Thursday, July 30th, 2009
#7 Saad Omar (hiker at Portuguese Point who observed the defendant and the victim hiking; testimony complete)
#8 Jeremy William Simmons (Sacred Cove visitor who loaned the defendant his cell phone to call 911; testimony complete)
#9 James Witherow (hiker at the scene who saw the victim and defendant on the hillside paved road; testimony complete)
#10 Richard Barber (motorist who observed victim and defendant walking on Palos Verdes Drive South; testimony complete)
#11 Captain Fred Curcio, Jr. (LA Co Firefighter Lt., supervisor at the scene, first responder; testimony complete)
#12 Victor Rosenthal (LA Co. Firefighter specialist; one of the first responders, paramedic but working truck detail that day; testimony complete)
#13 Jessica Paige Brothers (LA Co Sheriff Sgt. at scene; testimony incomplete)
We are in a rush to get out of the house. I forgot to buy notebooks on the way home and we have to stop at Walgreen's on the way to the train so I can get a few more notebooks.
Last night, I went to the Internet to look at satellite views of the terrain. All of the descriptions became clear to me. On the way to the train, I call donchais on the phone and I tell her how to get to see the satellite views of the area. I discuss with her my thoughts on the witnesses I've heard so far.
At 9 am inside 107 Pastor is passing sentence on another defendant. He is receiving 10 years and it's his second felony. There's hardly anyone in the courtroom. The defendant's wife, Patty is not here but her brother Ted is. There is an attractive young blond-haired woman in the courtroom that doesn't appear to be associated with the defendant's supporters or the mother's supporters. She's been in the courtroom off and on several times. I wonder who she is.
Judge Pastor addresses Ted, Patty's brother. Yesterday he was nodding off in his seat again. The bailiff had to comment to him. So that's what that was about yesterday. Pastor wants none of that in his courtroom.
Ted addresses the Judge. He states that he broke his nose and his sinuses are blocked and he felt he was getting drowsy so he stepped out. He also said he has a tendency to snore when he starts to fall asleep.
9:11 am: Pastor waits on the bench. This is different from Fidler who rarely, if ever, waited on the bench. He would always retire to his chambers until everything was ready for him.
Pastor addresses Detective Leslie. "I got an email from (?). You were in Lancaster?" Detective Leslie replies that he is on call with that case in Lancaster, and the case is still ongoing.
Cameron Brown has not been brought into the courtroom yet. I see that one of Sarah Key-Marer's friends is here.
9:15 am: Pat Harris enters the courtroom from the little jail room off to the side by the bailiff's desk. Harris asks Judge Pastor for two minutes before the jury is brought in.
Judge Pastor, looking at the clock replies, "That's about it." Brown isn't brought into the courtroom quickly enough so at 9:16 am, Pastor tells Harris he's going to bring in the jury.
Saad Omar is still on the stand, under cross.
Harris puts up a photo, the people's #82, and Judge Pastor leaves the bench and goes back to that same spot in the jury box.
9:20 am: Sarah Key-Marer and her friends quietly enter the courtroom. Harris is going over with the witness what can be seen from the road above. Harris asks the witness if he knows how many homes are on the hills above Inspiration Point. The witness thinks there are about five houses above it.
Another photo is now presented, an enlarged photo of Sacred Cove between the two points, a nude beach.
CH: From Sacred Cove, you can see Inspiration Point?
SO: You can see the sides but not the top.
PH: Is it your testimony that you can't see the top of the Inspiration Point form Sacred Cove?
Harris goes over the last area the witness testified that he saw the man and little girl walking along.
SO: The far end of Portuguese Point.
PH: You did not see them head towards Palos Verdes Road?
The witness verifies that once can not get around Portuguese Point on the beach level. Harris puts up on the bulletin board people's exhibit #6. Harris get the witness to verify his testimony under direct of where he saw Mr. Brown and his daughter walking before.
SO: The paved road.
PH: That part of the trail is actually going downward, (correct?)? [...] (Path) about 2 feet wide (at that point). [...] It's NOT a treacherous path and then they got on the paved road?
SO: (Pointing to an area in the photo) From the beach to his point, it's steep.
PH: Would you consider it treacherous or dangerous?
SO: Not for me. But your someone younger, maybe.
PH: There's a section that you saw them walking that is flat, and it's not treacherous? (I believe Harris is pointing to an area in photographs.)
SO: Not that part.
Harris puts up people's exhibit #4 and asks the witness about a dirt path in the photo. (IIRC, it's the photo of the trail head beside the Abalone Cove parking lot.)
PH: Is that the path you saw them on?
PH: Is that similar to the path you saw them on?
SO: No. That one's wider.
Now going over Photo D in #4 exhibit. Harris asks the witness where in the photo that he has seen children. Omar points to an area he calls a park.
Harris puts up people's #7, photos taken on his second visit to Portuguese Point with Detective Leslie and DDA Hum. The witness states that the fence around the point comes up to his chest area.
PH: (Pointing t a specific point in the photo) There's an area of the fence where a child could climb under?
SO: They'd have to crawl under.
PH: They could crawl through the center area?
SO: Well, I guess if no one was watching.
The fence rail is an open, horizontal western style type.
The witness states he parked in the parking lot and paid $5.00. He hiked from the parking lot to Portuguese Point.
PH: What is the distance in your estimation from the parking loot to Portuguese Point?
SO: Maybe 1/2 mile?
PH: How long (would it take to traverse that distance)?
SO: Depends on how fast. Twenty, thirty minutes.
PH: It's your testimony you were there that day to read a book?
PH: Sat under a tree?
PH: From where you sat, you couldn't see the nude beach?
(I believe he means that yes, he could see the nude beach.)
PH: There are a lot of trees around that point?
SO: Just a few; not many.
Harris asks him what he remembers about the people on the nude beach and how many.
PH: You testified prior trial there were four to five feet between Mr. Brown and his daughter. [...] Do you recall you testimony in prior proceeding it would take about 2 seconds to catch up that distance?
SO: I don't remember.
PH: How long do you think it would take a child to catch up that distance?
SO: Five to ten seconds.
PH: Do you remember testifying in a prior proceeding [...] they stopped and she would catch up?
I believe Harris points to another area on a photo.
PH: This wasn't where she was twenty feet behind?
PH: She was four to five feet behind?
PH: Your testimony that it was your impression she was tired?
PH: She wasn't crying?
PH: She wasn't having a tantrum?
PH: Did she sit down to rest?
PH: Did you see her go over to lean on the fence?
SO: No. She didn't get to the fence.
PH: So, it's not from anything she did, it's just your thought?
SO: It's just from my experience with my child and how he looks when he's tired [...] and the way that she was walking.
Harris asks questions about where (on Portuguese Point) he goes to read.
PH: You go because it's a place of breathtaking beauty?
SO: One of, yes.
PH: And this is a beautiful place in all of Southern California? (That question is a bit of a stretch, Harris, but the witness agrees.)
PH: And this was a beautiful day?
PH: It wasn't cloudy?
Harris now confronts him on his testimony from a previous trial. Harris says, "Excuse me. Hearing." Harris states for Hum, page 621.
PH: You were specifically asked at the last trial about.... you testified that it would take a young child about two seconds to catch up to a six-foot tall man?
Harris asks him about the "scream" that he testified he heard.
PH: You got up, looked around, then maybe thought it was just a bird?
Cross is finished. There is no redirect from Hum.
The next witness is called. It's Jeremy William Simmons, a slender 30's looking young man. Judge pastor gives his standard instruction to the witness. This facial expressions and demeanor when he is talking directly to the next witness is very engaging.
Unfinished draft entry. Will be updated as soon as possible.
CH: Back in 2000, where were you working?
JWS: World of Wonder Productions. [...] It's an independent production company that produces television and film (projects).
Simmons states that he still works for this production company.
CH: Is that a nine to five job?
JWS: It's irregular. His work is on a project by project basis.
CH: Was that the same back then in 2000?
CH: What city were you living in back in 2000?
CH: Are you familiar with Sacred Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes, known as a nude beach?
Hum goes over the direction of the beach and the surrounding landmarks. From that beach, it's a south facing beach. West would be LAX. East would be Inspiration Point. The witness agrees. Sacred cove would be between Portuguese Point and Inspiration Point.
CH: In order to get to Sacred Cove, can you get to that from Palos Verdes Road?
JWS: There's a dirt trail to the beach. A foot path.
CH: (Is it a) flat path?
JWS: It's steep in sections.
CH: Is it a trail with switchbacks?
JWS: I don't know the correct number but it winds back and forth.
On November 8th, 2000, he went to Sacred Cove and parked in the Abalone Cove parking lot.
CH: How did you get to Sacred Cove?
JWS: I walked along the street, along San Pedro.[...] There's a, my recollection, there's a sort of shoulder as you get closer.
CH: This is on the ocean side?
JWS: (Correct, or yes.)
The witness went down the trail to the beach. Simmons states the last bit of the trail is steep. When he got to the beach, he set up close to the end of the trail on the beach. He went by himself. It was the afternoon, approximately 1:30 pm when he arrived. There were other people on the beach. Simmons doesn't recall how far (away?); there were other people there. There were approximately more in the range of five to ten people on the beach. The witness states he spread out a towel and pulled out a book. He was reading.
JWS: I heard a voice. Someone asking for a phone, via the trail. [...] It was a male voice.
Hum asks him what did the man say.
JWS: Does anyone have a cell phone. [...] I didn't see; I just heard it.
From his position, he states he couldn't see anybody. Simmons states he had to move from his position. He had to move away from the cliff to see where the voice was coming from.
Hum asks him if he sees this person in the courtroom and the witness identifies the defendant.
CH: Where on the trail was he when you first saw him?
JWS: He was closer to the beach. [...] He asked for a cell phone. He said his daughter had fallen off a cliff. [...] I said I had a cell phone and would call 911.
CH: When first.... Did you sense anything in his voice?
JWS: I didn't trust what was happening at the immediate moment.
Because he had pointed to where... (Not sure who says this.)
The witness states he didn't trust the situation. He didn't understand the gravity, because his (Brown's) demeanor didn't match what was happening. I thought maybe she had sprained an ankle. [...] I didn't put it together until much later that someone had died.
CH: Did the defendant direct you to an area?
JWS: He pointed around to Inspiration Point. [...] I thought it was a setup. That he was going to steal my phone; my belongings.
The witness states that he was close to the side of Inspiration Point where it goes out into the sea. Simmons was at the beach level, and he went out to see if he could see anything. He went out on the rocky area to see what he could see.
CH: While you were doing this, was the defendant's demeanor the same?
The witness states that the only way to get across that inlet would be to swim across it. One would have to walk around the trail, back up to the other side or swim.
JWS: I decided to head back. I didn't see anything.
CH: You didn't see anything from the rocks?
JWS: At that time, I didn't know or see that there was another inlet on the other side.
CH: Why didn't you decide to swim across?
JWS: I didn't understand what was happening. I didn't know if it was a setup to steal my stuff. The defendant was still there. [...] I don't remember 100% if he was on the cell phone when I had gotten back to (where the defendant was).
By that time, there were other people on the beach with the defendant and then he went back up the trail and he was gone. He got his cell phone back.
CH: He didn't ask you or anyone to come with him?
JWS: No, not that I recall. [...] There was a growing curiosity of what was happening on the beach. [...] At some point helicopters showed up and the day was over so I left. [...] Not much time had passed between the time the defendant left and I decided to leave.
The witness went back up the trial to leave. On that day the witness never went to the other side of Inspiration Point.
CH: When did you first realize the seriousness of the situation.
JWS: I remember, as the day went on, realized that something more serious happened and that she was seriously hurt. [...] It was a process, I think.
Hum tells the witness he's going to show him some photos. Several young students come into 107 and sit on the defense side of the room. I didn't see them come in; just noticed them there a minute ago.
It's an aerial photo, people's #12. The witness identifies the area in the photo of Inspiration Point. In a prior proceeding, his initials were placed in an area on the photo, and placed an X as to where he saw the defendant on the trial. The dotted line on the photo is the path he took to go look for the defendant's daughter.
From his viewpoint on the beach, he couldn't see the second inlet further to the east. Another group of four photos is presented. Photos of the Sacred Cove side of Inspiration Point. At the end of the trail going down to the beach, he marked his initials as to where he had set up his towel. Photo B is a land mass. The west side of Inspiration Point. Another red dotted line for the path that (the defendant?) took. Photo C. Dotted line showing the continuation of the path. Photo D. The inlet that from stopped him from traveling any farther east.
10:20 am: Hum is through with the photos and the easel comes down.
CH: When you are on the beach at Sacred Cove, can you see the west side of Inspiration Point? [...] Can you see the top?
JWS: No. Just the side. Can't see the top.
CH: Can you see the east side of Inspiration Point?
I see Sarah Key-Marer looking down at her lap. I cannot tell if she is trying to keep from weeping.
JWS: My recollection was that he needed to call 911 to see what happened and I offered to go look.
The witness states he spoke to police within a week. The police contacted him.
CH: Did police tell you what to say? [...] Did they tell you how to describe his demeanor? [...] Did police ever tell you what to say? (No, no, no.)
10:25 am: Direct is over and cross begins. I don't note who crosses this witness but I believe it's still Harris.
PH: In the prior proceeding did anyone elver accuse you, to pressure you or asked you to change your story?
PH: He didn't talk. Mr. Brown yelled?
JWS: Yes. [...] If he was talking I wouldn't have heard him. [...] There's waves, and wind noise.
Harris asks about his demeanor prior.
PH: His eyes were in fact wet? [...] At some point you did see his eyes wet?
The witness states that he was confused because he didn't know at first what was going on. It was also because he was hearing more about the story. I believe Pat Harris asks if he had red eyes or wet eyes, but I don't have the witnesses answer.
Simmons states he left the beach alone. NO one talked to him that day. He didn't know anyone else there that day. The witness states he doesn't recall if the defendant ran or walked (back up the hill).
PH: You basically said to investigators that he ran back up the hill?
The witness states he doesn't remember. I'm not positive but I believe the witness is shown his prior testimony.
JWS: If that's what I testified, then that's true. [...] Some people at the beach went up (the hill) but I don't know where they went. I don't know if they went with him (the defendant). [...] It made sense that he was on the 911 call because what would I say? [...] I told him I didn't see anything.
PH: Did they play the 911 tape?
JWS: I wasn't there when most of it (at the beach, when the defendant called). [...] Listening to the tape, it was pretty much sounded less frantic than I remember at the time. [...] When I first heard [...] I felt that I misjudged the initial reaction. [...] I reevaluated it afterwords.
Witness states he reevaluated the entire situation and understood the gravity of the situation.
The cross is finished. There's no redirect. It's 10:30 am and Judge Pastor excuses the jurors for break.
I was quite confused by the witnesses last statements. It wasn't clear to me after that cross what his reevaluation of the situation finally was. I see a spectator, a man come into 107 that I frequently saw at the Spector trial, and that I first saw years ago at the Blake trial. He doesn't stay long.
At the break, I observe Sarah and a friend speak to Detective Leslie. Afterwards, the detective and Harris chat. Harris sips from a diet coke can at the defense table. Hum walks around in the well, slowly pacing. I overhear one of Sarah's friends speak about going back home. She has an English accent, like Sarah and I make a guess that she is from England, maybe here on a visit. The well area is quiet, not like the bustle that would go on in Fidler's courtroom.
10:55 am: Sarah reenters the courtroom. I see Ted speaking to the pretty young blond-haired woman and I wonder if this is someone Ted knows.
Unedited, draft entry. To be continued.
10:57 am: Testimony resumes. The next witness is called. James Evert Witherow. Judge Pastor instructs him with his standard speech. Witherow is an older man who looks very fit.
Back in 2000, this Witherow lived in Long Beach. He lived in Palos Verdes until 1993.
CH: Were you familiar with Abalone Cove and Portuguese Point?
Witherow states he used to swim, hike and snorkel there. He hiked there for over 20 years but has not hiked there in the past year. He would hike in the area with others two to five days a week. He had certain routes he liked to take when he hiked. "Generally, I would take certain routes. I had three to five different routes," Witherow states. He is in fairly good shape and he still bikes a lot. The witness states he can hike fairly quickly. He walks at a pace of four to five miles per hour. (That's a pretty good pace. When I used to hike the Sherman Oaks hills, I did a 3.5 mile loop on surface streets in a little over an hour.)
The witness went hiking that day, November 8th, 2000. He saw helicopters later in the day. When he came to the area, he parked two blocks west in a Fire Station. It's the only place where there is public parking. It's west of the Abalone Cove parking lot. The witness clarifies that it's not a parking lot. It's street parking and he walks to San Pedro.
He would walk east in the direction of San Pedro on a path next to the road. He would then walk in a diagonal direction across the Abalone Cove parking lot heading towards the break in the fence where the trail head is at the edge of the lot. He took this path on 11/8. Using the path, he tent down the trail to the beach.
CH: There's a nursery school and playground?
JW: Yes, and a lifeguard station.
The witness describes the paved private road to the nursery school and where it intersects the trail. Witherow took the path directly to the left, towards Portuguese Point. The witness describes a (to me) complicated sounding trail route that he took. Approximately 50 yards down the private road that's black-topped, he then takes another trail at a knoll that goes down a gully to a creek bed. At that time (this) trail was fairly steep and it's been modified since then. (He was) in the creek bed pointing towards Portuguese Point and then he went onto the beach area.
The witness talks about from the bluff, there's an area you can go onto, if you know where to go. The height of the bluff is about 40 feet, about the height of a three story building.
The witness continued to hike towards Portuguese Point.
CH: Did you see anyone on the paved road?
JW: I saw two people. And adult and a child. [...] They were partway up the road (at the) next point and the adult was several feet in front of the child.
CH: What was the distance?
JW: They were maybe [...] eighteen to twenty feet. [...] From my distance it was hard to determine.
The witness remembers that from the clothing the adult was male. He just remembers that the clothing the child wore was light (colored).
The adult and child were headed to Portuguese Point. The witness took the same trail that the adult and child were on. When the witness got to the road, he couldn't see them. The road is steep and very narrow. It's used by lifeguards to access the station. Sometimes, the witness states he has seen lifeguards (drive?) come down that road. The witness took that road all the way to Portuguese Point.
The witness is asked to describe Portuguese Point.
JW: There's a dirt road encircling it. [...] The knoll, larger than a small knoll; it's a good climb. [...] The knoll is between Portuguese Point and Palos Verdes Road South.
On the point, the witness doesn't remember anybody. The witness states that he stopped at the rock wall area on the Inspiration Point side of Portuguese Point. From there, Witherow saw the two people on the walking trail between the two points, a trail along side Palos Verdes Road South. He saw them (at a point approximately) half way.
JW: They were on the Portuguese Point side of a big tree, the child was still twenty to twenty-five feet behind the adult. [...] They were headed towards Portuguese Point.
The witness went up the knoll and came back down and saw the two people on Inspiration Point. They were off the road at that point, and on towards Inspiration Point. The small child was behind.
CH: Could you tell how far behind?
JW: No. At that point it was too much distance.
The witness testifies that he has gone to that area over 20 years.
CH: Have you ever seen a child out in that (area? Inspiration Point?)?
JW: Not that I recall.
The witness is asked if he's ever gone out on Inspiration Point.
JW: I started t once time. It's not stable. It's very uncomfortable.
After his hike he went back to his car. He never saw the man or child again. He states that he wouldn't recognize them if they stood in front of him. Sometime later, the police contacted him. He told police what he saw. Photographs now come out and Pastor leaves the bench to stand right beside the jury box area, in the gallery aisle next to the wall.
People's #6. The witness identifies the paved road and verifies that those are his initials that were placed on the photo in a prior proceeding. He made the marks on the photo at the first trial. And the areas he testified about are now gone over in the photographs.
Photos, People's #5. Photos, People's #10, A-C. The witness identifies in these photos where he saw the man and the child on three separate occasions. 1. Road. 2. Ocean side of Portuguese Point, headed to Inspiration Point. 3. On ridge headed out towards Inspiration Point.
JW: On each occasion, the adult was in front.
The witness states he never saw the child running ahead.
Harris's co-counsel, Lara Veretsian gets up to perform the cross. From where I'm sitting, I can see the paper's she takes to the podium. I've not watched many trials, but I've never seen an attorney work from these types of notes before. She's working from a type of file where pages are bound together by a two hole metal binding clip, where lots of papers can be attached on top of each other. I can see that some of the pages appear to be interview statements, and some appear to be pages of testimony, probably from the prior trial, with lots of highlighter on the text.
This is just an observation of mine; it probably means nothing. The attorney's I've seen in action in the courtroom, work from a structured set of questions, or points, written down on unattached pages or on a legal notepad. Harris appears to work like this; so does Hum. With every witness Veretsian crosses, she is often going back and forth, flipping through these pages looking for something before and after her questions. To me, this method appeared to hold up her cross and didn't make it "flow."
Witherow states that for more than 20 years he's hiked in the area two to five times a week. It's a beautiful area and a way to stay fit. He's been over the area hundreds of times, easily. On November 8th, 2000, he parked on the street near the Fire Station. He started hiking east toward Inspiration Point. Veretsian goes over his entire route from the beginning. He states he doesn't go down to the school area.
LV: Would you describe that area of the trail as "treacherous?" [...] And you've seen children on that trail?
JW: Yes. Dozens of times.
Where the nursery (road? is) he took a left south towards the point. He took a left parallel to the beach. Veretsian goes over some prosecution exhibit photos with the witness. She has the witness go through each of these photos again. (Is this to orient herself? It's puzzling to me.)
LV: Now the road. Would you describe that as a treacherous road?
LV: Have you seen children there?
JW: Rarely, but occasionally.
LV: (The little girl/child) was she crying?
JW: They were too far away (for me to see the child's face).
There are many questions now about Lauren by Veretsian.
LV: Was she screaming? [...] Was she yelling? [...] You testified today that Lauren was twenty feet behind (Brown). The in prior proceeding you testified the child was only a few feet.
JW: A few feet could be anything from ten to twenty.
LV: Do you remember speaking to an investigator?
JW: Is that the one at Torrance Police Station?
Veretsian approaches the witness with a document for him to review. (This is an interview he gave with a defense investigator.)
CH: I'd like to look at it too, your Honor.
11:45 am: The witness reads over the prior interview. Judge Pastor instruct him to read it to himself. Hum looks over the document.
LV: Now that you've had a chance to review with the defense investigator in 2004, that you said the child was five feet behind. [...] And that your memory at that time would be better than it is now? [...] Would you say that was accurate?
JW: I wouldn't swear to that. [...] She was definitely behind.
LV: You don't know if she was five feet or twenty feet?
JW: She was definitely behind.
LV: Did you see her sitting down?
LV: Did you see her leaning on a rock?
LV: They were walking at a normal pace?
JW: I was too far away to tell you what would be a "normal pace."
LV: Do you remember telling the investigator that you didn't notice anything out of the ordinary?
CH: Objection! Vague! Speculation!
LV: Did you remember telling the investigator that the child didn't appear to be distressed or upset?
JW: Because I couldn't tell.
There's a question about the two points.
JW: Portuguese point is fairly stable even on the other side. Inspiration Point is not.
LV: Did you tell the investigator that because the cliff is generally unstable that what happened could easily have been an accident?
CH: Objection! Speculation!
LV: Did you see them on Portuguese Point?
JW: No, I did not.
LV: Did you see a man on Portuguese Point sitting under a tree?
JW: I don't know.
LV: Did you see a man on Portuguese Point?
JW: I honestly don't know.
LV: How much of the top of Inspiration Point (can you see from...)?
JW: Depending on where you stand. [...] I've never seen anyone walk out there. [...] I don't know how much you can actually see. [...] The part I know you can see is from Palos Verdes Drive South and that "hillock." (?)
LV: Would you be able to see that person?
JW: Possibly, if you were looking in that direction. [...] It depends upon where you are.
Another question about what you can see.
CH: Objection! Vague.
We've reached the noon hour and court is in recess.
1:15 pm: Back in the hallway on the 9th floor, I recognize some defense attorneys from a case that is being tried in Fidler's courtroom across the hall. Hum and his staff enter the hallway from the elevator bay. Hum shakes hands with someone he knows. Ted is sitting on an end bench. Sarah and several of her friends speak to Hum. Another friend of Sarah's is here that I don't think I've seen before and a word or two I overhear have an English accent.
1:26 pm: The doors are finally unlocked. Both counsel set up their case binders and notebooks.
1:28 pm: The bailiff gets the defendant out of the little jail waiting area.
Veretsian gets her photo exhibits set up. I note that Sarah is wear an nice gray pantsuit. I also notice her footwear, only because they are mary-janes, the same type of shoe that Lana Clarkson was wearing when she was murdered. Everyone is here except the jury. Pastor is on the bench waiting. It's so different to be in a courtroom where the judge starts exactly on time and makes everyone else be on time. As they bring in the jury, I try to take some notes as to what race/age they are.
#1. Young Asian man
#2. Older looking black man
#3. Middle aged Asian woman
#4. Older black man with a bit of a belly.
#5. Older white man
#6. Middle aged black woman
#7 White 40's looking doctor
#9 Older gray haired man.
And that's as far as I got before testimony resumes.
I believe Veretsian asks him if he arrived at the fire station at approximately 2:15 in the afternoon.
JW: Mam! It was over nine years ago!
Veretsian has him review a document. I have in my notes, 1400, 1430. I believe she asks him if reviewing the documents would refresh his memory, or he states that he has reviewed his prior testimony. He states that the documents don't really refresh his memory but they would be more accurate.
LV: Is one of the ways to get to Sacred Cove from the parking lot over Portuguese Point?
JW: Yes, by that rock wall.
There is another question that I miss about a route/trail.
JW: It would be foolish, but you could. [...] It would be out of the way but yes, you could.
LV: There's another way to get to Inspiration Point and that's to just park on Palos Verdes Drive South?
JW: People would get ticketed. I've only seen police cars there.
All these areas he mentioned are closer to Inspiration Point than the parking lot.
LV: Each time you saw, (the man and little girl) was it that you observed them for a few seconds?
JW: Yes. You don't stare.
LV: If you totaled up all this observation, it would be less than a minute?
JW: One to two minutes.
LV: Did you see the entirety of their walk?
JW: I only saw them at the three times.
LV: The second time you observed them, did you see the child sit down at any point?
The defense tries to show that the walk/paths are not that difficult.
LV: Was she walking at a steady pace?
JW: I couldn't answer that.
LV: The third time you saw them, you never saw the child sit down?
JW: No. The only thing I ever saw her do is walk.
JP: Mr. Hum, redirect?
The defense pressed that he only saw them for "a few seconds."
The next witness is called. Richard Barber. Judge Pastor gives the witness his standard instruction.
Hum does the direct. I believe Hum will handle all the witnesses for the prosecution. When there are sidebars at the bench, Susan does not join Hum, Harris and Veretsian.
Back in November of 2000, the witness was living in Palos Verdes Estates. On Wednesday November 8th, 2000 between 12:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon he was driving on Palos Verdes Drive South. He owns an escrow company in Long Beach and he was coming back home. He was taking Palos Verdes Drive South. In the vicinity of Palos Verdes Drive South and Peppertree Street. When he's driving from his business, he's driving towards LAX.
(At around the Peppertree Street intersection) he saw a gentleman around five feet eleven inches tall and a toddler walking around twenty feet behind. They were on the ocean side of Palos Verdes Drive South. They were on the shoulder traveling in the opposite direction. The witness verifies the distance he saw the child from the man. Hum walks toward the witness and Barber tells Hum to stop when he reaches the distance he observed.
CH: Why did that catch your attention?
RB: I drive down that road pretty regularly and I never see an adult walking with a child that far apart.
I believe the witness states that he could tell the child was a young girl. A week later, there was a checkpoint set up on Palos Verdes Drive. (Ah! Although more questions are not asked, I'm gathering that this is how they found this witness. The sheriff's put up a checkpoint and stopped cars and asked them if they saw anything.)
CH: And was that the point you saw the man walking with the little girl on Palos Verdes Drive?
Hum brings out People's 11, A-B. They are photos of the road at Palos Verdes South.
CH: Is that the stretch of road that you saw the man and the little girl?
The first photo is of the direction he was driving. The second photo has a mark on it where he saw the man and the little girl. There are two marks on the photos that he placed (in the prior proceeding). One mark for the man and one for the little girl. In the photo, you can see the Peppertree street sign.
Another photo is put up. An aerial view. The witness points out the area, intersection of Peppertree and Palos Verdes Drive South. Unusually, Hum puts the photos up on the overhead screen.
I note that the pretty blond that Ted spoke to is not here in the afternoon. I don't have it in my notes but I think she was here in the morning.
On the aerial view photos, the witness identifies Inspiration Point and Portuguese Point. He states that he was driving "up the coast." The Peppertree intersection is right at Inspiration Point. The witness states that at the time, he drove that road every other day from 1991 to 2001.
CH: Are you absolutely certain that when you saw the man and child they were approximately twenty feet apart?
I believe the witness answers yes.
Direct is finished and Veretsian gets up to cross.
LV: What is the speed (in that area)?
RB: Twenty five to forty miles per hour.
LV: That area, what is the speed (limit)?
RB: Twenty five miles per hour.
LV: How fast were you driving?
RB: Twenty five.
LV: You were driving west-bound? [...] Would you say that you only got to see them for a few seconds? [...] And that's why you can't identify them.
RB: It was just bizarre and that's why it stuck in my mind.
LV: In your interview, (you said) they were walking at a normal pace and that you told the officer the child was fifteen to twenty feed behind the man. [...] Would you say that your memory is better (now or then)?
Veretsian asks him about his vision and if he was wearing glasses.
RB: Yes. Prescription.
LV: They are bifocals?
RB: The lower portion is just for reading. (The upper portion is for distance.)
LV: And you were wearing glasses?
LV: They also seem to be shaded.
RB: Yes. They are shaded.
LV: What's your vision with these glasses?
RB: Perfect (20/20).
LV: Did you see the child's face? [...] Was she crying?
LV: Was she screaming?
LV: Was she sitting down?
RB: No. [...] More like trying to catch up.
LV: No one took you to the scene in 2000?
RB: No, but I drove by that area pretty regularly.
LV: The first time anyone ever took you to the scene was six years later?
Veretsian is challenging him on where he exactly saw the man and child.
LV: And it's a pretty approximate location as to where you saw them?
RB: I think it's pretty finite as to where I saw them. [...] I think it's pretty close.
Veretsian and Harris confer. Veretsian asks Judge Pastor for a sidebar. I see the older black man in the back row, #4 shake his head from side to side. Jurors whisper in the back row.
Veretsian makes an argument to the judge. That's what it sounds like. Hum speaks. I have in my notes that gum or mints are passed in the back row. I must have meant among the jurors.
Cross is finished and there is no redirect. The witness leaves the stand before Judge Pastor can instruct him.
JP: Mr. Barber, you're way ahead of me.
There's another sidebar, and Judge Pastor asks Hum about photos on the overhead.
The next witness is Captian Fred Curcio, Junior.
Juror #11: Asian man
Juror #10: Asian or Latino man. I can't tell
Curcio is a Fire Captian with Los Angeles County for 27 years. He was working Fire Station 106 at Indian Peak and Hawthorne Blvd. He road on the engine and responded to emergency alarms. He was working on November 8th, 2000.
CH: How far from Abalone Cove (is his station)?
FC: I would say about four or five miles.
CH: It's not the closest station to Abalone Cove?
At the station he received a rescue call. It was in 53's district, close to Inspiration Point off of Palso Verdes Drive. The crew that went with him were Armondo Perion (sp?) and Ben Rosen. All three went to the area. There were other units that responded. A paramedic unit responded (from another station, I believe.) The paramedics were Vince Dorn and Mark Choy (sp?). They responded separately from him.
Initally went to Inspiration Point on the drive, where Inspiration Point goes off onto Palos Verdes Drive.
FC: We were the first engine on the scene and requested other engines to hold on that scene. [...] It was vague as to where we were to respond to.
They were traveling in the direction to San Pedro. They then moved the engine further down the road to San Pedro direction. They were flagged down by a person. The engine truck was on Palos Verdes Drive.
CH: The person directed you to a particular direction?
FC: We proceeded on foot all three of us from the engine.
The witness is asked to describe the terrain.
FC: We went down a slopey hill that was just brush. [...] Another gentleman further down (?) that someone was hollering for help.
This was brush and dirt terrain.
FC: He stated that someone was hollering for help back at the LAX direction. [...] I heard a voice and I went in that direction. [...] He was asking us to come over and help. [...] There was a small path off the embankment and we met him there.
CH: Did you ask the defendant...
FC: He said he was out here and she's over here and he was doing CPR.
CH: When you first saw him was he doing CPR?
FC: He had come back from the victim to point us to the victim.
CH: Did he inform you that the victim was a child?
(I believe the witness answers no.)
Hum asks the witness to describe the man's demeanor.
FC: He seemed to be what I would describe as calm, or removed from the situation.
CH: Was he crying?
CH: Was he screaming?
CH: Did the defendant appear to you to be upset?
FC: No sir.
CH: Did you go to the victim?
FC: The paramedics arrived after us. I'm not sure of the time, maybe a minute or two. [...] She was lying on a picnic bench I believe. [...] The paramedics pronounced the victim dead.
CH: You saw the paramedics have a conversation with the defendant? [...] And was his demeanor the same?
CH: Was there something about that (situation that caught your attention)?
FC: The fact that a child had passed away. [...] He appeared to be the parent.
CH: Have you ever seen a parent react this way to the loss of a child?
FC: No sir. [...] He stated that he and the child were up there, and pointed to Inspiration Point.
CH: Did he tell you what he did?
FC: (He said) He looked and looked over the cliff and saw her down in the water. [...] He (said) he tried to make a call for help and then immediately ran around and down the cliff to where she was located. [...] He told me he came back to the road and took a trail down to the rocks and to the water. [...] I believe he stated she was in the water by the rocks.
CH: Did he tell you about how much time had passed between the time she went over the cliff and when he went down to the water?
CH: Did he say there was anyone to call?
FC: He said to call his wife.
CH: You spoke with the detectives at some point and prepared a report? [...] And the report appears to be accurate and then (?) fresh in his mind?
Hum offers him to look over the report prepared by detectives.
CH: He told Firefighters he went to use a cell phone on the beach before he went to the (bay to go to his daughter)? [...] Did he tell you how long the time between? [...] Did he appear to be wet to you?
FC: No sir.
CH: The defendant told you that he did CPR or was doing CPR?
The witness reviews the report again. The report refreshes his memory.
FC: The defendant said, "I'm doing CPR."
CH: Did you see him doing CPR?
CH: Did you see any blood or any other material on the defendants face?
Hum puts an aerial photograph up on the overhead screen, People's 82.
CH: Can you see the area of the archery range?
The archery range area is pointed out and I'm stunned. She wasn't down on the beach. She was up the slope a ways near an archery range on a table. The defendant carried here there, all the way from the ocean/rocks below. The archery range appears to be a little more than a third, almost half a ways up the hillside.
The afternoon break is called. Hum tells Sarah that the photos that are coming are of her daughter on the picnic table, and it's up to her whether she wants to stay or not.
Out in the hallway, Harris approaches me and says that in regards to the Peterson case, I described him as "incoherent." I get this very puzzled expression on my face because I was not blogging during the Peterson case. He can see I'm totally confused by what he's saying because he adds, "You also said some very nice things." Harris goes onto say that he is kidded around the office and called "incoherent." I mention to Harris that I wasn't blogging about the Peterson case. That my blog has only been around for two years and that I have a million page views in that time.
I have no idea what Harris is talking about and I'm certain that he has confused me with someone else. I'm puzzled because I know I wrote a short story about the Scott Peterson civil case a few months, and I'm wondering if it's possible he is referring to that entry, but I'm pretty certain that I never mentioned him in that entry. When I get home, this is the first thing I'm going to check.
At the break I check the dark days marked out on the calendar behind the clerks desk. The following days are X'd out: August 6th, 7th, 10th, 19th (forced state closure due to cutbacks), 25th - 28th, September 1st. Hum and Leslie chat in the well. Harris and Veretsian are at the defense table. A request is made to bring out the defendant. Sarah and her supporters are sitting directly behind me in the second row.
3:04 pm. The jury files in. Not a single one stands out. Average, mostly casually dressed individuals. The next People's exhibit is put up in front of the jurors, but I can barely see the photos because of where I am sitting. Hum asks about Photo D. I barely see Photo D, but Lauren's head area looks quite bloody.
The witness verifies that he spoke with detectives by phone about a week or so later. After he left the location he went back to the Fire Station. At the station, there was a critical debriefing. Counselors came to the station to discuss how we dealt with the situation and to get the stress off.
PH: Objection! Relevancy!
I believe Pastor over rules the objection.
Captian Curcio was sent home after the debriefing.
Harris gets up to cross the witness.
PH: Approximately what time did you arrive and get to the scene?
FC: (The engine) reported around three or three-thirty. [...] They received a call from 911 and responded to that.
Everything around that area is Los Angeles County. 106 District is on top of the hill. The San Pedro area would be La City. Rancho Palos Verdes would be LA County.
Curcio was directed by a gentleman to come down to the archery range. He has no memory to describe that gentleman. Then he (Brown) asked me to come over here to help.
PH: That wasn't specifically what he said was it?
FC: That's the best of my recollection.
PH: You had an interview with detective Leslie at the prior proceeding? [...] Mr. Brown was screaming Hurry up! Hurry up!
FC: I don't recall.
PH: You don't have a recollection of Mr. Brown said, "Hurry up. Hurry up?"
FC: I don't remember exactly what was said.
Harris asks him about the report the detectives wrote of their interview with him.
PH: And you reviewed it as recently as two hours ago.
PH: Could you read the very first paragraph?
FC: I read it.
PH: Does that refresh your recollection? You stated....
FC: I can't recall it in my mind.
PH: Is there some reason that you don't want to tell the jury (the statement) "Hurry up?"
FC: I don't remember that specifically.
Harris goes over the prior transcript from the first trial. The witness states he doesn't dispute the record but he doesn't remember word for word.
FC: As I sit here I can't remember that word for word.
PH: As you sit here today, you didn't testify on direct, "Hurry up, Hurry up." [...] Is the reason you didn't tell this jury is because it doesn't support your reason?
PH: You observed while he ( Brown) was running to get you, he wasn't performing CPR?
PH: And you don't know if before that he was doing CPR?
Harris now puts up People's 15, an enlarged Polaroid shot of the defendant (I'm guessing taken on the day of the incident).
PH: Do you remember telling Detective Leslie he didn't have a significant amount of blood in his beard?
Harris now crosses the witness on his testimony about the defendant's demeanor.
PH: You said it was calm and removed from the situation. [...] Do you recall in another interview (you stated) the defendant appeared dazed. [...] Said demeanor last trial calm and detached.
They are now going over the prior cross (from first trial) and that he agreed that he said in interview he (Brown) appeared dazed.
PH: Initially said "calm and removed" but admitted on cross, admitted you said "dazed."?
FC: He appeared calm, removed and dazed.
There are more questions about calm, removed and dazed.
PH: You testified that you've never experienced a parent being dazed?
FC: Not that I recall, yes.
PH: Do you know who Jessica Brothers is?
PH: Armondo Carrion? VIctor Rosenthal? [...] Who showed up next?
FC: I can't recall (if it was) paramedics or sheriff's unit.
The paramedics are Vincent Dorn and Mark Choy. The witness insists he doesn't recall who got there first (after his unit). Eventually sheriff's showed up. (The paramedics).... It was two, three or four minutes before the sheriff's.
PH: How many bystanders at the victim's body?
FC: To my recollection, Mr. Brown.
The witness was at the scene thirty or forty minutes. He doesn't recall any other spectators at the scene.
PH: Was Mr. Brown cooperative?
PH: Did he appear to be evasive?
Harris takes a moment. He's coughing and needs at drink. There are questions about an interview with the defendant.
PH: As you sit here today, do you have an independent recollection of what he said to you?
Harris coughs again.
PH: For example, when he told you he ran down to the beach and to use a cell phone? [...] And when he told you (the?) time to get Lauren out of the water?
FC: Not specifically, no.
PH: When I was asking you about "Hurry up, hurry up."
FC: I don't remember. [...] I remember the basic reference, to telling us to come.
The witness states that one member of his crew was also a firefighter paramedic, but he was not on duty as a paramedic at the time. That firefighter did a quick assessment of the victim.
PH: You did not go over to Lauren and try to help?
FC: No, I did not. [...] I was trying to coordinate radio and air communication. I did not assist with the victim.
PH: Where was Mr. Brown?
FC: He stepped back. [...] I don't know why he stepped back and wasn't hysterically involved.
Harris now refers to his prior testimony.
PH: You said you thought it odd that he said, "She is over here." [...] Today, do you still feel that was odd for the situation?
Harris takes a moment and then cross is over.
Hum redirects his witness.
CH: At the prior proceeding, during cross examination you testified you had used the word dazed and you asked what you meant. (You) had said, to explain that, you said "removed from the situation; not hysterical." And that's what you meant? [...] When you testified today, you didn't use the word dazed. But today you avoided using the word dazed.
FC: That's correct.
The witness is finished and the next witness is called, Victor Rosenthal. (I have in my notes that the prior witness and the next witness are both in uniform.)
3:45 pm: Victor Rosenthal states he i a firefighter specialist. Back then he was a firefighter paramedic. He describes the special training he received to be a paramedic. He's been a firefighter for 24 years.
On Wednesday, November 8th, 2000 he was not working as a paramedic. They had three different paramedics at their station but the paramedic unit came from another station. He was working on an engine crew that day. The firefighter paramedics that responded were Mark Choy and Vince Dorn. Rosenthal gives some beginning testimony just as prior witness did.
At the scene, they did a head to toe assessment of her (Lauren's) injuries. Firefighter paramedics Vince Dorn and the witness did that. She was a small girl, about four or five years old. The witness describes her injuries.
VR: Massive blunt force area to the parietal area of the skull. There was a disfiguring, depressed skull fracture. Massive blunt force to the chest area. A deformity to the wrist area.
When I hear about her injuries I become overwhelmed at how massive they must have been. The witness states he can't recall much about other people in the area. The witness points out and identifies the defendant.
CH: Anything special (that you noticed about the defendant)?
VR: He appeared to be indifferent to the occasion.
CH: What do you mean?
VR: He appeared to not have any emotional involvement. He appeared to be a bystander.
CH: He did not appear to be related to the victim?
VR: At that first time, no.
CH: Did you notice anything about the defendant's demeanor that (he) might be related to the victim.
CH: Did you later learn that he was the victim's father?
CH: Did that surprise you?
The victim verifies that he's seen a lot of tragedy in his career.
CH: Was there something specific about the defendant that day that stood out to you?
VR: (There was) no emotion. He wasn't despondent. He did not appear to be in shock. [...] He appeared to me to be a bystander.
CH: The majority of this incident you don't recall?
The witness states that when he read information about the case in the newspaper, he contacted the prosecutor, Hum.
VR: I was curious about his demeanor because the victim was wet.
CH: Anything else that sticks out in your mind about this incident?
CH: Did you participate in the critical debriefing?
VR: Captain Curcio; Chief Williams; I don't remember (whom else participated).
CH: After the debriefing, was Chief Williams sent home and Captain Curcio sent home?
That's the end of direct and cross by Veretsian begins.
LV: Now, you describe MR. Brown's demeanor on November 8th, 2000. And you knew about that demeanor on November 8th, 2000?
VR: I don't recall.
LV: You didn't tell detectives about his demeanor in 2001, in 2002, in 2003, in 2004?
VR: I don't recall.
LV: You didn't tell anyone about his demeanor until 2006?
VR: That's correct.
LV: You knew that Mr. Brown was being prosecuted?
VR: I don't recall.
LV: Did you testify in a prior proceeding?
LV: Do you recall testifying that you had previously found out two years before that he was being prosecuted?
VR: I don't know if it was two years.
LV: In fact you never told Captain Curcio about your observation of Cameron Brown's demeanor?
LV: If I told you Captain Curcio said.... [...] Did you talk to Mr. Brown on November 8th?
LV: Did you come within (enough distance to) Mr. Brown to see his face?
LV: You did the patient assessment with firefighter Dorn? How long did that take?
VR: Maybe two minutes.
LV: Do you remember the hike down?
The witness states he doesn't remember the people and he doesn't remember anyone flagging them down. There are questions about who he remembers seeing at the scene. What firefighters. What officers.
LV: Do you remember if there were bystanders?
VR: I honestly don't remember.
LV: How soon after did paramedics arrive?
VR: It wasn't long. Two to three minutes.
LV: Would you allow Mr. Brown to come and touch the body?
LV: You would expect him to step back and let you do your work?
LV: Did he step back and let you do your work?
Veretsian asks several questions that he doesn't recall.
LV: Sheriff's arrived and secured the scene where the body was?
LV: When (where?) you were after?
He was standing around. He was observing the defendant. He never said anything to Mr. Brown.
LV: So your opinion is based solely on watching him?
LV: But it wasn't based on talking to him?
End of cross and redirect begins.
CH: So your opinion was based solely on?
VR: By asking one of my coworkers.
JP: Overruled. It's not received for the truth of the matter.
He asked a coworker who was that individual, and the coworker said, "I believe that is the father." The information for the coworker and plus his observations, that combined...let to his opinion.
VR: Because of my experience on the job.
Redirect is finished and recross begins.
LV: Did you on direct, about to say that you'd asked your coworker and then you caught yourself?
4:12 pm: The witness is finished and the people call Sargent Brothers. I note that Judge Pastor uses every moment of the court day possible.
Jessica Paige Brothers.
I have in my notes that Ted left before or around 4 pm. Pastor instructs the witness.
Brothers's current occupation is a Sargent with the LA Co Sheriff's. She's assigned to the Compton station. She has been with the Sheriff's Dept. for 13 years.
In 2000, on November 8th, she was on patrol with her partner Klaus Girmes. They were in uniform, in a black and white.
JB: I had been a deputy just under four years. I was working patrol just under five weeks. I was assigned to the Lomita Sheriff's station that covers that area.
She started her shift at 2 pm. At around 3 pm she received a rescue call, child over a cliff on Palos Verdes South between Peppertree and Cherry Hill. They responded with lights and sirens. It took eight minutes to get there. Palos Verdes travels east and west in that area. The road is up above the shoreline, raised, on the bluffs.
At the time, she saw other emergency vehicles. She saw fire engine and noted where it was parked. On the ocean side.
JB: We were directed towards the archery range.
She went down the bluffs. She did not use the dirt road to go down the bluffs.
JB: There were several paramedics there. I don't know their names.
CH: When you arrived, tell us what you saw.
JB: Saw paramedics working on a little girl on the picnic table. And I saw a man nearby.
She identifies the defendant.
CH: Did you see the defendant doing anything? Was the defendant saying anything? Can you describe his demeanor.
JB: When I first saw him, he was just watching.
CH: did he appear to be... was he crying or screaming?
That's the end of the court day. The jury is ordered back at 9 am, Friday.
After the jury exits, counsel and the judge talk about the next witnesses that are up. Erickson then Leslie on the 8th and 9th. Then don't know if we will get to..... Something about LAX will be when he retakes the stand. Counsel states that the jury view could be at the conclusion of all the testimony. Not sure who says this, "We are moving at a faster rate."
Pastor wants got excuse his staff otherwise they are paying overtime. Counsel then go off the record.
This entry will be edited for spelling and clarity later.