Sunday, July 22, 2007

Blood Spatter: James Pex as a stand-in for Dr. Lee

I just miss an Orange Line bus, but the overhead streaming ticker says there will be another one in less than 2 minutes. I doubt I'll make the 8:19 am Red Line train, but one can hope. My bus is a little more than 1/2 full. As you can see by my prior entry, we had a great time at the Magic Castle. As I ride the bus, I try to take notes on the evening so I can write about it. It's 8:15 am, and the bus is nowhere near the Lankershim station; it's still two miles out. I won't make the 8:19 am train. (As I start to write out this entry, I realize that I have portions of Babydol's Wednesday's appearance at court, embedded in Tuesday's entry where her attorney showed up briefly, and I have to stop and take time to correct that entry.)

It's 8:25 am and I'm got a seat on the train, waiting for it to leave on time. It's really stuffy in this car, and I watch people on the platform rushing to find a car with empty seats. For the very first time, I hear the conductor say, "This train will be leaving in one minute." At the last second, a man gets on with a child who starts to cry. On my Monday ride home, there was a young mother with a delightful baby~I couldn't even guess how old, maybe eight to nine months~ who I played peek-a-boo with. She hand a good time and her facial expressions were quite engaging. The baby with the man who just got on the train finally stops crying and I heave a sigh of relief. I'm still fascinated by the tunnels, and when the train takes off, slowly switching to the southbound track I get up close to the window to peer out to see if I can learn anything more about them. There are two sections of the route where the train reaches about 70mph, the first section coming after the Universal Station as the track heads under the mountain down into Hollywood.

When I finally reach the 9th floor, I don't see anyone in the hallway so I head on into the courtroom. Louis is here with his longtime companion and I get to introduce them to ccarrolladams (CCA) and houdinisback (dini). It appears court is delayed a bit while the attorneys are in camera. CCA, dini and myself chat about "doctor" Lee and other impostors. At 9:40 am, the attorney's emerge from the Judge's chambers. I see the woman with the angular face over on the defense side again. Now I realize she probably isn't the Pie's friend, but someone associated with the defense, maybe Tawny Tindle's investigative business. I see that Linda Kenney Baden has on another suit jacket that doesn't fit. I don't get it. This is a very smart woman, and I wonder if she just doesn't care how she appears in court or on camera in front of millions of people. Another big shocker is Rachelle must have gotten the memo (or is listening to her critics) because she's actually wearing something more appropriate to court. It's a tan pants suit with a similar tan colored shirt. However, I still can't say anything positive about her hair. It remains to be seen if, on Monday how conservative her outfit is, or if she develops a case of the Pie, and forgets where she is every day, thinking she can wear something more appropriate to a club scene verses a courtroom. I see a gentleman trial watcher who's been here quite a few times before. I first met him at the Blake trial where we had several conversations about whether or not he thought Blake was guilty. He didn't feel the state proved it's case in that trial.

James Pex is the sixteenth witness for the defense and the fifty-first witness in the entire trial. Linda Kenney Baden steps up to direct this witnesses testimony. We immediately find out that this is a blood pattern analysis expert, who wrote a paper back in about remote..and Baden immediately goes over his CVM and education. It's going to be more boring testimony today, and I settle in to try to get the motivation to write more notes on the witnesses long career in Eugene, Oregon and what he thinks about blood spatter. I overhear Dixon ask Jackson where is Steven Dowell? It appears the prosecution would like to have him in the courtroom. The woman who had pages of my blog is sitting over on the defense side again, wearing another conservative dark colored suit. The witness is now testifying about his education and training and that he's testified as an expert before. I pass this note to dini and Dominick: The prosecution is hampered at the moment. One of their experts is not here; Steven Dowell. I heard Dixon or Jackson ask where he was. Pex was a police officer before he transitioned into a career as a criminalist.

Rosen takes some notes, or he's doing something else and Brunon is dong the same thing: taking notes. Spector has that same blank state. The witness is now explaining about luminol, something we've all heard about before ad nauseum. "The entertainment show do a great job of making the science interesting," he says. He's got such a wide range of subjects he appears to be an expert on, that I write this note: He's a one stop shop expert! And then I show the note to dini who writes back, "All around CSI." It's 10:05 am, and we're still going over his expertize and experience. This guy has written and published on luminol testing, but it's almost twenty years ago. I finally realize why I'm so cold in this courtroom. I look up. I'm almost directly underneath a supply grill, way up in the high ceiling.

Now the witness says something about blood spatter on carpet and I write this totally stand alone note: BS!! It (blood backspatter) will absorb into the carpet! Pex testifies that the photographs the police took "were of poor quality and there should have been better photographs taken of Lana's hands." Pex is also a bootie fan. He says that booties should always be worn, and that luminol isn't good to use to find tiny droplets of blood. It's not a proper technique to look for spatter on carpet. In looking over at Spector, it appears he's looking back at the crime scene images on the Elmo. Now the witness is talking about the laws of physics, and his testimony is in total contradiction to those laws.

Rosen continues to take notes, and right now Spector appears to be staring straight ahead at nothing. Some jurors take an note here or there, but most are not taking notes right now. Pex has a problem with Stokes law. He doesn't think it totally applies to backspatter. I think this witness has lost the jury. Just what I'm sensing right now.

at 10:35 am, I look on over and I see Babydol by the courtroom door. Just as I lean in to tell Dominick, I don't see her. She either stepped back out of the room or she sat down on a bench but I couldn't tell where. (The real reporters however, get a real good look at her, even noticing she's got a barbed wire tattoo on one of her ankles.) Babydol's attorney approaches the bench and the prosecution and defense step up to the bench with them.

The morning break is finally called. The Judge performs some housekeeping and we get to hear the Judge read Madam Jodi "Babydol" Gibson and her attorney the riot act. She's not allowed to speak to the media and mention Lana Clarkson, or this case in any way, shape, or form. If she defies that order, she will be in contempt of court and subject to penalties. Rosen in the middle of all this, is not prepared to say that Spector won't testify at this point, so that's why the Judge's order goes into effect. If Spector testifies, then Babydol might be called to the stand. Her attorney, possibly his brain left in the company of the Pie for too long, asks, "Well, what if in promoting her diaries someone points out or asks about Lana Clarkson’s name?" And, just like he might have been admonishing the Pie or a twelve year old, Judge Fidler has to explain it to him that she has to say she's sorry, she can't discuss that while the trial is ongoing. The prosecutors then make a decision to ask the Judge to make sure that Babydol's "trick book" is not mentioned in any potential interviews, and the Judge says that all documents are included in that order. Then, Babydol speaks out about the accusations by the prosecutors that her "trick book" has been altered, forged, saying that "It's been in the custody of LE since 1999," taking umbrage with the accusations. Fidler basically ignores her, telling her that's for others to deal with. He's only concerned with his courtroom, and this trial. Then Babydol's attorney pipes up with basically the same complaint and Fidler shuts him down, too making sure it's clear that that this courtroom is not the place for that. With this little bit of business over with, we are back on the record.

Dominick leaves the courtroom for a moment and comes back to tell us that he got a great greeting from Babydol. "Mr. Dunne! How are you!!!!" Is what Dominick tells the rest of us she said. Rachelle and Rosen whisper to each other. I don't know who says it first, dini or CCA, "To go from Stokes Law to "Pandering" law, and dini and I crack up. I then pass this quote onto Dominick. Another bottle blond I've never seen before was in the courtroom and at the break, she greeted Rosen and Plourd. The white haired gentleman who is often in court sitting on the defense side arrives. Rachelle is intently working on her blackberry, and someone brings a package to the prosecution table.

There are about five people on their laptops in the back row. The blogger is one of them, along with Linda Deutsch's protege from the AP, Peter Y. Hong, Harriet Ryan an Michael Christensen. The witness makes a little demonstation on Linda Kenny Baden and she takes the two steps up on the witness stand platform and the judge asks, "Would you two like a moment together?" And the entire courtroom erupts. Rosen turns back to look at the gallery, but he could actually be looking at Linda Kenney Baden trying to get her attention. Pex is now saying that there are no procedures to actually identify blood under a microscope at 64 magnification, making a criticism of Dr. Herold's visual blood identifications on the clothing. (What planet is this witness on?) I see Jackson is taking a ton of notes in preparation to cross this witness. Pex says it again, that there's "No procedure to identify blood under a microscope at 64 magnification. Pex is all over the map with his opinions. From ballistics to blood spatter, back to ballistics then back on blood spatter again.

It's 11:20 am, and I am literally freezing. The testimony is so boring to me. It's the same thing, over and over. Once I first heard about backspatter and GSR at the Blake trial, everything since is just a repeat. Brunon gets up and leans over to his clerk (the one who I saw had a print out of this blog) and speaks to her. She immediately leaves to courtroom, off to run an errand for him. 11:25 am, finally Jackson gets up to start the cross off this witness. I clerk who got up to run the errand comes back and speaks to Plourd. Jackson is on top and out of the box with his first questions on cross. Several court or DA interns enter and sit behind us.

Q: Should you cut out the entire carpet of the foyer?

I don't write down the answer, but just the question itself says it all. Jackson gets the witness to admit that the procedures Steve Renteria used were what should have been used. He can't find any fault with them. Jackson then takes the witness through a second demonstration (the first one was about blood) regarding the tazer wire under the feet. Using Dixon as part of the visual experiment, he kicks a cord he places on the ground under Dixon's shoes.

The noon recess is finally called and all six of us (me, Dominick, dini, CCA, Louis and is friend) have lunch in the cafeteria together. It was hard to keep track of everything since there were several conversations going on at once. 1:35 pm we're back on the record, and even though it's only half full, the courtroom is quite a bit warmer now. I see Chris Plourd quickly leave. At lunch Louis said that Dante has been to trial four times. "He's had a harder life than I had," he adds.

Jackson goes back over the luminol in the bathroom, and then jumping onto intra oral gunshot wounds. Pex believes, "Stokes law has limited application in this case instance. It doesn't apply when the object is propelled and traveling horizontally." He's got to be kidding, right? The backspatter is not being "propelled." It's under flight. I'm a totally useless trial reporter today since I'm starting to fall asleep. Plourd is back and forth, in and out of the courtroom. Now we are back discussing Lana's legs. Pex concedes that there was no blood found on Clarkson's legs or below her slip mid thigh. Jackson gets up close to the witness like Baden did to make a demonstration and Baden interjects, "That's my spot," and the rooom erupts in laughter once again. Jackson crosses him on the paint spray can, (CCA explains that you can not compare paint to blood because paint has oils added to keep them from drying quickly) and then we get the pancake batter in the ladlr example. At every point, Pex has to put caveats on his answers. I note that Ms. Baden has not made one objection yet, except as a joke. Sandi enters the courtroom and we exchange a smile. Every few minutes, I'm yawning, and I'm fading fast.

Jackson bring up the "absence of evidence" point, there's then a joke of some kind and the jury laughs. The witness says, "I'm not sure where you're going with this." "Story of my life," Jackson quips back. The questions then jump back to the blood on the sleeve and what Pex would expect to see. It's 2:20 pm, and Rachelle's huddled under her blankie. Her eyes are closed. When Pex replies to one of Jacksons questions with, "Your anatomy isn't too good," the jury laughs and Rachelle wakes up. The witness is leaning out of his chair, and the Judge asks him if he wants to get up. It's funny and wakes up the courtroom a bit. Pex bemoans, "The problem I'm having is, I've never seen the jacket." Jackson says, "I would have provided them but you're not my witness." Although the witness isn't conceding much with his answers, Jackson still gets his points across. Jackson takes a moment to confer with Dixon and I see Plourd get up to speak to Brunon who are looking at exhibits on their computer, and then Jackson ends his cross.

Ms. Baden gets back up to redirect. It's so hard to listen to her. She's screeching again, raising her voice. I agree with my seat mates. She's very nice in person, but I can't stand to listen to her either. Around 2:40 pm, I see Spector's hands shake for a bit then stop. He's in his usual position of slumped in his chair. Dini leans in and whispers to me that she wonders if Pex was the criminalist on the Christian Longo case. Very few jurors take notes on this redirect. I do see a juror in the front row take a few, but one alternate doesn't even have their book on their lap. Pex now testifies that, "There are other laws of physics more applicable than Stokes Law." So he's totally disregarding the importance of Stokes. And then he tries to say that luminol may not be seen if the drops are tiny enough. The afternoon break is finally called. I saw Jackson lean in and talk to the family, and I was trying my best to listen in. He may have been asking them about the Pie's testimony.

3:15 pm break is over, and we're back on the record. Ms. Baden is back on redirect. Beth Karas writes a note and passes it to Dominick. Fire or explosion @ Grand Central NY. Lots of panic. Then more information: A transformer at 41st & 3rd. Dominick is worried because his NY apartment is not far from there, and he wants to go call his office to see what he can find out. After just a few questions, Jackson gets back up to recross.

Q: I just have a couple of questions.

A: You said that last time.

There's a bit of laughter when this happens. Jackson goes back to the "cone pattern" that is pretty much accepted by the science community as to how backspatter is ejected. And he asks the witness, "The farther away, the bigger the cone (from the point of origin). And Pex at least agrees with this. "That if the person was father away, the spread of the cone would be to the shoes or bigger," Jackson says, and Pex agrees again. Finally, Pex agrees that the ladies white dinner jacket had to be in the near vicinity of Lana's slip. Back and forth the cross and redirect goes for a bit. In one redirect, Baden is trying to get her expert to say that one tiny stain on the jacket cuff/sleeve is a transfer stain, and not spatter. Finally! We are done with this expert!

The defense tries to call their next witness, Sam Sedra, and the prosecution asks for a sidebar. After the sidebar, this defense witness is excused; they don't get to call him. Next up, Dr. Joseph Anselmo, a retired oral surgeon, dentist and forensic orodontist. He retired from the LA County coroner's office in 2004. I write this note to Dominick: Maybe this is the guy who lost the teeth in the lab? After a few more questions, it turns out it was a good guess, and Dominick says to me, "You were right!" About the only other thing the witness says is that he obtained Lana's premortem dental records, and that's the end of testimony for the day. The trial resumes Monday at 9:30 am.

At the entrance to the Red Line Station, I help a woman find the North Hollywood train. "Follow me," I say, and when the train comes we sit together. She was just downtown for one day of jury service. She said the trial she was called for would have lasted 50 days and there was no way she could have served. I talk about the Spector trial, how often I've been coming, and that there's still a month to go. At the Orange Line connection, I get a seat in the very back of the bus. It's usually packed on the way home. All I can think about right now, is to get my jammies on and fall into bed. Dini is thinking about coming for the closing. I hope she can make it.