Monday, December 8, 2008

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Fifteen of Testimony

December 8th, 2008

Prosecution Witnesses

#23 Sargent Thomas Kerfoot (LA Co. Sheriff's Detective; collected the box in the second floor office that contained guns, ammo, and a cloth diaper similar to the bloody one found in the foyer bathroom; testimony complete)

#24 Dan Anderson (Toxicology Lab Supervising Criminalist for LA Co. Coroner; supervises the toxicology lab; supervised the collection of evidence off Ms. Clarkson's body by Jaime Lintemoot; performed toxicology tests on blood samples taken from Ms. Clarkson and a urine sample from Spector; testimony complete)

#25 Steven Dowell (Criminalist for the LA Co. Coroner; analyzed the GSR kit taken from Ms. Clarkson's body; testimony complete)

#26 Michelle Lepisto (Senior Criminalist for the LA Co. Sheriff's Dept.; analyzed the GSR kit taken from Spector; testimony complete)

Accredited Press inside the courtroom: None

Another riveting day of scientific testimony, a good 90% of which I wasn't able to transcribe because the questions went so fast. When you're talking drugs turning into other drugs and what classification of drug they are and how much was found in the body I think my brain immediately turns to swiss cheese.

Sgt. Thomas Kerfoot was a witness who did not testify at the first trial that the prosecution decided to call for round two.

Before he is allowed to testify, Truc Do presents their arguments as to why they should be allowed to call him this time. His reports were included in the discovery handed over to the defense. Kerfoot participated in the search Truc says. He found the cloth in the box that also contained guns and ammo in the upstairs converted office room. AJ also adds that there were towels in bathroom by the stairs. If Spector was rendering aid (as the defense claims) there were several towels within a few feet of Ms. Clarkson. "He chose a particular cloth and a particular item [to wipe down the gun with]." He had to go upstairs to get the cloth. If I'm remembering correctly, I also believe AJ stated that this cloth is exactly like the diaper found in the downstairs bath.

Weinberg counters that he has problems with this argument. I believe Weinberg claims that he wasn't given any discovery on this issue. "There's no evidence that towel wiped the gun and no evidence to show that rag was used to wipe the gun. [...] All they can say there was a similar cloth upstairs. [...] This is absolutely invented out of full cloth. (That was funny!) [...] It's a clear invention to circumvent discovery."

Truc answers the discovery violation accusation. "I don't understand where discovery issues are coming from. I'm looking at the report by Kerfoot. [...] If Mr. Weinberg hasn't read these [reports] ... That's not our fault. Ms. Herold testified that the gun was wiped down."

I believe it's AJ who says, "It doesn't go to admissibility (whether this evidence can come in) it goes to argument." Weinberg counters, "The whole notion of what Dr. Herold said was, 'it's possible.' [...] To go from there to this...."

Fidler states that he would let Weinberg interview the detective. "I know him. I've worked with him on wiretaps. He can interview. I"m sure he will talk to you." Since the box the cloth was found in also contained guns that were not admitted into evidence, Fidler states that the prosecution can ask leading questions such as, were there guns and ammo also in the box, but that's it.

Weinberg questions Kerfoot right there in the gallery, in the aisle beside the third bench row. He's not whispering and I try to listen in. He asks Kerfoot the usual question about when he was subpoenaed to testify. The other question I overhear is "Why did you describe it as sewn on three sides?" I don't hear the answer.

While this is all going on, the photo of the office that's already been admitted into evidence is up on the ELMO. And I notice something in this photo, that I bet was noticed at the first trial. It's a sign on the top drawer of a two drawer wooden file cabinet underneath the left side of the desk. Since I don't know who owns the image, I'm only putting a link to it. This is the sign. I'm wondering if it will be readable in the photo of the evidence book that the jurors will get when they deliberate.

While Kerfoot was sitting in the third row, Detective Tomlin entered the courtroom and sat beside him. They shook hands and chatted. When the Detective was called to the stand, Detective Tomlin moved up from the third row to the second row.

Truc presents the witness. Kerfoot takes the stand and testifies to his assignments at the scene. He was directed to search the upstairs. The cotton cloth is introduced into evidence and the witness removes it from the evidence bag and shows it to the jury. The approximate size of the cloth is 10" by 16."

TD: Did you find it in a cardboard box?

TK: Yes.

TD: Did you also find other guns?

TK: Yes.

TD: Did you also find in that box holsters?

TK: Yes.

Then Truc does something very clever, well depending on how you look at it. She puts up a photo on the ELMO of the two guns that WERE admitted into evidence that were found in this exact same room. Remember, there was testimony earlier from Detective Lillienfeld that the two holsters found upstairs did not fit the two guns he presented.

TD: The items found in that box are different that the items found in Exhibit 62? (Photo of other guns presented to jury.)

TK: Correct.

Weinberg then says, "May we approach?" There's a bench conference and I'm sure Weinberg is complaining about this tactic. The next thing I see is Fidler addressing Ms. Do. When they leave the bench, there are no more questions about the other guns found in the box. Interesting thing is, right afterwards, Weinberg mentions the "other guns" when he crosses the witness!

I will expand on this entry more tomorrow evening about the toxicology reports ~ there's not much new there ~ and the battle over what GSR can and can not tell you. (Bottom line; it's qualitative; not quantitative. You can't make conclusions about the amount of GSR you find.) I will leave you with this though. Were Spector's hands within the 2.5 foot particle cloud that Dowell says probably surrounded the firing of the colt cobra? During the many direct and back and forth cross exams of Seven Dowell, the criminalist who examined the GSR kit from Ms. Clarkson, I noticed Spector writing on something. He has been doodling on and off on a notepad while sitting at the defense table.

There are rapid fire questions back and forth during redirect and recross. Weinberg is trying to diminish the fact that Spector was found with a single "highly specific particle" of GSR on his hands as well as a single "consistent with" particle of GSR on his hands. He gives several examples where someone might pick up GSR through secondary contact that was left from a different, originating party or event; someone who fell down or was pushed down onto carpet; someone who was laid down (the take down in the foyer); someone who was put in handcuffs; someone who was put in a police car. There are a few more like this, and these are somewhat probable ways someone could pick up a particle of GSR.

AJ gets up to redirect Dowell yet again and asks, "And the other explanation is that they could have fired a weapon?" Dowell responds, "Correct." AJ outlines the particulars of this case, with the gun close to the victim's mouth. "You would expect a higher percentage of those [homicides] to have GSR?" Dowell answers, "Yes."

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a paper handed from Spector to Weinberg before he gets up to recross. "What if someone has [their?] hands to their sides?" Dowell pauses before he answers. He gets this frustrated expression on his face with his eyes quickly rolled and his lips pressed. It's the same expression I've seen him make through many of Weinberg's previous questions before he answers back with his own question. "What is the distance? [...] The hands are electrically charged and they [GSR particles] can come and land at or on you."

The thought I had at the time was, did Spector give that question to Weinberg for him to ask, or was it a coincidence? I believe the blood evidence on his white jacket proves that Spector's hands couldn't have been down by his side when the weapon was fired. Can't wait for Dr. Herold to testify!

There was another hearing after the jurors were let go for the day around 2:40 pm regarding discovery issues (again) and whether or not Mr. Weinberg has been using gamesmanship as a part of his trial strategy. Dr. Sieden may or may not testify. Weinberg was ordered to turn over discovery on whomever he calls as an expert in suicidology by next Monday. There are very few witnesses left, and tomorrow is only 1/2 day of testimony. Court is dark for tomorrow afternoon. Still to testify are (at least) Steve Renteria, Dr. Herold, and Dr. Pena.

More to come when I get the time....

3 comments:

christine said...

The term gamesmanship is something I don't really understand. I've tried to look it up on the net but don't find a clear definition. Does this mean Weinberg is trying to twist or omit facts to sway the jury? Has anyone said just what gamesmanship is? I think you said even Fidler mentioned it early in the trial.

Thanks for another interesting report, and by the way your interview with Marc Germaine was so good. I was watching the news about the Tribune papers going bankrupt and someone on PBS said about current reporting, "Some bloggers do a better job than reporters" and of course thought immediately of you!

shari said...

Sprocket, Any more "odd" t-shirts on the one juror???? Also, I can't believe the press is so non-existent. Thanks for your coverage again and I hope you arn't wearing yourself out. Take care of your self.

Sprocket said...

christine: From my understanding, (with how things went down in court) "gamesmanship" is basically not being fair, or honest in what they promise to do verses what one does do. Saying one thing but doing another. Promising to turn over discovery and then deciding not to comply with the court's order.

shari:
No t-shirts that relate to Spector on Juror #5. He did wear a Rolling Stones t-shirt I think yesterday. It's in my notes, somewhere. Like I've said before, I think he's just a guy that is into music and motorcycles.