Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Trial Notes, 6-6-07

This a final version that may still have spelling errors.

I am late getting out the door so I drive to the Red Line station. I can't find parking in the lot, but do find some on the street. When I finally get to the 9th floor, I see Mr. Dunne is going over his first galley for his next story. Ciaran's latest story on the trial gets picked up by a local paper: The Pasadena Star News. It was in Tuesday's edition on the front page, and everyone congratulates him. Steven is editing a galley of a theater piece he's writing for his paper. It's 9:37 am, and the jury finally files into the courtroom. The cross of Lillienfeld continues by Brunon.

Brunon goes over Lillienfeld's testimony in detail, looking for any discrepancies he can. Spector stares down at the table, and I see that his hands are not currently shaking. Spector turns to look at the next exhibit on the screen. Brunon is trying to get Lillienfeld to say that the tazer wire was moved under Lana via the "take down" in the foyer. Lillienfeld will only concede that it had to have been moved afterwards because it couldn't have been shot "under her shoes." Spector is still looking at the photos up on the Elmo. Lana's mother is looking down at her lap; a sad jaw clenched look on her face. Lana's sister, who is in the courtroom every day, does not look at the crime scene photos either. Brunon is now trying to get Lillienfeld to say that the material picked up off her body was the missing nail. The jurors appear to be paying attention. At least four of the men are holding their chins in their hands in various ways.

From the way Spector is sitting, it's hard to tell now if he's looking up at the overhead screen or not. Now Brunon is really stretching it, saying that the way the detectives handled the gun could have destroyed evidence. I note that Mrs. Clarkson actually sits closer to her attorney than her daughter. Brunon does a demonstration with one of the guns found in the house. Detective Lillienfeld agrees that in holding the Smith & Wesson a specific way, you can't tell the actual color of the gun handle. It's clear to everyone in the courtroom that if this is the way Spector held the gun, then DeSouza could have been mistaken as to Spector holding the actual murder weapon, because the gun handle and it's color are not visible. This is a significant point Brunon has scored. Now, if the Smith & Wesson five shot fits the holster in the bureau, this would be a big hit for the defense also.

Detective Lillienfeld testifies that the carpet in the foyer was "pretty filthy." This was (I believe) in response to Brunon asking if the detectives searched the carpet on their hands and knees. Now they are going over in detail all the items found in the valise on the chair next to Lana's body. Antacid, Zantac, Viagra, Stay Awake Pills, a wallet with two driver's licenses, a passport, Various credit cards, AFTRA card, AAA card, glasses, keys, a magnifying glass, hair brushes and combs, breath mints, cosmetic products (I wonder what THOSE actually are!), a coin purse, pens and paper. Brunon harps more on the Viagra, asking if the detective knows if the Viagra was expired or not. What's the point of all these questions? Brunon is no trying to show that there was no evidence that Spector had taken the Viagra (that night). The detective didn't know if his blood was tested for it and had no knowledge that Spector took Viagra.

Lillienfeld is now going over the gunshot tests that were performed for sound quality. The cross is excruciating in the amout of detail Brunon is asking. The gun shot test were performed at the residence on February 4th, 2003 (my notes say 2007 but I'm sure I wrote that down wrong). No formal tests for sound conversations were performed by the motor court fountain. All the gunshot tests were audible by someone sitting in the car.

The morning break is called. At 11:05 am, we go back on the record. Now Brunon is questioning the detective about what Dr. Pena did and didn't do at the scene. Lillienfeld says that Dr. Pena didn't direct anyone to do anything. Not fingerprint the bureau or collect items off the stairs. I didn't see all of Dr. Pena's testimony, but I'm guessing this contradicts some of what Dr. Pena said he instructed the detectives to do. Now Brunon is questioning the detective about Stan White. Lillienfeld said he didn't know Mr. White well, but described him as a friend. Brunon characterized him as a "colorful character, involved in the entertainment industry." The witness says that the conversation with Stan White occurred five months to the day after the murder. Brunon is trying to imply that many officers outside of the investigation knew about the chip in Lana's acrylic nail. A juror is leaning forward, and their body language shows they are following the attorney, then the witness, then back to the attorney. Then the juror takes a note.

The last question Brunon asks is about "stippling" and if the detective knows what it is. Lillienfeld goes on to explain it in detail. And that's the end of cross.

11:20 am, redirect by Dixon finally gets started. Dixon gets Detective Lillienfeld to explain that the coroner's office has jurisdiction of anything that is on the decedent at the time of their death. However, law enforcement is responsible fore all items not on the body.

Q: Why did the Sheriff's Office provide that service to smaller municipalities?

A: The Sheriff's Dept. is compelled to offer that. More expensive resources are provided by the Sheriff's Office.

Q: Some cities have that relationship, some some don't, correct?

A: Correct.

I exchange a note with Mr. Dunne. I HAVEN'T SEEN THEM (Spector's hands) SHAKE ALL MORNING.

Lillienfeld testifies that the individual who performed the sound tests was from the Department of Health, and the gunshots could clearly be heard from anywhere on the property.

The Viagra was asked about again. It was a three strip blister pack, and two of the pills were missing. Lillienfeld goes onto describe the entire scene that he encountered in the house.

A: This murder had sexual overtones to it. The home was dark. There were candles lit. There was alcohol. The way she was dressed, who she was, who he was made me to conclude there were sexual overtones. So, the Viagra was booked into evidence.

Lillienfeld describes actually being in the lab when the bullets were swabbed for DNA. He testifies as to what he observed the criminalist do. "It was on the tips of the bullets. That ws the portion that was swabbed. The bottom was never swabbed, just the tips." This totally blows Linda Kenney Baden's opening statement that DNA was found on the "bottom" of the bullets.

Now the photo with the ungloved hand is put back up on the Elmo. Right next to it, is the same photo, with a 90 degree difference in orientation. The defense had turned the photo on it's side to make it look like someone didn't have gloves on their hands, when it was actually Lana's hands! Mr. Dunne and I exchange notes about that. The defense trick was very misleading.

Lillienfeld is asked who was present at the house when the scene was released to the defense team. "Jay Romaine, Robert Shapiro, Michael Baden, Henry Lee, Sara Caplan. Lillienfeld had met Dr. Baden and Dr. Lee at a conference years before. He had never met Shapiro or Caplan before.

Q: The defense (team) didn't have hair nets, booties or gloves (did they)?

A: Nothing that I could see.

Redirect ends, and recross by Brunon begins.

Spector and Bruce Cutler confer. Brunon goes back to cross on Dr. Pena, and whether or not Pena asked questions or asked evidence to be picked up, or for the bureau drawer to be tested for prints. Brunon makes a point to ask if there was any torn clothing, or if anything was positive for semen, and Lillienfeld says no.

Q: Do you know if a sexual assault kit was performed on Lana Clarkson?

A: I don't know.

Q: Her clothing wasn't torn, or pawed at, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: You were present at the exam of the unexpended bullets?

A: I can't remember when exactly (the exam was).

A few more questions are asked, and the Judge calls the noon recess.

After lunch, Mr. Dunne tells me there are two ladies from an Australian paper that want to do a bio on him. If I'm remembering correctly, he had lunch with them in the cafeteria.

Outside the presence of the jury, Rosen is making an assertion of privilege regarding Sara Caplan.

Rosen: Caplan will assert privilege. She should not be put in a position to testify. She does not intend to testify, based on ethical and legal obligations, she does not intend to testify. Mr. Spector objects to this. He asserts privilege.

I have in my notes that "Mr. Dixon would want it resolved before Stan White also," but I'm not sure if Rosen says this or not. It appears the defense is vigorously going to fight Caplan taking the stand.

The jury is called back in and Lillienfeld is back on cross by Brunon, and he is finishing up on questions about Dr. Pena. The cartridges in the murder weapon were removed at the scene. Detective Katz removed them. Brunon reads to the witness the California Department of Justice guidelines on handling this type of evidence. "When removing bullets from a gun the recommended packaging is to package them individually." Lillienfeld admits that he wasn't aware of that guideline.

Q: That agency believes that the bullets should be individually packaged. Do you know why?

Objection! Speculation!

Judge: Sustained!

The jurors all appear to be sitting back and not taking notes. Al except one juror in the back row.

Q: Dried blood can flake off?

A: Yes.

Q: That's why they put them in special packaging?

A: I don't know if that's why they do that.

And that's it I think. Brunon is finished with recross, and it appears that Dixon has no more redirect. The jury is excused, and we now go to a hearing outside the presence of the jury.

You can read a complete recap of that hearing, on this prior entry.

So Judge Fidler blinked. Steven and I wonder if it was Sara Caplan's tears that did it. If she's ruled to be in contempt, she could be thrown in jail until she testifies. The prosecution was not ready with another witness, so the court takes a break until Dixon can obtain another witness. The bodyguards lead Spector out of the courtroom. Steven says, "He must feel more secure, only using two bodyguards (now)."

There were a few interns sitting behind me, and I turn to talk to them, asking them what they thought of the proceedings. They didn't have a clue as to what was happening, so I gave them a tiny recap of what just happened and it's implications. Pat Dixon is able to get another witness to the stand, and the 26th witness is called. Robert Keil. Jackson will conduct the direct examination of this witness.

Robert Keil is a criminalist with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. At the time of the incident, he had been with the department 14 years. He completed a one-and-a-half year training program in firearms and collection of evidence. He was called out to the crime scene by Steve Renteria to assist in collecting evidence. Up on the Elmo is an image of tooth fragments at the scene. There are several fragments at different locations. One piece is mid stairs. Another piece is higher up and on the other side of the stairs. The witness states that he collected all these items except that which was on the body. The witness is questioned about several items of evidence and identifies through photos up on the Elmo, each item he collected and the envelope and vial they were put in.

Dixon now moves onto Spector's white dinner jacket and it's collection. Photos are put up of the room, showing that the jacket was on the floor of the dressing/entertainment room. A few more questions are asked and then direct ends for this witness. Linda Kenney Baden gets up to cross Keil.

Keil testifies that he took field notes. He did not write a report. LKB asks him to pull out his field notes. Item #5 that Keil collected is discussed in detail. Keil states that he didn't examine the items closely at the scene, and he didn't count the number of items that were put in this vial. His recollection of collecting these items at the scene was that he remembered evidence items #10 and #11 as single items, and #5 as having several items but he didn't count the number of pieces that went into #5's vial. The criminalist searched many rooms, but all the rooms he entered are not documented in his field notes. He testifies that he looked in the upstairs bathrooms, but he didn't see anything of value in those bathrooms. Keil said he didn't find any blood anywhere else in the house (upstairs) except for the jacket.

In the bathroom off the foyer, he observed several items. Ms. Clarkson was still at the scene during this time. The coroner's office had just arrived when he did. Keil testifies that he looked carefully, but he didn't find any other material. LKB goes back over the jacket, and in the manner of her questions, she's sort of "testifying," herself.

Q: It didn't look like it had been thrown in the trash?

A: No.

Q: It didn't look like it had been hidden did it?

A: No.

Q: It didn't look like it had burned did it?

A: No.

Now LKB is questioning Keil on the bloody diaper and where in was found in the bathroom by the toilet. The "Castle Meyer test" (also known as C-M) is mentioned, and that it's a good test for the presence of minute concentrations of blood. Regarding the murder weapon, Keil testifies that he was told where the gun was and he examined the area but he didn't collect the gun. Keil also testifies that he examined the (master?) bed for obvious stains, and the bed appeared to be made. Keil said he did some little sketches in his notes, but he took no measurements. He also went through the living room. Over and over again, LKB is trying to say that no one tried to "throw away, destroy or burn evidence" that was eventually collected. In my opinion, some of these cross questions are ridiculous. Now she asking him if he looked at the bar bottles to see if there were bottle ring marks and things to show bottles had been moved or removed. The jury appears to me to be very bored. All this excruciating detail of cross. One juror yawns. Another nervously moves his fingers. LKB is going over virtually every photo, and asking the criminalist, "Did you collect evidence before or after this photo was taken," and each time, the criminalist answers, "I don't know." It seems like LKB is beating a dead horse for no reason. I pass this note to Mr. Dunne: NOT HELPING HER CLIENT! And Dominick writes me a note back. I think she sounds like she's shrieking when she raises her voice in that accusatory tone.

And that's the end of the notes I took for this day.