Hello everyone. I know y'all have been waiting for a story, but I've been busy with real life and trying to catch up on the new projects that have cropped up around our house. The white monstrosity is still in the driveway up on jacks. There was a bit of an emergency over a week ago when Mr. Sprocket realized that our tiny car jack stands were about to crumble under the crushing weight of the delivery truck and he had to make an emergency purchase for a powerful lift jack and stands that could handle the load. With that potential disaster in the making thwarted, the most pressing issue we have been dealing with is the hole in the laundry area of our kitchen floor
which became "The Great Escape" attempt for two of our kitties.
For several days the hole was covered by one of my thick, flexible, fabric cutting grids until we decided how we were going to tackle this space, rebuild it and moisture proof it for the washer and dryer. After a few days of my grid being on the floor I told Mr. Sprocket to find something in the garage to cover the hole with so I could clean off my grid for fabric. I take my grid up off the floor and put it back with my other sewing materials and Mr. Sprocket goes to the garage to get some sheet metal. Mr. Sprocket finds something to cover the hole and we sit down to watch a bit of television. About ten minutes later I hear a wailing meow and I'm asking Mr. Sprocket, "Where are the kitties?"
Wouldn't you know, the minute I turned my back and put that grid away, Sprocket kitty and Scout kitty became partners in crime and went exploring under the house. A few minutes after I started calling for Sprocket kitty, he came up out of the hole filthy dirty; there wasn't one white spot left on his face, neck or paws. He got locked in the treatment room for the time being until we could get Scout out, who was a bit harder to coax back inside. I'm stretched out half under the house in the bathroom with a flashlight where we have an access to the elevated crawl space. Mr. Sprocket is in the kitchen and we are both trying to call Scout to us. We can hear his mournful meow while he's desperately trying to find a way out from under the house to freedom.
After a time of calling him and hearing him wail, I had the idea for Mr. Sprocket to open the crawl space access door off the driveway. Maybe he would come out that way. Once that access was opened, it must have scared Scout to the point that he shot up out of the hole in the kitchen floor and I immediately covered the access with the sheet metal. We then spent the next several hours giving them the much dreaded "bath" and drying them off with a blow dryer. Scout and Sprocket kitties are now buddies in crime from their great adventure.
Jumpy & Scout and Sprocket hanging out and watching their very own "birdie TV."
It's going slowly but we are making progress on the kitchen floor and patch repairing some old damage to the wall behind the washer area.
Back Stories from Courtroom 106.
Back in January of this year, Dr Herold took the stand to testify in the retrial. During the first trial, I got to experience part of her testimony but not all of it. Ever since all the T&T contributors first saw Dr. Herold testify, everyone has been a fan. I distinctly remember some of her classic lines of testimony on the stand during the first trial: "I'm a doctor, not a mechanic! [...] It is what it is." (These were some of the statements that many people from the Internet crime-forum community discussed.) And, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." This last statement I learned later, was actually a quote from a forensic book written by none other than Paul Kish, one of the defense experts hired by Phil Spector who did not testify in either of his two trials. I paid rapt attention when Dr. Herold testified. I wanted to completely understand what she was presenting to the jury. She had so many years of experience and her demeanor on the stand was quite likable and engaging.
Another reason I liked Dr. Herold was because I could relate to her from an age and physical stand point. We're close in age, both have long dark hair with a bit of gray and similar body shapes. But that's where the similarity ends. Whereas I've worked as a bank auditor, bodyworker, seamstress and now part-time blogger, Dr. Herold is a kick-ass forensic scientist and criminalist. Here are some of my notes of when she was presenting her Curriculum Vitae on the stand for the second time.
Dr. Herold received her Ph.D., even before Master's programs were initiated. When she was working on her Ph. D., in Biological Sciences, she taught histology to pre-med and med students in exchange for her tuition. A senior criminalist with the LA Co. Sheriff's Crime Lab, she started her career working with the LA Co. Coroner's office, where she was first exposed to forensic science. She told the jury she used "...every single class she's taken in her work." With all her knowledge and experience, you have to wonder why she hasn't left her County job to set up her own shop, publish a few books and make ten times as much as she currently earns, working as a defense expert witness.
When I heard Dr. Herold testify, I saw her as a positive role model for women interested in the sciences.
January 13th, 2009 was Dr. Herold's second day on the stand in the retrial. It's the afternoon session and she has testified about her reconstruction of the crime scene as well as the blood and mottling she observed on the various surfaces of the gun. The afternoon recess was called and I was virtually the only person left in the gallery. Dr. Herold stayed on the stand during the break. Spector, Rachelle, Donte and the entire defense team had left the courtroom. Truc Do was still inside 106 and I tried to get Truc's attention to ask her a question. Truc answered me by asking me a question that totally took me by surprise. "She wants to know how Scout kitty is doing," Truc said. For a moment I was at a loss for words. Through Truc, Dr. Herold was asking me about my kitty who had to undergo emergency surgery for an infected bite wound. The only way she could have known that was by reading T&T.
For the next several minutes I talked about Scout and from the witness box, Dr. Herold talked about her wild kitties that she has rescued that did not adapt well to becoming inside kitties. As soon as I got home that night before I even starting working on my trial notes for the day, I excitedly wrote to the entire T&T gang what happened in the afternoon session; that Dr. Herold reads the blog and she has kitties! Most of the T&T group have kitties that we love dearly. ritanita wrote back, "I love Dr. Herold. She's so down-to-earth and to-the-point. 'It is what it is.'" Kitty Malone said, "Awe...I knew there was many reasons we liked her!" CaliGirl9 said, "I **loved** Dr. Herold the first time around and now knowing she loves kitties, I love her more! What a pro and a good person!"
The following day, court ended a bit early at 3:30 pm. Sherri had stayed later than she usually did and offered to give me a ride home. Sherri would park in the far back of the parking lot behind the Criminal Court Building. I thought Spector and his entourage were in front of us and had already left the building. However, as I exited I saw that the "I (heart) Phil-mobile" was still in it's reserved spot at the end of the ramp.
As we head towards the ramp, I turn to Sherri to tell her I thought they were in front of us. I thought they had gotten on another elevator, ahead of us. She tells me, "No, they are behind us." Crap. Ever since my extensively photo-shopped image appeared on Rachelle Short's web page, I made a point to exit the courtroom last. I also made a point of staying inside the courtroom during the breaks. If I wanted to get any snacks, Linda from San Diego or Sherri would go to the vending machine for me. There were a few times when I did leave the courtroom during the breaks, but if Rachelle was in the hallway with her husband and/or his groupies, she would consistently make insinuating comments as I walked by. Rachelle made sure I knew I was the object of her comments because she would increase the volume in her voice to just below a screech. Staying inside the courtroom during breaks was just an easy way to avoid a potential confrontation and the overall negativity of her presence.
So Sherri and I are walking down the handicap ramp to the parking lot and Spector and his group are a few yards behind us. As we are walking down the ramp Sherri turned around to look at Rachelle. She saw that Rachelle had whipped out her camera in her purse and was taking pictures of us. She must have over heard Sherri say, "I knew that camera would come out," because right after that, Sherri told me she saw that Rachelle had gestured with her middle finger, flipping her off, and kept taking photos with this childlike, gleeful expression on her face. I kept wondering at the time, is this all just a spiteful game to her? Does she not get it that her husband is on trial for murder? When we got on the street, their car was right in front of us on Broadway. I would not be surprised if she took photos of us through the back window of the "I (Heart) Phil-mobile." After that, I never made that mistake again. I always made sure I was the last person out of 106 to get on an elevator.
A week later on January 20th, court was in session only for the afternoon. Dr. Herold is still on the witness stand and we happened to be in the hallway together waiting to get inside 106. It was right as I was about to enter the first set of courtroom doors, that Dr. Herold speaks to me. She hands me a piece stationary paper with a phone number on it. She first tells me that I can't mention this until the case is over. She then says she would like to invite me to take a tour of the Sheriff's crime lab and I could bring Mr. Sprocket along if I wished. She says that they often do that for other writers. I'm to give her a call when the case is over.
I'm blown away and very excited at the same time. It's at this point, all I want is for the case to be over so I can go to the crime lab. It's all I can think about. Hurry up and finish so I can go to the crime lab! I had taped the small piece of paper Dr. Herold gave me with her number on it to my printer. I saw it everytime I sat at my computer. I would see that paper and think about the tour. When I got home the evening of the verdict, the first thing I did was call Dr. Herold and leave a message about scheduling the tour. She called back on my cell a few hours later while we were shopping for a new hard drive in Fry's. One of the first things she tells me is to me is to call her Lynne; that no one addresses her as "Dr. Herold." I told her that would be hard for me but I would try. I also told her I had jury duty on April 27th. If I could get through that in a couple days then I would be free to come whatever day would work for her schedule. She tells me there were a few people at the lab who wanted to meet me, so she would need to find a day that would work for everyone.
She checked in with me a week later and we discussed a possible visit date: April 30th. I told her that would all depend on what happened with my jury service. We kept that date as a tentative date unless I got seated on a jury. Dr. Herold thought it would be a good experience for me if it did happen.
When Monday, April 27th, came around, I did not have to report to the Metropolitan Courthouse, but the following day I did. I was hoping I would get through the entire day without being sent to a courtroom; then I would be home free. In the afternoon of the first day, I was sent to a courtroom along with 34 other individuals. I was juror #17, which meant I was one of the first 24 individuals to be questioned by the judge, prosecutor and defense. I will be writing a separate entry on my experiences at the Metropolitan courthouse but I wanted to share with you a "small world" coincidence. During questioning, I told the court that I was a blogger who attended three high profile trials and wrote about them as well as attended a few days of some other celebrity trials (Pellicano, Anand Jon, Miura). In the hallway on the afternoon of the second day, I was talking with the juror seated to my left, #16 about my experiences covering Spector. I told her that I got to meet Beth Karas and Dominick Dunne. She asked me if I had met any of the jurors. I replied, yes, that I had met Juror #9, Ricardo and how much I enjoyed him as a person. She then revealed that Ricardo was a long-time personal friend of hers. We both couldn't believe it. Small world.
As soon as I was excused from service by the defense attorney, I rushed home so I could call Dr. Herold and tell her Mr. Sprocket and I could come the next day for a tour of the crime lab.
Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, at Cal State LA
The Crime Lab
Touring the crime lab was a very exciting experience for both of us. Mr. Sprocket and I were at the crime lab a whopping ten and a half hours, where I took an entire notebook full of notes (so you know I will have a very detailed entry coming). And, I took quite a few photos. We got to tour every department, from evidence control, accessioning and storage, DNA labs, photography and fingerprint labs to the trace evidence lab, where Dr. Herold's department of seven employees perform their examinations. We even got to see the maintenance room and stand on the roof of the building. We got an extended, detailed personal tour of the firearms examination rooms, firing range and firing tanks as well as the weapons storage facilities by two criminalists who testified in the Spector trial: Dale Falicon and Bob Kyle. We also got to meet the senior criminalist who reviewed all of Dr. Herold's work on the Spector case, Steve Schliebe. While we were hanging out at Dr. Herold's desk, we got to look at some of the enlarged photographs presented at Spector's trial, as well as some of the notes prepared by defense expert Dr. Henry Lee. While looking at the enlarged photographs of the murder weapon, I pulled out a close up of the right side of the weapon and asked Mr. Sprocket to look at the center of the frame very closely. I asked him what did he see on the surface of the firearm. He replied, "A fabric pattern." You have to wonder about the competency (and honesty) of these forensic experts that Spector's defense team hired, who were unable to testify on the stand that they saw a fabric pattern on the weapon that my husband was able to discern after less than 10 seconds.
Before I forget, I'd like to thank all the staff at the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center. Every single person we got the opportunity to meet was very accommodating and patiently took the time to answer all our questions in every department, which is why the tour took so long. It will take me several days to get my entry up on the tour of the crime lab, and afterwords, my jury service entry so please keep checking back.