

Patty is confused, up in arms. She doesn’t understand what has happened. We file back into Dept. 107.

Brown is back in the holding area. I'm not positive, but I believe he is listening to the proceedings over a speaker system. Judge Lomeli is going over some facts. "Based on your representation to the court, Brown removed his pro per status on July 31 and you were reappointed." Laub agrees.

It is also noted, I believe by Mr. Laub, that there was a long period of time where the procedures were suspended due to the 1368 hearing. Judge Lomeli continues, "You said to this court you would be ready to go to trial the second week of March [2015]." "Yes, your honor," Laub replies.

Judge Lomeli continues, "If an attorney seeks a reasonable [amount?] of time to [prepare?] and it is for the defendant's [benefit?] ... a continuance is over the defendant's objection is justified."

My understanding of what may have happened is, Brown was not willing to waive his right to a speedy trial. Brown must have objected to a delay and wanted his speedy trial. Judge Lomeli begins to cite California statutes for his ruling. The court states that in November, if the status is not changed, if the defense still needs the time, then the case will be continued and that the second week in March is a trial go date.

The court asks Mr. Hum if there's anything from him. Hum states that he was not privy to the proceeding. The court responds that it had nothing to do with Marsden. The defendant refused to waive time.  Judge Lomeli rules that in order to provide the most effective counsel for the defendant, Mr. Laub can't be ready until March.  Based on the cases the court cited, he can't go to trial until March.

I believe Mr. Hum brings up Brown's Faretta motion that was made when he was still pro per. Brown filed a Faretta motion and the court was not inclined to grant the Faretta right to represent himself. In the court's opinion, the defendant is manipulating the system. He's playing games at this point.

The court goes onto explain the Mr. Brown's behavior was disruptive during the private part of the hearing. He continually interrupted the court. He continually interrupted counsel. He failed to obey numerous orders to refrain from interrupting. The court admonished him more than once and informed him that he would be removed.

Judge Lomeli also stated that if this behavior continued, it would be possible that Brown would be removed from the courtroom for even his trial. He would be introduced to the jury but he would have to listen to the trial on speaker from the custody area. Judge Lomeli states they are not near that point yet. Brown has a constitutional right to be here. It was no necessary to remove him until towards the end. But even so, the fact that the court even had to do that is a further reeason for the court to deny pro per status.

Brown failed to obey court orders, further being disruptive. Judge Lomeli will cite other cases to support his ruling. If the defendant behavior is objectionable, the court can deny pro per status. "So that's where we stand at this point," Judge Lomeli adds. "So if nothing changes at this point .... I know Mr. Laub will be working on the case."

Judge will override the defendant's request for a speedy trial.  I believe Mr. Laub tells the court that he is familiar with the case and knows what needs to be done.

The court states that they would prefer Mr. Brown be present for his hearings. The court wishes that Brown's attitude will change during the next court date and that he be present.

Hum states that he appreciates Mr. Laub's statements and asks that, if by any chance, the defense is ready prior to the second week in March, to please notify him and the court.  Mr. Laub agrees and the court states they would be very thankful of that, if the trial could start sooner.

Hum brings up one more issue, and that's a motion Brown filed before his pro per status was relinquished. Hum states he doesn't know if Mr. Laub has read the motion, he only requests that if he wishes to go forward, to please notify the people on that issue. Hum states that the motion is almost identical to the motion that was made at the end of the last trial.  Laub responds that at this time, he withdrawals that motion by Mr. Brown while he was in pro per status. He's doing that without prejudice. The court replies, "Very good." It's now up to Mr. Laub whether or not those issues are viable, and if so, he will refile them. And that's it. Next court date: November 7.

Everyone is getting ready to go and after I close my laptop, Judge Lomeli finally finds the case to cite that he was looking for, People v. Welch, defendant being obstructive.

Michael Gargiulo

Correction: The prosecution did not file a motion.
I consulted court sources to find out what happened in the Gargiulo hearing that I missed.

I believe Gargiulo tried to file a motion or brought up to the court about getting his pro per privileges back. Gargiulo no longer has access to the law library or the phones inside the law library to contact his investigators. Judge Ohta informed Gargiulo that this issue is not within his jurisdiction. Gargiulo has to take that up with the jail. Only the jail can give him his law library privileges back.

Judge Ohta gave Gargiulo two more weeks to file a 995 motion to dismiss.  Gargiulo is ordered back in two weeks on October 10.

And that's it.

Update 8:00 PM: 

I forgot to add that Michael Gargiulo's head is still shaved. It's a reasonable possibility that he shaved his head because of how hot it probably is at the Men's Central Jail. We've had some intensive heat waves here is Los Angeles recently.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Note to Readers

As some of you know, several things have kept me from catching up on several cases I've been following.

I've been crazy busy helping Mr. Sprocket get back to work full time (he's doing fabulous, by the way) as well as several house and car projects that needed my attention.

You can see some of my recent hard work at my sewing machine, since I'm kicking off my Market Bag Madness Sale 2014 today.

I'll be getting back to writing about Michael Gargiulo, Cameron Brown, Dawn DaLuise and Joshua Woodward in the next few days.

Thank you everyone, for your patience.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cameron Brown 3rd Trial, Pretrial 18

Inspiration Point, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

July 31, 2014 8:20 AM
(I'm behind on several stories due to helping Mr. Sprocket on several project proposals. Sprocket)

I’m in the hallway of the 9th floor. I see a familiar face. It’s a pleasant looking be speckled man with white, balding hair. I think he is a defense investigator, but I can’t remember which case I’ve seen him on before.

He asks me which case I’m covering and I tell him Brown. I tell him that I’ve seen him before, but I apologize that I can’t remember his name. He is Scott Ross' (no relation) Cameron Brown's new investigator.

Brown's wife Patty arrives and she asks to speak to Mr. Ross privately.

There are jurors milling about in the center of the hallway.  A reporter comes down looking for Dept. 109. I direct him to the other end of the hallway.

I'm betting that Brown will rescind his pro per status today.

8:42 AM
DDA Hum comes quickly down the hallway.

Inside the courtroom, and off the record, Mr. Ross tells Judge Lomeli that it looks like, as of last night that Brown will rescind his pro per status.

There is a little, silver microphone flag on on top of the microphone on Judge Lomeli’s desk.  It says “NBC,” and is probably some type of memento of Judge Lomeli’s. I don't know how long the little flag as been there. This is the first time I noticed it.

Judge Lomeli asks whom everyone is in the courtroom. When he looks my way, I freeze for a moment then say, "Betsy Ross, Trials and Tribulations."

The investigator asks to go see Brown. The bailiff tells Mr. Ross that he can't go back there anymore.  It appears it's a security issue that happened with another defendant in another case.

Judge Lomeli asks the bailiff to bring Brown out into the courtroom (once Brown is up on the 9th floor) and he will give the investigator a few minutes with Brown and then they will have their hearing.

Mr. Ross is an author. He told me he's written two books and is working on a third. Ross worked on the Brown case back when Mark Geragos and Pat Harris were still in a partnership.

The pretty black female Sargent deputy arrives and the bailiff and her go back into the custody area.

Attorneys come in and start to set up for the case that is currently in trial, People v. Brian Reid. The DDA prosecuting Reid and

Brown is brought out and Ross goes up into the well to sit with him. I leave the courtroom to publish this update.

8:59 AM
left the courtroom, Brown tells the court that he has motions he’s filed.

Patty Brown comes out in the hallway.  She addresses DDA Hum, “The bailiff said to let you know that they are ready.”

Back inside the courtroom, Ross sits with Brown at the defense table. Judge Lomeli takes the bench. Judge Lomeli calls the case on the record. He asks the parties to state their name for the record.

Judge Lomeli states, “Today we are at zero of 60. I contemplate a jury date of pre-screened jurors, a panel to be (arraigned?) for sometime in February. That should be ample time to get this case ready. ... Coupled to with, you [defendant] wanted pro per status, that comes out to 10 months.”

This means, Brown would have had 10 months to prepare for trial since he obtained his pro per status.

Judge Lomeli addresses the defendant. “I see you’ve filed some motions.” He then asks Brown, “Is it correct that you would like rescind your proper status?”

Brown first asks the court if his former counsel Aron Laub could be here. The court informs Brown that since Mr. Laub is “stand by” counsel, there is no need for him to be here. He automatically becomes the counsel of record.

Judge Lomeli asks Brown again if he gives up, relinquishes his pro per status.

Brown replies, “Yeah, I’ll give it up.”

The court reiterates that he still sees this trial starting sometime in February of next year. The court tells Brown that he will read the motions he’s filed.

DDA Hum brings up a couple of issues. “Since he does no longer represent himself, ... It’s unclear if Mr. Laub will want to go forward with those motions before we proceed ...
before we go through the process of responding to those motions.”

Judge Lomeli states that it will have to be up to Mr. Laub to decide if the motions are (feasible?) and (whether or not) to forward with those motions.

Brown speaks up. “When I filed those motions they were mine.”

Judge Lomeli responds, “Timing has nothing to do with it. ... Once you relinquish your proper status ... I’ve already made some appointments, ... it is all up to him [Aron Laub] ....”

Whether these motions will stand will depend on Mr. Laub.

Judge Lomeli continues and states that Brown’s new investigator will remain on the case. “You seem to be familiar with your investigator.”

As far as a next court date, Judge Lomeli asks the parties, “Why don’t we bring him back in September.”  Judge Lomeli also adds, “I want have a conversation with Mr. Laub about these motions and about proceeding with this case in February.”

I believe Judge Lomeli addresses his clerk, stating, “Ask Mr. Laub to notify my office if he decides to proceed on these motions.”  Judge Lomeli also asks his clerk notify the DA as to Mr. Laub’s position on the motions Brown just filed.

Judge Lomeli picks a date of September 25th. He explains to Brown that the case will be set at 0 of 60 on that date, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will go to trial in 60 days.

DDA Hum brings to the court attention that Investigator Ross remaining on the case may be up to Mr. Laub; if Mr. Laub is comfortable with him, given that this is Mr. Laub’s

DDA Hum continues, “I know that Mr. Ross has contacted our investigator and detective informally.” I believe Hum states the inquiry was regarding discovery and additional witnesses. “Any requests for discovery should come through the attorney and not through informal contacts with detectives.” Hum asks the court that all discovery be formal and memorialized in writing.

Investigator Ross addresses the court. “I’d like to add that the court was aware that I was meeting with Mr. Leslie and that I was asking about discovery.”

I believe the court acknowledges this then states, “From now on, let’s do everything in writing and memorialized.”

Regarding the aspect of whether or not Mr. Ross will stay on as investigator, Judge Lomeli states, “The court is inclined to keep him. ...I specifically appointed him because he is familiar with the case.”

The court then talks about the prior investigator, Mr. Royce, and that Brown had directed this investigator in activities that he was unable to follow, because they were unreasonable requests to follow. Judge Lomeli states that he placed all of that on the record in June.

Judge Lomeli tells the parties, “I’m inclined to keep Mr. Ross on.”

DDA Hum replies, My only concerned is Mr. Laub be comfortable in his ability to represent the defendant. Other than that, I have no interest.”  Judge Lomeli responds, “The court will discuss it with him.”

Investigator Ross tells the court that he’s been in communication with Mr. Laub.

And that’s about it. Judge Lomeli tells the parties, “See everyone on Sept 25th.”  Judge Lomeli then addresses his clerk, David to notify the DA about the motions and to keep Mr. Ross on to work with Mr. Laub.

Douglas Gordon Bradford
After I left Dept. 107, I headed down to Dept. 103, Judge Curtis Rappe’s courtroom, where the Douglas Gordon Bradford case is being tried. Bradford is charged with August 29, 1979 murder in the death of a Canadian nursing student, Lynne Knight, 28.

I had hoped to attend more of this trial but it just didn't work out with my other responsibilities. Since I was down at the court already, I thought I would drop in. Bradford was arrested in 2009 and has been out on bond ever since. It's taken that long for the case to come to trial.

The trial kicked off with opening statements back on July 7th. Deputy District Attorney John Lewin is prosecuting the cold case. Well known defense attorney Robert Shapiro (of O.J. Simpson fame) and Sara Caplan (one of the attorney’s who originally represented Phil Spector) are defending Bradford. I remember seeing Sara Caplan testify in an evidentiary hearing in the first Spector trial. 

When I enter Dept. 103, I see a very large piece of electronic equipment and wires taped to the floor in the ante chamber. Once inside the courtroom proper, there is an area in the back row of the courtroom that is walled off with screens. There are two scruffy looking cameramen monitoring computer screens. One cameraman is wearing a baseball cap that says, “NBC Nightly News.” There are two large boxes attached to the wall above the jury box. The case is being filmed, but it’s not live streaming. The last case I’m aware of that was live-streamed from the downtown courthouse was the first Phil Spector trial in 2007.

The prosecution has rested it's case in chief and the defense case has already started. DDA Lewin is cross examining a defense expert, Mr. Rosenthal, who is a meteorologist.

In the first row of the gallery is empty except for two people, and older frail-looking couple. It's a good bet these are the parents or other family members of the victim.

More notes to come on the Bradford trial....

Friday, July 11, 2014

Michael Gargiulo Pretrial 20 & Cold Case Trial of Douglas Gordon Bradford

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, booking photo, date unknown

Friday July 11, 2014
8:10 AM
I'm on the 9th floor of the downtown Criminal Justice Center for another hearing in the Michael Gargiulo case.  As most of you know, Gargiulo is pro per, meaning he is self representing in a death penalty case.  Yes, I know I am behind in getting my trial notes up on Gargiulo's and Cameron Brown's previous hearings, as well as the preliminary hearing of Dawn DaLuise.

Investigator Chris Nicely was already here in the hallway when I arrived.

Earlier this week, the cold case trial of Douglas Gordon Bradford kicked off in Dept. 103, Judge Curtis Rappe's courtroom.  (Larry Altman of the Daily Breeze wrote about the case when the trial started on Monday.) Back in October 2013 at Rick Jackson's Retirement Dinner, I got to speak to DDA John Lewin about when this case might go to trial. At that time, he speculated the case would start sometime in May of this year. He wasn't too far off. I had tried to keep my eye on this case but cases where the defendant is out on bond are a little harder to track. I was hoping I could attend when it started but Mr. Sprocket needed my help on a few jobs earlier this week.  If there is time, I will try to drop in on this trial because I've wanted to attend one of DDA Lewin's cases for some time now.

On the drive in this morning, I was listening to KFI's Eric Leonard's report about the Donald Sterling civil case, over at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. (Anything involving the NBA is bigger news than a cold case murder.) It appears that case is on hold until July 23.

8:26 AM 
There's quite a bit of activity down at the other end of the hallway.  However, at this end I just saw defense attorney Seymour Amster quickly pass and enter Dept. 106, Judge Fidler's courtroom. Amster is co-counsel on the Lonnie Franklin, Jr., alleged serial killer case in Judge Kennedy's court, Dept. 109. The case Amster might be on this morning in Dept. 106 is a dismemberment case.

8:32 AM
Dept. 108 is open and there are quite a few people from the general public here. I have not seen DDA Akemon or DDA Dameron in the hallway yet.  Attorney's come and go from several of the courtrooms at this end of the hall.

8:37 AM
Judge Ohta's clerk came out and put a sign on Judge Otha's door that they are dark. She was kind enough to let me know that Gargiulo's hearing will now be held in Dept. 107, Judge Lomeli's courtroom.  Judge Lomeli allows reporters to use their laptops so I'm hoping I will be able to use my computer for this hearing.

8:44 AM
DDA Akemon and Sheriff's Detective arrive and stop at Chris Nicely to chat.

8:45 AM
Right afterwards, DDA Akemon asked me how Mr. Sprocket was doing. Mr. Sprocket is doing pretty good. He just needs to build his muscle tone back up.

Inside Dept. 107, I check with the bailiff to make sure I can use my laptop for the Gargiulo hearing.  I can.

In overhearing the conversation between DDA Akemon and Nicely, it looks like they will just put this case over.  Interestingly, Mark Overland and his daughter, Courtney are in the well of the court. Overland defended former LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus.

Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife, Flora Montes De Oca Alarcon, are currently on trial in Judge Lomeli's courtroom on perjury and voter fraud charges. Overland is representing Mrs. Alarcon.

8:52 AM

Another case is called for a pretrial hearing.  In that case, the defense has filed for a 1538 (motion to suppress) hearing and they need to set a date for that.  Defense says it will take 2 hours. September 26th next court date. And that’s it for that hearing.

DDA Dameron is not here today. It's just Akemon and Chris Nicely.  I get to meet the journalist who I saw at the last Gargiulo hearing. It's the fabulous writer, Christine Pelisek who now writes for The Daily Beast.  She’s amazing.  She wrote several wonderful pieces about Lonnie Franklin, Jr., when she was with The LA Weekly.

I was going to drop in on DDA Lewin's case after this hearing but I found out that Dept. 103 is dark today. The Bradford case will resume on Monday. I'll try to come back for that trial a few days next week. It will all depend on whether or not Mr. Sprocket needs my help.

9:17 AM

Gargiulo is handcuffed to a wheelchair.  Two deputies are wheeling him into court via the front entrance. I don't know why Gargiulo is in a wheelchair.  Whenever a defendant is brought to court in a chair, they are not brought into court through the regular holding area between the courtrooms. The deputies use other security elevators to bring in the defendants through the front courtroom doors.

On the record in the Gargiulo case.

Judge Lomeli asks, "I understand that both of you agree to put this over until next Friday?"

DDA Akemon tells the court that he hasn't spoken to Gargiulo directly. He tells the court that Gargiulo is under a time waiver.

DDA Akemon states they are asking to put the case over to next Friday July 18th.

Judge Lomeli tells the parties, "In speaking with Judge Ohta yesterday, it was his intention to set some parameters and deadlines."

DDA Akemon states that they have presented (or filed with the court) their outline for a timeline.

Garguilo then speaks up and tells the court he has an issue. He's trying to seek medical treatment for an injury he sustained in this courthouse. He would like to see an orthopedic doctor. He tells the court that at the jail, "... They're just trying to overdose me on medication. ... I'm trying to see an orthopedic."

Judge Lomeli tells the defendant that he can't write an order for him to see a specialist. "The only person who can do that is another doctor. ... I can refer you to a doctor."

Judge Lomeli asks the defendant if he has filled out the proper form for that. Gargiulo says he doesn't have the form. Judge Lomeli tells the defendant, "When my clerk gets here..." he will get the form for him.  Judge Lomeli asks him to describe his specific complaint. "I'm seeking medical treatment for an ankle injury and a back injury."

Judge Lomeli will set a medical order. And that's it. The next hearing will be on July 18th.

My understanding is, after the last pretrial hearing on June 27th, Gargiulo was taken back to the lower floor jail holding area. His ankle chains got caught in the elevator or the space between the floors in the elevator and he either fell or tripped.

After Gargiulo is wheeled by me I look directly at him. His head is looking down at his lap, possibly reading some papers.  As he leaves, Judge Lomeli addresses his court reporter. "Remind me, ankle and back." She nods her head in reply.

I wonder how long Gargiulo will be in a wheelchair due to his ankle and back injury.  When a defendant is brought into court in a wheelchair, I'm sure it's more interesting for them. They have the possibility of seeing and interacting with the general public because of the short time they are in the hallway.

I head down to the cafeteria to finish my notes then head home.

Post note:
I almost forgot! Gargiulo's head was still bald and his face completely clean shaven.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mr. Sprocket Update - Getting Better Every Day

I'm sorry I haven't updated everyone on how Mr. Sprocket is doing for some time.

When I last wrote, Mr. Sprocket was doing great on his morning walks and had just finished a service call for one of his contract clients.

Tuesday, June 24
we took an even longer walk in the morning than the day before. Then Mr. Sprocket got a call from the Bakery. The two door freezer was not working.

Instead of calling his friend, Mr. Sprocket thought he could figure out what was wrong and fix it with my help. He suspected it was the defrost timer.  Luckily, he had a spare on his truck. He loaded up the trunk of the car with tools and parts and we headed to the Bakery.  The evening baking shift didn't start until 6 PM so he could take his time.

This was the first time Mr. Sprocket stood on a ladder.  He did fine.

And when he got tired, he improvised.

Although the new defrost timer was a tight fit on the old box, I handed him tools and he was able to get the new timer installed.  He did start to feel weak at one point, but after a while he realized it was because we had missed lunch. His blood sugar was just low, not anything to do with his heart. We stopped work and went to get something to eat.

Wednesday, June 25, 9:30 AM

This was his first appointment with his cardiologist, but it wasn't an appointment like what we were expecting.  After the initial assessment of him, (about five minutes), we were directed to a room with many other people. We were supposed to bring all of Mr. Sprocket's medications. We didn't know that, but I brought his medication list he was given from Providence St. Joseph's when he was discharged.

We listened to an RN give a lecture on "Managing Your Heart Failure."  Mr. Sprocket really didn't end up in the hospital from congestive heart failure. He had a heart attack. After the lecture, a dietitian explained to the audience how to read a food label and figure out if the food you are eating is high in sodium or not.

It was basic, general information, 95% of which we already knew. After the lecture, the cardiologist and the registered nurse practitioner came around to each person, looked over their medications and had a few words with each person.  And that was it. There was information on how to get your medications refilled, and not to wait until they had run out.

Mr. Sprocket was not impressed with the female cardiologist at all. She took his pulse for about 30 seconds, told him his heart rate was too high (74 or 75) and doubled his beta blocker medication. (It was quite low to begin with.)  She had very little information about his case from Providence St. Josephs. She did not have his prior echo cardiograms or the results of any blood tests, but I guess she thought she had enough information about him to assess him.

She did agree (after pressing into his shins) that he did not need the diuretic so she discontinued that medication.  And that was it. The cardiologist was with him about a minute or two at the most. The nurse spent more time with him.  The nurse did agree that he could get into a cardiac rehab program.  They scheduled an echo cardiogram for August 25. Mr. Sprocket pressed for another echo cardiogram that day. The nurse said she would try to slot him in. They might have an opening in the afternoon.

We brought our lunch and ate in the cafeteria. After lunch, we tried to register for the cardiac rehab program, which is in the physical therapy department. We stopped in, but they needed time to asses him. However, he also had to get to his first appointment with his primary care doctor.  We thought that we might be able to come back later.

The primary doctor was a young Asian intern. That was an interesting appointment where he took a long medical history. Mr. Sprocket was able to get him to prescribe a sleep aid, just not the one he wanted.  He also agreed to test his kidney and thyroid function numbers again. After that appointment, Mr. Sprocket got the call from Cardiology that he could get an echo at 3 PM.  He races up there while I want for 35 minutes for the nurses to get his orders for the labs printed out.

I then head to Cardiology. 

I ask the front desk how soon he will be done with the echo, since the Physical Therapy department closes at 4:00 PM.  At 3:20 PM, they assure me he will be out in a few minutes.  He's not done with the echo until 4:00 PM so we miss getting him on the schedule. 

I'm way too tired from being at the hospital all day. I'd had it. I told Mr. Sprocket we were going home and he could get his blood drawn for the thyroid and kidney tests another day.

Thursday, June 26
We got a good walk in in the morning. Mr. Sprocket stopped by the Bakery to check on the freezer. It was fine. He also received a down payment to order a door seal on another freezer that the health inspector required.  I had a big sewing order due on Saturday so I spent the day sewing and Mr. Sprocket spent the day cooking.  I was up late into the night, making progress on several Market Line bags.

Friday, June 27

Mr. Sprocket went to court with me and helped cover the Cameron Brown hearing. (I still have my notes to write up on the Brown and Michael Gargiulo hearings. From the little I saw of the Brown hearing, it didn't appear Judge Lomeli was very happy.)  After court we headed to the hospital so Mr. Sprocket could register for physical therapy and get his blood drawn.

In the physical therapy department, he was given some simple exercises. It was then he realized that his right leg (the one that had the Impella up the right femoral artery, and is his dominant leg) is quite weak. He had difficulty just lifting his right foot off the ground from a sitting position. It was a little wake up moment as to how much conditioning he has lost.

So now he knows what he needs to concentrate on. Rebuilding leg and arm muscle!  He will get physical therapy once a week starting July 30. That was the first available appointment/time. If he misses two appointments, he is rejected from physical therapy.

After the PT department, we stopped into the Cardiology department to see if he could get the ejection fraction results of his echo cardiogram and also to see if he could drive.  When he left Providence St. Joseph's, Cardiologist #1 (who saved his life) told him he couldn't drive for a month.

The cardiologist and nurse practitioner were very busy but they did send a note out to the front desk that his echo cardiogram was "normal."  His ejection fraction was 50-55.  This was fantastic news.  Normal hearts have ejection fractions ranging from 55-70. Mr. Sprocket was given a note that he was cleared to drive and that there were "no restrictions" on him.

The only issue that Mr. Sprocket has been having has been the insomnia. Mr. Sprocket has a terror about not being able to sleep and one of the main side effects of beta blockers is insomnia.  Insomnia can raise your heart rate. Mr. Sprocket's beta blocker that was prescribed by the #1 cardiologist, a generic for Coreg, is not only a beta blocker but also an alpha blocker, which also causes insomnia.

The medication worked great, caused him virtually no problems, except that sleep was elusive.  Sometimes the sleep aid would work, and sometimes it wouldn't. Sometimes he tried relying on the Benadryl, but that didn't always work and when it did, it left him quite groggy in the morning.

Saturday, June 28th

It was a marathon day of last minute sewing and driving. Mr. Sprocket met up with his friend who took over his accounts while he was hospitalized. He needed to get his door keys back for several of Mr. Sprocket's contracted clients.  Mr. Sprocket drove me crazy, being a back seat driver while he was on the phone most of the time.

I dropped off my sewing order and Mr. Sprocket got to speak to my friend who runs a cardiac rehab program at a different hospital network. Their partner is a pharmacist. They were very patient and answered a ton of questions my husband had. They both thought Mr. Sprocket's recovery so far was "amazing" considering where he was just a month prior, and the fact that he was only on a single heart medication. (In addition to the heart medication, Mr. Sprocket is on aspirin, a blood thinner, a cholesterol lowering med and a thyroid medication.)

Sunday June 29
Mr. Sprocket worked from 1 PM to 8 PM at the Bakery, fixing a problem with the huge, ten tray rotary oven. I helped by handing him tools. This time, he made sure to break early for lunch.

Sunday night, he had another night of virtually no sleep. Mr. Sprocket spent time on the Internet searching his medications and seeing if he could do an alternative to the generic for Coreg.

Monday, June 30
We took a 2.4 mile walk. Mr. Sprocket can now keep up with me. He downloaded several heart monitor apps onto his phone and monitors his heart rate when he walks.  He had a second night of not great sleep.

Tuesday - Thursday, July 1-3
We took a 2.7 mile walk and Mr. Sprocket had to take a rest half way. He was having difficulty and most likely dehydrated. After we got home, Mr. Sprocket got on the phone to the Cardiology department, hoping to get his beta blocker changed.  He was able to speak to the nurse practitioner and the doctor agrees to change his medication. He will now have just a beta blocker and have nitroglycerin pills only if he gets pain. He starts on the new medication that evening. He is able to get a decent night's sleep on the new med.

The next day, Mr. Sprocket notices that the new medication makes him real dizzy. The medication also makes his heart rate somewhat irregular, to the point that it's difficult to get a consistent reading of his heart rate on the heart rate apps. He becomes even more discouraged. That morning, he doesn't feel he can drive on this medication.

On Thursday, we go back to the hospital. I stay in the lobby while Mr. Sprocket heads to the Cardiology department. He sees the nurse practitioner and asks to speak to her. He gets a very short meeting with the cardiologist and the nurse practitioner.  He was asking about options for another medication. There is some discussion about how much time they are having to devote to him. They mention that his heart function is normal. (I don't know since I didn't speak to them, but maybe they see him as not a high risk patient at this point, that doesn't need the attention they are having to give him.) They recommended that he cut his current medication in half, or even discontinue the new medication to see if his symptoms go away.  He cut his medication back to half.

Friday - Sunday, July 4-6
We had an okay 4th of July, watching the fireworks show down at Marina del Rey.  We took a few walks to look at the boats. Mr. Sprocket had a bit of trouble getting to sleep that night.

Saturday morning, Mr. Sprocket walked by himself since I had a client.  He stayed on our street, close to home, going back and forth around a loop. Mr. Sprocket stopped the new beta blocker to see if his dizzy symptoms disappeared. However, his heart rate went a bit high. He had quite a bit of anxiety about that. Searching the Internet he found out that you're not supposed to quit a beta blocker cold turkey, because it can cause your heart rate to jump. Neither the cardiologist nor the nurse practitioner mentioned anything about stepping down gradually off the beta blocker.  Mr. Sprocket talks about changing doctors, since he's totally disappointed in his care. That evening, he went back on 1/2 the new medication. He had to take melatonin and a benadryl to get to sleep.

And that brings us to Sunday. Mr. Sprocket took 1/2 the beta blocker medication. He did okay during our two mile walk and didn't get dizzy. He didn't measure his heart rate too much during this walk. Later in the day, he worked at the Bakery again, putting in a new door gasket on a freezer.  After he was there for a few hours, he asked me to stop by to help him with the gasket.  He takes a late lunch with me then goes back to work.  His heart rate after eating was still pretty high. We left about 6 PM.  On the way home, he stops at one of his regular, monthly clients and talks to the building manager. I ask him to measure his heart rate. It's 101, still too high. He rationalizes that it's high because he was driving. I tell him that is too high for driving. He realizes that at 1/2 the dose, he's not having any dizziness but the medication is not keeping his heart rate down after some relatively easy work and driving.

Overall, Mr. Sprocket is doing remarkably well. It might take a bit more tweaking of his meds to limit the side effects and to keep his heart rate down.  We've decided that he needs help reducing stress so we've ordered a good supply of Dr. D'Adamo's Catechol, made specifically for Type O's and AB's. You can listen to a short lecture about the product at the link.

Mr. Sprocket is also realizing that it will take some time for him to build his strength back up again to where it was before the heart attack.

Thank you everyone, for all your positive thoughts and prayers.