Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Trial Notes, 6-11-07

This entry is finished but may still have some spelling errors.

On the Orange Line Bus I'm sitting near the front. There is a very young man would could be the twin image of the rapper~actor Ludacris. I envy this young man's beautiful smile and stark white teeth. On the transit news video screen, I see an ad for the LAPD. They must be recruiting right now. I surprised myself by getting out of the house at 7:30 am and I think I will just make court. I caught a bus at the Sepulveda Blvd. Station at 7:36 am. Hopefully, I'll be on the 9th floor by 8:45 am. At the Van Nuys station, two elderly women get on who look like they are sisters. At the Red Line Station, I see the strange looking bicyclist again with the partially shaved head and jet black ponytail hanging down underneath his helmet. I check the time the train is leaving: 8:08 am. I should be there in plenty of time for the motions that are to be presented outside the presence of the jury.

I get up to the 9th floor before 9:00 am. The hallway is virtually empty. A little after 9:00 am, Mr. Dunne arrives. Dominick says, "This is it! Sara! Sara the prisoner!" Dominick is telling myself and a few of the other reporters, that when when Paris got out of jail, (the first time) he happened to be outside, and was mobbed by the media. (Paris lives in the Hollywood Hills above Sunset Blvd., which is near the hotel where Mr. Dunne is staying.) Someone screamed, "There's Dominick!" And all these reporters rushed him.

Inside the courtroom, there are several motions that have to be addressed. Pat Dixon is speaking to the Judge about three defense witnesses that have spoken to the media: Dr. Henry Lee, Bill Pavelic, and Jody "BabyDol" Gibson, a self professed "Super Madam." Rosen gets up to speak, and Spector finally arrives in the courtroom. Rosen says that Pavelic was never on their witness list, and he (Rosen) contacted Ms. Gibson. Gibson "may have discussed this case," and there is some comment that is referred to her book. Gibson supposedly gave an interview to Marie Claire magazine, which is issued in the UK. The issue the interview is supposed to appear in is the August issue, but that comes out sometime in July. Plourd gets up to address Dr. Lee, saying "We don't represent Dr. Lee."

(I was surprised that when the letter from Dr. Lee hit the press, several days ago, the prosecution didn't immediately file a motion. Now that Pavelic wrote that scandalous diatribe on his website, accusing Pat Dixon of infiltrating the defense camp, it appears the prosecution is finally doing something about it.)

The comments Ms. Gibson has to say about Ms. Clarkson are "salacious." The Judge says, "She's there to dirty up Ms. Clarkson. Rosen replies. "It's not there to "dirty up" Ms. Clarkson. It's to give as much as possible to her state of mind." The Judge says, "Right now, I'm keeping an eye on it. If they (the defense) want to take a chance that their witnesses may not get to testify, that's their problem."

And that's it! Nothing is actually ruled on! Alan Jackson leans in to speak to the family while the jury files into the courtroom at 9:35 am.

The next witness is Steve Renteria, and Alan Jackson performs the direct examination. Mr. Renteria is a forensic scientist who works for the LA County Sheriff's crime lab. He's worked there for 23 years in the biology section.

Q: Was it normal for someone in your position to go to a crime scene?

A: Yes.

Mr. Renteria is responsible for training new analysts at the lab. He also does forensic and DNA typing. The jury appears to be attentive. Mr. Renteria was wearing two hats in connection to this case. One at the crime scene and one at the laboratory. The Judge appears to be reading a motion. Possibly Sara Caplan's motion? A collection of five photos are put up on the Elmo. Mr. Renteria testifies that there was a large amount of blood on Lana's purse, and a large amount of blood on the right side of her jacket. He did not visually observe any blood stains on the left side of Ms. Clarkson's jacket at the scene. The coroner's office tried to take precautions, to keep the left side of the jacket from being contaminated, but they were not successful. Now there is an image on the Elmo of Lana in the chair. Spector doesn't appear to be looking at it. Wait, there he goes. Now he appears to be looking in the direction of the screen.

Alan Jackson is now asking Mr. Renteria about blood stain collection, and the proper procedure to collect stains.

Q: That would be improper to use, say, like a Post-It note to collect stain evidence?

And Mr. Renteria agrees that using that would not be standard practice. The witness testifies that the stains on the stairwell banister were transfer stains that had dripped down the side. Now photographs of the downstairs bathroom are up on the Elmo again, and Mr. Renteria testifies that the "diaper was wet with water." Spector appears very still, looking down at the table in front of him. Now Mr. Jackson is going over the collection of the white dinner jacket.

Mr. Renteria explains in detail the luminol test he performed the following day. He testifies that he sprayed everywhere for blood stain. The luminol will glow a bluish, purplish light. There was no blood on the landing. No blood on the carpet or stairs. Mr. Renteria sprayed the walls on the stairs up to a height of two to three feet and he found no blood on the stairwell wall. The only thing that luminesced, was the pooling of blood around where Ms. Clarkson was found.

Q: Could one explanation be, that there was no blood spatter on the stairs, (was because) someone was between Ms. Clarkson and the stairs?

A: Yes, that's one explanation.

The DNA procedures at the lab are discussed in detail. Mr. Renterial was one two individuals who started the drive for the LA County lab to do DNA testing. He was "in on the ground floor for DNA analysis." ASCLAD, The American Society of Crime Lab Directors, has standards and accredited labs throughout the US. The LA County lab has been accredited by them. Today, in modern technology, DNA analysis and comparison is done by using STR, "short tandem repeats." The LA County lab uses STR analysis. Mr. Renteria says, "Everybody's DNA is unique except for identical twins." DNA is the same from conception to death. "We look for different sites or locations," the witness says.

Q: How would you describe the sensitivity of DNA testing?

A: It's very sensitive.

(I'm not sure who says this line, Jackson or Renteria,) If you put a pen ink dot on a paper, that size would be enough. A juror in the back row yawns. For the most part, the jurors expressions appear to be stoic. Renteria goes through the process of getting a DNA profile.

1. Get samples ready
2. Extraction
3. Quantifying how much DNA is present
4. Amplification PCR (polymer chain reaction)
5. Genetic Analyzer

Afterwards, you end up with a DNA profile. I have zero idea how much of that the jurors understood. A ten minute recess is called. Rosen and Dixon approach the bench; and at 11:10 am, it's still going on. Richard and Ron, the two guys who come in all the way from Riverside are here. Before the jurors come back in, Brunon informs the court that he has only spoken to Bill Pavelic in passing. He has a "very remote" relationship with him. Then the jurors are brought back in. One of the jurors puts on a jacket; he appears to be a little cold. And the direct examination of Rinteria continues.

The witness now goes on to explain the difference between mixture samples, where there are major and minor profiles, and that the source of that DNA profile cam be other materials such as skin cells, or oral mucosa. The source doesn't necessarily have to be blood. Spector's DNA was found on Lana's left inner wrist and left outer wrist. A photograph of the dress is put up on the Elmo, and Rinteria explains what the green and red arrows are. "Lynn Herold is in charge of evidence for reconstruction," and she was the one who placed the red arrows on the dress. His arrows are green, and indicate spots he tested for DNA. Rinteria looked at a total of three stains on the dress to test for DNA. He also inspected her jacket, that had to be cut in half at the coroner's office.

11:30 am, Ron and Richard leave. Mr. Dunne tells me that they often don't stay to listen to the scientific evidence when they attend a trial. (They have become very friendly with Mr. Dunne, bringing him information about the case off the internet and discussing it with him.) Detailed photographs of the gun are up on the Elmo now, and Jackson is going over with the witness the white material that was found on the gun site. Renteria took samples from the gun. Dr. Lynn Herold did the microscopic exam of the gun, while he collected seven different areas off the gun for blood. On the medalion imbedded in the grip, the DNA was insufficient to do a profile. On the impressions in the barrel, there was DNA but not enough of a sample. In the site grove, the DNA was Ms. Clarksons, as well as on the site barrel. On the side wood grip, there was a mixture. The major contributor was Ms. Clarkson and there was minor DNA (unfortunately, I didn't get to write down the rest of the answer identifying it). There are more detailed questions about the mixture DNA and how much X & Y markers are present in the sample taken off the gun.

Jackson now moves onto the bullets in the gun. Renteria only sampled the bullet tips of the live rounds left in the cylinder. He did not test other areas such as the bottom of the cartridges for DNA. Renteria says that he didn't want to use the side of the cartidges becaus at that time, the bullets hadn't been dusted for prints yet. There was one DNA marker, very weak, on the bullets that did not trace back to Spector or Ms. Clarkson.

I notice that some of the jurors are taking notes. Two jurors are slouching in their chairs, and one is leaning forward. Most of the front row jurors are leaning back. Mr. Renteria talks about the DNA match to Ms. Clarkson. It's one out of 114 quadrillion. That's a "1" with fifteen zeros after it.

1,000,000,000,000,000 Wow.

Jackson now moves onto the brandy sniffer glass, evidence item #15, found on the coffee table in the living room. There was a mixed profile DNA on this glass. The major contributor was Phil Spector and the minor was Ms. Clarkson. The glass found in the bathroom also had two DNA donors, with Spector being the major donor and Ms. Clarkson the minor donor. Moving onto the ginger ale bottle, there was a mixture of at least two individuals. Phil Spector and Ms. Clarkson could be the two contributors, but he was not able to determine who was the major or minor contributor. The results of the DNA on the latch bolt revealed it was consistent with two donors. Ms. Clarkson being the major contribuotr and Spector the minor contributor. One of the samples taken from the door knob or the latch bolt (my notes are not clear), had a single DNA marker that wasn't from Spector or Ms. Clarkson.

The blood on the stairwell hand rail matched a DNA profile for Ms. Clarkson. She was the only contributor. The eyelashes found on the back of the toilet in the bathroom off the foyer had a DNA profile that was consistent with a mixture. A single swab was used for both fake lashes. Ms. Clarkson was the major donor and Spector was the minor donor.

The lunch recess is finally called. (As I type up these notes almost a month later, I can't believe I sat through this testimony and took all these notes. It's excruciating reading back through it and trying to type it all out.) I have lunch with David and his mother Margaret again, where we go over the trial testimony and what it all means so far. David is certain that the defense did their own DNA test on the bottom of the bullets, otherwise, why would Linda Kenney Baden say in her opening statement that Lana's DNA was found on the bottom of the cartridges. I bet him that he's wrong, and that the defense didn't do the testing he thinks they did.

Back on the 9th floor, I see a somewhat regular trial watcher chatting it up with Mr. Dunne and another person who has come to court. There are quite a few more trial watchers in court today than usual, and there are not that many reporters in the room today. The hallway is full of potential jurors from other courtrooms. The courtroom finally opens to the public at 1:35 pm, and I notice that Mick Brown (author of Tearing Down The Wall) is back. He gives Mr. Dunne a warm hello. There are a few motions to present to the court.

Rosen stands up and argues that when Greg Diamond first came forward, the defense should have been notified, so they are filing a special motion for a mistrial. (Ridiculous!) One of the arguments for this motion is the information to rebutt Dr. Lee was supposed to be for the prosecution's rebuttal, but now that information is coming in via the prosecution's CIC (case in chief). Rosen is going over things Caplan said in detail, and he is trying to make it as if Lee did nothing wrong. Rosen says handling of the discovery issue "was not proper." The Judge already ruled on the missing evidence and the way it came in. Why is Rosen questioning somethng the Judge already ruled on? Is this to try to get into the record, any means possible for a mistrial? It must be. If they don't bring up their objections through motions at the trial, the appellate court can not consider the issue. Now he's saying that the prosecution did not turn over any notes from the gun or bullets being printed. What? That the prosecution didn't turn that over? More hogwash.

(It's not clear in my notes, but I believe) Dixon stands up and says that it's true, no one contacted the defense team when Greg Diamond came forward. Regarding Sara Caplan, the court agreed that they could use it in their CIC.

The Judge replies that no motion was made to squash Dr. Lee's subpoena. "It should have been done then. How Ms. Caplan got here, my recolection is diffenent. I won't address the full issue since we're not done with that yet. Regarding Mr. Diamond. That was done in an appropriate fashion. You (Rosen/defense) don't agree with that. The motion is denied."

Regarding the notes on the bullets, Alan Jackson stands up, and points out to the defense what page it is in the many documents that have already been recieved by the defense. After that, court goes back on the record and Renteria takes the stand again for direct examination.

Alan Jackson presents seven new exhibits, all photographs of the chair that Lana was found in. Mr. Renteria goes over each photograph, showing exactly where he collected samples to test for DNA. One sample had no DNA; the other three he collected had a single donor: Ms. Clarkson.

One of the alternates is coughing and the Judge interupts testimony to ask if they are alright.

A photo of the white dinner jacket is now up on the Elmo, with the red arrows showing blood spots, and the green arrows showing where Renteria tested for DNA. Most stains were a millimeter or less. Renteria testifies that Dr. Herold determined there was blood microscopically, which is more accurate that K-M testing for blood. It's 2:15 pm and I start to yawn. I've had too many late nights trying to keep up with my chores. Renteria states that he was able to get DNA from six stains on the jacket. Four stairs were from a single donor, Ms. Clarkson. Two stians were a mixture, the major donor being Lana, and the minor donor Mr. Spector. Now there are images of the back of the jacket. In an area near the armpit (I don't have in my notes which arm), there was blood identified microscopically by Dr. Herold. Next up on the Elmo are the pockets of the pants. There was a mixture of DNA on the inside of the pants pockets. Four stains were tested. One had a mixture, the major donor being Ms. Clarkson and the minor being Spector. I didn't get the breakdown of the rest of the stains.

Renteria states that there were stains on the gun that were much larger than those found on the jacket. The stains on the stair railing were much larger also, but some of those have no minor donor. A few more questions, and then direct examination ends. Plourd gets up to cross this witness.

Plourd is asking about the tests on Ms. Clarkson's wrists. Two stains from the left wrist and one stain from the right wrist tested positive for K-M. Then luminol is discussed. Renteria says that luminol is far more sensitive than a K-M test. A juror takes a sip of water and an alternate leans forward. Renteria is now talking about the swing of the door. The weather stripping was rubbing metal on the carpet and that it wasn't blood. (The luminol must have picked up the microscopic metal left behind from the door swing.) I see several jurors take notes.

Now Plourd is going over a "discrepancy." Dr. Lee said he picked up a blood stain off of the steps, but no luminol showed up on the test. Renteria says that it was presented (maybe by Alan Jackson) that the luminol was pretty "wet" and could have dripped. The LA Sheriff's office crime lab mixes the reagents themselves to make their concentrations, and Renteria waited until sunset to do the luminol test. Since there were no new areas that luminesced, he did not take photographs. It's 3:00 pm and the afternoon break is finally called.

I go over to David and Margaret to discuss the strategy of the defense. Someone (if I'm remembering correctly it's Ciaran) brings over copies of documents showing that the day before the trial started, Spector took out liens against the two properties he owns. One is the current residence, and the other is a townhouse in Alhambra. Mr. Dunn, Ciaran and I all wonder if there has been any interspousal transfers of these properties.

When the break is over and court starts again, a trial watcher's phone goes off. I wrote about that in this short entry the following day. The jurors appear to be a bit more alert since the break. Renteria says that they can get a good DNA result if the DNA is in good condition. The minimum amout that is needed is a nanogram, which is one billionth of a gram. To me, the questions are minucia on top of minucia. I look over and I see that Spector's hands are shaking.

Judge: And that will be our last question.

Plourd: Not just one more?

Judge: Well, if you want.

The jury laughs. I thought it was very boring today. The only thing I thought was interesting was the DNA on the fake eye lashes. There was one speck of one "Y" marker on the combined swabbing from the tip of the bullets, and not on the bottom of the casings like Linda Kenney Baden said in her opening statement. And that's the end of my trial notes for this day.