Thursday, January 28, 2010

For The Christian-Newsom Families The Suffering Continues

~Deena Christian, second from right, weeps in court

Although the brutal torture and murders occurred 3 years ago there has been no closure for the families of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The families have not been idle in seeking justice not only for their children, but they are attempting to have laws changed to benefit all victims. Gary and Deena Christian and Hugh and Mary Newsom still face numerous court rulings and another trial.

Tomorrow is a status hearing for Vanessa "Nessa" Coleman, the only female charged in the murder case. Coleman's attorneys want the charges dropped because they claim for Coleman's agreeing to testify against Eric Boyd, federal agents offered or indicated she could receive immunity.

If the charges stand against Coleman her trial is slated to begin May 10.

Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins was convicted last August and sentenced to life without parole on murder and rape charges. He will appear before Judge Richard Baumgartner on February 4 for sentencing on all the lesser charges.

George "G" Thomas was convicted in December and also sentenced to life without parole. He will be back in court for sentencing on the lesser charges on February 26.

Unbelievably, the Tennessee Department of Corrections sent Thomas to the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville. Yup, they did it again - Tiptonville is a
medium- security facility! The same thing they did with Cobbins. Both are now residing in a maximum security facility, but only after protests by the families.

Remember, during the Thomas trial the defense filed a 24 page motion for acquittal. Judge Baumgartner reserved ruling and instructed the State to file a response

In mid-January, Thomas' attorneys acknowledge that their request is not yet complete, but they needed to file the motion for a new trial within 30 days of the order of sentence.

Thomas' attorneys argue there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict Thomas and that the admission of Thomas' statements to police was unconstitutional.

For those who followed the Lemarcus Davidson trial, you may recall the outrage of the families, as well as the public, when defense attorneys
Doug Trant and David Eldridge basically besmirched the reputations of Channon and Chris by saying that is was possible that they may well have known Davidson and willing went to him to purchase drugs.

No, there is absolutely no proof of that! What was suggested by the defense was said to try to create doubt for the jury. However, the lines of honor, and respectability where crossed when these words were uttered in court. Is it acceptable for defense to lie about the victims? I think not!

Tennessee State Senators Tim Burchett, Randy McNally and Representative Ryan Haynes are working with the families on two pieces of legislation. The first would automatically make maximum-security prison the immediate destination for anyone convicted of murder in Tennesse. Logically, this should be in place in all states!


The second piece of legislation could have a dramatic effect on defense attorneys. The law would basically hold defense lawyers
criminally liable for any unproven claims made during a trial. Again, this should be in place in all states!

Senator Tim Burchett said, "Those young people suffered enough indignity, and their families have, too. At some point somebody has got to do something for the victims."

Gary and Denna Christian discuss victim's reputations.

Thank you David from Tennessee for sharing some of the information!

WBIR

KnoxNews

Monday, January 25, 2010

Casey Anthony Pleads Guilty To Check Fraud

When Casey Anthony was escorted to the courtroom during the hearing on January 25, noticeably absent was the jingle-jangle sound of her shackles which usually accompany such appearances. Anthony, dressed in a freshly pressed, light blue shirt and gray pants, walked in with a smile for her attorneys.

According to Jose Baez, in an interview with Jane Velez-Mitchell on HLN later in the evening, Casey was going to get her wish. Baez told Velez-Mitchell that

Well, she always wanted to plead to this case. It was always a concern of hers. She was always very sorry for what she did to Amy.

I have to wonder if that is truly the case here. The fact is, Casey waited for well over a year to reach that point. In the meantime, her defense had filed a number of motions in the fraud trial. There was a motion for change of venue, to submit prospective jurors to an extensive questionnaire, and individually sequestered voir dire. There were other motions for other various and sundry exclusions from the trial, including barring the admission of evidence relevant to the murder trial and evidence of Casey's prior bad acts. Now, those motions go into the "major waste of paper" section of my stack of motions for the case, never to see light of day again.

The hearing began with Casey's plea to the Court. Casey, accompanied by her attorneys, Jose Baez and Andrea Lyon, came to the podium. Baez spoke first, stating that his client would be entering a plea to the Court in the check fraud case. Judge Strickland then looked over the plea form. Casey was sworn in and asked the usual questions prior to entering her plea.

At this point, I noticed that her yes/no responses were very short and clipped, almost choked off at the end. This morning, I found one of my favorite sources for body language, Lillian Glass. Her article on the hearing is very interesting and, in many ways, reaffirmed my own reaction to the proceedings. Her article is a must-read!

After questioning Casey, Assistant State's Attorney Frank George briefly presented the basic facts of the case, including each check, its number and amount, and place where it was cashed.

Jose Baez stipulated to the facts as cited by Mr. George.

The judge then told Casey that she seemed alert and intelligent and that he would accept her plea.

Judge Strickland then asked Jose Baez to speak to what sentencing he would expect. Instead of simply stating that he wished to have all charges not be adjudicated and his client sentenced to one year's probation, he went into quite a diatribe against the State.

He went on, in his faltering manner, to state that he felt that Casey had been discriminated against because she was "unpopular". He even listed "unpopular" as a type of discrimination way up there with race and gender. He also said that the State could not find, even if they did extensive searches through the entire public records, where a first-time offender, such as Casey, would only be offered an unacceptable five year sentence. He also carped on the fact that his client had been over-charged and that the five years offered by the State was not "fair". He likened the situation to being in "a muck of justice".

Personally, I think his comments were all "in a muck" and very painful to listen to. He ended asking the judge to see that Casey receive "equal justice under the law as is written above you"and to not adjudicate any of the charges and impose parole of "about" a year. As a closing, Baez reminded Strickland that Casey had no prior record and had made full restitution. Lastly, he objected to the costs that the State was asking for. Baez stated that the $5,517.75 cost of investigation was excessive considering that the theft was only $600.54. He mentioned again the "armada" of police cars sent to arrest Casey.

Judge Strickland indicated that he had to impose the costs and that they could be argued over later.

If you remember, at the December 11 hearing, Judge Strickland had given Baez & Company an ultimatum: January 25 was THE date for either a jury trial, a bench trial, or a plea. The judge had also indicated clearly to Baez what his decision would probably be for any first-time offender in Casey's situation. While the judge was not in a position to broker a deal with Casey, he made it very clear (wink-wink) that she would probably get time served and that while she would be found guilty of all 13 counts, her punishment would not reflect 13 felonies. In a sense, Baez was "speaking to the choir" here with his back against the wall in terms of ending the case.

I can only assume that this speech by Baez was mainly to attack the State's Attorneys and do some gratuitous grandstanding. I have to wonder if this was a wise decision, considering the much more serious trial to come.

Mr. George briefly responded and indicated that he didn't know how long Mr. Baez had practiced law in Orange and Osceola Counties, but that the charging situation was not uncommon. In fact, Judge Strickland had made the exact same comment at the December 11 hearing. George stated that he did not want to get into a competition of words and simply indicated that Casey had plead guilty to all 13 counts and that punishment would be the Court's decision. He also stated that that she had already been incarcerated for over a year-and-a-half and that the actual cost of the restitution that had been paid was $654.25. George continued by stating that the State would object to adjudication and parole and would prefer adjudication and a straight jail sentence.

George then brought up a prickly situation that exists. It would not be possible for her to be put on probation as she is incarcerated and already under 24 hour supervision. Casey would still be incarcerated for the foreseeable future and possibly for the rest of her life.

Upon saying that, the camera went to the podium and Casey's face tensed and she gave a big gulp. I am sure she wasn't comfortable hearing this from Mr. George.

Baez responded briefly, telling Judge Strickland that the State was "putting the cart before the horse" in assuming that Casey would spend the rest of her life in jail. He said that they were working hard to acquit Casey and it was "bold" of the State to make such assumptions.

It was then Judge Strickland's time to render justice. He ended up adjudicating Casey on 6 charges, one each for the writing of the four checks, one for one of four counts of using Amy Huizenga's identity, and one for grand theft, as the total was over $300. Each charge was given time served, 412 days (as the judge had hinted at the prior hearing). He did not adjudicate on the remaining 7 charges and sentenced Casey to one year of probation. She is not to have any contact with Huizenga. Strickland stated that “I withheld in seven. I adjudicated in six. If that seems Solomon-like, it is. I just couldn’t think of a better, more appropriate way to do it.”

Almost as an afterthought, it was mentioned that Amy Huizenga was not present in court and did not wish to make a statement. Then, it was Casey's turn to make a brief apology to her friend.

“I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m sorry for what I did. I take complete and full responsibility for my actions. And I’d like to sincerely apologize to Amy. I wish I would have been a better friend.”

In her blog this morning, Lillian Glass had this to say about that little speech:

As Casey was reciting her lines of bullshit, Jose Baez’s eyes did not leave Casey’s face. He looked like a proud papa at a grade school play, making sure that his kid didn’t flub her lines. Casey may have memorized her lines and not flubbed them verbally, but she sure flubbed them vocally and body language wise.

The probation situation is problematic. In order to be adjudicated, probation must be served and then the charges essentially "go away" for the most part. Since Casey is in jail already, probation, or public supervision is not possible at this point. It was suggested by Mr. George that she serve the probation in jail. Strickland pointed out that that particular remedy was difficult since he can only sentence a person to jail for up to one year. In the end, the probation issue and the financial issue were left for another time. Jose Baez cracked a not-so-funny joke: "We could solve this with a reasonable bond..." As Baez smirked at his own wit, nobody laughed.

When all was said and done, Casey Anthony ended up as a convicted felon. What this will mean for the future remains to be seen. Experts disagree and Baez didn't seem to mind about that. In an interview with reporters as he was leaving court, Baez stated that "adjudication didn't mean a "whole lot".

Once the plea was dealt with, the hearing returned to motions in the murder case.

The first motion discussed was the defense MOTION TO TAKE DEPOSITION TO PERPETUATE TESTIMONY OF JILL KERLEY. Kerley is the ex-wife of Roy Kronk who was interviewed by a defense PI and essentially said she thought Roy could have done it. She is ill with non-Hodgekins lymphoma and is unable to travel to Orlando due to her illness. Andrea Lyon indicated that they are working towards resolving the issues. She indicated that Linda Drane Burdick wants the opportunity to do an evidence deposition first. This was agreed to by both parties and interviews will take place based on Ms. Kerley's chemotherapy schedule. Ms. Burdick did not waive the right of the State to call the witness to the stand during the actual trial, health allowing.

Judge Strickland approved the motion.

The only concern Ms. Drane Burdick had was with the costs of traveling to the "mini-trial proceeding." While she was willing for the State to pay for the expenses to travel to Tennessee for the discovery process. Some time later in the hearing, Andrea Lyon made a brief comment that perhaps Casey could be declared indigent for these particular purposes. For now, financial discussions are premature and will be discussed when and if it is necessary.

In his interview after the hearing, Baez also commented on the "Kronk" situation. He stated that they are "not pointing the finger at Mr. Kronk" and they are not "making any disparaging remarks about Mr. Kronk". Baez claimed that he is only looking for material with which to impeach Kronk. He also called the police investigation into Kronk, "shoddy work". Any other information concerning Kronk would come out at trial.

This whole Kronk issue should be going on for quite a while. The Court hasn't even discussed the main motion, DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO INTRODUCE PRIOR BAD ACTS AND OTHER CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE PERTAINING TO ROY M. KRONK. I have a feeling it will be another circus-within-a-circus.

The next motion that was discussed brought up some very lively discussion. Linda Drane Burdick stated that the purpose for the STATE OF FLORIDA'S SECOND MOTION TO COMPEL RECIPROCAL DISCOVERY and MOTION FOR DISCOVERY SCHEDULE was to move the case along.

Judge Strickland started the discussion of the motion by indicating that he expected both sides to submit discovery schedules and that he would either make one of his own or choose one of the two submitted.

Drane Burdick indicated that no trial date could be set until the defence took depositions of witnesses. She said that the defense had filed a motion entitled OBJECTION which blamed the lack of progress on the State. She indicated understanding of the scientific information status, but stated that there were other, non-scientific aspects of the case on which they could move forward. She said that the defense has any number of LE and civilian witnesses they could depose. In addition, the defense has received 90% of the discovery in the case has already been turned over to the defense. While she was not casting blame on the defense, she felt that the court now needed to get involved in the discovery process. Finally, she said that, based on the current pace, that the trial would probably not be able to be scheduled for the summer. She was also concerned that, as the trial date approached, that the defense would "dump" 50 or 60 witnesses on them, forcing the trial even further back in time. Drane Burdick mentioned that the State would not like to see the trial take place 3, 4, or even 5 years after the incident.

Strickland mentioned that the main items asked for included names and addresses of witnesses. Drane-Burdick said that the defense had begun to supply them to her recently and that that particular issue was moot at this point.

Jose Baez spoke to the motion next. He began by saying that there was no disagreement among the parties. He said they wanted to see the case move along as well. However, he said that they were "not going to have the rug taken from under us" and that they were "gonna be thorough...". He then said that, "We call this motion the pot calling the kettle black".

Before Baez could continue with more of this sort of legal argument, Judge Strickland interrupted him to say, "let's not go there".

Baez then said, "How many times have we filed motions to compel...".

Strickland responded, "You're doing it again, anyway".

Strickland pointed out that he was aware that due to the "tough" nature of the case, people got hot under the collar. He essentially told Baez that this was not the time for finger-pointing; it was time to make progress in the case. Next, the judge indicated that it was time for each party to present a discovery schedule. He then pressed both sides as to whether or not they wanted to set a trial date, even though it is difficult to do in this case.

Baez then went on to state that they had still not received all the empirical scientific data they had asked for.

This situation has been going on since December 11, 2008, the day Caylee's remains were discovered. The next day, the defense wanted all the photographs, maps, etc. This was followed up numerous times throughout 2009. Not the least of the information the defense wants is just about every piece of information about testing, the lab, the technicians, the scientists that exists. It goes far beyond the information that is normally given out. We heard about the fact that the judge has no jurisdiction over these entities and neither does the State's Attorneys' Office.

Baez said that the Oak Ridge Lab would give them everything that they requested above and beyond what had been supplied to the State.

When Baez said that it wasn't about pointing fingers, the judge interrupted him again to say that that was where he was heading. Judge Strickland then brought the discussion back to setting a trial date. The judge asked Baez if he would like to discuss this with Ms. Lyon (the lead attorney on the case). Strickland quickly pointed out that they would establish deadlines for discovery. As he was saying this, Ms. Lyon approached the podium and Baez went on talking for a bit telling the judge that they would be meeting with the defense that afternoon to discuss these issues. Then, the judge again recommended he consult with Lyon, and he did, briefly.

Jeff Ashton got up to speak to the issue. He said that the State had all the information that the Oak Ridge lab was willing to provide and that all that information had been turned over to the defense. If the defense wanted anything else from the lab, it was an issue the defense would have to deal with directly with the lab.

The judge told the defense that they would have to file something and then have the lab's counsel come in to deal with the situation. Essentially, the State is "incidental" to the issue, according to Strickland.

The judge went back to the point at hand. He now asked if he should set a trial date and work backwards from there, or would they prefer not to have a trial date and set the discovery schedule.

Ashton said that the defense and prosecution would meet together to make a discovery schedule. Strickland set a deadline of 10-15 days for this. Once he had set the schedule, a trial date could then be selected.

Ashton went on to ask if the only problem was with the Oak Ridge lab. Baez stated that there was also a problem with the FBI. Ashton then said that he believed there were some "latent print-related items that are not in the discovery" that he has been able to find.

Needless to say, that line has brought up a great deal of discussion on the Internet!

He then said that, other than that, the defense had everything the FBI lab was willing to provide.

Baez then went on to complain about how the State was providing them with discovery. He said that there is a strong percentage of the forensic evidence they do not have.

Strickland made it clear, one last time, that the defense has everything the labs will provide and that the situation now demands that attorneys for Oak Ridge and the FBI lab now be involved in the process.

Ashton did request that Linda Kenney-Baden, who is the "science" attorney in the case, get directly in touch with him rather than go through the chain of Baden-Baez-Drane Burdick-Ashton to improve communication on the issues.

With this, the hearing came to a close.

If you would like to watch the entire hearing, here are the links:

Part 1
Part 2

According to WESH, later Monday, Strickland denied the defense's motion to stop jail visits from being videotaped. The motion had been filed January 19.

Earlier this week, Tim Miller's attorney, Mark NeJame asked for a continuation and the TES motion was not heard as expected.

I am so pleased with Judge Strickland. Today, he managed to keep the defense from running on and on and on and kept the hearing on track.

What's next to look forward to? Well, we are fast approaching the February 1 deadline set for the defense to provide the witness list which will prove that Caylee's body was placed in its final location while Casey Anthony was in jail!

Stay tuned to T&T!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You Be the L.A. County District Attorney and Judge …

Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate

When T & T last examined the curious case of Roman Polanski, our fugitive from justice was busy gathering up $4.5 million bail so he could hang out at his Swiss chalet in Gstaad as opposed to hanging out in a Swiss jail. The money was collected and turned over to the Swiss authorities, the monitoring systems put into place on Polanski’s property, and he enjoyed the Christmas holiday in the comforts of his vacation home in the arms of his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and the couple’s two children, Morgane and Elvis.
Thus far the diminutive director has honored the terms of his bail and hasn’t yet escaped back into France in the trunk of a car or a suitcase.
The case against him, however, trudges its way through the Los Angeles County Superior Court system.
A state appeals panel suggested that Polanski should be sentenced in absentia, but Superior Court Judge Peter Espinosa is not bound by that recommendation. Nor does he accept it: in the Los Angeles Times, Espinosa is quoted “I have made it clear he needs to surrender.”
Meanwhile, Polanski’s attorneys are still working the judicial misconduct case. Polanski alleges that a now-deceased judge, Laurence Rittenband, was going to back out of what Polanski and his attorneys felt was a “ sentencing deal”: Polanski was handed over for a 90-day psychological evaluation at Chino and was to return to court for official sentencing.

The evaluation at Chino, which took only 42 days, recommended Polanski be sentenced to probation for the one charge he’d plead guilty to, that of unlawful intercourse with a minor, in order to allow his victim to maintain some semblance of privacy. Evaluators did not believe Polanski was a pedophile nor was he likely to re-offend. However, Polanski’s lawyers believed that the judge was going to slap their client with extra jail time and ultimately deportation. Rather than take his chances, Polanski left the United States before sentencing, thus leaving the sentencing part of the case open and adding a new crime: unlawful flight from justice.

There is legal precedent for the LA County Courts’ position. The fugitive dis-entitlement doctrine is a 19
th century legal principle barring a fugitive from calling on the help of the court while giving a middle finger to said court’s authority. The 2nd District Court of Appeal did uphold Judge Espinosa’s application of the principle back in December, but also urged that sentencing in absentia or other resolution that would address the misconduct claims was acceptable.

Polanski’s victim still wants the whole thing dropped and claims the DA’s office didn’t inform her that they were looking to arrest Polanski at all. The DA’s office has evidence to the contrary, that they did inform Samantha, so Judge Espinosa also rejected her attorneys’ request that prosecutors drop the extradition proceedings against Polanski. Recall that Samantha’s full name was not publicly known until she initiated a lawsuit against Polanski in the late 1980s when she was an adult.
Polanski has not stayed out of the media spotlight during his house arrest. In December, a photo of Polanski peering outside of his chalet was published; an image the paper felt was an accurate depiction of Polanski’s life under house arrest. Polanski feels those photos are an invasion of his privacy, and he and his wife have initiated lawsuits against a total of four French publications. At odds are photos taken of the couple’s children in a French airport, though when published the children’s faces were blurred out, a common practice in France.

The paper that published the “Polanski at window” photo,
Le Journal du Dimanche, has argued that the photo was a legitimate news photograph. “Can you seriously claim in this context that if you stand at the window you won't get your picture taken?" argued attorney Christophe Bigot. The newspaper is asking the court to impel Polanski to pay its legal fees.
The magazine that published the photos of the children argued those photos were taken in a public place, and reminded the court of the blurring out of the kids’ faces.

Polanski claims to have an intense fear of the media, dating back to Sharon Tate’s murder. The rumors shortly after the murders included allegations of the victims’ bizarre drug-fueled lifestyles and that somehow their own actions prompted the butchering.

And finally, Swiss authorities haven’t yet decided if they will turn Polanski over to the United States at all.

Today, you get to be the D.A. and the judge. What do you think is at the heart of this issue? Do you think there was judicial misconduct back with Judge
Rittenband? Do you think Rittenband was within his rights as a judge to sentence Polanski to more time and the eventual deportation? What do you think Rittenband was going to do?

Is the rape case a moot issue? Should it be? Is the issue the unlawful flight from justice? Should Polanski be extradited and accept the will of the court? What is the worst you think should happen to him?

If I’m asking for your opinion, I’ll give you mine. I think Rittenband was going to send Polanski back to Chino to do a full 90 days. I think he was then going to deport Polanski. Remember, what Rittenband did was not the “official” sentence: it was an evaluation to see how sentencing should proceed. He expected this to take 90 days. I bet he believed that Polanski would be brought to court fresh off the Department of Corrections bus, and did not at all think Polanski would charm his way out of his evaluation so quickly. I wonder how many Department of Corrections employees were eventually cast in a Polanski film; it's rumored he made such promises to Chino employees.

How do I feel the case should be resolved? Polanski needs to be extradited and do that additional time. But let’s give the guy a break, a day for a day. He’s got 48 days left; for every day he behaves, take a day off, just like most California inmates get. So he gets 24 days in jail to close the rape case.

He also faces flight from justice charges (felony offense), and because he left the United States, one could argue both state of California and federal charges could be filed. The maximum time for the federal offense is five years in prison and a fine; the state offense is a bit lighter—a $5K fine and up to a year in county jail or state prison. I’ve not read anything about federal charges in the works. Give him the maximum state charges—one year, a day for a day, served concurrently with the “resolve the rape” time.

So, six months in custody and pay a fine. Drop the deportation stuff; chances are he will do that anyway.

How would you proceed?



Friday, January 22, 2010

Lily Burk Murder: Preliminary Hearing Starts Today






Lily Burke, 17






As this entry posts I'm at the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center, Department 102, Judge Wesley's courtroom covering the preliminary hearing in the case against Charlie Samuel. The hearing is expected to continue next Monday.

Seventeen year-old Lily Burk's life tragically ended on Friday, July 24th, 2009 when she crossed paths with Charlie Samuel, a 50 year old transient with a violent criminal past who was recently released from prison after serving time for petty theft. That afternoon, Lily was at the Wilshire Boulevard Southwestern University School of Law on an errand for her mother, Professor Deborah Drooz, who worked there.

Described as a funny, warm and empathetic girl, she was an aspiring writer like her journalist father Gregory Burk. A merit scholar, Lily regularly carried two heavily laden book bags to school and was set to star that week in a school production of The Boston Marriage a play by David Mamet. She was also looking forward to her senior year at Oakwood School in North Hollywood.

Lily left her Los Felitz home around 2:30 pm. About an hour after picking up exam papers for her mother, Lily made cell phone calls to both her parents asking how to get cash out of an ATM using her credit card. ATM video recovered showed Samuel by Burk's side as she repeatedly tried to withdrawal cash. Her parents told police she "seemed rushed but not frightened." Lily's explanation to her parents was she needed the money to buy shoes. Her parents told her to come home. Sadly, the credit card was not set up to make cash withdrawals.

When Lily didn't return home by 5:00pm, her parents contacted police, who initially appeared to treat the case as missing person/runaway case. 6:00 am the following morning, her badly beaten body was found inside her black Volvo near 5th and Alameda Streets near downtown Los Angeles. Her neck had been slashed.

Not long after Lily was reported missing by her parents, Charlie Samuel was arrested and detained on an unrelated charge of suspicion of drug possession and drug paraphernalia. He had been given permission earlier that day to leave drug treatment facility located near the law school. While in police custody, a cell phone belonging to Burk and the key to her car were found on Samuel as well as blood stains on his clothing. After Samuel's fingerprints were found in Lily's car, he was charged with murder, kidnapping and other charges.

Sadly, from what I've been able to gather from news reports, it appears that back in 2006, Samuel broke into a Van Nuys home. When he was confronted by the owner Samuel attacked him, grabbed a phone, keys and fled. Unfortunately, several clerical errors in the accurate reporting Samuel's complete rap sheet meant Los Angeles County prosecutors were not informed of all of his prior convictions. At that time, Samuel would have fallen under the three strikes law, meaning he could have received 25 years-to-life for his third strike.

DDA Alan Jackson, assistant head of LA County's Major Crimes Division who successfully convicted Phil Spector of second degree murder last year, will be prosecuting the case. I don't know at this time if there will be a second chair. Although I'm still recovering from a deep cough and lingering sinus infection, (I will have to step out of the courtroom if I start coughing) I hope to cover this case once it reaches a trial date.

There are several other cases I have my eye on that I would like to cover and it will just depend on how quickly I can recover as well as other personal commitments.



Lily encountered suspect near law school


Suspect had history of violent crimes


Lily Burk's Neck Slashed


Friends and Family mourn Lily Burk


Clerical errors and luck keep suspect on the streets

RIP Lily Burk Facebook Page

Lily's Law Flaw

James Elroy: Remembering Lily Burk

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Casey Anthony to appear in hearing Monday, January 25




It's been quite a crazy week in the Case Against Casey Anthony. Every day, we are getting different messages about what will happen on Monday, January 25 in Judge Stan Strickland's courtroom at 1:30 PM. At this point, we officially know that the fraud trial will not take place. The fact that the trial will not take place has led to the conclusion that Casey Anthony may be taking a plea.

What we don't know is what road to a plea Casey will take. Will she plea bargain through the State's Attorney's office? Will she plead no contest? Will she plead guilty? Will she throw herself on the mercy of the Court in hopes of delayed adjudication or a sentence of time served?

Stay tuned to your favorite live stream to find out!

Yesterday, NEWS13 indicated that there will be two motions heard during this hearing.

The first one is the MOTION TO MODIFY COURT'S ORDER ON EQUUSEARCH DOCUMENTS SUBPOENA APPLICATION. This is the motion which was filed in November asking TES for more records. The defense claims that TES lied in saying that only 32 searchers were in the area where Caylee Marie Anthony's remains were discovered.

The defense will have to deal with the fact that one of the searchers cited searched the area with others and were not under the direct supervision of TES. The second individual, Joe Jordan, illegally taped his interview with defense PI Mort Smith and Judge Strickland sealed it for the time being.

According to NEWS13, the MOTION TO TAKE DEPOSITION TO PERPETUATE TESTIMONY OF JILL KERLEY would be addressed in court. Jill Kerley is Roy Kronk's ex-wife who was also interviewed by Mort Smith. In the video, Ms. Kerley has a great deal of nasty information about her former husband, to whom she was married for just over four months.

It's pretty obvious where the defense is heading with these motions. Jose Baez and Andrea Lyon filed a motion in November with the impressive title: DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO INTRODUCE PRIOR BAD ACTS AND OTHER CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE PERTAINING TO ROY M. KRONK.

Although the defense never states in the motion that Kronk killed Caylee, there is information "out there" from Kronk's ex-wife, son and the daughter of another ex-wife to consider him a serious suspect in the case.

Let's see, the hearing is on the 25th of January, exactly one week before the February 1 deadline that Strickland imposed on the defense to prove the words of Todd Macaluso August 21 that:

As Your Honor knows, the body of Caylee Marie Anthony was found very close to the Anthony home, and the body was found in a wooded area that if one were to search for a missing child, this is the first place you would go search. There is substantial evidence that we’ve discovered, and that’s been set forth in our brief, Your Honor, that the body or the remains of Caylee Anthony were placed there after Casey Anthony was locked up in the Orange County Correctional Facility. There is substantial evidence, and that proves, Your Honor, her innocence. That’s exculpatory evidence, it proves that somebody else placed the remains in the area where it was ultimately found.

Well, although we won't have a trial to watch, this hearing should be one hum-dinger!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

WFTV EXCLUSIVE! Casey Anthony to take plea



Update!



WFTV is now reporting that Casey Anthony may take a plea Monday and take her chances with the judge. According to the article, the defense and the State may not agree about adjudication.

The article ends by saying:

The expected plea is not etched in stone. Anytime between now and Monday afternoon, Casey could change her mind.

"As Yogi Berra said, 'It ain't over 'til it's over,'" Sheaffer said.

If Casey decides to go to trial, it might start Monday, even though the defense has not yet questioned alleged victim Amy Huizenga under oath. The judge has said in court that her check case would be resolved either with a plea or trial on January 25.

Bill Sheaffer analysis from WFTV:

1/20 Analysis 1/19 Analysis

I don't know about all of you, but it seems a long way until Monday!

Check back here for updates!



Let's see what happens on Monday, January 25. In an exclusive, WFTV is reporting that Casey Anthony will take a plea in the fraud case. According to the article,

A plea deal in the check fraud case certainly could explain why the defense has not yet deposed the alleged victim, Amy Huizenga, and it explains why the judge is not demanding that the trial start first thing Monday morning. He was adamant about the case going on January 25, no matter what, and even mentioned a plea as a possibility in court during one of the last hearings.

In the article, WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer explained that the judge could possibly accept the plea, but withold adjudication:

...the judge's ruling on whether to adjudicate or convict Casey of a crime, or withhold adjudication, would directly affect the defense's decision as to whether Casey would take the stand in her murder trial. If she were to have a conviction on her record, prosecutors could ask her about it and it would immediately affect her credibility in the eyes of the jurors.

For full details, go to the WFTV article.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Will Casey Anthony Cop a Plea?


Update #3!

Tuesday, January 19

This just in from the Orlando Sentinel


It's official – the fraud case against Casey Anthony will not start on Monday but a status hearing is scheduled.


Court officials announced the change this morning.

Orange Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland will address two motions at the 1:30 p.m. hearing. It's unclear yet which motions he will hear.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Update #2!


Monday, February 18

WFTV has provided updated information.

This week's status hearing for Casey Anthony’s murder trial has been delayed until Monday January 25, the day her check fraud trial is scheduled to start.

The defense had asked for a change of venue for that trial and there are reports that, since no hearings have been held on that issue, the defense also wants the check fraud trial to be put off.

Since court is closed today, these reports can't be based on any official announcements. To find out what is really going on, we'll have to wait to hear what Judge Strickland says. Check back tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll have the official word on what is going on.


Update #1!

Monday, February 18

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the fraud case will not be heard next week.

There's a slew of motions that haven't been addressed by the court, such as whether the defense can get a change of venue due to the media coverage. And, the defense has not interviewed the victim, Amy Huizenga, under oath yet.

Prosecutors and Anthony's defense team will appear at a pre-trial hearing Thursday to address some of these issues.

Other sources are indicating that the hearing on Thursday will not take place.

Stop by for any further updates.



It's been a quiet holiday season on the Casey Anthony front.

The only bits of "news" out there include Andrea Lyon's appearance on the Today Show and an audio clip of her on the Steve Malzberg radio program on WOR710 out of New York. (The radio program is rather raucous and you have to listen through the first segment to get to Lyon's part.) In these segments, she compares Casey Anthony to a victim of the Salem Witch Trials. Then, she goes on to tout her new book.

Then, George Anthony went to Fox 35 to read his letter about "Living Under a Microscope" and what his life has been like since his daughter was arrested and later charged with the murder of his granddaughter, Caylee Marie.

The final bit of "news" was that a "JD" had sent a letter to Judge Stan Strickland in late December which fully exonerates Casey Anthony!

What is real news in the case is the upcoming hearing on Thursday, January 21 for the fraud trial.

A while back, I was talking with Sprocket about the hearing. I opined that Casey might cop a plea at the hearing rather than letting it go on to trial on January 25. Sprocket did a little poll on the matter, and most people thought that Casey would never take a plea. I would think, however, that her defense team is pushing her to take a plea for a number of reasons.

First of all, Judge Strickland made a statement at the December 16 hearing, after listening to Jose Baez argue his motion to dismiss many of the fraud charges. He said that:

This case is going to get resolved either by trial or plea before the capital case and, if and when it gets resolved, she is going to be treated the same way by me (as) anybody else would.

Strickland also mentioned that charges that were brought by the State are not unusual and that they could possibly be merged into a higher sentence, depending on if and when somebody takes a plea. He indicated that while Casey Anthony is presumed innocent at this point and she could possibly end up with concurrent sentences if found guilty or if she took a plea.

So, at this point, the defense has lost the battle to postpone the fraud trial until after the murder trial. That being said, it would be in Casey's best interest to get the best deal possible through a plea deal. I can't imagine that the defense would want Casey to appear in a televised trial before a jury prior to the murder case.

As was seen at the last hearing, Casey is not ready for prime time as a defendant. She has difficulty behaving in a "neutral" way and lets her anger show. I can only imagine how many people would love to analyze her body language while listening to her former friend as she testifies against her.

I would also imagine that the defense would have a difficult time putting up an affirmative defense. In her statements to police and to her family, her "motive" or "mitigating factor" was that she would "lie, cheat, and steal" in order to find her child. That is something the defense would not want to say, nor would they want anyone else to testify to what she said.

As can be seen in the picture, Casey was rather brazen in her use of Amy Huizenga's checks. On July 15, 2008, she presented herself to a branch office of the Bank of America to clean out the last of Amy's savings. There are also videos of her cashing bogus checks at Target. In a video visitation with her parents in August, 2008, she tells her mother to apologize to Amy for the theft. Finally, Jose Baez sent a check for the stolen amount to the Bank of America. This evidence makes for an extremely strong case.

If Casey doesn't take a plea, the hearing will be another round of motions.

The defense is asking that various pieces of information not come out in a trial. These are the motions:

MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF ALLEGED PRIOR BAD ACTS

In the motion, the defense points out that in Officer Wilson's "alleged affidavit" Amy Huizenga "found out that Miss Anthony was a "liar". "Additionally, Miss Huizenga states testimony referring to Miss Anthony's alleged drug activity."

One curious paragraph in the motion explains that "The only purpose of evidence of these, and potentially other, alleged prior bad acts of Miss Anthony is to attempt to show that Ms. Anthony had the propensity to not properly supervise its students." Go figure what that could be!

DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO PRECLUDE THE INTRODUCTION OF ANY EVIDENCE RELATING TO MISS ANTHONY'S MURDER CASE

This is a motion one would expect in this trial. The nagging problem about this is that, as I mentioned earlier, Casey's defense to this has been, since day 1, was that she needed money to fund her search for her kidnapped daughter. This defense simply can't be used at all. In their own motion, the defense clearly states that:

Any evidence mentioning Miss Anthony's child Caylee Anthony, the homicide charges and other charges she faces regarding her daughter, accusations of child neglect, abuse, or any other such evidence relating to Miss Anthony's pending homicide case is irrelevant.

Clearly, Casey has no defense. It would be better to take a plea deal.

The remainder of the motions deal with change of venue and jury selection. Judge Strickland mentioned on December 16 that he would meet with the attorneys concerning jury selection. At this point, we will have to wait for the hearing to see what has been negotiated between the parties.

Here are the links to all the motions concerning these issues.

Motion For Venue Change (Document is 124 pages and is slow to load)
Motion For Jury Questionnaire
Motion For Sequestered Voir Dire
Sample Juror Questionnaire

At this point, the fraud trial is scheduled for Monday, January 25.

I'd love to hear if you think Casey Anthony will be convinced to plead guilty to the charges in this case!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stacey Barker Defense Asks for a Change of Venue

GUEST ENTRY by KATFISH PONDERS!

On January 14 there was another pretrial hearing in the case of California vs. Stacey M. Barker at the Antelope Valley (AV) Municipal Courthouse in Lancaster, CA.

Stacey Barker is a 25 year old woman from Lancaster, CA accused of suffocating her 18 month old daughter, Emma Leigh Barker, to death on March 18, 2009. On April 27 Barker was arrested and the charges filed against the young mother include murder, assault on a child causing death and child abuse. The complaint alleges that Barker willfully caused and permitted the child to be injured and harmed and that injury resulted in death. Booking details. Barker formally entered a not guilty plea to all counts on August 12, 2009.

As noted in earlier posts on katfishponders about this case, friends of katfishponders are attending the hearings in this case. The information provided here is compiled from various posts and e-mail correspondence about the hearing details so this report is not verbatim and may not be reported in the exact order that it was in court.

Continue reading at katfish ponders...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Defense Wants Kidnap Charges Tossed In Brooke Bennett Murder Case



~ Brooke Bennett

~Michael Jacques

In what seems to be a trend lately, to avoid the death penalty for a particularly heinous murder, attorneys are claiming the laws – be they State or Federal - are unconstitutional!

What is, I’m sure, the first of many motions to be filed, Michael Jacques’ defense attorneys claimed Friday that the federal kidnapping charges against Jacques are unconstitutional and go on to say that even if they aren’t, the prosecution lacks evidence Jacques kidnapped his niece, Brooke Bennett.

Already a convicted sex offender, Jacques was indicted for the kidnapping, drugging, raping, and strangling of 12-year-old Brooke. The October 2008 indictment also included several counts of possession of child pornography.

In 2006, the Adam Walsh Act was used by Congress to amend the Federal Kidnapping Act. It is this law that allowed the federal government to charge Jacques and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder subsequently gave approval for prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
New Jersey based, death penalty attorneys Jean Barrett and Michael Desautels, assert the Federal Kidnapping Act is unconstitutional because it overrides State of Vermont’s ability to govern by it’s own law.

The motion states: Moreover, the citizens of the State of Vermont have made clear their opposition to the death penalty for crimes committed in this state. By effectuating a means by which the Government may circumvent that intention by expanding a federal statute beyond the limits of federal authority to reach a traditionally state crime that has no impact on commerce, Congress has upset the balance of power and exceeded its Commerce Clause authority.

Therefore, 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a), as amended by the Adam Walsh Act, is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied. Accordingly, Count 1 of the Indictment must be dismissed, with prejudice.

If the motion is successful, the federal case against Jacques would be dropped and the case would revert back to state jurisdiction.

After prosecutors file a response in the next few weeks, Chief Judge William Sessions will issue a ruling in the matter.


Friday, January 1, 2010

MICHAEL THOMAS GARGIULO TRIAL - QUICK LINKS


This page was last updated 12/18/16 at 5:00pm PST. Sprocket

Synopsis of the Preliminary Hearing Testimony for Each Witness

State of California v. Michael Thomas Gargiulo
Arrest Date: 6/6/2008
Booking # 1434799
DOB: 2/15/76
Hair Brown/Eyes Brown
Height: 6'2"
Weight [at time of arrest] 175

DA CASE NO. SA068002
PLAYERS

Defendant: Michael Thomas Gargiulo (pro per 5/14/12 to 11/7/14) 
Defense: Lead defense counsel Dale Rubin; Second chair Dan Nardoni
Prosecution: DDA Daniel Akemon & DDA Garrett Dameron
Preliminary Hearing Judge: Michael Johnson, Dept. 108
Previous Case Judge: Judge Sam Ohta, Dept. 108
Current Judge: Larry Fidler, Dept. 106

Prior Defense Counsel - Dept. 123 [via 987.9]
Charles Lindner 2008 to 5/14/2012
Defendant pro per 5/14/2012 to 11/7/2014
Lindner reassigned as counsel 11/7/14
Lindner released by court 9/09/15
Rubin conditionally assigned 9/9/15
Co-counsel Daniel Nardoni assigned 5/27/16

Alleged California Victims:
02/21/2001 Ashley Ellerin, 22
12/01/2005 Maria Bruno, 32
04/28/2008 Michelle Murphy (age at time of attack: 28)
Alleged Illinois Victim:
1993 Tricia Pacaccio, 18 (Calif. not prosecuting)

Case History
Michael Gargiulo was arrested on June 6th, 2008 for the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy in her Santa Monica home on April 28th, 2008. While in LA County custody, on September 4th, 2008 he was also charged in the brutal stabbing deaths of Ashley Ellerin, 22, on February 21st, 2001 in her rented Hollywood Hills home, and Maria Bruno, 32, in her El Monte apartment on December 1st, 2005.

Gargiulo's Preliminary Hearing
The preliminary hearing took place over 8 days starting on June 21, 2010 and ending on June 30, 2010. It was held in Dept. 108, Judge Michael Johnson presiding.

Charges

In total, there are seven counts against Gargiulo consisting of felony murder (PC 187a), attempted murder (PC 664/187a), first degree burglary (PC 459) and attempted escape (PC 664/4532(b)(1)). He has been in LA County custody ever since his arrest.

Illinois Murder
Tricia Pacaccio's murder occurred in the early morning hours on August 14th, 1993 in Glenview, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and Gargiulo's home town. Sometime after 12:30 AM, 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio was stabbed to death just steps from her front door.  Gargiulo, a family friend and neighbor was 17-years-old at the time lived about a block away from the victim.  On July 7th, 2011, the State of Illinois charged Gargiulo with Pacaccio's murder.

Testimony about Pacaccio's murder is expected to come into the California case as 1101(b) evidence. It could come in during the guilt or penalty phase of the trial.

T&T PreTrial Coverage
2012
08/21/2012 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 1
09/05/2012 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 2
09/26/2012 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 3
10/29/2012 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 4
11/28/2012 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 5
2013
02/25/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrail Hearing 6
03/20/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 7 & Dmitriy Sheyko Sanity Ruling
04/26/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 8
06/14/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 9 
06/28/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 10
07/19/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 11
09/27/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 12
10/08/2013 Michael Gargiulo: People's Perkins Operation Motion & Transcript
11/22/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 13
11/22/2013 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 13, Part II
2014
01/31/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 14
02/21/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 15, Ka Pasasouk & Joshua Woodward Update
03/03/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Prosecution's motion to Quash Defense Subpoenas
03/07/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 16
03/14/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 17 
05/09/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 17A
05/16/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 18 
06/27/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 19 
06/27/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 19, Part II 
07/11/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 20
07/18/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 21
09/25/2014 Samuel Little, Cameron Brown & Michael Gargiulo 22
10/10/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 23
11/07/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 24
2015
01/09/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 25
03/20/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 26 
05/07/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 27
05/13-06/09 2015 Michael Gargiulo Marsden Hearing
06/12/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 28
06/15/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 29 
07/14/2014 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 30
07/23/2015 O'Callaghan, Sentencing; Gargiulo Pretrial 31 & Franklin Update
09/18/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case Update 
11/05/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 32
12/15/2015 Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 33
2016
01/27/2016 Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 34
07/14/2016 Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 35
12/16/2016 Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 36
2017
03/17/2017 Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 37

Prior Proceedings Court Clerk Case Notes
4/25/12
Defendant represented by Charles Lindner
05/14/12 
Defense Marsden motion argued and denied.
Court reporter's notes of Marsden motion ordered sealed.
Defense motion to proceed in pro per is granted.
Charles Lindner ordered relieved.
Discovery to be redacted prior to being turned over to the defendant.
Defense exparte motion for ancillary pro per funding 987.9 is logged with the court.
No objection by the defendant (for) subpoeaned documents received on 4/30/12 from Cook County Sheriffs Department are to be released to the people for copying.
05/23/12
Defendant has not received his pro per funds and has not been to (the) Law Library to prepare a motion for appointment of an investigator.
Matter continued for appointment of investigator and to have investigator in court.
Order directing defendant to supply oral buccal swab samples signed.
Defendant stipulates to chain of custody of records from Cook County Sheriff's Department.
06/5/2012
Defendant's motion pursuant to penal code 987. are filed and ordered sealed.
Said motions are transferred to assistant supervising judge in Dept. 123 for ruling.
06/19/2012
Defendant agrees to people giving notice to defense investigator to be present on the next court date.
Medical order is signed and faxed to Sheriffs Department Medical Services.
07/12/12
Charles Lindner is appointed as stand by counsel. Clerk to give notice. Next court date 08/21/2012

DOCUMENTS
Defense Motions
Continuance, Good Cause (PC1050)
Order to Receive and Have Boxes for Voluminous Discovery at MCJ (Capitol Case)
Order to Receive Law Library Privileges
(Exparte) Order for Defendant to Have One Hand Free and Uncuffed in Private Booth in Attorney Room at MCJ (Men's Central Jail. Sprocket.)
Order to Receive ALL Color Copies of Crime Scene Photos on CD and DVD
Defense Opposition to People's Motion in Limine Re: Statements Obtained During Perkin's Operation at El Monte Jail 
Defense 995 Motion (to dismiss) - Charles Lindner Filed
Defense Response to defendant's request for speedy trial - Charles Lindner filed

Prosecution Motions
1101(b) Motion to Admit Prior Uncharged 1993 Trica Pacaccio Murder 
People's "Perkins Operation" Motion
Perkins Operation Transcript Part 1 
Perkins Operation Transcript Part 2
Perkins Operation Transcript Part 3
Perkins Operation Transcript Part 4
Perkins Operation Transcript Part 5
Perkins Operation Transcript Part 6
People's Opposition to Defendant's Discovery Request for Physical Possession of...Crime Scene Photos
People's Motion in Limine to Admit Crime Scene Evidence & Expert Testimony of Retired FBI Agent Mary O'Toole

Mainstream Media Coverage
LA Weekly 11/24/10 Ashton Kutcher Expected to Testify
LA Weekly 11/25/10 The Chiller Killer
LA Weekly 07/11/11 Gargiulo to Face Murder Chgs in Illinois
Sun Times - 07/12/11 Murder Suspect Could Have Killed 10 Women
Huff Post - 07/13/11 Gargiulo Could Have Killed 10 Women

People Mag - 11/06/15 Police Seek Help Identifying Potental Victim

Michael Gargiulo Wikipedia
Chicago Sun Times
Chicago Mag.com
CBS 48 Hours The Boy Next Door (six part video of episode)
CBS 48 Hours Article re: The Boy Next Door episode
CBS 48 Hours Extra Michael Garguilo's Screen Test (video)