Saturday, January 31, 2009

Now Is, and Isn’t, the Time to Commit Murder in San Francisco

Photo: San Francisco in better times, the 1906 earthquake

If you are looking to get away with murder, make sure you do it in San Francisco.

But if you don’t get away with it and are too poor to afford a defense attorney of your own, watch out.

San Francisco homicide detectives are so busy, four of the 20 SFPD homicide officers are already near or at the maximum number of overtime hours they can claim for the fiscal year ending June 30. Because of injury or other long-term assignments, right now there are 13 investigators able to take on new cases.

Yes, the SF budget is stretched thin (like everywhere), and last year the notorious Board of Supervisors (hereafter referred to the “Board of Stupes”) made the decision to strictly limit overtime for city employees to 624 hours a year. That is not a typo. Six hundred twenty-four hours of overtime a year. The law was enacted to stop an abuse of overtime hours by city employees.

I am not even going to ask why not hire more police officers and promote more officers to detective/investigator.

Unfortunately the Board of Stupes forgot that some jobs are more important than others. One of those important jobs is responding to a homicide, which for some unreasonable reason, seem to happen more on the night shift. Officers take call and respond to a scene if needed.

The four officers have been instructed not to take any new cases, to not respond to calls if it means overtime, and to work on cases during normal business hours only.

Certainly the Police Officers Association gets it. "Those morons on the Board of Supervisors don't get it," said Gary Delagnes. "You don't put on a time restriction when you are investigating the ultimate crime. It is city government run amok.

"That's what I tried to tell those geniuses on the board—you can't treat a homicide cop like some maintenance guy who's worked too many hours. I told them, those homicide guys will burn through that overtime level by Christmas."

An example of a hamstringed investigation is the murder of 23-year old Jordan McKay, who was shot and killed last September while he rode his bike home at 1:40 a.m., headed toward his apartment in the Richmond District. His family and friends are grateful for the sensitivity shown by the detectives working to find McKay’s killer, but they are also facing the reality that those detectives are crippled in their efforts to keep the case from turning into a cold case.

Delganes says that detectives work in pairs and that each pair can be carrying as few as eight cases or as many as 12.

Inspectors whose overtime has been capped write questions for other detectives to use when interrogating or conducting interviews, while they are, of course, on overtime.

Inspector Valerie Matthews, one of the homicide detectives who has reached the overtime cap, has had to tell victim’s families that she can work on their loved one’s case during regular business hours only. She has her own stalled investigation, the killing of Jason de la Cruz and a friend last year in front of a Sunset District pizzeria. Officers were able to make an arrest, but because of conflicting witness statements, had to let the suspect go. Matthews and her partner are unable to work more leads in the case.

That is the good news for SF’s many thugs and gangstas, especially those who work at night. But there is also bad news—according to one source, the SF Public Defender’s office is very strapped and because of the Board of Stupes’ unwillingness to hire two paralegals to help with the backlog.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that his office would not be able to take on any more cases, including as many as seven homicide cases already on the books. One of these cases is that of Edwin Ramos, the admitted MS-13 gang member former juvenile offender illegal alien who gunned down three members of the Bologna family last summer in what has been described as a case of mistaken identity.

The city of San Francisco will be forced to hire private attorneys to provide free counsel for those suspects unable to pay for their own lawyers. No doubt that will cost a whole bunch more than paying a pair of paralegals.

Overtime cap crimps some S.F. homicide probes

Overtime limits: kiss of death to solving murders

City Denies Public Defenders Request to Hire More Staff

The Short Life of Riley Ann Sawyers and Seeking Justice for Her

Riley Ann Sawyer

‘Baby Grace’ was a beautiful 2-year old with long blonde hair and dressed in a size 2T pink outfit. She had little white sneakers with purple accents and lights built into them. Nobody knew who she was when her little remains, stuffed into a plastic container, washed up in Galveston Bay last October.

In November, Riley’s paternal grandmother, Sheryl Sawyers, called the sheriff’s office after she saw a sketch of Baby Grace. The nation learned that ‘Baby Grace’ was Riley Ann Sawyers and her mother Kimberly Dawn Trenor, 19, and her stepfather Royce Clyde Zeigler II, 24, had beaten her to death on July 24.

Trenor told investigators that she and her husband had beaten Riley with two leather belts. They also held her head underwater in the bathtub and Zeigler picked her up by her hair and threw her across the room, slamming her head into a tile floor.

The autopsy found that Riley had three skull fractures on the back of her head.

The parents also allegedly smothered the girl by pushing her face into a pillow in her room and into the cushions of a couch.

Trenor told investigators that during the beating, her husband gave the little girl child’s pain medication and covered her with a purple towel after she was dead.

That evening, the couple went to a local Wal-Mart and bought a blue plastic storage container. The plastic bin that contained the child’s body was kept in a storage shed in the backyard of their home for one to two months before they transported Riley’s remains and tossed them into the water near the Galveston Causeway.

The capital murder case against Kimberly Trenor began Tuesday. Ziegler will be tried separately.

During assistant district attorney Kayla Allen’s opening statements, the jury was told that Riley tried to stop her mother and stepfather from beating her to death by reaching out to her mother and saying, "I love you.” Allen also said Riley died for forgetting to say "please" and "yes, sir."

Testimony revealed that Trenor and Ziegler developed a list of things Riley needed to learn in order for her to “behave” better.

Rules for Riley – (1-6 were handwritten by Zeigler and 7-9 written by Trenor.)

1. being polite
2. Listen to mom & me
3. sleep @ 8 pm
4. nap @ 2 pm
5. toys stay in her room
6. puts toys back where she go em
7. behaves in public
8. never alone in our room
9. chocolate/cake or treats only as a reward
10. (was written in, but nothing was written beside it)

FBI forensic document examiner, Gabriel Watts, also told jurors that suicide notes were written on the same page.

To Whom It May Concern
I Royce Zeigler II leave my property to Kimberly Tenor Zeigler my wife. I take my own life because of guilt for past sins which I have confessed before I took my life. My wife Kimberly Zeigler is innocent and lived in fear … because of thought of what I would do to her. Also my family can go burn in hell for their stress that they've caused. So here I take my own life.
Royce Zeigler II

Trenor wrote the following.
My heart is black dead. I can't live with myself after Riley. I go to be.
Kimberly Zeigler

Further evidence submitted to the court includes receipts from Wal-Mart for the items purchased by Trenor and Ziegler the night of July 24.

Receipt #1
- Shovel
- Kilz cement
- Trash bags
- Rubber gloves
- Two respiratory masks
- Duct tape
- Anchor chain

Receipt #2
- Latex gloves (small and large sizes)
- "Head to Toe"' baby wash
- Two bottles of bleach
- Large storage container (included child safety warning)


Galveston Daily News

ABC 13

Fox News

Click 2 Houston

Friday, January 30, 2009

Casey Anthony: January 30 Hearing


Judge Stan Strickland has ruled against the defense's motion to obtain material from TES. In the one page decision, stated that

The Court does not have jurisdiction to order a subpoena duces tecum as requested. The defense must avail itself of the Uniform Law to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses from Within or Without a State in Criminal Proceedings to accomplish the this task. This would require the defense to show that the witness is material, and that has not been done in the instant pleading...

Judge Strickland also stated that the defense provided insufficient information to show that TES acted as an agent of the state.

The hearing today was short and to the point! To quote Ron Kuby, who kindly re-broadcast portions of the the hearing on InSession, Judge Strickland "cut through the BS." In just under an hour, he listened to the motions and either postponed rulings or ruled quickly with a minimum of argument.

Casey Anthony appeared in court in what I would call her "paralegal look." Jean Casarez was sitting just behind her and described her as wearing a blue jacket over her jail scrub pants. I noted that her hair was freshly washed and tied back on her head. She spent the majority of the time taking notes on a legal pad and at one point, beamed one of her famous smiles at her attorney, Jose Baez. She also chatted with Linda Kenney-Baden who was also present for the hearing.

The first motion to be addressed was Motion to Inspect the Crime Scene. Baez stated that he had attempted to contact the owner of the property to no avail. The owner's mother had called him, denying him access. The judge granted the motion, permitting the defense experts to examine the scene.

Jose Baez spoke briefly on the matter of information they want from Texas Equusearch. I couldn't quite follow his argument, but my friend donchais remarked that he was basically asking for information from the searchers as to "what they found AND didn't find...made my head spin."

Mark NeJame, representing TES put forward the same arguments he mentioned in his motion. He said that the motion was not made in the proper way. He explained that TES was not a material witness in the case and therefore there was no subpoena to send to Texas. He also stated that it, "baffles logic that those going out to find the remains would NOT report finding a child." He ended his comments by stating to Baez that, "your request is flawed."

Baez responded by stating that TES had been working with authorities and was paid by the authorities who were at the various search locations. He pointed out that NeJame's motion didn't address that particular issue. I noticed that Baez mentioned they were "paid." That pay was a mere $5000, a donation, actually. He didn't mention that the search has literally broken TES financially!

Baez requested that the judge issue a subpoena and that he would take it to Texas. He also pointed out that TES had opened an office in Orlando and was doing business in Texas.

Judge Strickland indicated that he would take the arguments under advisement and that both sides could submit further case law to him before he made a decision on the motion. He stated that he will rule on it later today. The judge also mentioned that Baez' term "doing business" may not be appropriate.

NeJame then addressed the fact that Baez hadn't mentioned that his contention that TES is an "arm" of the state of FL is not even in the pleadings. He then went on to mention the financial provisions in his motions as well as the chilling effect the granting of this motion would have on the volunteer searchers.

Baez' response was that NeJame had been following the case and was aware that TES "could" be an agent of the state. He then indicated that he has a bill stating that some of the tips were not in conformity with what the defense had asked for.

The judge reiterated that he will rule on the motion today.

Mark NeJame commented that the defense was aware that he was representing TES and sidestepped contacting him in the matter and went to TES directly.

The judge said that he was off topic and that he will rule on the motion today.

Baez next brought up the fact that Mark NeJame had represented the Anthonys and the judge told him to "file a motion" about it. Baez indicated he wouldn't do that.

The judgesaid he would rule on the motion today.

The motion to strike the defense witness list was moot since they have submitted a new one. It will be interesting to see it when it is released to the public.

Linda Kenney-Baden was next up at bat. She argued the defense motion to recuse the prosecution attorneys. She spoke at her usual fast pace, summarizing her motion to the judge. She mentioned a Mr. Chinais, who is Baez' attorney in this matter and listed his bona fides, among which was the fact that he, at one time, chaired the Florida Bar Ethics Committee. She indicated that he spoke to a Mr. Marvin who confirmed for her that "someone" from the State's Attorney's office had sent the complaint.

She informed Judge Strickland that it was his responsibility to launch his own investigation into the issue.

Next, she read the quote from Jose Baez's press conference after the infamous Todd Black press release which attacked Lawson Lamar. She pointed out that Baez had said, "I'm not going to throw out any accusations... it wasn't me that said..."

She again informed Judge Strickland that he needs to investigate this for himself and find out what the person's motivation was.

At that point, the judge gave her 30 seconds to finish!

State's Attorney Linda Drane Burdick requested that the judge strike the motion, telling him that the assertions from the media are double, triple, hearsay. She pointed out that Ms. Baden's arguments mention a person not mentioned in the pleadings. In addition, the motion did not address HOW the State of Florida, through the filing, had harmed Ms. Anthony.

Drane Burdick said that if it's inconvenient to Mr. Baez, embarrassing, he can get a lawyer.

She summed up the prosecution position by stating that if some person in the office filed a complaint, it wasn't any member of the prosecution team and that the motion had no factual or legal support.

Baden spoke again briefly, saying that the judge has to find that out for himself.

Judge Strickland ended the debate by denying the motion. He indicated that, based on what he has heard, is a Florida Bar matter and that the factual base is thin.

Clarifying the matter, Jean Casarez mention on In Session that she had checked with the Bar Association and learned that no complaint had been filed. Someone from the State's Attorney's Office had merely faxed the articles to them and they opened their own investigation.

The remainder of the hearing concerned schedueling a trial date. The defense mentioned that there was a "mountain" of discovery that he needed to go through. The prosecution stated that it was likely the trial would not take place until later in the year.

Judge Strickland said he would set another hearing within the next 60-90 days. He also mentioned that a motion for change of venue had not been filed. Drane Burdick pointed out one may not be needed if the trial doesn't begin until later in the year. The judge said that Baez could file papers in the meantime if he so desired.

As a finale to the hearing, Bradley Conway, the Anthony family attorney waived the Anthonys' privilege in order to expedite the discovery process. He said that they love Casey and wants things to move along.

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-five, Phil Spector Speaks

Phil Spector Speaks; Rachelle Talks Back, Again

There was more drama today, but it happened outside the presence of the jury and it involved, yep, you guessed it, Spector's young wife, Rachelle.

Apparently, during the lunch hour or during some other court break, Spector's wife was observed by court staff taking pictures of a woman with blond hair in the hallway of the court building. It's not clear if the individual was posing for the photos or not.

Please understand that I did not take many notes on the following event. I was just sitting back and enjoying the fireworks. I may not have the events in the exact order or have all the statements that everyone said.

The afternoon break is called five minutes early, and Judge Fidler states he has some issues to go over outside the presence of the jury. The jury exits and then Public Information Office (PIO) department head, Allan Parachini and three members of his staff enter the well and face the judge. (The PIO works directly for the LA County Superior Court and are civilians. They are not officers or sheriff's.) Also in the well is a large, black man, Mr. Bowman (sp?) who is the attorney representing Mr. Jenkins (sp?) who must be Spector's bodyguard. (I find out later, that this man is "possibly" the bodyguard's uncle.) Judge Fidler first states that the issue was brought before the residing Superior Court head judge, but that judge kicked the matter back to his court to resolve, so that's why we're here.

A PIO staff member states Mrs. Spector was observed taking photos in the court building by the three staff members. She was approached and informed that she couldn't take photos. I believe the staff member demanded the camera be turned over and at first, Mrs. Spector would not relinquish the camera. I'm not clear about the order of events, but the bodyguard became involved and told the court employee that she had no right to take Mrs. Spector's property. At some point the court employee did obtain the camera from Mrs. Spector and was looking through the photos. During some point in the event, Mrs. Spector grabbed the camera back from the staff member and deleted photos.

Judge Fidler asks if there was any physical contact and the staff member states that "she grabbed the camera out of my hands." Fidler states that, "The fact that the camera was grabbed of the the employee's hands, that could be pursued in another court." He also mentions the possibility of an employee fearing for their safety or being threatened or harmed. Fidler addresses Mrs. Spector and talks about a prior event where she took photos inside the courthouse . "Mrs. Spector, we've had a conversation before, did we not?" Mrs. Spector denies taking the prior photos Fidler refers to. Fidler states she was told that taking photos inside the courthouse was illegal. Sitting in the first row and addressing the judge in a tone that I can only describe as disrespectful, Rachelle says something to the effect of, "She saw me delete ... she saw me delete the photos and she continued to look through my husbands private photos. She continued to look through them! She had NO RIGHT to look through my husband's photos!" Judge Fidler talks about the specific rules they have concerning photography inside the courthouse and why they have them. Rachelle says that they were told that they couldn't take pictures inside the courtroom. Fidler states, "I think a point is being missed." Judge Fidler asks Rachelle if she was here when the rules of the court were gone over. She replies, "No." Filder states, "If there is another incident, someone is going to jail."

Then Phil Spector stands up and wants to address the judge. In a very gravely and raspy voice Spector says, "I've been coming to this courthouse for two years. I've been taking pictures for memorabilia. I've been taking pictures in front of the sheriff's, I've been taking pictures in front of officers, I've been taking pictures in front of judges..." Fidler interrupts this saying, "Not this one." Spector continues, "... and nobody's said a word to me. This is the first time anyone has said anything to me."

Allan Parachini addresses the court and says, "If we had seen Mr. Spector taking any photos before we would have done the same thing."

Don't y'all find it interesting that Spector will stand up in open court and defend his penchant for memorabilia photo taking, but he's yet to take the stand to defend himself on murder charges.

At the end of the day Stuart James's testimony is complete. Look for an update on today's testimony over the weekend.


I was mistaken! Harriet Ryan has a short entry in the LA Times Blog. It was the bodyguard who was taking the photos! Now it makes sense why the bodyguard had legal representation in front of Judge Fidler. When the court employee confiscated the camera, Rachelle grabbed it out of her hand.

I'm wondering, did Rachelle, knowing she wasn't allowed to take any photos, tell their bodyguard to take the pictures to avoid being accused in the future?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Donna Fife's neighborhood—raw video

I have promised to keep up with the goings-on with the Donna Fife case. Please see my previous entries, “A Disaster Waiting to Happen” and “Update: Woman Killed by Neighborhood Menace”
The suspect, Richard Delgado, was scheduled to plea in court today; I promise an update as soon as I can learn if there were court proceedings.
In the meantime, I found this:

CBS 5 Video

This is raw video of Donna Fife’s neighborhood and also of a police spokesperson talking about the crime (two separate videos). Note the skid marks all over the neighborhood street and the size of the fence Delgado drove through. Neither are edited so both are a bit slow-moving.

The neighborhood street video is sad. There are no people in it, but you’ll see it was a sunshiney day with birds singing and airplanes overhead, taken the day after Donna’s murder.

There are also videos of the BART shooting on that same page. “Outrage in Oakland.”

If Donna’s cousin stops by and knows if there was a court appearance by neighborhood menace Delgado, please offer a comment. I'm positive this selfish bag of human cells will plead not guilty and come up with plenty of reasons why. In this country, that's his right. It's also my right to ensure that Donna Fife will not be forgotten!

The Latest on the January 30 hearing in the Case against Casey Anthony

It's been a busy day today in the case against Casey Anthony. I posted yesterday with all the information available at the time and updated it this morning. Since then, there is more!

The court has announced that a trial date will be set.

Judge Strickland ruled that Casey must attend all motions hearings.

Mark NeJame, representing Tim Miller and Texas Equusearch filed a motion to strike the defense motion for subpoena duces tecum. In a series of well-reasoned arguments with abundant case law referenced, NeJame explains that TES is not a Florida entity. He did indicate there was the Uniform Act which could be used to subpoena a material witness. However,

...the Uniform Act does not apply where there is a mere request for documents without an accompanying subpoena witness. (2)

Other nuggets from the motion include (my boldface):

...The Amended Application for Subpoena Duces Tecum is critically flawed in that it has failed to state or make a requisite showing that TES is a material witness in the case... (3)

A Subpoena Duces Tecum of the items requested by the Defendant, through her counsel, would be immaterial and irrelevant. None of thousands of searchers, who volunteered with TES, were ever at the exact spot where Caylee Anthony's remains were found. (5)

"... All that is required is that the subpoenaed materials be relevant to the investigation being conducted and that the subpoena not be overly broad or burdensome. A proper subpoena is one that is properly limited in scope, relevant in purpose, and specific in directive so that compliance will not be unduly burdensome. (6)

TES is a non-profit organization... It does not have the time, money or resources to pay for and provide the Defendant with all of the items requested. (8)

If this Honorable Court is inclined to grant this deficient application, TES respectfully requests that Defendant provide TES with adequate and sufficient advanced funds... and that the funds have come from a permissable source. (9)

Later in the motion, NeJame indicates that Jose Baez never collected the rest of the "tips" he had asked for and never paid for them.

In arguing against the disclosure of the names, addresses, and other information about the volunteers, NeJame cites the case of South Florida Blood Service vs. Rasmussen,

... the court held that such disclosure was not discoverable, as to do so would not protect the donors' constitutional privacy interests. (13)

In summarizing the motion, NeJame asserts that

The Defendant, through her counsel, claims that it has been reported that the searchers have been at this site. This claim lacks foundation and merit. The volunteers with TES never searched the exact location where Caylee Anthony's body was found. Furthermore, the Defendant, through her counsel, has failed to provide any source that supports their claim that the volunteers were at the site. The Defendant's request, through her counsel, is nothing more than an impermissible fishing expedition.

I'm looking forward to the debate about this in the courtroom tomorrow. Baez had better have done his homework if he expects anything from TES!

The second new motion was filed by the prosecution. Again, I'll give you the nuggets I thought were very good (again, boldface is mine):

The appropriate vehicle by which a defendant may have the issue reviewed by the trial court is a Motion to Disqualify. (2)

... the Florida Supreme Court has stated that disqualification is proper only if specific or actual prejudice can be demonstrated. (3)

It is difficult to ascertain from the pleading whether the factual basis for the defendant's motion is the filing of a bar complaint against Jose Baez, the manner in which any such complaint was made, the subject matter of the complaint, or the disclosure of such complaint by a third party. (4)

Linda Drane Burdick, who filed the motion on her own behalf and on that of her co-counsel, Jeffrey Ashton and Frank George. She further states that

...if any Assistant State Attorney affiliated with the case was to receive reliable information that any other lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, such misconduct would immediately be reported to the appropriate authority... Reporting any such violation, regardless of the status of pending litigation does not either legally or factually constitute "egregious behavior." (5)

Drane Burdick ends her motion with mention of the sources of the information upon which the motion was made.

The defendant's motion is wholly based upon the news media reports. The State of Florida would urge the court to deny without hearing any motion that cites as factual support the report of any news outlet. The media coverage to date has ranged from sensational to speculative to irresponsible to just plain wrong and should never for the basis for a motion in a court of law. (8)

Again, Baez had better do his homework! These two motions and the motions that they answer are going to create some fireworks.

There has been a lot of discussion going on about exactly why Casey doesn't want to go to court. This session should surely prove to her why she needs to be there. She needs to see her lawyer in action and judge how well he's representing her in her case.

Read Judge Strickland's ruling HERE.

NeJame's motion for TES

Prosecution motion HERE

See you all in court tomorrow! The major Orlando TV stations will be streaming it live tomorrow, January 30 at 8:30 AM.

For information about the other motions that have been filed recently, check HERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-four

January 28th, 2009

Defense Witnesses: #2 Stuart James (forensic scientist and blood spatter analysis expert; currently under first cross examination)

Accredited Press inside the courtroom: Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times; Bloomberg News for a short time in the afternoon; another possible gentleman, unconfirmed.

The Battle of the Blood Spatter Analysis Experts

Quite a bit happened today and I won't be able to write out a detailed report tonight. I filled up an entire side of my steno pad today. I will give a summary as best I can since I have some sewing orders I have to work on tonight. I do not know if I will be able to do a detailed entry on today's events later.

Truc is back in court today and if I overheard correctly, Fidler inquired at one point today if she was keeping a cup of hot tea at her table for her throat. She's wearing a dress I think I've seen before but I've never described to you. It's jet black, slim-lined and made of a flimsy, light weight material. The upper part of the dress, front and back is made of these 2" wide pleats. It's got a standard shirt type collar, like it might have buttons under the pleats down the front and a matching fabric belt that Truc has tied in a bow in front. The sleeves are three-quarter, and the dress has pockets because at one point, I saw her put her hands in her pockets. It looks lovely on her.

There were several supporters for Spector coming to court today. One of the early arrivals was an older black couple. I find out that the balding man is Bill Gardner "Rhapsody in Black," a DJ specializing in R&B from the 40's, 50's and 60's. Mr. Gardner can be heard on When they arrived they introduced themselves to Rachelle and at one of the breaks the DJ shook Spector's hand.

The first hour and a half of court is taken up with arguments by the prosecution that the defense violated discovery rules by presenting to the prosecution six days ago, a power point presentation that Stuart James would use in his direct testimony (and not 30 days in advance as required by law). Inside the presentation are satellite spatter demonstrations that he did with a chair he purchased, as well as a ladies wool jacket. James testified outside the presence of the jury under questioning by Alan Jackson that it was his own idea to purchase the chair, the jacket and conduct these tests; Weinberg did not suggest that he do this. He also testified that the experiments were not meant to recreate the events of February 2003, but to be teaching/demonstration information for the jury only.

Right. I understand that he is an expert and under oath, but I found this very hard to believe. Judge Fidler ultimately ruled that the experiment demonstrations within the power point could be shown to the jury and that there were no discovery violations. This ruling really puzzled me. My guess would be that since AJ and Truc had a copy of the CD for six days, (and the amended version that took out some images and added more text from only two days ago) maybe Fidler felt they had plenty of time to review it. Maybe he felt that this did not seriously hamper or damage the prosecution's case. Who knows. But presenting this to the prosecution in the time that the defense did (according to James, he gave the defense a copy in early January) to me (my opinion only) smacks of the same tactics Weinberg has used with Dr. Seiden's testimony and holding back the discovery on that.

Later, under cross examination, James revealed that before he had the idea to perform these tests, his associate Mr. Pex had performed some similar spatter tests with a different jacket but the jacket was not made of 100% wool. James also revealed that Weinberg, Pex and James had all had a meeting together between the time that Pex did his earlier tests, and James did his later ones.

After the discovery inquiry, at 10:49 am, the courtroom is given a five minute break before testimony will start before the jury. At the defense table, I see that Spector is holding something in his left hand, and looking at it intently. It looks like a large clam-shell type compact. It's a mirror! Spector's hands are very small, so it's hard to tell, but this thing looks like it's about 5 inches by 6 inches. That's a pretty big clam shell mirror if you ask me. I see him take his right hand and touch either the lapel of his jacket, or his collar near his tie. It seems like he stares into this mirror for about a minute or more.

10:52 am: The jury is called and court starts a few minutes later. Sheriff Williams is in the bailiff box and there is a new sheriff sitting in the back row where Williams usually sits. The first half hour is taken up with James's CV. James states that he has written books, given lectures as well as teach individuals blood spatter analysis techniques. He is also a member of several forensic expert examiner's associations. In one group he has been accepted as a "fellow" (I'm assuming that's a prestigious designation) and there are only 12 other "fellows" in the organization. He handles about fifty cases a year. (I calculate that would come out to about a case a week.) The power point presentation is used to educate the jury on blood spatter and it's analysis.

During the afternoon session, the defense brought into the courtroom, the chair Lana Clarkson died in and pointed out various areas on the chair for James to opine on the nature and origin of the blood stains. The chair was placed in the well in front of the jury box, near the podium. One of the first things I noticed is, that up close, the chair is much lower to the ground than it appears in the photographs. The other thing I noticed was all the blood stains had faded to various shades of black. Mrs. Clarkson, who has sat in the front row just a little to the right of the podium area during the first and second trial, was in direct line of sight of the chair her daughter died in. She was no more than six feet from it. Throughout the time she had to sit there with that chair in front of her, up close, I saw her hold a kerchief up to her nose and heard her silently sob. That chair affected her and it affected me, too. From where I'm sitting, I try to see the spatter on the inside arm of the chair as it's manipulated and turned around. I can't. It's either lower than my line of sight of it's too small for me to see from where I'm sitting in the second bench row.

When the chair was brought in and Weinberg was asking James about specific stains on the chair, all the jurors in the back row stood up so they could see. You could tell the jurors were very interested in that chair. (When AJ was asking James questions on cross about stains on the chair, they did the same thing.)

Stuart James refuted several of Dr. Herold's conclusions about the blood spatter on Spector's white wool ladies jacket, the chair, the slip dress, Lana's wrists and hands as well as the luminol testing performed by Steve Renteria.

James testified he can't determine if the blood stains on Spector's white ladies wool jacket are impact or satellite spatter stains or a combination of both. He also testified that the blood stain on the folded edge of Spector's right jacket cuff was in his expert opinion a contact stain and not impact spatter. He also testified that the blood stain on the supposed "back side" of the white wool jacket had to have been facing a spatter event. James testifies that he doesn't agree that 1 millimeter stains could be labeled "mist like." In his expert opinion, 1 millimeter stains are associated with a beating.

James testified that the blood on the inner portion of the right arm of the chair was caused by satellite blood spatter (blood dripping into blood; possibly from the blood flow on the jacket or the purse strap) and not the back spatter coming from Lana Clarkson's mouth. James testified that according to the directional red arrows placed by Dr. Herold, the spatter on Lana's dress has many directions, further supporting his contention that some of this spatter is satellite spatter and not all back spatter from the gunshot wound. James testified that a directional spatter stain on Lana's left hand could not have happened if Lana was holding her hands in a specific position.

James testifies that he can not say where Lana's head was positioned with any certainty. He will only stated that it was somewhere within a 90 degree arc from front center. James states that from the blood stain analysis, he can't determine where Lana was positioned when she was shot. He could not determine whether Lana was slumped or sitting up.

When asked about the blood smear on Lana's left fatty thumb pad, and if it could be from something like a gun placed against the hand, James answers, "Well, that's speculation. As a scientist, I can't get into that." When James is asked if he could make a blood stain pattern analysis based on something somebody told him he answers, "I couldn't do that. It goes against everything that [we're trained to do]."

There was more detail testimony of course, but I'm trying to get this entry up tonight.

Under cross examination by Alan Jackson, Stuart James states that he charges $250.00 an hour. He billed approximately $35,000 for his services in the first trial and he's billed the defense team in this trial through November of 2008, approximately $18,000. He expects that he will bill the team for his services from November to present (that includes the experiments and testing and power point presentation as well as testifying on the stand) something in the range of another ten or twenty thousand dollars.

There was a bit more that AJ crossed James on before court recessed for the day and I hope to add to that, later. AJ also confiscated the ladies beige wool jacket James purchased for his experiments and entered it into evidence as a people's next in order #233.

During the afternoon session, a tall, jet black haired handsome man entered with a baseball cap on that the bailiff's told him he had to remove. At the end of the court day, Rachelle hugged this man and thanked him for coming. Later, leaving court for the day I was with him and two others in the elevator. He was chatting with Tawni Tyndall (who arrived in the afternoon all dressed up in a suit and her hair in a French twist) and Weinberg's AV clerk, Mr. Smith. From the conversation in the elevator, it appears he works with Tawni as a private investigator. After court was over, Weinberg hugged and kissed a young woman who came to court and sat with Rachelle and the short, older blond woman I've seen many times. It appears the short woman is Weinberg's wife (I understand she is an attorney) and the attractive young woman is his daughter. So some of the people coming to court are not necessarily personal friends of Spector and Rachelle's but more people who work for Spector's defense.

Court continues tomorrow with the cross examination of James by Alan Jackson.

Correction: In prior entries, I've identified Allan Parachini as head of the Public Information Office (PIO). He is the spokesperson for the LA County Superior Court. He works for the court and does not work for the county government. I apologize for any confusion in other entries and comments.

Almost forgot. The DA's investigator has inspected the fountain but Alan told the court that he has not been able to speak to him yet. Hopefully, he will have that issue cleared up for the court this evening. This issue need to be resolved because the Sheriff's Dept. needs to schedule and arrange the site visit, tentatively scheduled for February 5th. I don't know the time. I don't believe it's been fixed yet. I also will add that before the afternoon session, there was a short discussion with the Judge outside the presence of the jury.

It was a bit of a spat that Weinberg initiates. Weinberg is concerned that the prosecution is purposefully disrupting the defense's case by waiting for the last moment to bring up these discovery violations. He's concerned that the prosecution will continue to do this. Weinberg asks that if hearings are needed, rather than take up the jury's time, another time could be found to bring these issues to the court.

Alan Jackson replies, "Well, sure. Tit for tat. This gets so childish. [...] I agree that another time should be (scheduled). [...] If you stop giving me stuff late, I'll stop raising it late."

Also, I asked Detective Tomlin at the end of the day if he gets to take the chair home with him and he said, "Yes."

Casey Anthony: Motions, motions, and more motions!

UPDATE! January 29, 2009

I have posted all the motions available and given a brief summary of each. Today, two more motions have been released to the public.

The first motion was filed by the Department of Corrections asking Judge Strickland for a clarification of his Order of January 23. In the Motion for Clarification, the DOC indicates that

...this court did not consider the effect such an order would have on prisoner transport operations...

According to News 13

We should learn Thursday if Casey Anthony will be in court Friday for the latest hearing. Judge Stan Strickland is expected to rule on motions filed by Anthony's defense lawyers trying to keep her from appearing.

The second motion was filed yesterday by Jose Baez. It is an Amended Motion to Compel DNA Bench Notes/Reports and Standards. The 24 item motion asks for a superabundance of records from all labs. The information asked for includes

All updated Curriculum Vitae of all experts, analysts, examiners, criminalists, and lab personnel... (1)

All ASCLAD documents for the past twelve years. The list of items included is quite voluminous.

All government contracts, grants and communications between Oak Ridge Laboratories involving the section relating to Dr. Arpad Vass for the last twelve years. (16)

All contracts, records of payments, documents, memos or any written items including but not limited to drafts, proposals or otherwise involving any media shows by, with, and/or between the Orange County Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and/or Dr. Jan Garavaglia or her agents or related media entities including but not limited to Discovery Channel, Discovery Health, or its media company that produces on behalf of the same. (19)

A copy of the DNA parentage report... (23)

I highly recommend reading this particular motion. If granted, I can't begin to imagine the amount of paperwork this will entail! I'm thinking something about the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica!

Also, based on an article this morning in the Sentinel, the Motion to Recuse will not be addressed tomorrow.

Next Friday morning's motions hearing in the case against Casey Anthony is looking to be quite a memorable event. WESH will be carrying the hearing live at 8:30 AM. Keep checking local stations to see which other ones may be carrying it as well.

For those of you who plan to view the hearing on Friday, here is a ritanita Primer on the motions which will likely be discussed.

State of Florida's Motion to Strike Defense Witness List This motion, originally filed by the State on December 9, states,

On November 20, 2008, the defendant files a document titled Defense Witness List listing three (3) witnesses under "Category A: and otherwise incorporating "the entire State's Witness List by reference."

The motion goes on to cite case law to support the motion. By failing to provide a list of witnesses to the prosecution, they are hindering the ability of the prosecution to depose these people.

There is also a Motion To Inspect Crime Scene, filed on January 20. Apparently, the owner of the property hasn't contacted the defense to give them permission to inspect the property and Baez wants the judge to issue a subpoena.

The defense originally filed a motion on December 11, which was heard in an emergency hearing on December 12. At that time it was ruled that, since the remains had not been officially identified, he did not have the standing for this to be allowed. By Wednesday, December 17, we were treated to videos showing Dr. Lee, Linda Kenney-Baden, and other defense experts of the newly formed "Dream Team" peering at the crime scene from behind the yellow crime-scene tape. The scene was released by law enforcement on December 20.

Next up is a Motion to Compel Screen Shots or Printouts Concerning the Forensic Examination Done on the Computer of Ricardo Morales. Ricardo is the ex-boyfriend of Casey's who had a romantic picture of a man and a woman with the caption, "win her over with chloroform" posted on his MySpace page. In the motion, Baez states,

"While the State is now in the process of providing the hard drive to Morales' computer and have not yet provided a copy of the screen shots, printouts, Excel charts or forensic analysis of the deleted files. We are entitled to know what it was that the State felt was not "incriminating" in order to compare it to any computer analysis that we may wish to perform in this regard."

Obviously, the chloroform is the issue here! Is Ricardo heading under the bus with this?

The next motion is the AMENDED APPLICATION FOR SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM. In this motion, Baez is again asking Texas Equusearch records. As you may recall, this motion was originally heard during the January 8 hearing. It was pointed out that this organization is in Texas and not under the jurisdiction of the Florida courts. (When have we heard this before?) In addition, Tim Miller had not been notified and was not in court. According to this motion, Baez has asked for all the information and has not been given them.

I hope that Tim Miller appears in court with his attorney, Mark NeJame for this. Although I can't find a transcript, I recall Tim stating, with some anger, that Baez wouldn't get a "scrap" of paper from him.

The next motion deals with Casey appearing at future motions hearings. At the January 8 hearing, Judge Strickland ordered Casey brought from the jail to attend the hearing since Baez had not had her sign a waiver. He also stated that Casey needed to sit through the entire hearing that day.

The judge went further on this issue by issuing an Order on January 23 which, while allowing that Casey had the legal right to file such waivers, she would have to appear at all such hearings in the future.

On January 27, Baez filed a NOTICE OF OBJECTION to the Judge's order. Included with the order is a signed waiver from Casey as well as an article from the Sentinel which stated

Anthony sported a dark blue jail-issued jumpsuit and jail-issued flip-flops. Officials shackled her wrists and ankles. Her dark hair fell just past her shoulders, much longer than her first mug shot taken in July.

In Baez' motion, he states that in this little paragraph,

... the media have focused on the appearance of the Defendant and have generated unsubstantiated rumors regarding the Defendant's physical condition further lessening the integrity of the process...

The motion has more to say, but it seems that Baez wants to keep Casey away from the court room since this is such a "circus" of a case. I can't help but wonder, though. Is he afraid of Casey's demeanor? Is he afraid she will have an emotional meltdown? Is he afraid of what she will learn about her case during these hearings? We shall see!

I wonder if Baez will have Casey ready to appear "just in case" or if he will be totally defiant of the judge's order and stand by her waiver. Either way, there could be some fireworks.

The last two motions are essentially Jose Baez temper tantrums, in my opinion.

Baez filed a Motion For Sanctions against the prosecuting attorneys. This motion deals with evidence from the case sent to Dr. Neal Haskell and Dr. David Hall. Baez states that these two gentlemen are not on the State witness list. In addition, when Dr. Lee examined the contents of the white plastic trash bag found in the trunk of Casey's car, the white bag was not made available to him and the defense was not notified where it was. Apparently, it, along with hair and vegetation from the bag had been sent to Dr. Haskell in October, 2008. There is a lot more in the motion, but you can read it for yourself at the link!

There are no specific sanctions mentioned in the motion.

The last motion available now is a real hum-dinger. It's an EMERGENCY MOTION TO RECUSE. Baez accuses the prosecutors of,

...interfering with the 8th Amendment Right of Counsel...

...on January 26, 2009, it was reported that the Florida Bar Association has "told Eyewitness News ( that 'someone from the State Attorney's Office forwarded the news releases (about Jose Baez related to alleged remarks made about the prosecutor and/or entertainment deals going into the pocket of Baez) and that's why the Bar opened an investigation...

This Prosecutor's Office anonymously reporting if true... is egregious behavior.

Again, you have to read this motion for yourself to believe it. Listening to the legal experts on TV last night, I have to agree with what they were saying. Baez wants the entire prosecution team, from Lawson Lamar on down, to be removed from the case. I can only wonder what Strickland is going to say to this!

Perhaps one of the best reviews of this last motion comes from WFTV's Bill Sheaffer's.

View Video Here

Maybe this is one of the reasons Baez doesn't want Casey in the courtroom?

See you all at the hearing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-three

January 27th, 2009

Defense Witnesses:

Accredited Press inside the courtroom: Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times

I'm late. I don't make my train and I have to wait for the 8:50 am. It means I barely have enough time to hit the restroom and get on the 9th floor from the train station.

When I enter the building, I see that the Spector's and their bodyguard are just clearing the first floor security checkpoint. Spector is passing something to Rachelle from either his hip pocket or an inside jacket pocket.

When I get inside the courtroom Linda-in-San Diego tells me that Truc is ill and there will be no court today. Yesterday morning, I did overhear that she wasn't feeling well and that's why AJ presented the bulk of her motions. She spoke very little yesterday. I guess whatever she was under the weather with yesterday has finally hit her "full bore."

There are two new Spector supporters over on the defense side I've never seen before but it appears as if Spector did recognize the very large man in tennis shoes. That request Rachelle Short put out on Spector's MySpace page is still bringing people into court to sit with Rachelle and hopefully get to shake Spector's hand. I'm wondering if that's the only reason these people who don't know Spector show up. Who knows if the jury has any understanding of who these people are or what their motive is for being there. Spector and Susan have a smile or a joke at the defense table. Spector has a big grin on his face. I just see the tail end of the exchange where Susan is smiling and giving Spector an affectionate pat on the arm, or even might have leaned in closer to him to say something. It was quick and I'm sorry I missed the full exchange. Pat Kelly from the PIO arrives. Harriet Ryan enters 106.

Fidler takes the bench. Weinberg is suggesting that since Truc is ill, that maybe they could take Stewart James out of order for the afternoon session, since that will be AJ's witness to cross. AJ has two reasons to object to this. First, Ms. Do has on her computer all the exhibits. Her computer is a MAC and AJ can not operate a MAC; he can't even open the files. Judge Fidler responds jokingly, "You don't have to explain to me."

Three more Spector supporters come to sit with Rachelle. One of them, a tall woman with short gray hair has been here before.

AJ states it is important to his cross examination to use the exhibits. The second issue is that Ms. Do will be presenting part of the closing argument. So, he feels she needs to be here for all testimony. AJ states, "I couldn't feel worse about this."

I think it's Weinberg who speaks up and suggests the other alternative is to break the order of witnesses and start with Stuart James tomorrow. That way Ms. Do could be here to observe testimony and she wouldn't be required to cross. Weinberg is not insisting that the defense continue with Dr. Lakshmanan tomorrow. Harriet exits 106 for a few moments but she quickly returns.

9:40 am: The jury is excused and a few issues are discussed. Weinberg is reporting back on the fountain. He tells the court, "advising the court the fountain only has two settings. It only has ON or OFF. I spoke with Richard Gabriel, who is of absolute integrity... [...] If the court wishes to inquire on that in any way [...] (Understand that this is contrary to what Michelle Blaine has posted in this entry on her blog.)

AJ asks the court to propose that an investigator look at the fountain. Weinberg has no objection to that. Fidler wants the parties to work out the time and place amongst themselves and that he will sign an order "if needed" as a backup. (After court, someone tells me they overheard AJ speaking with Susan to arrange for the investigation of the fountain sometime today.)

Weinberg then brings up the psychological autopsy. "I know the psychological autopsy, that is Ms. Do's bailiwick. [...] I don't know if Mr. Jackson is able to fully respond, but I want to react." Fidler asks, "If you have any cases, certainly I want to look at them."

Weinberg says, "Yes there are and I want to make a couple of comments. WE use them in this trial. We use them all the time. We use DNA. [...] The challenge is to the technique or results."

Fidler responds, "It doesn't prove he was guilty. It proves he was there."

There's more discussion back and forth between Fidler and Weinberg and Weinberg gives the following description and cases. I don't write down the case law numbers, but I did take note of the brief descriptions he gave.

--- A case for giving statistics; a shooting would result from a gang challenge.

---Random matched statistics for DNA profiles.

---Results GAUDETTE study, the probability of matching pubic hairs. (All I can think of is poor Officer Sean Heckers, who had to observe the plucking of genital hairs from Spector).

---Expert testimony about a fateful (?) sparsity of marijuana verses (something that I miss).

---Correlation between amphetamine levels and behavior to affect driving.

---Estimate the actual use of cocaine and seized quantity.

There are a few more cases, where Weinberg just lists the case law. I see AJ and the DA's clerk, Josh, writing everything down.

AJ tells Fidler the only other thing is regarding the STD's. (I think I have that right). These are the subpoena's that were under seal for the expert fees until Weinberg is going to call the witness. AJ is supposed to get the fee information on the experts. AJ states, "Rather than showing the fees until the witness is going to be called, James Pex and Stuart James, I was informed of certain fees. [...] It's not responsive to the court order. [...] The information asked for, billing and invoice information." If I heard AJ correctly, all he received were a few totals of what the expert billed.

Weinberg states, "I don't know why they have to certify, notify and be treated as potential (criminals?). (I was pretty amazed at that comparison Weinberg made.) [...] When I crossed Dr. Herold (and asked her similar questions about how much time she spend on the case) she replied 'I don't know.' [...] That was okay for a prosecution witness. [...] But why a different standard for the defense?" Weinberg argues that he "broke down the expenses," and goes onto imply that his experts shouldn't have to account for when they did what.

Fidler states something to the effect of, that if Weinberg feels there are records by the LA Co. Crime Lab that need to be discovered that can be looked into, but in regards to the defense expert witness, "I don't think those records are free from subpoena. [...] Unless there's a privledge, then it needs to be produced." Weinberg says verbally in open court to AJ that he will get that information to him "today." I'm not holding my breath and I bet AJ isn't either. Weinberg has made similar promises in open court and then reneges or doesn't deliver later.

And that's it for the day.

After court is over, I see one of the new Spector fans get introduced to Spector as he stops in the aisle by the defense area. It's a short partly balding man with longish hair and glasses. He shakes Spector's hand and says his name, "Bart." I don't clearly hear the last name. Outside in the hallway, Linda Deutsch shows up just as everyone is exiting 106 and waits to speak to Weinberg. Here's hoping that Truc is feeling well enough tomorrow to attend court, which should resume at 9:30 am.

Justice for Nisha?

Everyone who knew Antwanisha Morgan was overjoyed that she was going to break the cycle of single motherhood, drugs and gang membership that most young people from San Francisco’s tough Bayview District fall into. The 17-year old had been actively researching colleges and was planning a trip to visit historically black colleges in the South. She’d already been accepted to four colleges, including Oklahoma State and California State University East Bay. She was active in her church, a community volunteer and forensics and criminal justice junkie who planned to pursue that interest into a college education and ultimately her career.

The 5’1” dynamo known as “Nisha” was raising money for the bus tour by producing and acting in a play at the Bayview Opera House—the play was about teen issues. She was also on the Praise dance team, attended Bible study and was the anchor for South San Francisco High's TV morning announcements.

That all ended on the mean streets of SF on March 16, 2007, when Nisha was killed by a bullet wound to the chest, an innocent victim of that city’s uncontrolled gang violence. She was shot outside a Bayview community youth center at Third Street and Quesada Avenue, a supposed safe place where the teen was a popular volunteer, helping younger kids with their homework.

Nisha’s mom Malika Crosby stopped by the center at about 7:40 p.m. to pick her children up after finishing her shift as a clerk at SF General Hospital’s x-ray department. She noticed her kids were still having fun with friends and after sharing a slice of pizza, Crosby told Nisha she’d be right back after running some quick errands. While putting fuel in her car at a gas station on Third Street, Crosby heard the siren of the ambulance and police responding to her daughter’s shooting, at about 8:10 p.m. Her son then phoned her, yelling and screaming.

Malika Crosby got to the scene of the shooting before the ambulance, and saw her daughter lying on the sidewalk. Crosby crumpled to the sidewalk at the sight of her dying daughter.

Nisha’s killers simply drove up to the group of teens, one youth getting out of the car and opening fire, another remaining in the car and yelling “You see how we do!” Two of Nisha’s friends were wounded; one boy, thought to have been the main target, was hit in the hip. Another possible target had left the group of kids just moments before.

Four gang members were “ruled guilty” of Nisha Morgan’s murder on January 16.

“Ruled guilty” is something that happens in juvenile court. Consequently, the four will serve time in the California Youth Authority (CYA) until the age of 25.

According to the SF Chronicle:
Prosecutors said they had opted against trying any of the four defendants in adult court—where convictions could have sent them to prison for 25 years to life—because of the need to keep all the defendants together to avoid having one pass the blame to another in separate trials.

In adult court, they said, the cases would be separated because of the rules of evidence that bar juries from hearing statements by one defendant against another.
Back in March and into April 2007, several people were arrested. Four boys, aged 14, 15, 16 and 17 years (later revealed to be Eddie Robinson and Derrick Beauregard, respectively) were arrested. Kamisha Gray, a 22-year old woman who was believed to have been driving the car, was not charged. Robinson and Beauregard are both now 18.

The SF District Attorney’s office, lead by Kamala Harris (who is notorious for undercharging or not charging at all—how did Kamisha Gray escape any sort of prosecution?) elected to charge all as juveniles, claiming that the rules of evidence in juvenile court made it easier to win convictions!

Prosecutors stated that the four boys were members of a Portrero Hill gang and were on the prowl for a bit of retaliation against Bayview kids after a pissing match at a talent show dance contest two weeks prior to Nisha’s muder.

Defense attorneys said the four boys were just unlucky to have been at the scene at the time of the shooting and were innocent.

Unlike so many gang-related incidents that go to trial, there were eyewitnesses unafraid to come forward and testify. One of those witnesses, when asked why she chose to take the stand and possibly endanger her life, replied, “Because I want this to come to an end.”

Too bad more witnesses didn’t come forward to make a decent prosecutable case in adult court.

Robinson was found by Judge Lillian Sing to have been the shooter. After he gunned down Nisha in 2007, he was arrested and convicted as an adult in Arkansas for aggravated robbery. He’s been sentenced to 10 years in Arkansas, and he will likely serve that sentence first.

Dear readers, do the math. Eddie Robinson isn’t going to do a day in a California prison for Nisha’s murder. If Arkansas makes him serve every single day of his 10-year sentence, he will be too old to serve time in the CYA.

Nisha’s family is far more understanding of the DA’s decision to try this case in juvenile court, and they are far more forgiving than I would be. Nisha’s great-aunt Juanita Miles, said, "This is all we wanted from day one, justice for Antwanisha, not street vengeance. The bottom line is, no matter how much time they got, this won't bring Antwanisha back."

God bless Nisha’s family for not being as angry as I think most of us would be.

The “criminal justice” system in SF is a joke. The DA was elected into office promising to never use the death penalty ever. Even when SF police officer Isaac Espinoza was killed in the line of duty she did not seek the death penalty against the killer. I have written about the Bologna family murder and how the DA declined to prosecute the suspected gunman, Edwin Ramos, for a concealed weapon incident a couple of months before he gunned down ½ of a family in the Excelsior district. Recall that Ramos, an illegal alien and known gang member, had been arrested early in 2008, when during a routine traffic stop, a passenger dropped a gun (that was later linked to a fresh murder) from a car driven by Ramos. The DA declined to prosecute because she felt Ramos had no way of knowing one of his passengers was in possession of a gun.

Imagine that, a car full of gang members without a gun? Oh please!

San Francisco, like most any U.S. city, is also suffering a budget crisis. Never mind that there are over 9000 SF city and county employees earning more than $100K a year. Last year, in its infinite wisdom, the SF Board of Supervisors (better known as the Board of Stupes) passed an ordinance limiting overtime pay for city employees to 624 hours. That includes homicide detectives.

Four of the 20 detectives have been told they cannot take on new cases, as they have nearly used all of their overtime through the fiscal year ending June 30. (I will be writing a blog entry about this in the next few days.)

When will the citizens of San Francisco learn to not vote in a soft-on-crime DA? Harris, who appears to be a fine example of affirmative action run amuck (she is touted as SF’s first female District Attorney, the first African American elected as District Attorney in California, and the first Indian American elected to the position in the United States). She ran unopposed for re-election in 2007.

While she is credited with increasing the SF DA’s office conviction rate, she also selectively prosecutes those cases. Witness Nisha Morgan’s case. It is a prime example of under-prosecution if there ever was.

And Californians, heads up. Kamala Harris plans to run for Attorney General of our fine state.

We will never know how much of a difference Antwanisha Morgan would have made in this world. Thanks to SF’s reputation as easy on crime, there is little deterrent to wanna-be gangsta thugs making a reputation for themselves by gunning down gifted, innocent young people like Nisha Morgan.

What will it take for us to make it stop? How many good, innocent kids have to die?

Slain teen had made right choices

Bright Future Awaited 17-Year-Old SF Murder Victim

Second youth arrested in death of teenager

4 gang members murdered girl, S.F. judge rules

Monday, January 26, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-two


The Defense Begins
Hello everyone, I'm at the Tokyo Library on the extended lunch break. I'll have a full report on today's events much later tonight.

Several motions were presented this morning to Judge Fidler today outside the presence of the jury. Weinberg made the expected motion to dismiss the case, basically arguing that there wasn't one piece of scientific evidence that proved Lana Clarkson didn't shoot herself. The motion was denied.

The next motion was regarding the "emails." I will have more on this later, but the tentative ruling by Judge Fidler is, that unless the defense can show to Judge Fidler that the fountain in the rear courtyard of Spector's house only has one speed or level, (i.e. "on" or "off"), then during a jury visit, the fountain will not be on. The prosecution was requesting that because of the information revealed in the emails, they were objecting to a jury visit during the retrial. Fidler over ruled the prosecution's request. It will be interesting to see how this plays out if Weinberg still wants to proceed with a jury visit if the fountain is off. I will say this about fountains. I have several. One on my front porch, several table top fountains in my house and a large one in the back yard. Each fountain I have as a flow control on the fountain pump itself; not with an switch to adjust the water flow. It remains to be seen what type of controls the fountain has on Spector's property.

Fidler also made some rulings as to what the suicidologist Dr. Seiden can and can not say to the jury. There are tentative rulings, and more to be argued later. Look for my update later tonight.

Updated Monday, January 26th, 2009, 11:00 pm:

Defense Witnesses:
#1: Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, (Chief Medical Examiner and Coroner for Los Angeles County; currently under direct examination)

Accredited Press inside the courtroom:
Morning Session: Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times
Afternoon Session: Harriet Ryan, Linda Deutsch of the Associated Press, Kathryn, US corespondent for The Telegraph, UK ,and a representative from Bloomberg News. Partway through the afternoon session, Aphrodite Jones, crime author, arrived.

I miss my 8:30 am train but I get inside the courtroom just in time. There's virtually no one in the courtroom except me and Donte, one of Spector's adopted sons. He's sitting in the back row on one of the plastic chairs intently texting on his phone. I'm wondering if anyone told him that Spector would not be here in the morning since they are only going to argue motions. Speaking of emails today, maybe he got left off the email list.

Harriet Ryan is here in her usual bench seat along the back wall. AJ, Truc, Weinberg and Susan are here and Cindy is the court reporter covering the morning session. Bailiff Kyle is not here so Sheriff Williams is the bailiff box. There are other Sheriff's filling the second seat where Williams usually sits. The court clerk, Wendy is absent this morning. Weinberg asks Williams if he minds if he goes and looks at the calendars behind Wendy's desk that detail the dark days for a three month period at a time. For those of you who haven't been inside 106, behind Wendy's desk area, there are three calendars hanging in a row on the back wall. There are always three calendars up there covering a 90 day period. The days where court is dark are marked out with a black "X."

A public person, an older gentleman who was here a few weeks ago is back and peppering me with lots of questions and opinions. He doesn't stay long since he has to go to another court for his jury duty service at 10:00 am.

Allan Parachini comes out of the Judge's chamber's area and greets Harriet Ryan. 9:41 am, Josh, the people's clerk comes in with papers for AJ. The thing that is holding up the hearing for motions is the fact that there is no clerk. I don't know if that's a rule that there must be a clerk before the Judge can take the bench. I know the Judge came out for a moment to start court but when he realized there was no one to replace Wendy he went back into chambers. Court staff try to drum up a clerk to sit in for the morning session.

Allan Parachini and Harriet whisper very quietly in the back row. A clerk is found! But it's not a clerk, it's an administrator, upper level I believe, a woman that Allan knows and smiles and greets her when she comes in. She fills in for Wendy. Allan stays to talk to Harriet and at 9:47 am the inner doors close. Fidler takes the bench at 9:49 am. Judge Fidler states that there are two motions that he's aware of that are still to be litigated: reviewing the scene and the scope of the defense expert testimony or if there will be any expert. Fidler states that they will start with the scene first but Weinberg interrupts and asks for his motion to be heard that he believes supersceeds. Fidler apologizes and says, "Of course."

This is the standard defense motion for a dismissal citing that the prosecution has not met their burden. (I'm not positive if this is for dismissal or a motion for "acquittal," since I do have that word in my notes.) Weinberg outlines every issue that he feels supports his motion stating there isn't enough evidence (to continue the trial). He starts with the autopsy and the fact that the examination could not determine manner of death. He moves onto the testimony of Dr. Herold and that the scientific evidence can't put the gun in Spector's hand, "...except for one pseudo exception, the evidence is consistent with Lana Clarkson [...] making the shot herself." As to "...the blood on the back of the wrist, and "if" it was there, [...] that's not evidence, it's lay opinion."

Weinbergs argument moves onto blood spatter analysis and the fact that Jamie Lintemoot "even by her own opinion" was not a spatter expert. Weinberg states that Adriano's testimony was "problematic." There are more arguments and I'm sure you get the gist of where he was going.

When it's the people's turn, AJ gets up and states, "The evidence is overwhelming. Very seldom do we have so much evidence. He also mentions something to the effect (to counter a statement by Weinberg) that it's "rarely" a single piece of evidence that points to guilt but a totality of the evidence. AJ then goes onto outline his first point, the "pattern of violence" that, when presented with a particular set of circumstances, he (Spector) reacts violently." AJ moves onto the scene and the fact that "clearly he had an amorous intent," specifically mentioning the 2 missing viagra tablets in the three-piece blister pack found in his valise. Lana's position in the chair and her ready to leave in the fact that she had her jacket on, her purse on her shoulder and her shoes. That the "gun was Spector's. He would be the only one who knew where it was."

The five 1101(b) witnesses are mentioned by name. Adriano who was approximately 15 feet from the event when the gun was discharged. AJ goes over the events right after the gun being fired in detail, and Spector's statement and actions directly afterwards, that when De Souza asked him, "What happened, sir?," Spector just shrugged his shoulders in response. "The consciousness of guilt. He didn't call for help. He didn't cry out for help, or say a woman just shot herself." AJ also details the manipulation at the scene with the bloody diaper (rag), attempting in his drunken state to clean up the scene.

10:03 am, Pat Dixon enters and sits in the back row on the right. "And the only evidence that fits the scientific evidence is the scene Ms. Do and I presented to the court."

Weinberg gets one more rebuttal argument to the people's presentation. "With the litany of evidence and how much (0f it) is fabricated, [...] Mr. Jackson said this is a pattern and the court admonished (the people for using that term). Evidently there is nothing this court can do stop Mr. Jackson from using this evidence for what the court told him not to. [...] What does that have to do with Dorothy Melvin? [...] He wanted her to leave because he thought she was stealing. [...] What does that have to do with Stephanie Jennings? He wanted her to go to a party. [...] What does this have to do...? It's completely fabricated and consistently used by the prosecution and the law forbids [it]. That evidence shouldn't be used for pattern."

Fidler then interrupts Weinberg because he doesn't want to lose a train of thought he's got going that contradicts the argument about the prosecution using the word pattern to describe the 1101(b) witnesses. He says, "There was a later discussion. We had a big talk about it. [...] And then we discussed whether or not 'pattern' was acceptable language for the case."

Not long after this, Judge Fidler rules and states, "The fact that there is another explanation is irrelevant to the fact whether or not the case can proceed." Ergo, motion denied. Spector doesn't get a pass, you must put on a defense.

The email issue is discussed. Fidler doesn't buy Weinberg's argument that the defense jury consultant was trying to say, "The fountain shouldn't be toned down. There's no suggestion that the defense is going to do anything. [...] There's is no reason the visit will be inappropriate. [...] The fountain was under the control of LE (for two days). [...] The fountain wasn't manipulated last time. [...] There's nothing that could affect the fairness."

AJ doesn't go over every point in their motion, but does point out the words, "...make sure it's up 'full bore,' which may suggest that it could be in a different position. [...] The email says, we don't want the prosecution to control the jury view. We want to control the jury view. [...] The reason we did include the email, is to establish that Mr. Spector said, ' If things don't go the way I want them to go I will speak up.' [...] That's why we don't think it's a good idea in this case."

Weinberg immediately objects to the word "up" stating that's not in the email. He continues to defend Spector's email and pleads with Fidler that, "You have seen Mr. Spector's behavior through both trials. He's not going to act out."

I could swear Judgle Fidler almost rolls his eyes and replies that "full bore" is clearly an indication that a more reasonable inference can be drawn (that full bore does mean "up"). "I'm sorry, but there may have been manipulation. There is not enough evidence to support that so..." Fidler rules that, "...there will be a jury visit but the fountain will be off. If necessary it will be explained to the jury without casting any aspersions." Weinberg responds, "I'll consider that, your honor."

They try to hammer out a date for the jury visit. Fidler explains to Weinberg that it's the Sheriff's office that has to arrange with the Alhambra police the jury visit and it is a complicated thing. It can't be accomplished this Thursday, but next Monday is a possibility as well as the following Thursday.

Weinberg then comes back and says, "I think the courts ruling is unfair and seriously prejudice's the defense." Weinberg brings up the recording, but Fidler counters that the tape recording is misleading. Weinberg believes that there is only an on or off setting for the fountain. Fidler states that if Weinberg presents him evidence that there is only an on or off setting on the fountain then he will revisit his ruling. Michelle Blaine on her blog states that when she worked for Spector, the fountain had three settings: low, medium and high.

Then AJ brings up the last point in the prosecution's motion and that's Mrs. Spector's presence at the jury viewing. "She should not be allowed to stand there as the dutiful wife." Fidler states that at the first viewing, "In hindsight, Mrs. Spector should not have been there." It's her home and she can be upstairs, but not in view of the jurors during the visit.

The last issue that Weinberg brings up is the media presence at the viewing. He outlines the fact that at the last trial, only one reporter was allowed to go. Weinberg now tells the court, "I've been asked," to get the court to approve both Linda Deutsch and Harriet Ryan attending the visit. I'm surprised at this because I was under the impression that he was not going to bring this up to the judge, or mention the reporter's names. Fidler states, "I don't frankly care." The people do not appear to have any objection. Fidler replies, "If that works out for everyone they will coordinate with Mr. Parachini.

The last issue that is argued is Dr. Sieden and what he's allowed to opine on for the defense. The case that is being used as a partial guide is a 2008 Federal case, Moses vs. Payne (sp?) , Judge Fidler states his position and that one issue he is firm on is "trial by mathmatics. [...] Statistics have no place in court." Weinberg feels that the court needs to separate out the "expert testimony from the psychological autopsy" issue.

10:39 am: Donte leaves 106.

Weinberg argues that the Federal case mentioned Moses vs. Payne (sp?) "...has no value to California. [...] Dr. Sieden will talk about understanding the nature of suicide. [...] The people put on witnesses to suggest that because Lana Clarkson was making plans, she couldn't have committed suicide. Now having the prosecution put on those witnesses, [they want to] now preventing the defense from putting on an expert. [...] It would be patently unfair to allow the prosecution and then not allow the defense (to counter that testimony). [...] We have never suggested that Dr. Sieden would or should do a psychological autopsy. "

As Fidler is listening to Weinberg, I see a slight furrowing of his upper brow and forehead and his hand is resting in front of his mouth, elbow on his desk. Fidler responds, "Are you suggesting that he be allowed to use statistics?" Weinberg responds, "There is a line between what is a statistic and what science teaches us." He goes on to mention the prosecution's witnesses and what they suggest. He then replies, "In fact, a majority [of suicides] doesn't happen that way." Weinberg says that statistics is an overly broad comment. Fidler is clear. "I"m not going to allow that type of testimony. [...] (To infer) ....the majority.... the numbers are completely misleading. [...] When you say that, it's misleading.

Weinberg responds, "Well, you allowed it at the first trial." I think Fidler is a teeny bit irritated by that and responds, "It wasn't objected to. I rule on objections that are before me." Weinberg asks, "If medical science says (intra-oral gunshot wound) is virtually always suicide, what is wrong with saying..?"

Fidler replies, "There is a lot wrong with using numbers. [...] when someone uses numbers, it's allowing an expert to use numbers for an issue they are not allowed to testify to."

There is more argument back and forth by both sides. AJ asks if the issues covered "in camera" will be addressed. Weinberg states that at this time, he is not intending to go there. Fidler also replies that he did some serious rethinking about that issue. That's interesting because it means Fidler could reverse his in camera ruling. Weinberg says again that he doesn't think he is going to go there.

They really haven't hammered out what Sieden can and cannot testify to. Fidler states that "Clearly under California law, Dr. Sieden can testify generally. [...] Factors that are common for suicide; factors beyond the realm of common knowledge. [However,] he can not make conclusions about Lana Clarkson or if she fits into a pattern."

AJ then says to the court that he wants to understand that the door is not closed, and repeats what he believes is is understanding about Fidler's tentative ruling.

1. No statistics, subject to what Dr. Pena testified to or case law. (If Dr. Pena testified to statistics, then the defense can present.)

2. Dr. Sieden can not opine that she committed suicide

3. Dr. Sieden can not opine that she was suicidal or that she fell into a group with those risk factors.

The details of how Spector's emails fell into the prosecution's hands are cleared up by Weinberg. Spector was trying to send the email to a different Michelle and the email program automatically dropped in Michelle Blaine's name. Weinberg asks that the attachment to the people's motion (which is a copy of the email) not be made part of the public record. Fidler replies, "I don't think it's appropriate to seal it." Besides, it was already in the public domain.

And that's it for the morning session.

In the afternoon session, several members of the press showed up, more people from the general public and several supporters for Spector. There is a still photographer from the Associated Press in the gallery near the end of far left end of the second bench row. He has a big camera with a telescopic lens on a tripod. Some of the Spector supporters are men I think have come to court before one or two times. Then Harvey with the white hair arrives and later in the day the short tiny woman with blond hair shows up. Rachelle is wearing a very light brownish colored, form fitting pantsuit and for the first time during this trial, her hair is not in a clip holding it all together tightly in the back. Her hair is French braided into two braids on each side of her head. It's very similar to how she sometimes wore it at the first trial. Spector is in a black suit, big dark red kerchief in his suit pocket and a white shirt.

Before court even begins, or Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran even takes the stand, there are more arguments as to where Weinberg is going with this witness and whether or not Dr. Lakshmanan can talk about the study he did regarding LA County suicides from 2004 through 2006.

When Dr. Lakshmanan does take the stand at 1:54 pm, he is asked endless questions about Jamie Lintemoot's activities at the scene and what "his understanding was" of where Jamie Lintemoot was describing the blood found on Lana Clarkson's hands and wrists.

Through this witness, Weinberg is trying to ask questions about what the coroner's office does and doesn't do in regards to investigating a decedent's "state of mind." There were several objections and a few bench conferences and towards the end of the day the jury was asked to step out of the room for more arguments and that continued until a few minutes before 4:00 pm.

All and all, I would have to say that the defense case did not start off with a bang but more like a perpetually stalling car with many stops and restarts. Court continues tomorrow at 9:30 am.

I had hoped to transcribe the people's motion completely to deny the jury visit, but it's way late and I'd like to get to bed before midnight. Below is the email that was attached to the people's motion.

Subject: Re: FW: Site visit
Sate: August 9, 2007 7:41:07 PM PDT
Cc: rgabriel, kennybaden, dnacjp, sbrunon, brunonlaw,,, jennifer.barringer, tawni.tyndall

roger: re richard's email below. the prosecution is not allowed to bring anything. i won't allow it. it's still my fucking house. evidence, and exhibits are not prosecution props. and the prosecution will do no leading around. or rachelle and i will join in too. i am warning you now. this is still my house. not the judges. you better take control of this situation or i will. i will not have dickhead or jerkoff running things. or they will run into me. tell me now. or i will have four bodyguards here. not that i need them. i have a big mouth. and nobody with substitute anything for the mercedes. the mercedes is gone. phillip.

On Wednesday, August 8, 2007, at 7:35 PM, Richard Gabriel wrote:


Fountain will be on full bore for site visit tomorrow, yes? Also, will prosecution and you be narrating by pointing out certain things during the site visit or will the jury just arrive, stand in the courtyard, go in through the front door and visit the rooms in silence? What is the procedure? I read a Court TV article which said that: The prosecution will bring some if its own props to the jury view. In addition to evidence photos, which they are expected to use inside the house to identify the locations of evidence, the authorities are also bringing a black Crown Victoria Sedan. I ask because jurors may use tomorrow to make some concrete conclusions about the case and I don't want narration from prosecution of fidler. I don't want them subtly directing the jury's attention to things they want them to focus on. This means having them spend more time in the bathroom or the living room than in the foyer or the courtyard.

Special thanks for Sedonia Sunset for helping with my edit this morning. Sprocket.