December 11, 2008
#28 James Carroll (LA Co. Sheriff's Department firearms expert; examined murder weapon, as well as three other firearms found, the ammunition, performed firing tests, and examined the thumb latch; testimony complete)
#29 Dr. Louis Pena (LA Co. Deputy Coroner; performed the autopsy on Ms. Clarkson; under 1st cross examination)
Accredited Press inside the courtroom: Aphrodite Jones during the morning session
Manner of Death
As a strategic move, the prosecution chose not to present evidence on manner of death in their case in chief. Under direct, Truc Do did not ask a single question of Dr. Pena on the manner of Ms. Clarkson's death or what his final determination was on the autopsy report. When the people were finished with their initial direct of Pena, they requested to approach the bench. The jury was then asked to leave the courtroom for a few minutes while the attorneys litigated an issue. Fidler ruled that until he heard arguments in a special hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning, at this time Weinberg could not cross examine Dr. Pena on suicide, manner of death or what was discussed at any meetings that were held with investigators and other coroner personnel.
I have a bit of sewing that I must get done tomorrow and I hope to update this entry on Friday evening or Saturday.
Trial Notes for December 11th, 2008. (Added December 15th) unedited draft entry
I’m all caught up with orders that needed to get shipped in time for the holidays which means I now have time to write up last Thursday’s trial notes.
I make the 8:39 am train but I don't get a seat. It’s not until two stations later that a seat opens up and I gratefully take it before the train leaves the Highland Station.
As I was coming up the walkway behind the Criminal Courts building, the Spector’s Mercedes was just entering the parking lot. The 1 (heart) Phil -moblie has a reserved parking spot in the lot directly behind the building. I don’t know if Spector has purchased a monthly contract for this lot but I do know that he pays (possibly on top of that amount) $40.00 a day to get the exact same parking spot. Those orange cones are in the spot reserving it until he arrives. This spot is one car away from the ramp entrance to the back of the building. I have some photos of this and I will put them up in the next few days.
When the Spector’s enter the building, they always go through the employee only security scanners and not the scanners for the general public. I have no idea if this is a procedure that was agreed to during the first trial, when Spector had a sheriff escort into and out of the building. Now days with no media interest, Spector has to use the public elevators and go through the second security checkpoint just like everyone else.
9:30 am: I’m inside the courtroom. Linda in San Diego tells me that she believes Juror #5 is wearing a Heath Ledger “Joker” t-shirt. I hear laughter coming from the jury room. Rachelle is intently reading or texting on her blackberry.
James Carroll and AJ enter at the same time and Carroll sits in Linda Deutsch’s regular spot in the second bench row. Linda and I chat about the Caylee Anthony case and the breaking news that the 2-year-old child’s body may have been found 15 houses away from the grandparent’s home. Linda notices that AJ is wearing his “turkey tie” again. A man in wide horizontal striped shirt enters and sits in the back row.
Jennifer Barringer is not here today. The young defense clerk who complimented me on the blog will handle the defense exhibits today. I see AJ obtain the shotgun from Wendy as well as the other weapons that have been admitted into evidence.
A little bit of laughter in the courtroom right after the jurors enter and sit down. One of the alternates left her glasses in the jury room and she asks Fidler if she can go get them.
The next witness is James Carroll, who is a firearms and tool mark expert for the LA Co. Sheriff’s Department. His duties are the analysis of firearms, ammunition and tool marks evidence. He explains all the things he does as a part of his job. He can perform serial number restoration and also examine tools and tool marks.
An older gentleman who was here yesterday joins us in the gallery.
Carroll’s duties are rather varied and he lists a whole litany of things he does as a normal part of his job. He performs serial number restoration to determine ownership and trace a weapon back to it’s origin. He also performs GSR analysis.
Carroll lists his CV and it’s extensive. He mentions all the places where he’s trained as well as taught. He’s published papers in peer review journals. In 2003 he was still an employee of the LA Co. Sheriff’s Office.
Carroll states that he first observed the weapon at the scene but he did not take custody of the weapon at that time. He first received the murder weapon on June 9th, 2003. Carroll identifies the weapon. “Would you like me to look at the weapon?” Carroll asks AJ. AJ responds, “Please take a look.” Carroll picks up the weapon and ensures that it’s “safe” to handle. He states that the weapon has been rendered “safe.” There’s a type of plastic strap through (I think) one of the chambers that is very similar to a wire tie strap. The serial number on the weapon is B66745.
AJ asks Carroll to take a look at Exhibit 36A. “I didn’t take that photo, but that’s a similar weapon [a Colt Cobra.” Carroll goes over the lab receipt and explains that the lab receipt is a unique number and is a way to track crime scene evidence. The number is assigned as the item is booked into evidence. He describes the procedure for signing the lab receipt document. Another Exhibit is put up on the ELMO and AJ is still coughing. That cold he’s been fighting has really lingered. This next photo the witness states he directed to be taken. It’s the photo of the three different handguns retrieved from the house and admitted into evidence in this case along with the ammunition that was found within the weapons.
Carroll states he did an exam, a forensic examination of the weapon. He starts his exam by recording information and documenting everything about the firearm. He documents the condition of the item, checks the safety mechanisms and weighs the trigger pull. He looks for any parts that may be missing or out of place and any modification that may have been made [at the factory]. “I test fire the weapon and compare rounds,” Carroll states.
Carroll describes the action and function of the gun to the jurors. The overall length if the gun is approximately seven inches. The barrel length is two inches.
AJ: Is this is what’s commonly known as a snub nose revolver?
JC: Yes, it is.
He explains that there is aluminum in the construction of the weapon and why it’s use. It makes the weapon lighter if you have to carry it all day. “But again, as the holder, [you] would feel more of the recoil,” Carroll testifies. “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. [...] Because it is a lighter [weapon] steel than the heavier steel brother. [...]”
AJ: The shooter will feel more of the muzzle flip?
JC: Yes, there will be more muzzle flip and muzzle rise.
Some court personnel enter and sit in the third bench row.
Carroll testifies about ammunition and explains the various parts that make up the “cartridge case.” The bullet is the projectile, the gunpowder is the propellant, the cartridge case (shells or casings) acts as a container. In the base of the case is the primer. It’s struck, it burns the gunpowder.
Spector turns and faces the ELMO.
Carroll states that the cylinder turns before firing. It will stays in that 12 o’clock position (after firing) until someone fires again.
The court personnel leave.
AJ: What’s the significance of the hollowed out point of the bullet?
JC: That hollow cavity will help that bullet to either mushroom or expand.
The difference between a flat nose verses a hollow point is a hollow point will cost a bit more money. The mushrooming is to cause more damage to the life [target]. It will also cause it to slow more rapidly. The example of a police shooting is given. You don’t want the bullet to go through a suspect and hit another individual. Carroll states the above example is probably why they were developed.
Carroll states he test fired the weapon several times. It functions properly and within major specifications. He fired the weapon for a powder pattern analysis. He shot 24 rounds.
AJ: Does the weapon have internal or external safety mechanisms?
JC: Yes, it does. [...] It’s very common for a weapon. [This weapon] has 2 safety mechanisms. They are internal and not external. [...] It doesn’t have an external button.
The two safety mechanisms are the rebound lever and the hammer block safety. Both safety mechanisms were working perfectly [when he examined them].
Carroll describes other safety mechanisms. The golden rule of firearm safety is the forefinger. “You keep the finger off the firearm until you are ready to fire. [...] You want to treat all weapons as if they are loaded at every time. [...] If you pointed it [a weapon] at me, I’d be highly offended.”
AJ: You never, ever point a weapon at someone unless you’re ready to fire?
Objection! Over ruled!
AJ then gives several loud demonstrations to show that this gun would not fire accidentally even if it was slammed, dropped or knocked.
AJ Unless that trigger is pulled all the way to the rear, that gun would never fire? [...] Well, something would have to be in there to pull the trigger?
Carroll states he found no modifications to the weapon. Trigger pull is then discussed. Trigger pull is the amount of force to be attached to the trigger. Carroll explains how they test the trigger pull to determine the amount of weight needed to pull the trigger. It’s tested by the gram metric (?) method. Using the single action method with the hammer cocked the trigger pull is 4 to 4.5 pounds. Using the double action method, it’s 11.25 to 11.5 pounds if the hammer is already down. Hence, the two actions.
Carroll explains how they maintain integrity for test firing. There are two methods for test firing; into a tank of water or a box full of cotton batting. He used the cotton batting test firing method. Afterwards, he made an examination of the lands and groves. Carroll gives an explanation of the “rifling” of the barrel. There are groves in the barrel in a round twist pattern. “It gives a bullet spin and makes it more accurate. [...] The uncut portion is called lands. [...] The barrel will have either a right or left twist. [...] This weapon had six lands and groves and a left twist.”
Carroll describes the “head stamp” of a cartridge case and how each manufacturer will have a slightly different head stamp. He details the different head stamps the two types of ammunition had that were found at the residence and in the handguns. Carroll states that the S & W Plus P ammunition is loaded to a higher than normal pressure specifications. It means that the muzzle flip would increase recoil and muzzle flip.
10:25 am: I glance over at Rachelle sitting in the front row on the defense side. Her eyes are closed and her arms are crossed over her chest. Her blanket is wrapped around the lower part of her body.
Carroll examined the cartridge cases under a microscope. He states he looked for unique marks left by the firearm on the primer. He explains how each weapon is different in the marks they will leave.
I look on over at the jury. They watch Carroll demonstrate the weapon and they all look like they are interested in his testimony. He’s an excellent witness in that he addresses the jurors and engages their attention.
Carroll states that on the microscopic level in the manufacturing of the barrel, there are all kinds of imperfections. Carroll testifies that the empty cartridge left in the chamber was fired from this weapon.
Carroll then testifies about receiving the expended bullet that was recovered from Ms. Clarkson’s body, when it was received (2/4/03) and the “J” number attached. The bullet pieces recovered were in five fragments. Four were just lead and very small. It was badly damaged.
1o:37 am: A young nicely dressed couple enter and sit in the third row. A few moments later Sherri and Detective Tomlin enter the courtroom at the same time. Tomlin leans in and speaks to the DA’s clerk.
Carroll describes how he determined the weight of all the pieces of the bullet: 99.7 grains. There still some unrecovered mass.
Spector is still facing the ELMO.
Carroll was provided information that gunpowder was recovered from Ms. Clarkson’s hard and soft palate. He was told there was no stippling on her lip or on her face. This is often seen when firearms are fired close to the skin. Carroll testifies that the majority of gunpowder is consumed in the firing, but not all of it is. It is an incomplete process. Some comes out of the barrel in a “cone” pattern. He did test firings at specific distances to determine the size of the cone this weapon produced.
Carroll states that from his analysis the gun barrel site had to be beyond the position of Ms. Clarkson’s teeth.
The morning break is called.
A well dressed middle aged woman in a tan pantsuit enters and sits in the front row. The sheriff’s motion her to move to another row. Mrs. Clarkson and Detective Tomlin greet and exchange a few words. The very pretty woman from Tuesday comes in and sits beside me in row two. I get my courage up to ask who she is because I think it’s Aphrodite Jones. It is. She asks me if they can use blackberries in here and I tell her, “Yes. Just keep it low in your lap.”
Wendy comes out from the jury room and addresses the attorneys. “One of the jurors tells me that one of the attorney’s pointed the gun (murder weapon) directly at her and it freaked her out.” Addressing Weinberg, Wendy continues, “So, do you want her to put it in writing?” It’s juror #18. Wendy doesn’t mention who it was, and I don’t hear Weinberg answer Wendy’s question although he may have nodded his head. AJ says in a loud voice, “I know exactly who it was.” Meaning, it wasn’t him.
At 11:04 am break is over and the jurors are seated there is some exchange between the jurors in the first row and the bailiff. The jurors softly laugh and giggle. I miss what is said.
Carroll testifies that he examined the other weapons found at the residence at the Sheriff's Dept. property locations. One of the exhibit photos is of one of the handguns and a holster but it is not a Hunter type holster.
Carroll testifies about the difference between a 357 magnum and a 38. A 357 will fire 38 ammunition but not vice versa. That’s because a 357 is a “souped up” 38 special. It was manufactured after a 38 and has longer ammunition. Evidence photos of the other handgun are put up on the ELMO and identified. Both of these weapons are fully functional. Then the shotgun is entered into evidence. Carroll testifies that the shotgun has a “ribbed fore grip” and that it’s a 12 gauge pump action shotgun. There was nothing to suggest it wasn’t in working condition.
The Hunter holsters are presented into evidence. Carroll testifies that he contacted the manufacturer to date the holsters. All three Hunter holsters predate 1985, when the horn logo embossed on the holsters was changed. The holsters were all made out of leather; all the same color; all the 1100 model; all had the horn logo that predated 1985. Carroll testifies about all the ammunition found in residence and that the Speer ammo was from the same manufacture, same profile, same head stamps and the same primers. Carroll goes over the same for the S&W Plus P ammunition and that all the rounds are from the same manufacture. Carroll testifies that this ammo is somewhat uncommon.
11:26 am and direct is finished.
DW: Does keeping a gun in a holster make it more or less safe?
Objection! Over ruled!
JC: It depends.
DW: Is there anything about keeping a gun [un-holstered] more dangerous or more lethal?
JC: A holster has nothing on lethality. When you are talking about danger, I don’t know what that means.
Weinberg then points out what he perceives is a difference in his testimony from the first trial to this trial. It’s very minor but he keeps going over it. He will go over this again and again. It has to do with “recoil” and “felt recoil.”
The young couple in the third row leaves.
Weinberg asks Carroll if looking at the first trial testimony will refresh his memory. Weinberg asks him something to the effect of, ‘Is there anything that you’ve learned from the first trial that made you change your testimony?’ The witness counters Weinberg. He doesn’t believe that he’s changed his testimony. Weinberg’s tone is very confrontational now. “At the last trial, you said ‘may have’ more recoil.” There’s an objection and Fidler steps in to clarify that there are two different points here. “Recoil, and felt recoil.” Weinberg now asks a complicated question about felt, recoil, and felt recoil. Carroll states, “Recoil is something that can be measured. Felt recoil is something that you perceive.”
DW: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to argue.
Carroll holds his ground with Weinberg. He does state that he never used the words “muzzle flip” during the first trial. Carroll is asked, “If one were holding a gun firmly in their hand, a single hand, would that control the gun more?” He replies, “I don’t think we can generalize [that type of comment].”
Weinberg asks Carroll about Ms. Clarkson’s teeth and that something could have caused her front teeth, “...could have projected them eight to ten feet out of her mouth?” Carroll replies, “Please understand that I’ve never studied projectile[s] .... It’s possible.”
Weinberg then crosses Carroll on the pounds of weight needed to pull the trigger. He asks about the physical effort of curling a finger to pull and that it’s a totally different motion than pressing. When Weinberg asks him, “What about pressing with thumb[s]?” He replies, “There needs to be more to that,” meaning, he needs more information.
Weinberg then crosses him on the thumb latch. Carroll received a request from Detective Lillienfeld to examine it and determine how it became separated. He examined it and wrote a report based on what he’d been given.
DW: And you could not tell if it had been forcibly removed in any way?
JC: No. I couldn’t reach any conclusion.
Weinberg tries to ask this same question again and Carroll gives the same answer.
DW: You spoke to Dr. Lynne Herold?
JC: Well, I speak to her every day.
Weinberg then says it concerns matters in this case.
DW: You were asked to determine the muzzle of the gun’s location in relation to the mouth?
Carroll drew a simple diagram that’s put up on the ELMO. He testifies that diagram is out of context. When Weinberg asks him a question as to what it’s supposed to represent Carroll responds, “No. This is an illustration as I’m thinking on paper. It has nothing to do with it. It’s a concept on paper.”
Weinberg tries to make it like it’s a big deal that Carroll was asked to do all this testing to find out where the gun was positioned in relation to Ms. Clarkson’s mouth. Carroll states that at the time he was asked these questions, he did not know that tooth material had been found on the site, that it had been identified on the date he was asked to do the tests.
More questions about was he aware of the autopsy, was he aware that stippling had been found on the inside of the mouth. Carroll states that he had heard the term “sudo stippling.” He believes he asked about it at the time but he does not recall what he was told.
There are a few more questions about whether he would have done the test or not if he had the additional information and we break for lunch.
1:25 pm: I’m back in the courtroom. There is a strange, weathered looking man with a much younger woman (I overheard by the elevators that she is his “secretary”). He has dyed black hair a little longer than the nape of his neck. His outfit is all black if I’m remembering correctly. Someone tells me that John Amos was in the building lobby at the LAPD sign in counter. Wendy comes out and tells the attorneys that the jurors would like the lights dimmed when something is put up on the ELMO.
Bill Mahr was spotted in the 9th floor hallway down at the other end. He was wearing a juror’s badge. Fidler takes the bench for the afternoon session at 1:38 pm.
Weinberg asks about the trigger pull and the force needed to fire the weapon. Carroll agrees that some ways of applying pressure is harder than others. Weinberg asks about a part of the gun he hasn’t heard about yet and that’s the “support” under the barrel. Carroll states that part of the gun is called the “crane” of the gun. He asks Carroll about the measurement and could he determine it from the photos. “Is this something that you could do in a few moments?” Carroll replies “One or two minutes.” Weinberg addresses the court, “Your honor?” Fidler says, “No, not at all.” Meaning, sure, go ahead and take the time to figure it out.
The measurement of the crane comes out to 32 millimeters, or, just over an inch and a quarter.
AJ goes back to that contentious cross earlier where Carroll kept insisting that Weinberg was taking his response out of context.
AJ: Was Mr. Weinberg putting your answer in it’s entire context of what your answers were?
Objection! Over ruled!
AJ reads the entire prior testimony into the record and Fidler lets him. It clears it up.
AJ: Was that your testimony? [...] Is that any way inconsistent with what you testified today?
Two older casually dressed men enter and sit in the second row.
AJ gives Carroll some examples to respond to. If your hand was on the trigger and I came up to you and startled you and put my hands o your hands, grabbed your hands... could that be enough to startle you and put enough [additional] foot pounds of pressure on the trigger?
JC: It’s certainly possible if you add up the foot pounds.
AJ then goes over the thumb lock and that it’s designed not to come off for the life of the lock. Carroll states that he’s used hundreds of them and heavier had one fall off. AJ then moves onto stippling vs sudo stippling.
AJ: Have you heard of agencies confirming their findings by testing independently through other agencies or departments?
Redirect is finished and recross begins.
Weinberg gets Carroll to admit that there was nothing that he saw or know that caused that thumb latch to come off. Many, “You don’t know” questions where Carroll answers “No.”
Weinberg then won’t let the recoil/felt recoil issue go. He goes back to it and his first trial. Weinberg says you said then, “may feel more recoil and now “will feel more recoil.” Carroll feels he’s answered this question be he said he’s willing to read his answer again.
That’s the end of recross and AJ redirects.
AJ : So let’s just ask. It’s a lighter frame; there will be more recoil?
Carroll testifies they will “feel” more recoil.
And that’s it for the firearms examiner. Truc Do calls Dr. Louis Pena to the stand.
Dr. Pena is a Los Angeles Co. medical doctor. He is a forensic specialist. When Dr. Pena takes the stand, Mrs. Clarkson leaves the courtroom for the first time in the second trial. I remember when her and Fawn left the courtroom during the first trial. It was during Dr. Pena’s testimony.
Dr. Pena testifies about the difference between anatomic pathology and forensic pathology. He goes into a little bit of his CV. He’s been a Deputy Medical examiner since 1996, also known as a coroner. He worked for a short time in San Diego for about six months. He testifies that he’s performed approximately 3,800 autopsies. About 1,000 of those were gunshot wounds. He occasionally will roll out to a crime scene. It’s uncommon, but it does happen. He’s testified in court well over 300 times.
He testifies about when he arrived at the crime scene and names the team that went with him. Dan Anderson, Jaime Lintermoot, Barbara Nelson, Richard Gijalba (sp?), the photographer. He started documenting when he arrived at the residence. He entered the residence at 7:18 pm. On the ELMO is a photo of Ms. Clarkson in the chair. Dr. Pena states he could see a weapon from the door when he looked in from the back door. He spoke to Detective Lillienfeld and states that they left the weapon so that he could see it specifically.
He did a cursory exam at the scene. He did a gross exam of her facial area and saw that her two front teeth were damaged. At the scene he palpated the back of her head to feel other areas of the head. He could feel a bone fracture coming out but not breaking the skin. He didn’t make any determination at that time.
Dr. Pena describes the steps taken to try to protect the left side of Ms. Clarkson’s jacket. He was present when the purge event happened at the coroner’s office and described what happened.
He left the crime scene at 9:30 pm.
Dr. Pena said he was able to examine her hands and fingers better at the lab. Ms. Clarkson’s right thumb was diagonally fractured. The acrylic nail cracked, but not the natural nail underneath. He didn’t visually see any powder marks on her hands. At the lab he went over Ms. Clarkson’s body with a fluoroscope light. He then X-rayed the body and found the wound track. He could see the wound going through the spinal cord and into the head. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head. The bullet did not exit the body.
Pena demonstrates the trajectory of the bullet using a pen on his own face and neck, opening his mouth and putting the pen in his mouth then putting the pen beside his face and neck to demonstrate the trajectory. The bullet lodged in the occiput bone (which is at the base of the skull).
The bullet went through the mouth and nicked the top of the tongue. It destroyed the soft palate. Based upon the nature of the injury and the autopsy, it will not tell you the manner of death.
A new diagram is put up on the ELMO. It’s one I’ve not seen before. It’s different than what AJ did for the first trial to show that it is impossible from the autopsy to determine “where” Lana’s head was from the track of the bullet. There is one diagram with the head straight up. A second diagram with the head tilted back some and a third diagram with the head tilted back more. So, although the trajectory of the bullet is “upwards” what that means is the bullet traveled upward, towards the head. It doesn’t mean that’s the position of the gun or the position of Lana’s head.
TD: Are you telling us that the gun was fired in an upward projection?
TD: Are you telling us by this trajectory the position of the head?
TD: Can you tell the position of Lana Clarkson’s head from the autopsy?
TD: As a [medical examiner] you can’t tell from the autopsy what position her head was in?
Dr. Pena testifies that he recovered more pieces of the bullet in Ms. Clarkson's esophagus.
TD: How did it break up?
DLP: From when it struck the neck bone....
An autopsy diagram is put up on the ELMO. It’s the one with the detail of the tongue and voice box area. I so remember this diagram from the first trial. Dr. Pena states that he removed the tongue “in block” which means the entire area. As I see this, I’m remembering the testimony from the first trial.
Dr. Pena testifies that the left side bruise was caused by blunt force trauma. That the wound was acute or recent. He testifies that the wounds on the very back of the throat, those did not have any depth, like the bruise on the left side of the tongue.
Dr. Pena describes the bones surrounding the spinal cord and the function of nerves at that level. The bullet went through just below the medulla. (The medulla is just below the pons. My Anatomy Coloring Book says, “The medulla contains life-sustaining control centers of respiration, heart rate and vasomotor function. Nuclei for cranial nerves VIII, IX, X, XI and XII exist here.”)
Fidler calls the afternoon break. There are several public people in the courtroom in the afternoon. There are about eight to ten people besides me, Linda from San Diego and Sherri. I can’t help it. I ask the gentleman behind me what he does. He states that he’s a “Police Reporter for news and a part time stunt man.” He says he “knows Spector real well” but he calls him Spencer. He doesn’t get the name right. Spector doesn’t acknowledge him during the break and he talks to his “secretary” as if he doesn’t know him. He didn’t no say for which paper he worked, so I’m doubtful he’s part of the accredited press. He did have an old, official looking ID that might have been issued by some police department clipped to the middle of his shirt. I saw the word police on it, but could not tell what type of ID it was.
2:55 pm: The white haired man, Harvey, enters. Sherri’s friend Robin arrives. The part time stunt man goes over to speak to Harvey. I finally take the time to note what Spector is wearing today. It’s a dark navy blue suit for a change with a dark blue striped shirt, and dark blue tie and blue kerchief. Spector comes over to where Rachelle is sitting to speak to her.
At 3:00 pm the jury is called. The part time stunt man is still talking too loud to his secretary as the jury enters and I turn around and visibly put my finger to my lips to let him know he needs to be quiet.
When the break is over, Truc resumes her direct examination. Dr. Pena explains that the spinal cord is the “information highway. It’s how message get to and from the body.” Dr. Pena states that Ms. Clarkson experienced a complete dissection of the spinal cord. She was immediately incapacitated. He talks about soot and sudo stippling on the inside of her mouth. He states that Ms. Clarkson had recently had her teeth redone. The sudo stippling was on her inner lips, the upper and lower areas. It was caused by the shattering of her porcelain crowns and maybe a little by the bullet. The stippling was on the inside plane of the teeth.
Dr. Pena describes the bruising he found on the left hand. The bruise was 1/2” x 1.” It was significant an the back side of the left and and it was recent or acute. He saw bruising on the right wrist on the medial surface, the pinky finger side. The bruise is very visible in the photo. It’s a nice purple color. It’s 1/2 x 1/2 of an inch.
There is a bruise further up on the forearm, but no more on the wrist area. Dr. Pena incised them. They were very recent 1/4” in diameter and very red inside which indicates to him they were fresh.
I see Juror #5 take some notes on Dr. Pena’s testimony right then.
Dr. Pena testifies that the bruises on the wrists, their location would be consistent with being grabbed. All the bruises, all are about the same. The blood is fresh. He could see red blood cells. The bruises have not been there for days since there is no inflammation. The bruises range from zero to 12 to 24 hours, but not days. In his view, they are all in the same age range. In his medical opinion they are consistent with a struggle. They are all of the same age and occurred in the same event.
Truc then asks Dr. Pena about the age of the bruises on the tongue. Dr. Pena thinks they are of the same age and event.
The prosecution then states they have nothing further and ask to approach the bench. I can see that Weinberg is upset at the bench. The jury is asked to step out of the courtroom. Weinberg asks that Dr. Pena step out of the courtroom.
The prosecution is asking the judge to limit the cross examination of Dr. Pena to just the areas the prosecution covered in their direct. If Mr. Weinberg wishes to bring Dr. Pena back to ask him about the manner of death, he can do so within his own case.
Weinberg states that he does not intend to go into suicide.
The prosecution asks that Weinberg not ask (as part of their case) questions about what went on in the meetings with other coroner’s and detectives on the case.
I have in my notes, “cause of death” but nothing else. Weinberg is shaking his head as he often does when he doesn’t agree with something that he hears. He feels that he’s entitled to ask about the meetings.
The prosecution states that beyond the scope of direct, if he wants to bring of a case of suicide, he should do it within his own case.
Weinberg is very unhappy. He says, “At the very last minute they decided not to ask a question they've been fighting to ask.”
I think Fidler at this point asks Weinberg, “What are you going to ask?”
Truc says, “I think it’s completely disingenuous to file a motion that this defense...” (This is about when the defense filed a motion to prohibit Dr. Pena from even testifying, and if he did testify, that he couldn’t testify about suicide because he didn’t do a psychological autopsy.)
Fidler says, “First of all, we don’t want to litigate [this]. We don’t need to do it right now. [...] I want to have a further hearing on it. On Tuesday, when we come back. I’m asking you not to get into it right now. [...] These meetings may or may not be relevant to cross exam. “ So Fidler tells Weinberg at this point, he can not ask these questions. It doesn’t mean that he will never be allowed to ask; just not at this time until he hears further arguments.
From the expression on Weinberg's face you can tell he is not happy with Fidler’s ruling.
3:35 pm Weinberg begins his cross.
Over and over and over from the beginning of his cross, Weinberg asks question after question after question to point out that Dr. Pena could not determine cause of death from the autopsy. Dr. Pena states that in Los Angeles County he gets requests to visit the crime scene three to four times a year. Sometimes he’s called by the investigator; sometimes he’s called by the coroner’s team. But when he was in San Diego for those six months, he was called out every week.
Pena testifies that yes, before he came into the house, he was briefed by LIllienfeld. He was told about the “confession.”
DW: Looking at that scene, could you tell if it was a suicide or a homicide?
Dr. Pena states that he couldn’t determine at the scene if it was an intra oral wound. He was hoping it was outside the mouth because that would make it easier to determine homicide verses suicide.
DW: The medical evidence couldn’t tell if it was a homicide or a suicide?
Question after question after question about this issue.
He couldn’t tell who was holding the gun or who shot Lana Clarkson. There was no stippling, there was only sudo stippling. He couldn’t tell if the lips were tightly or loosely around the gun. There was no blunt force on the lips or mouth. There was no evidence of any hard blow to the outside of the mouth. He measured Ms. Clarkson and her height was 5’ 11.” He states her weight but I could not tell if he said 151 or 161 pounds.
Weinberg asks him when he did the autopsy, and gets him to state that he did not issue a report until seven months later.
Weinberg asks again, “There was nothing that medically changes your opinion?”
Weinberg then tells the judge that’s as far as he can go (with the limitations imposed on him) and then Fidler releases the jury until 10:30 am, on Tuesday.
The jury leaves and Dr. Pena leaves. AJ has just two issues. AJ hands the special subpoenas for the expert fees to Weinberg. Fidler states he needs to know if evidence of a psychological autopsy is even allowed. He needs some research on that. He also needs to know what went n in the meetings that Dr. Pena attended. Because the prosecution brought up the possibility of a struggle, what went on in the meetings may come in via cross. Fidler states that he wants to know if the discussions biased him. If so, then the discussions will come in.
And that’s it. Court resumes at 9:30 am Tuesday so that Fidler can hear arguments on the issues that were just discussed.