Saturday, May 31, 2008

Neil Entwistle, Steve Huff & The Metrowest Daily News

Steve Huff, best known for his blog The True Crime Weblog, is listed as an expert (along with the well known Wendy Murphy) on The Metrowest Daily News's new website, Neil Entwistle Murder Trial, that will cover the case.

Steve reported on this case from the very beginning and writes:
I wasn't quite sure at the time, but I knew that the murders of Rachel and Lillian were definitely not an everyday tragedy. In part, this story was different because it reached across the Atlantic and drew the interest of the British press. When Neil Entwistle was huddled in his parents' Worksop home in the UK, I received an early-morning phone call from journalist Ross Slater, who was then on the scene. I had the odd experience of being bleary-eyed and barely awake in Roswell, GA as Slater recounted what had just happened just after lunchtime there in England.
I ended up writing only two articles about the case for the Crime Library (that I can recall), but they were fairly thorough and not just re-writes of my blog posts:
"Neil Entwistle Taken to Embassy for Questioning."
"Neil Entwistle No Stranger to Sex and the Web."
In the end, my blog posts tracking Entwistle's strange machinations online as he attempted to make money for nothing were probably some of the most intense work I've ever done as a blogger, and representative of some of the best instances I can recall where I felt I was working hand-in-hand with blog readers to figure things out. I can't help but wonder how much of the accused murderer's online life will end up being used in the trial.
With Steve involved in this new web site's coverage, you know it's going to be good! I admire all that Steve has accomplished with his online blogging and am very happy for him that his hard work efforts have paid off with this high profile gig. Congratulations Steve! You deserve it!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cameron Brown Pretrial Hearing, May 13th, Part II

The first part of this story can be found here.

Finally, Pat Harris shows up. Now I'm sure that I am in the right courtroom. Another case goes before the Judge. "The defendant ordered released on his own recognizance. Ordered to return in six months. Keep up the good work," the judge tells the defendant.

And, then another. VA10033 Addressing the defendant, the judge says, "Bench warrant is recalled and quashed. Set this for one month. Ordered to probation. Defendant released on his own recognizance. Go to the third floor and check in."

There is a recess for a few minutes and I wonder how long it will take the sheriff's to bring Brown up to the 13th? It's a small courtroom and the jury box is on the far right, just the opposite of Fidler's and exactly like Pastor's courtroom. There are now about eight to ten people waiting for their case to be heard. There are attorneys milling about in the front. I see two deputy sheriff's sitting in a row off to the far left, near the door.

At 9:17 am, Brown is brought in. Pat Harris is at the defense table. I don't hear the prosecutor's name. There are two people at the table, one a woman sitting down and there is a man to her left. Brown and Harris are in intense discussion, and we wait for the judge to get back on the bench.

A sheriff walks over to Brown and uncuffs one handcuff for a moment and then it looks like he recuffs him. There are quite a few big binder folders on the prosecutor's side of the table all spread out. I can't see if Brown is cuffed to the table or not.

9:25 am, Judge Sterling takes the bench. "#1 people verses Brown BA335360." I don't have in my notes who says this; I believe it's the judge. Pat Harris for the defendant. Gary Gross filed a motion to quash. Harris is seeking a long list of videos.

Judge: Does defendant waive reading and enter a not guilty plea?

Harris is subpoenaing records from the Sheriff's Department, the arresting agency. And the penal code 1054 comes up. The Judge says, "We'll not order anything produced outside of 1054. I'll hear argument..." (1054 is part of the penal code that has to do with the rules of discovery.)

Harris goes onto say there is a long history... two and a half years of history...."

And then I miss the rest of what is said. There are Cameron Brown support blogs out there that claim Brown has been repeatedly harassed (accusations include withholding special dietary needs, not receiving prescribed medication, personal items urinated on, hot water turned off and phone access interrupted) by sheriff deputy's while housed at the Los Angeles County Jail. It's not like harassment of those incarcerated in the LA County Jail system by officers is something new. Far from it. Here's an LA Weekly story from 2003 along similar lines. I'm not saying that the harassment and abuse Brown has claimed is true. What I'm saying is, it's quite possible. It's my understanding that child molesters are at the bottom of the heap in prison or jail hierarchy, and those who are accused of killing their children must be just a few rungs above them.

Brown looks over his shoulder at his wife.

One of the parties states that there are sheriff's here in court, ready to testify.

Like I mentioned before, it was hard to hear, and my notes unfortunately are sketchy. I apologize my notes are not clear as to who said what.

I believe Harris says, "Offer of proof. In jail for 4.5 years. There have been a number of incidents. A number of situations..."

Judge: Why do you want them on the witness stand?

Harris: To show history and pattern of behavior.

Judge: We're not going to conduct depositions or interrogatories. You must establish that through argument. If we need testimony, we will schedule a hearing.

And a date is set to return to court. May 28th (which I missed going to) at 15 of 60. A trial date is set for July 2nd.

Prosecution table: (PT) The man from the prosecution's table speaks about the video's the defense is seeking. "Some of the video tapes requested ...are on a hard drive. It's not possible we don't have those records."

Harris: Order them not to tape over.

PT: Not possible.

Judge: You can make a motion under (? Young ?) ... (I'm sorry that I missed getting the statute the Judge mentioned.)

PT: It's all erased. It's copied onto a hard drive and copied over. It's too late to preserve it.

And that's all of the hearing I have. Like I said, I couldn't hear well, and it wasn't clear who was speaking. I find out later that the gentleman at the prosecution's table wasn't the prosecutor at all. He is a legal advisor for the Sheriff's Department. I ask him if he heard the prosecutor's name and he said that he didn't catch it. I thought that was interesting. Maybe he didn't want to tell me.

I head back into Sterling's courtroom and sit through a few hearings until think I hear a name for the prosecutor, but I later find out the name I heard was not it.

It appears to me that the defense might have demanded these tapes early on and there is an issue as to whether or not the Sheriff's Department destroyed potential evidence by not turning over these videos or hard drive or whatever medium they were housed when they were requested.

Today, I spoke to the Public Liaison's office (they were quite helpful) and also called Department 133. At the May 28th hearing, the case was held over until June 18th for a discovery hearing and then June 26th for a pretrial conference. The July 2nd trial date is still set. At the hearing I attended on May 13th, the prosecutor was Eloise M. Gillott. However, on the May 28th hearing I missed, Dennis Lockfield is listed as the DDA of record, with Marcus Musante filling him for him. According to the Public Liaison's office this often happens pretrial where cases are shifted from one prosecutor to another.

Third Arrest In Jersey Abuse Scandal



~ Haut de la Garenne

A 45-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the Jersey abuse scandal investigation. The man was born in Jersey, but was arrested somewhere on the UK mainland.

The man's arrest has a direct connection to Haut de la Garenne. His arrest relates to serious alleged sexual crimes at the home during the 1970s and 1980s.

The man has been brought back to Jersey and is currently in custody. Police will be questioning him today. Police will not release the suspect's name unless he is formally charged.

The suspect is the second man to be arrested in connection with alleged child abuse at the Haut de la Garenne home. Gordon Wateridge, 76, is charged with three offenses of indecent assault on girls under 16 between 1969 and 1979.

Claude Donnelly, 68, is charged with raping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl on Jersey between 1971 and 1974. His arrest is not directly related to Haut de la Garenne.

Haut de la Garenne Teeth Come From Two Children



~ Investigators at Haut de la Garenne



Jersey police have confirmed that further tests on five of the teeth uncovered in the cellars at Haut de la Garenne indicate they apparently come out after death and, beyond a doubt, come from at least two children. The teeth, most with roots attached, do not appear to have fallen out naturally prior to death.

Police believe the teeth found in the cellar have been there since later than the 1940s, but have yet to determine how or why they came to be there.

Tests on the thirty-odd bone fragments indicate some of the bones had been cut and others had been burnt. The bones where found in an area where police believe there was a fireplace, leading to speculation of possible cremation.

All of the teeth and bone fragments belong to children; none of the remains come from adults.

Police still have not deemed the investigation a murder inquiry, saying additional testing is needed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cesar Laurean Investigation Documents Made Public


~ Cesar Laurean Under Arrest

Onslow County Superior Court Judge Charles Henry has unsealed documents, which provide a clearer picture of Cesar Laurean’s movements after the body of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child were found in a fire-pit at Laurean’s home.

Investigators had believed that Laurean used his father-in-law’s Trailblazer to transport Maria’s body. Photographic and testimonial evidence indicates that Laurean was seen driving the vehicle on December 14, the last day Maria was seen alive.

A search warrant deposition statement shows detectives found a newspaper dated January 9, hair and fibers, a receipt and a possible blood sample in the vehicle.

According to Capt. Rick Sutherland of the Onslow County Sheriff's Department, "We are confident we know where Maria's body was from the time she was killed until her body was recovered."

Laurean is from Las Vegas, but was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He and his family moved to the U.S. over ten years ago.

Maria had accused Laurean of rape and the FBI said that he had told members of his Marine Corps unit that he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of rape.

The FBI believes Laurean entered Mexico under the alias Armando Ramirez on a bus from Houston, Texas. Investigation of Laurean's home computer found research about Mexico, purchasing land in Mexico and finding a job in Mexico.

The Sheriff's Department also learned that someone accessed the Laureans' joint bank account from a computer using an Internet service provider based in Mexico City.

"This same IP address contacted a personal account of the wife, Christina Laurean, and logged into that account," according to the newly released documents.

Laurean was captured in Mexico back in April and is currently awaiting extradition. The extradition process could take a year or more.

The unsealed documents may be seen in full here.

Spend a Half-Hour with Lenny Harper



~ Lenny Harper



The BBC UK has done some superb reporting on the Haut de la Garenne investigation. The BBC Jersey - not so much. However, in a very frank and candid interview with BBC Jersey’s Matthew Price, Lenny Harper discusses the past six months of the investigation.

So, if you have a half-hour and a fresh cup of coffee, spend it with Lenny Harper!

BBC Jersey interview


BTW, for those who may not realize it, the far-most button on the right side of the screen will make the video play in full-screen mode.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Neil Entwistle Murder Trial: There will be live coverage!


Neil Entwistle, date unknown

The Boston Herald.com is reporting that TruTv will have live coverage every day of the Neil Entwistle trial, scheduled to start on June 2nd, 2008 in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts. This will be a media circus not only for the court in Woburn but also for the town of Hopkinton, where Entwistle is charged with murdering his wife Rachael, and their nine-month-old daughter Lillian on January 20th, 2006. Rachael was cradling Lillian in her arms, when they were found in the master bedroom. The case is reminiscent of Woody Allen's 2005 movie, Match Point, in that Entwistle used his father-in-law's gun, a 22 caliber pistol and returned it to the in-law's residence after the murders.

T&T and our trial watching friends will try to cover as much of the Entwistle case as we possibly can. We are hoping that CNN will have online live streaming, (but we're not holding our breath) as well as many other news outlets that are vying for the coverage. Those include the BBC, NBC Dateline, Sky TV and ABC's 20/20. We're not certain, but we believe Entwistle maintains dual citizenship for the US and Great Britain. The international attention being paid to this case is similar to the 1997 second degree murder trial of Louise Woodward for the shaking death of 8-month-old Matthew Eapton.

More Finds at Haut de la Garenne

Up to eight more bone fragments and two additional milk teeth were recovered this weekend from the cellars at Haut de la Garenne.

Lenny Harper also told the BBC UK, what they feel is a second pair of manacles; appear to be homemade restraints made out of thick wire.

Harper says a very disturbing picture is emerging.

“Everything we are finding belongs to children – children’s teeth, children’s bones. We haven’t found an adult tooth or what appears to be an adult fragment of bone in there.”

“Bearing in mind that this was a children’s home - the allegations of horrific abuse of children tends to add to the concern of what we are finding.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cameron Brown Pretrial Hearing, May 13th 2008

This is an unedited, unfinished DRAFT entry.

A while back, a few of my trial watcher friends have been wondering what ever happened to the Cameron Brown case. For those of you who have never heard of this case, back on November 8th of 2000, Cameron Brown allegedly threw his four-year-old daughter, Lauren Serene Key-Marer off a steep cliff, Inspiration Point in Palos Verdes, California, to avoid paying child support to her mother, Sarah Key-Marer. His first trial hung, not because some jurors thought he was innocent; they hung on the degree of guilt.

I was searching around for some information on the case and came across a news report that Brown would be in two different courtrooms on May 13th in downtown Los Angeles and I thought that was interesting. Supposedly, Brown "turned in" a home made knife of some sort that he claims was planted in his cell and he was being charged on that. In addition, Brown somehow got his trial moved from Torrance to downtown Los Angeles in Judge Michael Pastor's court 107, right across the hall from Judge Fidler's courtroom. It's been some time since we've had a good trial to follow so I thought that I would drop in on the two hearings for Cameron Brown to see if I might want to follow this trial. It might start around the same time that Pellicano & Christensen, round two start and it will be a decision which trial I decide to watch. At Pellicano, which is in Federal Court, I know Ciaran and Steven will be covering it and I'll have great company and get some inside scoops. I have no idea who much interest Brown will get in downtown. The LA County Public Liaison's office tells me they have had zero interest in Brown.

On Tuesday, Mr. Sprocket drops me off at the North Hollywood station but I miss the 7:20 train by about 10 seconds. I'm on the escalator from the ticket platform to the trains and the bell goes off that the doors to the train are closing. That means I won't be in the Courthouse until 8 am, and I know Pastor's courtroom starts right on time. I had already contacted my friend, Dr. Carroll Adams, who got interested in a trial in Pastor's court when Spector was just about ending and things got weird in that courtroom. He's been following several trials in Pastor's courtroom ever since so I knew he would have the scoop on which hearing would be first.

When the 7:30 am train comes at 7:25 am, they don't let everyone on right away. Metro does a security sweep of the train and it all the times I took the subway to watch Spector, this is the first time I've actually seen them perform a security check of the cars.

I don't have a book today and I'm tempted to ask someone for a section of paper. A man is on his laptop, several people are reading the paper and I see a woman putting on her makeup. The car is pretty full with at least 15 people standing. An older gentleman with a lined face offers a woman his seat and then the young man next to me gets up and offers his seat to the older gent who just got up for a woman.

In the Hollywood Hills/Cahuenga Pass, where the train reaches speeds up to 70 mph, there is some unique advertising in the tunnels now, that I first saw on my way home on Friday for the Miura hearing. As the train speeds by for quite a distance you see an ad. On Friday, it was promotion for the movie Speed Racer. I've also noticed that the train platform notification boards that were the same type you see on freeways with the moving text, have been replaced with LCD screens and more information. And, the time is visible at the very top of the screens.

I clear security on the main floor and on the 9th. As I round the corner from the elevator bays I see Carroll with his great smile and it's a good feeling to see a familiar face. We catch up on the latest news. There are two nondescript people waiting for Pastor's courtroom to open also, but I can't imagine from the way they are dressed that they are here for Brown's hearing. They leave the hallway but show back up later. When we finally get inside 107, the benches have double cushions! For the seat and the back. Carroll says, "Now you can see why I started hanging out in Pastor's courtroom," and we both have a chuckle because the benches in Fidler's court with no cushions are quite hard.

Carroll knows everyone in Pastor's courtroom and he points out Judge Pastor's clerk, Sammie Benson and his new bailiff, Kirk Richardson as well as the names of Pastor's court reporters: Mavis Theodoro and Pat McNeal, who unusually, still uses the "old style" of stenography machine. Carroll tells me the story of what happened to the prior bailiff and it's quite sad. He's got quite a recovery ahead for his injuries. We see Judge Pastor, a distinguished looking man with grayish hair, come out and talk to two attorneys but he's not in his robes. I jot down the phone number to Pastor's courtroom just in case I want to check on hearing dates and times. I ask Carroll how old is Judge Pastor because to me, he looks quite young. "He's 65 and has been on the bench for 26 years," Carroll replies.

Pastor now comes back out into the courtroom with his robes on, but he doesn't take the bench directly. Carroll introduces me to a defense attorney from another trial he watched, Tom Burns, where the verdict was overturned and the case must be retried. If I'm remembering correctly, supposedly the defendant (or maybe it was a critical witnesses) was not told that he could have his own interpreter. I have in my notes the defendant was Pedro Avena, but I might be wrong about that.

Finally, Cameron Brown is brought into the courtroom wearing an orange suit. He doesn't look anything like the photos I've seen on some support blogs. He's rail thin and his beard is quite long, at least eight to ten inches long. His hair is not grown out, it's trimmed short along the back of his neck, and I see that the beard appears to be evenly trimmed around his cheekbones. Cameron turns and nods to the two people in the courtroom who were in the hall earlier. I'm shocked. At first I thought the woman might be a relative, like his mother but it dawns on me this must be "Patty," his wife. The man who was with her I didn't pay much attention to, but later I come to realize that this must be Patty's brother, Theodore (aka "Ted") who is very vocal on Usenet and several blogs in support of his brother-in-law. Maybe it's just me, maybe I've totally abandoned my 70's hippie teens, but if my husband was on trial for murder, I wouldn't be showing up to court so casually dressed wearing flip flops (and we are NOT talking high end, gemstone adorned footwear like what you would find on Rachelle Short's feet but standard black flip flops) or forgotten to put a brush through my hair.

Court is called into session. Craig Hum for the people; Pat Harris on behalf of the defense. Harris brings up an issue that was raised last time about delays in meeting with his client at the jail. The Court has a trial (or is it two) that will be heard before this one and it's not clear how long that trial will take at this time. A new pretrial date is set for June 13th, and the count is reset to 0-45 from that date. Defendant waives rights, and accepts the new date. The Court states that it will have a much better idea on that date as to the schedule and a firm trial date.

Harris brings up the issue that the defendant is trying to get his hair cut and a medical appointment before trial. And that's it. It's mentioned that the next hearing is in Department 133 on the 13th floor. And that's it. I say my goodbye's to Carroll, and head off to the 13th floor.

Patty and Ted and I are all in the same elevator. Patty has what appears to be a letter in her hand and she starts to read the letter to him, "...all he's concerned about..." and then Ted goes, "Sussh!" at Patty and that's all of their conversation I overhear. On the 13th floor we see a sign that states Department 133 is on the fifteenth floor, and we all head back to the elevators to go up two floors. Department 133 is Judge Sterling's courtroom and there are several people in the gallery and another case is being adjudicated. Patty and Ted sit in different rows, far from each other. Since there is another case being heard, I sit in the nearest row available, but it means I can't hear what's going on as well. People are coming and going and the courtroom is quite noisy.

Haut de la Garenne’s Lenny Harper Strikes Back

Lenny Harper and his team have been handling the herculean task of the child abuse investigation in Jersey with dedication and perseverance. They have also encountered increasingly vicious smear attacks by some of the press and politicians. Harper is furious and warns he will not allow them to damage the investigation.

Harper has, from the start of the investigation, been open with the media. It is believed his candor contributed to the number of victims coming forward and speaking with police. This policy may now have backfired as he has come under attack by a handful of journalists and politicians who are questioning his investigation methods and accusing him of lying.

Harper says the increasing attacks are taking a toll on himself and his team. He has personally had his car burned, had threats to his home, received over 100 threatening letters, as well as having malicious rumors spread about his personal life.

Harper told the Belfast Telegraph: "It is becoming more difficult for me and my officers to deal with. It is the most stressful job I have ever had. It is more stressful than working on the Springfield and Falls Roads in Belfast (during the height of the Troubles), or in Glasgow or south London.

"The team is really feeling it as well. It is a difficult enough job for them without having to put up with personal attacks.

"These are officers who have received so many plaudits from victims who say that for many years they felt unable to trust the police but now they do. "

"I have no idea why these people are trying to discredit this investigation. Everywhere we turn someone is knocking the victims, circulating nasty rumors and falsehoods. I am spending time trying to rectify misinformation when I should be concentrating on the inquiry. Over the past few days the criticism of this inquiry has become hysterical."

Harper emphatically says nothing will stop him and his force from uncovering the truth.

"Regardless of whether this becomes a murder investigation we are dealing with victims of alleged child abuse. That fact seems to have been lost recently."

"They [the critics] can hammer away all they want but at the end of the day we will do what we need to do and get to the truth of what happened at Haut de la Garenne and get justice for the victims."

Now, one has to wonder why these mudslingers are trying to deflect the focus of the investigation by lying and discrediting the investigation as well as the victims who have come forward with remarkably similar stories.

One politician went as far as describing the victims as “people with criminal records and disturbed people”.

Unbelievable!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

MARK JENSEN TRIAL - QUICK LINKS

UPDATE 5/4/16: Retrial may be delayed until 2017. Robert Jambois is re-prosecuting. Defense attorney is Deja Vishny. Jensen has been transferred from prison to the Kenosha County Jail. He is still being held on $1.2 million bond.
UPDATE: Appeals Court Upholds Vacated Conviction of Mark Jensen.

SYNOPSIS:
Mark D. Jensen accused of poisoning his wife via ethelglycol (anit-freeze).  On December 18, 2013, Jensen's Feb. 2008 conviction for murder was vacated by a Federal Court. It did not mean that Jensen could immediately go free. The state replied in motions indicating the Judge errored in his ruling.

Here is a good synopsis with images of the Mark D. Jensen case by Janine Anderson.

Case Players
Prosecution: Special Prosecutor Robert Jambois
Defense: Craig Albee
Victim: Julie Jensen
Defendant: Mark D. Jensen

Short Timeline
12/03/98: Julie Jensen dies.
03/20/02: Mark Jensen is charged with Julie's murder.
01/03/08: Jury selection begins
02/22/08: Mark Jensen is convicted.

2016 T&T Case Updates
01/06/2016 Mark Jensen Convicted of Antifreeze Poisoning of wife to be Retried


T&T Trial Coverage
January 2008
01/06/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Starts Tomorrow
01/07/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day One
01/09/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day Two & Three
01/11/08 Guest Entry - The Witness's Mind by Donchais
01/12/08 Donchais Covers the Mark Jensen Trial
01/17/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 8
01/18/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 9
01/18/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 10
01/22/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 11
01/22/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Observations
01/24/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 12
01/24/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 13
01/25/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial - Donchais Commentary
01/26/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 14
01/26/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial - Donchais Notes
01/28/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 15
01/29/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 16
01/30/08 Guest Entry: Ritanita’s Musings About the Mark Jensen Trial
01/31/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 17

February 2008
02/01/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 18
02/01/08 The 2800 in the Mark Jensen Murder Trial
02/01/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 19
02/04/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 20
02/05/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 21
02/06/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial - No Court Today
02/07/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 22
02/09/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 23
02/11/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 24
02/13/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 25
02/13/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial - Commentary
02/13/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 26
02/14/08 Mark Jensen Does Not Take The Stand
02/14/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 27
02/15/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 28
02/15/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial - Both Sides Rest!
02/18/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 29 Closing Arguments
02/18/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial - Commentary on Closings
02/19/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 30
02/19/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 30 - Deliberations Continue
02/20/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 31 - Deliberations Day 2
02/21/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial Day 32 - Deliberations Day 3
02/21/08 Mark Jensen Murder Trial VERDICT!
02/21/08 Mark Jensen Guilty & Jurors Speak
02/29/08 Mark Jensen Sentencing: LWOP

March-July 2008
03/04/08 Giving, The Red Cross, Mark Jensen & Others
03/16/08 Kelly LaBonte Jensen: Yikes!
07/01/08 Depression & Suicide - The Murderer's Defense
 
Other Media News & Websites
Murdepedia - Mark Jensen trial photos
Our Sister Julie - Maintained by victim's relatives; extensive timeline of events
Mark Jensen Legal Defense - Support Website
09/30/15 NBC15- DOJ Asks Appeals Court to Reconsider Ruling
01/06/16 Fox6Now - Judge Set's Bail at 1.2 mil in 1998 antifreeze death of wife

Jersey Police Hopping Mad - And Rightly So






~ Lenny Harper, DCO



The other day, I told you about the slanderous “news article” – I say “news” lightly – Andrew Malone wrote in the Daily Mail He basically called lead investigator, Lenny Harper, a liar. All of this r
elates to the Haut de la Garenne, skull fragment debate. The article was so much drivel, Jersey police have responded.

From Senator Stuart Syvret Blog:

Statement Issued by the States of Jersey Police Force.

“Lenny Harper, the Deputy Chief Officer of this force and the Senior Investigating Officer of the Historical Abuse Enquiry, does not want to enter into any exchange of allegations and counter allegations which would deflect attention from the investigation he is currently focused on and which involves allegations of horrific abuse against children in Jersey. It should also be emphasised that the enquiry is looking at much more that just Haut de la Garenne. However, the article by Andrew Malone in the Daily Mail of 24th May 2008 is so inaccurate, and misleading, even to the extent here it contains a number of alleged quotes which were simply never made by Mr Harper, that there is a need to respond.

The writer was given the full outline of what the police were told but has chosen not to use it. That information is summarised below and it will be for the public to make their minds up as to why the author of the report has ignored it and why he has included quotes from Mr Harper which were never made. The States of Jersey Police Press Officer made a full contemporaneous transcript of what Mr Harper said during the interview, (although not of Malone), and this is available for examination for anyone who wishes to check the accuracy of the quotes attributed to the DCO by Mr Malone.

The Anthropologist working with the enquiry team looked at the item when it was found on site and made a preliminary identification of it as a piece of a child's skull. It was then sent to the Laboratory concerned and they took possession of it on 6th March.

On 14th March they informed the SOJP of their test results, and in particular the result of their test for nitrogen. It had 0.6% they said, whereas the cut-off for dating a bone was 0.76. They then reported, "This tells us something about the potential age of the specimen of bone since if it was very recent (50 Years) we ought to see a better degree of preservation." They went on to say, "The fact that preservation is so poor leads us to conclude that there is a high probability that the bone is much older than it is suspected to be, perhaps much older than a century or two. That said, it is also possible (although the probability is much lower) that the bone is recent but simply very poorly preserved due to the depositional environment within which it has lain since interment. We cannot exclude this as a possible explanation." They went on to say that there was not enough collagen to date the bone. (Collagen is a protein only found in mammals including humans, but not in wood etc.)

As can be seen - there is absolutely no indication despite laboratory tests that they disagreed with our Anthropologist. In fact they seemed to support what we were being told by experts with us that the fragment was in a context which placed it outside our enquiry.

On 20th March the lab contacted the SOJP again. They said they had made an error and that the collagen level was actually better than originally thought. There was enough to date it - in fact there was 1.6% and only 1% was needed. Remember, this substance is found in mammals including human but not in wood etc.

On the 28th March they contacted the SOJP again and said, "Here are the details of the Jersey skull as discussed on the phone." They then described the nature of the acid wash they had given and said "The Jersey skull didn't fizz at all which suggested that preservation was poor." She went on to confirm that they had originally told us it was unlikely they could date it and that they had revised this when they found the levels of collagen described above. Now, she said, they were reverting to their original position that they could not date it because they now thought that it could not be collagen "unless it is extremely degraded." She added, "So any date we get might not be an accurate date for the skull itself." As can be seen, there was still no indication to contradict our information and indeed it corroborated what the archaeologists were telling us. As a result of the information about the Archaeological context, we had now eliminated the item from the investigation.

On 31 March they rang again. They now, for the first time, said they had some concern about what the item was "although it could well have been poorly preserved bone as I described it." Over the next few days they continued to say that "we do not think this is bone unless it is very old bone."

On Saturday 17th May they were asked if they were now saying it was definitively not bone. They said that they did not believe it to be bone but if we wanted a definitive answer then we should have it re-examined. To date, although the opinion is now less conclusive, the SOJ Police have not had a definitive contradiction of the original belief.

In respect of the article itself, there are a number of total inaccuracies, too many to contradict them all. Here however, are those which could be said to be the most significant.

The item found which is the subject of the controversy, is not “a smooth white object” as described by Mr Malone. That description could not be further from the truth.

Mr Harper has never, and all responsible media have acknowledged that he has not, said that six more bodies might be found. He described six areas of interest which had to be explored and which included the cellars now the focus of this aspect of the enquiry.

Mr Harper never moved to quell suggestions that shackles and a bath had been found in the cellar because quite simply, they had been. Furthermore, their find corroborated the evidence of a number of victims. The SOJ Police have never confirmed until now that shackles were found. We do now, and also for the first time, confirm that a second pair of what appear to be “home made” restraints were also discovered.

A number of other items were found which corroborated the stories of the victims. Again, whilst we do not want to elaborate, some of these items corroborate the fact that sexual activity took place in the area of interest. Further tests have obtained a DNA profile from one of these items, and enquiries have dated at least one of the articles as originating from the time of the enquiry.

Mr Harper has never, in spite of Mr Malone’s claims, “admitted” that he knew the fragment was a coconut shell. This is clearly because there is absolutely no scientific evidence to say that. Furthermore, the DCO never said he had made a mistake. He acknowledged that “some people think I got the decision wrong – it is something I can’t reverse now. Would my answer have been different? The honest answer is I really don’t know.”

Mr Harper has NEVER said “We don’t now think it is bone or skull.” He did not say it to Mr Malone or anyone else. As stated above, the transcript of exactly what Mr Harper said in this interview is available for anyone who would like to see it.

Mr Harper has NEVER said to Mr Malone at any time during the interview that he wanted “maximum publicity so that people here could not cover up what went on at this children’s home.” In fact, he did state that the people of Jersey had been “fantastic.” This comment by Mr Malone is a slur on all of those members of the public in Jersey who have encouraged the enquiry team and whose overwhelming support has meant so much.

The claim that Mr Harper has agreed to write a book and is actively engaged in that process is nonsense. This rumour was being spread by at least one politician in Jersey this week who stated that a deal had already been signed with publishers. This has led to one Jersey media outlet contacting what they described as a publisher this week and asking for details on the pretence that they wished to serialise the book. The position is simple. Mr Harper has been asked by a number of persons, journalists included, if he would be interested in writing a book on his career including the present. His answer has been the same to all. At this moment in time he is fully focussed and committed to the enquiry. He retires in September and will not even consider such a matter until then. He would also point out that it is not unusual for Police Officers and other public servants be approached in this fashion. Mr Harper has not instigated any contact of this type.

Mr Harper was not “forced to admit” that the fragments might be 500 years old. In any event he never said that. Examination of the media release will show that he said there was conflicting evidence from experts – some information was showing one of the fragments to be at the most recent end of the enquiry’s parameters, whilst other evidence was pointing to well before the enquiry began. We have always said we do not have evidence of murder.

From the perspective of the Enquiry Team the most disappointing aspect of this article is the total disregard for the welfare of the victims of the abuse. This week has seen them being labelled by certain politicians in Jersey as “people with criminal records.” Additionally, the article contains interesting similarities to the words used by some of those publicly trying to discredit the enquiry. The focus of the SOJ Police has always been, and will remain to be, those victims who have placed their trust in the force to try and obtain justice for them. These increasing inaccurate attacks will not deflect the investigation.

Mr Harper has drawn the attention of the editor of the Daily Mail to the inaccuracies and has mad a formal complaint to the Independent Press Complaints Commission.

States of Jersey Police
24th May 2008”

As Senator Syvret says, “Mr. Harper deserves our support and gratitude.”


Appalling, just appalling!

First and foremost, a slap in the face for the victims.

Secondly, a slap in the face for Lenny Harper and those investigating the scandal.


Thirdly, a waste of time and energy having to respond to outrageous lies – it deflects from the investigation.


Fourthly, Andrew Malone falsely accuses Lenny Harper of lying, when he himself is shown to be the biggest liar of all.


The decent, committed folks of Jersey and elsewhere have nothing but the utmost respect for Lenny Harper and his investigative team!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Phil Spector Pre-trial Hearing, May 22, 2008

Updated!
I had Mr. Sprocket drop me off at the North Hollywood train station again. I get to the train platform as the security sweep is being performed. I make the 7:30 am train so I know I will be at the courthouse by 8 am.

Our car is almost full and I get a window seat. The young man in front of me in the handicapped jump seat is reading a bible and there are about five other people directly around me listening to music on their iPods.

I'm tired. I was out in the sun all day yesterday helping Mr. Sprocket with a project on a roof. I got a decent burn since I totally forgot sunscreen. I can't stop off and get copies of motions at the Liaison's office: They are closed for two days going through a much needed renovation of their offices. I found that out at the Miura hearing on the 9th.

I pass through security and head into the cafeteria. It's quite empty. There are several lawyer looking types all wearing suits. I only stop in here to get a water and write a few notes. When I went through security, Spector's biggest fan at the last trial, the woman who wore a Hawaiian type shirt every day is in line in front of me. I recognized the shirt right away.

8:15 am. I'm up on the 9th floor at the far end of the hall. As soon as I sit down, the Hawaiian shirt rounds the corner. A slender Asian woman with a juror's badge walking the halls in a loop listening to her iPod. There's a little over a half dozen people on the entire floor. People arrive and head down towards the other end of the hall. Courtroom's 107 & 108 are dark through May 23rd, probably taking a long holiday weekend.

As a congregation of jurors near the center enter a courtroom, the hallway becomes virtually empty again. There's not much to do except sit and wait and hopefully donchais gets back in time to call me.

8:25 am. A nicely dressed young man comes down to Pastor's courtroom with a stack of legal papers and is frustrated when he sees that the courtroom is dark. There's a note on the door for all papers to be dropped off at courtroom 109, which is at opposite end of the hall. Judge Pastor's bailiff, Kirk Richardson, emerges from courtroom 106 and head over to 107. (Dr. Carroll Adams pointed him out to me when I stopped into to observe a pretrial hearing in the Cameron Brown case. I hope to get those notes up after these.) Since no one is in Fidler's courtroom I'm wondering if the hearing was post phoned and it just wasn't reported. It might be at 10 am instead of 9 am.

Richardson greets another deputy in the hallway, "Hey Sargent!" He then tells him that he's in 106 today so hopefully the hearing is on. I could have sworn this thing was at 9 am. A man dressed in a nice suit peeks through the low windows in 106 then heads away to make a phone call. I'm wondering if it's a reporter or maybe another clerk on Spector's defense team.

At about 8:30 am, Wendy, Judge Fidler's clerk approaches and I say hello. She replies, "How are you?" "Pretty good," I respond.

A few minutes later, Steven Mikulan emerges from the men's room at the other end of the hall and my spirits pick up. It's nice to see him and I'm hopeful that the hearing is still on for 9 am. Steven and Hawaiian shirt exchange greetings and chat a bit. Wendy unlocks the courtroom and as we enter, we ask her if it's okay to come in now, and she said yes.

Steven and I talk about the Cameron Brown case (retrial for the murder of his four-year-old daughter) and whether or not Spector's hearing is at 9 or 10 am. Alan Parachini and one of his staff are in the courtroom and they are under the impression that the hearing is at 9 am. However, it's already 9:15 so if it is, it's starting way late. Steven may have to take off since he's got a theatre review story due and he's been struggling with it. I mention to Steven that there are support blogs for Cameron Brown that have reported for some time his continued harassment by the Sheriff's at the LA County Jail. Steven thinks the harassment is quite possible. Steven is quite clear to say that, he's not saying unequivocally that it's happening, just that it's possible. He mentions a case of documented harassment (that I forget to write down and it totally escapes me) of a jail inmate by sheriffs' and one would think that the department would have learned.

As a group, we are eyeing the swivel chairs behind the counsel tables and Alan Parachini thinks that Judge Fidler's chair might be one of the Aeron chairs that AJ and Pat Dixon had during the trial. He gets up to take a closer look at it. I keep shaking my head saying, no, that's not them. They were really strange looking chairs, that when you viewed them from the back they reminded me of the creature in the movie Alien.

Robin and Sheri show up, I motion to them to come over and sit behind us and I introduce them to Steven. It's 9:45 am now and Pat Dixon arrives and chats with Wendy and the court reporter, Dee. 9:50 am Ciaran McEvoy arrives and it's nice to see he's still covering Spector even though his new beat is Federal Court. Guess this show is really getting started. Right after that, Rod Lindblum, Mrs. Clarkson and Fawn show up and take their usual seats in the front row.

Rod and Ciaran discuss the Pellicano case since Ciaran covered the entire trial for City News. That trial really was "just one tawdy detail after another." The Juror Whisperer shows up, sees me, Ciaran, Steven and the Clarkson group in the front row and smiling says, "It's like old home week." And with all the conversations going on, I miss seeing Spector in his brown slightly frizzed wig and the rest of his group enter. I believe he's got the same, humongous refrigerator-sized black bodyguard with him that was at the last hearing. There's also another beefy looking black man sitting in the second row, along with a mousy looking woman with short brown hair. Rachelle's hair looks blonder and blonder with each court appearance.

The Asian AP photographer I saw at the Miura hearing enters and a video camera operator also sets up in the jury box. (I have no idea what news organization taped the hearing.) Pat Dixon greets Mrs. Clarkson. Everyone is now talking about Steven's profile of AJ in last week's LA Weekly People 2008 issue. AJ mentions that Steven's article is following him everywhere with people now coming up to him and whispering. AJ also said that the article made his mom very proud. Then, AJ and Rod discuss the Miura case, and I'm trying to follow several conversations behind me, beside me and in front of me at once. I miss the most of what AJ is telling Rod about Miura, only something to the effect of, that Miura raises issues that have never been visited before. I'm betting that the next pretrial hearing in that case gets postponed.

Wendy addresses the gallery, "Counsel ready for the Judge?" Everyone nods that they are, AJ greets Dee, the camera guys are ready and Judge Fidler takes the bench at 10:02 am.

Weinberg addresses the court first and it's about their appeal to the California Supreme Court. My notes are poorly written here, but what I have is, "When the DA filed it's reply, it launched (?) exhibits and the Supreme Court just accepted the material on Tuesday." Weinberg asks the Judge to wait on setting a trial date until the Supreme Court has ruled. Fidler isn't buying that. His decisions don't rely on that and sees no reason to wait. The trial date needs to be set whether it's with him or with another Judge. Both sides agree on a date of Monday, September 29th, and Fidler sets that as a "firm" trial start date and adds the 0-10 for that date. Fidler then explains to Weinberg about the initial stages of jury selection and how things went at the first trial and that's it's standard procedure in this court. He also explains the 0-10 (which I don't fully understand) but it has something to do with jury selection and how selected jurors can be lost if the trial does not go forward within those 10 days.

Right after the date is set, Linda Deutsch enters along with a young woman who I saw at the first trial. I believe she is a close friend of Fawn.

The people then ask Judge Fidler for one more interim date, just as a check in to see that we're all still on track. Weinberg states that he doesn't anticipate any last minute motions. He's going to work very closely with Mr. Jackson on discovery so there are no surprises. An interim date is agreed on, it's July 29th at 10 am.

And that's it. It's over very quickly. As people get up to leave Spector stops in the front of the second isle and greets Linda Deutsch very warmly. This stops everyone behind Linda from moving forward and we are all standing there in the row politely waiting so we can exit the courtroom. Steven mumbles under his breath, "Autograph time." I think Spector and Deutsch might have exchanged a cheek kiss but I'm not positive about that. Sherri and Robin tell me that Spector gave Linda a CD of Elvis songs and I explain to them that Linda is a BIG Elvis fan and she started one of the first Elvis fan clubs at age 12.

Someone asks from behind me, "Is he wearing make-up?" And Sherri responds, H'e has on eyeliner today and he's wearing an Obama Rocks button." Someone comments, "Is this the type of support Obama really needs?" And I wonder, is Spector trying to channel Pete Wentz? As we finally get out of the courtroom and linger in the hall, the reporters approach Weinberg to ask questions.

In the hallway, I tell Linda how nice she looks today (She's always very professionally dressed.) and I ask if she ever had her knee surgery and how is she doing. She thanks me for asking, but says that her knee is not doing very well.

Rachelle is holding onto Spector, keeping him upright and Spector is staring at me, that saucer like stare he has. When I move to another area of the hall, he's still got his eyes on me. It's like Marty Feldman, he can't stop staring. And then I think, maybe it's my white shirt with the short puff sleeves. Maybe he's focusing on that and he so drugged he can't move his eyes. Maybe he's trying to give me the death stare, lol. It is quite Spectorish creepy, but I'm not frightened. One push and this short, tiny man needing five inch lifts in his shoes would topple over. I say my goodbyes to everyone and on the way to the train station I call donchais and fill her in on the details of the hearing. My only disappointment was that Sandi Gibbons wasn't there. I missed seeing her. When I tell donchais about Spector's saucer eyed stare, I just chuckle and say, "He's on trial for murder; I'm not. Maybe next time he tries to stare-scare me again, I'll smile back and give him a little wave."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Spector Hearing 5/22/08

Updated!
Ok, we have a trial date!!!

The trial is scheduled for September 29 and was set at 0 - 10.

There will be a final pre-trial hearing on July 29.

Sprocket will update as to the details; more to follow...

Sprocket here. I'll have a finished report up much later tonight. When Alan Jackson saw Ciaran, Steven and myself all sitting in the second row, and Rod Lindblom and the Clarkson family in the front row, he said, "It's like old home week!"

Update!
12:20 am I apologize that I was not able to get my story up this evening. RL got in the way, again. Our TV died yesterday and we had to go shopping for a new one. I'll try to get a rough draft up tomorrow morning. Night all!

p.s. Regarding that 0-10. Judge Fidler set that, and explained it to Weinberg. That's a firm trial date, and he agreed to it. The court has to arrange for jurors. Now, if something derails the trial within that 0-10 time frame, the jurors selected so far could be lost forever, and they would have to start again.

This is the most "firm" trial date we have had yet. There is still the check in pre-trial on July 29th, but that is just a formality requested by the people. I believe that Spector doesn't even have to appear at this hearing. (From my understanding.)

And yes, Spector was wearing an Obama button on his lapel...as well as wearing EYELINER. Yep. Spector in makeup today. Maybe Phil thought he was channeling Peter Wentz.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Was There Murder at Haut de la Garenne





~ Lenny Harper




Lenny Harper was criticized last week for not reporting that the piece of skull fragment found in February that led police to investigate the possibility that a child or children may have been murdered, was a piece of wood or coconut shell. Harper has said he has had reports that indicate there is still a possibility the fragment is an old piece of skull, but it has been disregarded in the investigation due to it’s age.

Now comes word that a total of 30 bone fragments and seven children’s teeth have been recovered from cellar four with the possibility that a body or bodies may have been burned in a fireplace.

According to the Telegraph, Harper said: "Some of the bones do indicate a homicide or an unexplained death. Our anthropologist has indicated certain features on one or two of the bones that we are looking at.

"We have sent the bones off to be tested and if the results show they died in the 50s or 60s or more recently we would say it is a homicide enquiry."

If the fragments predate WW11 they will not be part of the investigation.

Harper said that a tooth and twelve bone fragments had been recovered in the past 24 hours.

Tests on eleven bone fragments sent to the UK for examination, do confirm they are human and included a piece of a child’s tibia.

Many of the bones were found buried in ash, near an old fireplace, suggesting possible cremation.

Harper said, "The fact that the remains were found in ash suggests they have not been brought here from elsewhere, for example in builder's rubble."

Of the milk teeth found, all but one still had roots attached. That indicates they did not fall out naturally and the lack of decay shows no reason they would have been extracted.

"Cellar 4 and cellar 3 were until recently were all one room and because we haven't started sieving material from cellar 3 more fragments may turn up from there."

Harper stressed that as of yet, he has no evidence that anyone was murdered.

The suspect list has risen from 40 to 70 and Harper believes they will be arrested as part of the investigation.

Additionally, police have taken the Mail on Sunday to task for their report on the skull fragment being a piece of wood or coconut shell. According to Community Care: Jersey police put out a statement confirming that in March forensic staff said the fragment could "possibly be wood or a seed", but this was not definitive.

"This was qualified by the statement that if it was bone it was very old bone, again corroborating information available to the team," police said.

Laboratory staff said although the fragment was not bone in their view, police would need to conduct further examination to conclude this definitively.

The police statement said: "While the item has now been examined by three specialists, it has been ruled out of the enquiry because of the archeological context in which it had been found and it is not intended to proceed further with this exhibit."

Police called the Mail on Sunday article "a selective and one-sided attack" that ignored information given to the reporter by investigating officers and specialists.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: Now in Paperback!



When Kim of The Darwin Exception posted that she had received her complimentary paperback copy of Mick Brown's book, a flash of jealousy passed my mind ~she got her book first, I thought, lol,~ but I knew my copy wasn't far behind. I finally got mine in the mail just two days later.

The paperback has a new afterword, a little over 30 pages that covers the mistrial. And just as Mick had promised, along with The Darwin Exception, T&T was credited in the Bibliography section under websites, AND I got a listing on the Acknowledgement page. How cool is THAT?

Here is a short excerpt from the afterword titled: "Trial and Error."

ACT I, pg 435-437:

In April 2007, more than four years after I had sat with Phil Spector in his Alhambra castle, I returned to Los Angeles to see him once again. This time there would be no castle, no "Phil show," no strains of Handel, no interview. The figure that now sat in the drab utiliarian surroundings of Department 106 of the Clara Shortridge Folz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, on trial for murder, looked almost unrecognizable from the man I had met four years earlier. He was dressed in a beige, frock-coated, three-piece suit, with a deep purple shirt and matching handkerchief. His surgically tightened face was pale and wan, criss-crossed with lines and indentations, and he wore yet another new hairpiece--a blond pudding-bowl cut, possibly inspired by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, yet more reminiscent of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, lending him an unnervingly androgynous appearance. His hands trembled violently in his lap, and his eyes flickered from side to side, as if unable to fully comprehend exactly where he was and what had brought him here. He looked like a small boy who has set off a firework and discovered he's burned down a house.

Ranged in a series of swivel chairs on either side of him were the five principal members of his legal team: Roger Rosen, a dapper, pinch-faced man in rimless glasses; the bullish Bruce Cutler; Christoper Plourd, a ponderous, soft-spoken man who would handle much of the forensic testimony; the smooth Bradley Brunon; and Linda Kenny Baden, a full-figured woman with a curtain of improbably vivid blonde hair and sleepy eyes peering over spectacles. Kenny Baden would be an almost maternal presence at Spector's side throughout the trial, often draping her arm over his shoulder in a gesture that seemed as much designed to signal to the jury that Spector was "safe," if not altogether loveable, as to comfort him.

Directly behind Spector, on rows of wooden benches, sat his wife, Rachelle, and other supporters and members of the defense team, most of them similarly improbable blondes of an indeterminate age.

On the other side of the court sat the two men whose task it was to convict him. Leading the prosecution was Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, a boyish-looking forty-two-year-old with an Elvis Presley kiss-curl, who spoke with a slight Texas twang. He was being seconded by a man who was notionally his superior, Pat Dixon--a patrician looking man in his late fifties with an enthusiasm for competitive swimming and German sports cars. The pair was fresh from victory in the Mickey Thompson case, having secured the conviction of Michael Goodwin.

Behind Jackson, in the front row of the public gallery sat Lana Clarkson's mother, Donna, and her sister, Fawn, both wearing ribbons in Lana's favorite faux leopard-skin. They would occupy these same seats virtually every day of the proceedings over the next five months.

From the outset, it was clear that the trial would revolve around three central points; the body of circumstantial evidence against Spector; forensic evidence; and the state of mind of Lana Clarkson in the days and weeks immediately before her death.

In his opening statement for the prosecution, Alan Jackson told the jury that in the coming weeks they would be meeting "the real Phil Spector"--a man with "a rich history of violence against women involving guns," and who "when confronted with the right circumstances turns sinister and deadly."

Four women, Jackson went on, would testify that Spector had threatened them with guns after flying into a rage while drunk, and each incident would prove "strikingly similar to the next." These were the women--Diane Ogden, Dorothy Melvin, Melissa Grosvenor, and Stepanie Jennings--whose testimony of "prior bad acts" had already been presented to the grand jury. All of these incidents, Jackson said, demonstrated a recurring pattern of behavior in Spector. This pattern always began with Spector drinking to excess and moved on to "romantic interest," Jackson went on. It usually involved Spector and a woman being "home alone." When a woman tried to leave, Spector would become enraged and pull a gun, forcing her to stay.

The events of February 2 and 3 2003, conformed to that pattern, Jackson said. Lana was "simply the last in a very long line of women who have been victimized by Phil Spector."

Jackson then went on to outline the events of that evening, culminating in Clarkson's death, and what Jackson described as Spector's "confession" to Adriano De Souza--"I think I killed somebody."

As he talked, a photograph was projected onto the screen of Clarkson sprawled in a chair in the foyer of Spector's mansion, her head twisted to one side and her mouth bloodied. It was the first in a sequence of increasingly gruesome images that would be displayed in the months to come. Spector stared pointedly into the middle distance, his face registering nothing.

There were fourteen telephones in Spector's home, three of them within five feet of Lana Clarkson's dead body, but there had been "not one call for help from Philip Spector," Jackson went on. "So if he wasn't calling for help, what was he doing?" According to Jackson, Spector was making a "pathetic attempt" to clean up the crime scene, wiping the gun clean and placing it under Clarkson's left leg "attempting to set a stage for the crime." In cleaning up, he had removed gunshot residue from his hand, but "he didn't get it all off."

Jackson then turned to the forensic evidence. The "misting pattern" of blood spatter found on Spector's jacket had traveled "a maximum of three feet," Jackson said, and the same spatter pattern had been found in Clarkson's skirt; from that it could be concluded that Spector's jacket was the same distance from the fatal wound as Lana's dress. "Physical evidence and forensic evidence, all will give deep meaning to the defendant's confession, 'I think I killed somebody,' which still echoes in this courtroom today."

To read more, pick up the paperback!

This past Thursday, The LA WEEKLY came out with it's "LA PEOPLE 2008" issue. One of my favorite staff writers, Steven Mikulan, featured Alan Jackson in the issue as The Juror Whisperer. Check it out; it's a great read!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kazuyoshi Miura Case: Pre-Trial Hearing May 9th

I apologize that it has taken this long to get a story up. Blogging has taken a back seat to RL priorities in the last few weeks.

I take the train today to save on expenses. Unleaded gas in Los Angeles is fluctuating somewhere between $3.85 to $3.95 a gallon. Mr. Sprocket drops me off at the train station in North Hollywood. He's on a bit of a forced work break having injured his arm just two weeks ago today.

The NH station is virtually empty and as I get down to the train platform there is a train just about ready to leave. I pick up my pace walking down the escalator and just make the train. I'll call donchais as soon as I get back above ground. Just passing the Universal City Station, there is a group of young teenage boys that, even though I'm terrible at judging ages, must still be in school. I wonder why they are all off today.

The car is about 3/4's of the way full and not very noisy at all. I can't help but listen in on the teens conversation and try to keep from rolling my eyes or laughing.

"Dude! If you had teleportation powers, you wouldn't have to pay for anything! Teleport on some's skateboard! They'd be like, WTF? Teleport into someones car..."

All this dialog is accompanied by sound effects to represent the teleportation and the astonished individuals faces when you would teleport next to them. Passing the Wilshire/Vermont station the car starts to fill up and I continue to wonder where the teens are headed. Right before I get off at Civic Station, I overhear that they are headed into Chinatown.

I finally get to the courthouse and through the first floor security. When I reach the 13th floor, I'm told that they will not be drawing tickets because they believe they will be able to get everyone in this time. In the large crowd, I see Miriam Hernandez from local ABC Ch 7. They public liaison clerks start calling out the accredited paper's names and the Japanese journalists line up.

Associated Press! GG Press! NHK! Sun K Shinbushin (sp?)! LA Times! Fuji TV! City News! Channel 7! KNX Radio! KTLA! CNN! Japanese Broadcasting! US Frontline News!

After most of the reporters are lined up, Alan Parachini speaks to the crowd. "We don't know if there will be a ruling today. If there is a decision, don't assume there will be a written decision along with it."

I see the cute Japanese reporter Mirei Sato again and we exchange greetings. This time, her paper US Frontline got on the reserved list for a seat and she joined the line when her paper was called. I also see Mary Plummer from The Yomiuri Shimbun and she introduces me to her associate, Caleb (sp?) who knows more about the Miura case.

Caleb and I chat about the types of stories that interest him the most and if he ever gets the opportunity to choose the stories he reports on. Caleb has an interest in anything science or medicine related and we discuss what he's followed in neuro-physics, black holes and the atom smashing machine (particle accelerator) on the border of France and Switzerland. The machine hasn't been turned online yet and there is fear that the machine could create a miniature black hole in the center of the earth. Apparently, the machine that was planned in Texas was abandoned and there is one planned for somewhere in California. I mentally shake my head at the thought of building one of these machines in a state rife with earthquakes.

We're finally let into the courtroom and I take a seat in the center back row. It's not a great seat, but I can see a bit more than I did at the previous hearing. It's 1:35 pm and court hasn't started yet. I see Sandi Gibbons is in the front on the very far right of the courtroom. She's wearing a really nice black suit and white blouse. I have a feeling she's going to be speaking to the cameras today after the hearing, and not Alan Jackson.

I see the AP photographer in the jury box along with the video camera and other photographer. We are just waiting for the judge, who just now takes the bench.

Judge Van Sicklen: "I've had a chance to review everything, and will give both sides (time) to respond. Mr. Geragos has the burden and the motion."

I don't know what it is, but I just have a hard time listening to Geragos. Geragos goes over the points in his motion saying something about "the tortured meaning about 656..." He goes onto say, "The second thing is the Mallord case. The Superior Court case said that the language shall not apply." (I'm lost here. I'm not getting what shouldn't apply.) He brings up another case. "Michael Conolly, (sp?) 1936 case, the Superior Court ha said, no prosecution can be made against this witness." Then he mentions something about 804 and 977 and that the people are somehow making it out that 977 "is the trump card" but Geragos also mentions that the California Supreme Court "...does not require the defendant's presence, it's called the Beardsley Analysis." People vs Beardsley is a 1991 case. "656 is implemented at trial. 793 is prior to trial," Geragos says. There are more rulings and cases quotes and I'm totally lost again.

"866 section specifically says that you can present a defense at preliminary hearing. If there is no preliminary hearing then why do we need Division 30?" Another case is mentioned but my notes on it are not clear.

Alan Jackson gets up to speak for the people. "Mr. Geragos misses the entire point. We are not trying to be creative as to what the statue states. Prosecutions will be prosecuted by indictment or an information (process). 682: The only way a felon can plead, specifically hold that there are five exceptions to that broad rule."

"Why do we have Division 30? Common sense. Because the prosecution has not begun until a prelim or exam. (There are) separation of powers. The judicial branch is examining evidence." And he goes on about the separation of powers between the various branches to support his point. Jackson mentions 1016, and something about "a plea of once in jeopardy, the prosecution (?) an indictment. Under 977, he has to come back. But let me say about the cases presented. Six cases. Valiant effort, but all the information (decisions?) was post indictment, or post trial."

"If you follow his (Geragos) reasoning, this would be the first time in California history that this would be done. (Not requiring an accused to be present.) There are many stages between now and then. There are many stages and arguments. 793 has to be litigated. What was he tried for. What was the conviction? Was there an acquittal? Are those the same acts he will be charged for here?"

I write in my notebook: Jackson is magnificent!

"These are all things that must be litigated. He can't phone in a defense." I look up at the right wall of the courtroom and there are photographs of 29 Criminal Supervising Judges up high on the wall.

The Judge finally speaks. "I want to resolve some of the glaring issues, and will prepare a tentative ruling. Bottom line, absolutely right on point. Geragos did not present anything of a legal nature to prove that Miura was convicted and the decision overturned. His motion would fail at least because of that. You (Geragos) have not shown that jeopardy would attach."

"Whether or not he can waive his appearance on 793....whether he is here or not, there's no reason that I could anticipate that I could ask him about....the people can not explain how the people are prejudiced by him not being here....." And Jackson gets up and apologizes for interrupting the Judge.

"No prejudice exists. There is a procedural prejudice," Jackson replies.

I agree if there was just 656. I would agree," the Judge responds, and then goes on to give an example of a person acquitted and then confesses. "The people, under our law could not convict. 973 says you are immune from doing that. We are dealing with constitutional question not just statue questions."

The Judge then says he's going to table the matter until May 23rd as to that issue, and it looks like Geragos is going to win Miura not having to come to the US just yet. The Judge asks Geragos if he can get Miura connected to the courtroom for the next appearance via a video feed. Geragos babbles something about getting a hook-up via his son's Apple computer.

I have a note here, but I'm not sure who said it; Geragos or the Judge. You arrange for a video screen. We can ask him for his waiver via the video feed.

The Judge goes onto say that, "Just dealing with 793 excludes 656." And then it's like he's pondering some things over in his mind. "When does a prosecution actually begin? The arrest warrant begins," and then he calls off cases to support his point. "(It) starts from complaint; not from information." Another case example is given. Hannon. Case starts one a complaint is filed. Immunity is granted long before a case is filed. Not an offense, an immunity.

Jackson steps up to speak again. "These are due process rights to that particular procedure. I don't know that we've had a case where we've...." The Judge and Jackson argue case points, and then Ric Ocampo also joins the banter, but I was scribbling so fast, I'm not exactly sure who said what.

If prosecution ignores defenses or immunity exists, they shouldn't be doing that. (Judge?)

If we don't like the law.... (?)

Ric Ocampo argues, "We disagree in the interpretation on the double jeopardy issue."

I don't know if we've ever seen this before... a person with extradition. (Judge?)

We have an immunity issue. It's a (?) of law and enormous expense. In the Judge's opinion, a prelim won't make a difference. (Judge)

Alan Jackson: "This is an important issue and I appeal that the court takes the time. How can we even make a determination if the acts are the same? How can we determine that?"

Judge: "You lay out in your complaint in great detail. We can determine that from the documents in Japan. I think we all know that we are all dealing with the same case."

There's lots of commentary by the Judge that the case has been heavily in the media, and the media has reported that this is the same case, however, we don't have any judicial documents to substantiate that.

And I write a note here that it now sounds like Geragos has won, well, at least has stopped the extradition in it's tracks.

Judge: "My ruling is against the people on whether he has to be here. My ruling is that we can proceed without him. On the issue of judicial notice, I think you (people) prevail." Then there is quite a bit of wrangling to try to get a date to come back that everyone can agree on. The Judge did state that he needs documents from Japan, translated, from three different court rulings. The arraignment, the trial court, and Japan's high court that over ruled. We're talking about thousands of pages of documents, translated. That's going to take a while.

Gerago's motion to quash the arrest warrant would fail because he did not include these documents in with his motion to show his client had legally been prosecuted before. A date is finally chosen to reappear. June 16th.

As I'm leaving the courtroom, I see over on the far left side of the courtroom in the almost the back row, Pat Dixon sitting by himself in casual clothes.

The press conference is held in the same place on the Temple Street plaza. It's not really a big "plaza" like one would think but just the small open space in front of the building.

Smiling, Geragos tells the dozens of Japanese reporters, "The judge ruled that Miura didn't have to be here. (At the next hearing) at that time, we are hopeful that the case will be thrown out. The judge decided that Miura didn't need to be here. We've won that we won't have to drag him here. I'm disappointed only in that he has to sit there for another five weeks. Miura will be on video for the next hearing."

Then Sandi speaks to the press, and I can't hear her over the street traffic. I'm too far back in the crowd.

"The Judge says that Miura doesn't have to be here for the double jeopardy ruling, but that he also needs to see the rulings from the Japanese court before he can rule ( on double jeopardy)."

Sandi goes onto say that these are hundreds of pages of documents and it will take some time to get them from Japan and translated. She sort of hinted that the date of June 16th will probably be delayed again depending on how long it takes to get these documents and get them translated.

And that's it. I give donchais a call to update her on today's proceedings and I take the train back home.

The Sad State of Online Trial Coverage

Are you as disappointed as I am with CNN's takeover of the former CourtTV (now TruTV) trial coverage? Back in the old days, if you were signed up with CourtTV Extra, you could watch a trail live streaming on your computer without the commercial interruptions or the talking head commentary. What was really nice is that all the trail footage was archived online so if you missed something, you could go back and rewatch an old trial in it's entirety to your hearts content. That was quite useful when I was covering the Spector trial, and I needed to check a particular fact or get a direct testimony quote.

It's been almost five months since CourtTV morphed into "TruTV," half the staff was fired, CNN added a "Crime" section to it's online lineup and the morning trial coverage shows were called as a group "In Session." The layout of the CNN.Crime page is, in my opinion, poorly organized and for the longest time it was difficult to even find the link to online streaming if/when they were covering a trial. Until recently, it was buried several pages deep in links.

Time marches on and all those archived trials that made CourtTV a household name are still unavailable. For the Bobby Cutts murder trial, it was a local Ohio station that offered via online live streaming a camera in the courtroom, and not TruTV/CNN. Same thing for Mark Jensen, although CNN did offer a live feed through their Crime section website, it often was not as stable as the one offered by WISN in Wisconsin. I asked my trial watching buds what they thought of CNN's online trial coverage and lack of archival footage. Here's what they had to say:

ritanita says, With such a big organization, they should be able to maintain the "extra" site. I'm sure it's out there somewhere. Their coverage is glommed in with their general news coverage and they will suddenly cut the feed to go to other news. They stop the live streaming for every little break in court and are slow to bring the feed back up. ...there was coverage of a fire and rescue with the raw footage on the "beheading" murder trial feed!

Their crime page is, as you say, a poor piece of work with most stories posted from other sources. They need to stop the awful reruns from 3 to 5 and put on quality trial coverage.
I think it was the Gagnon trial where live streaming stopped the moment the defendant got on the stand! There are so many of us who are serious trial followers.

We devote hours and hours to following a trial. We are devoted and sincere in our interest in observing the Judicial System at work. We want to see as much as humanly possible.
How many television stations can say that they had viewers who watched devotedly from 9 AM to 5 PM every day and longer when there was true gavel-to-gavel coverage? CTV could!

With the evisceration of programming that took place prior to the conversion to TTV, many viewers expressed their displeasure by clicking off.
With the advent of live-streaming coverage, the trial devotee could count on not missing any part of the trial. I sincerely wonder if TPTB at CNN understand the devotion of the true trial-watcher. For us it is not news, it is a process and we want to see it all. We need those video archives. We need a site which covers crime in a methodical way. We want to know the process, not just the bare facts. Perhaps we need to let CNN know this.

Kitty Malone says, All I can say is: C ommunist N ews N etwork SUX!

Bballgrl says, With the loss of "Court TV", there is a huge gap in the coverage available to True Crime followers. True Crime is a very popular genre in the United States and abroad. It seems as if somebody should jump into the gap and grab hold of this genre, at least in the 10am - 5pm time range. The least that should be offered, is coverage of high profile court cases. We have need of a station with good QUALITY live coverage of trials.

SeniorMoments says, I agree that we are getting even less trial coverage because they cut out to cover "breaking news stories" which are covered on other news networks - even their own - than on TruTV. It seems that they aren't sure of just who they are and what they want to be. I wonder if they are just going to continue and drop off anchors and reporters as their contracts expire until there is no longer any live trial coverage at all.

And as disappointed as I am with the state of online trial coverage, there may be hope. Donchais tells me that a search of CNN for "Phil Spector" did turn up some video footage links. However, when she clicked on them, they went nowhere. Could it be possible that CNN is working on making that enormous video library accessible to the general public again?

One can only hope. T&T is asking you to give us your thoughts on how happy/unhappy you are with TruTv/CNN's channel lineup and online trial coverage.