Tuesday, March 30, 2010
In the past, I have reviewed all the motions dealing with the issue. Most pertinent is the article I wrote on March 15. It's a good place to do one's homework before viewing the hearing.
This hearing could be a major showdown between Tim Miller's attorney Mark NeJame and Jose Baez. In his MOTION TO MODIFY THE COURT'S ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION FOR SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM FOR DOCUMENTS IN THE POSESSION OF TEXAS EQUUSEARCH, Baez claimed that he had discovered searchers not provided by TES.
The first searcher Baez claims to have "found" is Joseph Jordan. The other searcher is Laura Buchanan, who claims to have searched the area on September 3, 2008.
With the recent document dump, we have learned a great deal about the Joseph Jordan situation. In his first interview, Jordan stated that he had never searched with Laura Buchanan, even though Mort Smith, the defense PI had presented supposed TES paperwork stating so. Mr. Joseph decided to record the interview because something wasn't right to him about it. He then called the States' Attorney office and reported his actions. The recording was subsequently placed under seal by the court. None of those involved pressed charges against Jordan.
Jordan also indicated that Ms. Buchanan had called him and identified herself as LE from Kentucky and had searched with him. She encouraged him to call Jose Baez. He asked her not to call him again. Apparently, it was Buchanan who provided his contact information to the defense.
Joseph Jordan Interview 1
Joseph Jordan Interview 2
In NeJame's reply, the most important part concerning the issue is that
10. That a meeting was scheduled with a representative from Mr. Baez' office approximately 6 months ago to review and inspect all the 4,000 searcher records. This meeting was cancelled by counsel for Casey Anthony and no attempts were ever made by the defense to reschedule, although the documents have remained available throughout....
NeJame also filed another motion, RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO MODIFY THE COURT'S ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION FOR SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM FOR DOCUMENTS IN THE POSESSION OF TEXAS EQUUSEARCH.
Here, NeJame goes into more detail about Baez' cancellation of the meeting to review the TES documents. Baez had hired a company called The Presentation Group to photocopy all the documents. That option was absolutely not in Judge Strickland's order!
NeJame also indicated that Joseph Jordan's name most certainly was on the list of 32 searchers.
Again, I highly recommend reading his well-written motion to appreciate what we may hear on Monday! The hearing is scheduled for 10 AM.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Calls For Justice is very much about things near and dear to her heart, but you never know what path her feet will travel down! All of us wish her luck and are very glad she has consented to remain a contributing guest writer on T&T.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Several of you have written me about a recent online article concerning Phil Spector being assaulted while in prison. When you read something online, you always have to consider the source. For those of you who have lived in a cave the last few years, Phil Spector was convicted April 13th, 2009 of second degree murder in the shooting death of Lana Clarkson in the foyer of his mansion like home on February 3rd, 2003. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
Here are my thoughts on the article. First off, this appeared on the "Gossip" page of the NY Daily News and the source was Steven Escobar, a friend and pen-pal of Spector. What does that tell you? It was not reported on CNN, the New York Times or the Associated Press.
Secondly, this event supposedly occurred back in November or earlier of last year. If it did happen, it's very old news.
Third, the article states that back then a "spokesperson" for Spector's wife, Rachele Short initially corroborated the report but Short later denied it.
Was Spector roughed up by another inmate? Who cares? My opinion is that the entire point of the article was to mention this little blurb:
The former Playboy model also says he's excited that an album they worked on before his conviction will come out June 8. "I do lead vocals," she chirps.
"My husband is so proud of me, and I'm so proud of him for withstanding what he's withstanding."
Saturday, March 20, 2010
It came as no surprise that Judge Stan Strickland granted indigency status to Casey Anthony on Friday. Not to do so would have put the prosecution of her case in jeopardy. Nevertheless, the hearing on Thursday provided much more information about the case and how it is being pursued.
I watched the indigency hearing on Thursday, well, half-watched. The defense, in arguing their motion to have Casey declared indigent was doing battle with an attorney from the Justice Administrative Commission (JAC) who was calling in his portion of the hearing over the phone. Judge Stan Strickland tried mightily to make his questions audible. In the end, he was forced to have them taped separately from the court reporter due to terrible acoustics. The Judge could hear him and apparently the attorneys could hear. We couldn't!
In most situations, an indigency hearing is not a big deal. A person is arrested for a crime, fills out a paper, the Clerk of the Court declares the defendant indigent, and the judge essentially rubber-stamps it.
As usual, the case of Casey Anthony has to be different. When Casey Anthony was arrested on July 17, 2008, one of the first things she did was file for indigent status. In her application, Casey wrote that she had one dependent (Caylee) and had expenses of $600 a month. She wrote in and crossed out an income of $1400 a month.
However, less that 24 hours later, she had hired Jose Baez. To get an idea of how amazing this situation is, read Richard Hornsby's blog entry for December 28, 2009. In his article, entitled, Attorney of Record in Record Time, the Orlando attorney explains various theories as to how Casey could have had a private attorney in record time.
On March 25, 2009, there was a hearing in the case. Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Ashton argued in his Motion to Determine Potential Conflict of Interest, In a review of the motion the day prior to the hearing, I wrote:
This motion strikes to the heart of the mystery surrounding Casey Anthony's finances. Who is in control of her business deals? Who is signing the contracts for licensing fees for pictures and videos? What deals have been made for the future?
Essentially, that's what the State wanted to know. The following day, in a short hearing and an in camera session with the defense, Strickland pronounced himself satisfied that there was no conflict of interest.
T&T March 24, 2009
T&T March 25, 2009
Fast-forward a year, and we learn that Casey Anthony is broke and penniless having spent over a year in jail. At this point in time the defense comes forward and petitions for indigency.
The first "bombshell" of the hearing was the new defense team configuration. Veteran Orlando defense attorney Cheney Mason had joined the team. Mason, who is near retirement had been asked to join the team by Jose Baez. At this point, Casey was literally surrounded by her attorneys at the table. Present for the hearing, aside from Mr. Mason, were Jose Baez, Linda Kenney-Baden, and Andrea Lyon.
Mason, who has been referred to in the media as a "pit bull" defense attorney, is most recently remembered for the 2007 defense of quadruple murderer Nelson Serrano who was given four death sentences for his crimes.
Judge Strickland, upon addressing Mason at the beginning of the hearing said "What kept ya?".
Mason replied "(I) eventually get tired of seeing what's going on!"
With chuckles from all, Mason rose to address the court. It was immediately obvious that he was going to try and dominate the Court and establish his "good old boy" persona with the judge.
He first indicated that there was no dispute that Casey Anthony was indigent and that she deserved "entitled to the due process funding of her case". He also indicated that he was not asking for attorney's fees. He stated that he had taken the case pro bono and that there was no worry about a million dollars (which refers back to the statement he had made a while ago that he would only take on such a case for that amount). He compared her need for proper funding such as the State had for its prosecution. He referred to Mr. Wesley from the public defender's office as saying they were broke and could not handle the case.
At this point in the proceedings, Mason made clear that the financial issue would not be in open court because, "we'll deal with the necessary cost issues which we would like to take up in camera because I don't intend to argue things that has to reveal all the defense strategy to the press, to the State, or anybody else. We're entitled to do that.."
Mason continued, making the assumption that the judge was already aware that Casey was indigent. He only indicated concern with the JAC, which had stated in an un-publicized motion that they had serious concerns about Casey's real need for funding in her case.
After a lot of rapid-fire mumbling from the JAC attorney over the speaker phone and the futile attempt to fix the situation, Judge Strickland made an interesting comment to the garbled caller, that he would like to finalize "this" today so it would not require an in-person appearance by the gentleman.
Even though viewers could not hear what was being said, a very frustrating experience, Strickland finally settled on having a separate recording made to aid the court reporter. The poor lady will have to do double-duty when it comes time to transcribe this hearing!
There then ensued a long period of time when speaker-phone lawyer went on and on. The camera focused on the defense table and it was obvious there was an all-out effort to listen. At one point, Andrea Lyon could be seen shaking her head "no" and mouthing the word "no" at the same time. Judge Strickland broke the pattern by saying "Sir, you're into attorneys' fees, we're just talking about about costs here..". Sounds like the phone-attorney didn't do his homework!
About 25 minutes into the hearing, Assistant States' Attorney Frank George addressed the Court. He brought up the March, 2009 hearing concerning conflict of interest in the financial situation of the defense. He said that the amount of money discussed at that hearing didn't seem to "jive" with the amount being discussed in the hearing, that there was some money missing.
The representative from the public defender's office spoke briefly and said that there was indeed, not enough money in their budget to fund this trial. Much of what he had to say about money was difficult to hear due to poor acoustics.
Judge Strickland asked Cheney Mason if he was aware of the situation and Mason responded that he wasn't there but that he knew that the "little bit" of money that had been paid to the defense team" was all gone. He reiterated that none of the attorneys on the defense team were asking for payment from the JAC. All the defense team wanted was funding for experts, depositions, necessary travel, and "those things".
Judge Strickland pointed out to Mason that the accounting in the affidavits was "pretty thin". The only information provided by Casey Anthony in the hand-written forms was that she had personally paid Jose Baez $89,454.83 and Andrea Lyon $22,500. For sake of discussion, let's round off a bit and say that the total paid out so far in this case is indicated to be $112,000.
Mason responded that he thought that the accounting had already been done and again offered to meet in camera to explain the rest of the finances. I'm pretty sure that in the hearing last year, the judge had been apprised of the $200,000 Casey had available from the deal she had made with ABC. I would imagine that at that point in the hearing, that Strickland thought that about $78,000 from that deal was outstanding based on the affidavits. He may have known about other funds, but all of that was discussed in camera last year.
Strickland then told Mason that at this point, he was asking for public funds and that it was unclear where all the money had gone.
I'm not seeking any public funds today, judge, as I said, the lawyers are appearing pro bono, so therefore it's nobody's business about what we're doing and not doing...
Mason also indicated he thought that this business had already been taken care of, BUT... and again asked to go in camera.
Judge Strickland stated that at this point, the defense is asking for public funds and the information should be disclosed publicly in the courtroom. Mason asked the judge to "trust him" that they were broke. Strickland wisely informed Mr. Cheney that trust was one thing, the facts of the finances were another.
Mason asked for a brief break to speak to his team privately for a few minutes. Baez asked if Casey could accompany them. The judge said no, and after a few brief moments of discussing where they would meet, the defense lawyers left the court. Casey was escorted out by officers.
Lyon explained that she had worked pro bono on the case from the time that the State had decided to go for the death penalty last year and had only been paid for expenses. Lyon indicated she had spent about 1000 hours of time to the case. She also explained that she runs a clinic and raises funds to help poor people with their defense. She estimated the clinic had provided $70,000 to support the case. That amount included the money from Casey Anthony. She also stated that the clinic had no more money, was in fact "in the hole".
Lyon explained where she had spent the money. It had gone for such expenses as transportation, investigation, equipment, etc. She also indicated that she had 14 students working with her in a class. They receive grades, not a salary.
Lyon also indicated she had no book deals, movie deals, etc.
The man on the phone from the JAC had no questions. Mr. George asked for the details of the clinic. Lyon pointed out that she raises funds for the clinic, not for this case. She had expended about $70,000 on the case, less the $22,500 from Casey. George asked if she kept records. She indicated that she did. Cheney Mason said that material would be available to the Court, but not to the State.
Jose Baez was next to testify. I noticed that Mason did not ask about his legal experience as he had done with Andrea Lyon. All he asked was if Baez was an attorney licensed to practice in Florida and in good standing (with the Bar). He then asked if Baez was the lead attorney on the case. Baez responded, "for all intents and purposes". Mason asked Baez if he had represented Casey in the collateral check fraud case. Baez answered in the affirmative. Mason asked Baez if he had any knowledge of any deals in the works. To each, Baez answered, "absolutely not".
Mason then asked Baez if he had received money in the case and if he had revealed that information to Judge Strickland in camera. He then asks if there is any money left, and Baez replies, "zero". Baez then testified that he had received approximately $89,000 for all litigation and that, although he had never tracked his hours, he estimated he'd spent 2500 hours on her defense. Baez said that there was no one holding money for him and that he had asked Mason to join the team pro bono.
Baez also testified that the only lawyers who had been paid were himself and Adrea Lyon. The amount paid to him was for his fees and Andrea Lyon received only expenses. In addition, Linda Kenney-Baden had not been paid anything for her services. She was also working pro bono.
Mason asked Baez if there was any way Casey could have representation without being declared indigent. Baez responded, "I see absolutely no way that Miss Anthony can get any thorough representation unless she is declared..." at which point Mason interrupted to ask him if he could tell the judge how many scientific experts the defense would need to counter the State's experts.
There followed a long explanation by Baez of all the witnesses the State had that needed to deposed. With occasional prompts from Mason, he stated that these experts were spread out all over the country, including the searchers from Texas Equusearch. We never heard anything about how many expert witnesses the defense had!
Mason elicited again the fact that Casey Anthony had no money left, and had no knowledge of any more money available to her.
Judge Strickland pointed out that he recognized that Casey was indigent NOW, but needed a road map as to how the defense had arrived there. According to Mason, the defense had already provided a AAA route! I found that amazing because, at this point in the hearing, there was a lot of money unaccounted for. Strickland asked Mason if he had anymore questions. He said he didn't and Baez began to speak again. Strickland interrupted Baez immediately and turned the questioning to Mr. George.
To make a longer story a bit shorter, I'll get to the heart of the questioning.
When George asked about other deals, Baez indicated that he had hired an ethics attorney, Tim Chinaris, to advise him on deals that came to him.
Frank George then had an opportunity to question Baez. From his questioning, the court was informed about the sources of all the money that had been available to the defense. There was the $5000 from an anonymous donor, $70,000 from Todd Macaluso. There was $200,000 from ABC. This last bit of testimony seemed to cause Mr. Baez some pain as it took him a lot of hemming and hawing before he could say American Broadcasting Com.... Asked to repeat, he said, "ABC". Judge Strickland overcame the defense objection to speaking in open court by stating that NOW this information should be public!
George asked about the unaccounted-for money. Baez gave some vague references to where the money went, but could only state definitively that Marti McKenzie, former PR representative, had received $10,000.
When Baez finished, Linda Kenney-Baden spoke briefly and not under oath that she had a retainer agreement with Casey, but had "torn it up" since she had never received any money for the case.
With so much money being unaccounted for, Strickland decided to rule the next day and told the defense to bring in an accounting of the rest of the money Friday.
Obviously, the defense did so and the judge made his ruling. What remains to be seen is if this information will be made public.
Since the judge's decision, there has been a great deal of talk about the deal with ABC. According to Hal Boedeker, the Sentinel TV blogger, he had called ABC and had been told:
The deal was done with an attorney representing several owners of copyrighted content, ABC News spokeswoman Cathie Levine said. That attorney is Baez, she added.
Fox News reported on this situation with checkbook journalism. If Baez brokered the deal and received payment for it, he could be in trouble. I wonder if this will be investigated.
As for the new attorney, WFTV's resident legal commentator, Bill Sheafer opined:
This is the most significant event for the defense since the discovery of Caylee's body," Sheaffer said.
Cheney has tried 50 murder cases successfully and is a part of a number of anti-death penalty organizations.
"[Cheney] is a founding father of the Central Florida Criminal Defense Association," Sheaffer told WFTV. "This is a game changer."
The addition of Cheney to Casey's defense could mean there will be more changes to the team, including the dismissal of Andrea Lyon. However, that has not been announced and Lyon was in court for Thursday's hearing.
It is going to take a while for the full implications of the hearing to be known. Will Cheney Mason take over the lead, will Adrea Lyon stay on board with another death-penalty certified lawyer on the team? Will Jose Baez be willing to continue another year pro bono?
This is turning into a whole new case!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
If you want to watch the hearing here are the links provided by WFTV:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
In the meantime, Judge Stan Strickland signed an order to unseal the State's IN CAMERA SEALED MOTION TO DELAY DISCLOSURE.
The internet had been buzzing about the possible contents of the sealed motion for quite a while. I had been opining with my friends on all the possibilities. My hope had been that it was something totally new, and I got my wish!
Here is a brief summary of the motion:
1. The OSCO was informed by an inmate in the same jail as Casey Anthony that she and Casey had been in contact while in jail.
2. When interviewed on January 22, 2010, the inmate "relayed potentially relevant statements by the Defendant, and gave the name of another inmate who also had communication with the Defendant."
3. On January 27, the other inmate, who is now in a Federal Prison, was interviewed. She said that she had about 50 letters from Casey Anthony. She gave LE the name of the person who had posession of the letters.
5. The State's Attorneys for the case read the letters and found that they appear to have relevant statements. NONE of the statements is a confession.
6. To avoid future accusations of misconduct by the OCSO, the State Attorney asked the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) to conduct the investigation.
7. The inmate explained how the correspondence came about and that it wasn't at the behest of LE. She also indicated that an Orange County Corrections officer may have helped in the communications.
Based on what I heard at the very end of the hearing today, I would expect the defense to file a motion for a protective order to have the letters sealed by the court.
Now, we can all start to opine as to what Casey wrote!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Things are popping like crazy in the Casey Anthony case. Friday, WFTV's Kathi Belich broke news about an affair between George Anthony and one of the women who originally volunteered with KidFinders. Personally, I have very little interest in the affair, but it will be interesting to see if the woman has any information that will add to the prosecution of the case. We are all waiting for the other shoe Ms. Belich reported will be dropped.
Last night there was a fascinating blog cast featuring Richard Hornsby and Rozzi Franco hosted by Steff Watts. While I don't necessarily agree with everything that was said, it is worth a listen because they have quite a bit to say about possible reasons for the "bombshell" delivered by WFTV and the indigency situation.
Last Friday, I reported on the indigency status hearing to be heard this coming Thursday at 11 AM. The previous day, there were posts discussing the new motions filed by the defense concerning heresay and photographs.
In the meantime, I've been printing out all the motions, reading them, writing about them, and filing them. Somewhere along the line, I ended up with a pile of motions concerning TexasEquusearch and the desire of the defense team to obtain every record for the 4,000 plus searchers who looked for Caylee in 2008.
From the moment Caylee Marie Anthony's sad remains were identified in December, 2008, the defense has been trying to gather as much "proof" that somebody else placed the remains in the swampy area. The first two motions, filed January 7, 2009 and January 21, 2009 were tossed by Judge Strickland due to lack of jurisdiction and overly broad request for information about searchers.
The defense waited until July 16, 2009 to file the next motion. By this time, the motion was written in a way that could be considered by the court. The same day, I posted an article about the history of the defense vs. TES. Read it here for a mind-refresher.
The motion was considered at the July 21 hearing. Judge Strickland made no ruling at the time, and entertained a compromise made by Mark NeJame, Miller's attorney. In the judge's ORDER, published on August 27, he allowed for the following:
1. Tim Miller would not be declared a material witness as he was willing to come to Florida and be deposed.
2. Casey Anthony would be responsible for the costs of the deposition.
3. The records of the 32 searchers mentioned at the July 21 hearing would be made available to both the State and the defense.
4. The remainder of the 4000 documents could be reviewed in NeJame's offices and other possible searchers withing 200 yard of the remains site could be flagged and brought to the judge for consideration.
5. No notes, photographs or copies would be taken and there would be no disclosure of newly-discovered searchers would be released until approved by the Court.
6. The defense would be liable for costs of monitoring the proceedings.
This is pretty much where the situation remained until November 23, 2009. The defense filed a MOTION TO MODIFY THE COURT'S ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION FOR SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM FOR DOCUMENTS IN THE POSESSION OF TEXAS EQUUSEARCH.
November 23 was also the day that the defense filed a veritable blizzard of motions and this one ended up on the bottom of the stack!
This is the motion in which the defense stated that "through their own independent investigation" had found and interviewed "several searchers who not only searched the area where the remains were found, but who were not among the thirty-two (32) identified by TES." The motion indicated that this vital information had been withheld from the defense! The Memorandum of Law went on to name Joseph Jordan and Laura Buchanan as two of the searchers and included affidavits from both.
Since then, it has been wide reported that Joseph Jordan had some bad feelings about the telephone interview he was giving to the defense PI and surreptitiously and illegally recorded it and immediately reported this to the State's Attorney's Office. At the hearing on December 11,
Judge Strickland sealed the tape, for the time being.
As for Laura Buchanan, her affidavit indicated that she did not search the area with TES, rather, she and some others went there on their own.
In February of 2010, the defense filed a motion based on Mark NeJame's appearance on Orlando News 13. In part, the motion says that
...In that interview, Mr. NeJame made several statements regarding Miss Anthony's pending Motion seeking records from TES... Also it is reported that, "NeJame allowed News 13 to examine reports and notes taken by EquuSearch volunteers...
The disclosure by Mr. Ne Jame of those records, including volunteer names and phone numbers, seriously undercuts the argument made by TES against giving them to Miss Anthony...
Being that TES is no longer concerned about the "chilling effect on volunteerism" and has taken to actively allow (sic) media access to its records, there is no reason to prevent disclosure to Miss Anthony as well.
NeJame fired back with a response the next day.
The motion begins with NeJame stating that
The Defendant's motion is inaccurate and lacking in demonstrating any proper investigation or due diligence prior to its filing...
Nejame indicated that had Baez done a proper inquiry, he would have been aware that Adam Longo, the reporter had been allowed limited perusal of the 32 records given to the prosecution and the defense. He also said that the 4000 other records were stored in a facility 15 miles from his office.
Longo was not allowed to take notes and only viewed the documents to see what types of information they contained. NeJame also pointed out that no specific information had been disclosed to the public. Longo also assured NeJame that he had been in contact with Baez and had explained the same information to him.
The motion goes into some detail, but at the heart of the motion, NeJame says that
At the time of the filing this response, counsel for the Defendant, Jose Baez has failed to withdraw his inappropriate and inaccurate motion which misrepresents the facts and is wholly and completely erroneous and misleading.
NeJame closes the motion by asking for the the judge to
...assess attorney's fees against the counsel for the Defendnt, especially since he has been advised of the inaccuracy of his motion and has failed to take any remedial action. He has caused unnecessary attorney time and Court time to be wasted,, especially since he has been fully advised of its misrepresentations and inaccuracies and nevertheless continues to proceed.
There is another document concerning TES that was not made available by the media. It was filed by NeJame on February 2, 2010. It is a NOTICE OF ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS IN THE POSSESSION OF TEXAS EQUUSEARCH. Thanks to Muzikman, who got this document directly from the court!
The notice is to inform the court that during an interview between Tim Miller and members of the OCSO in Texas. At that time, Miller did a thorough search of his office and found "a few" records that had been overlooked in the first search. NeJame also indicated that the TES office is staffed by one volunteer and that there had been no attempt to hide any documents. The documents involved did not seem to include anyone who had searched within the area near Hidden Oaks Elementary School and were placed with the rest of the searcher records.
The "bombshell" with this document is the manner in which NeJame indicates that there was no harm made to Casey Anthony's case. And I quote!
9. That pursuant to this Honorable Court's Order, Jose Baez, counsel for defendant, Casey Anthony, was similarly afforded the opportunity to come to the offices of undersigned and review and inspect all 4,000 files. He was to be held to the same conditions as the State and Mr. Conway. He could not record or copy any of the files but if any files were identified as being in the proximity of where Caylee Marie Anthony was found, then he could similarly tab and identify them. We would then bring them before this Honorable Court where their relevancy and materiality could be ruled on by the court.
10. That a meeting was scheduled with a representative from Mr. Baez' office approximately 6 months ago to review and inspect all the 4,000 searcher records. This meeting was cancelled by counsel for Casey Anthony and no attempts were ever made by the defense to reschedule, although the documents have remained available throughout....
Do take the opportunity to read this entire document!
There is one final document in the saga of TES. Filed on March 10, it is Mark NeJame's RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO MODIFY THE COURT'S ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION FOR SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM FOR DOCUMENTS IN THE POSESSION OF TEXAS EQUUSEARCH.
The seven page document essentially outlines the judge's order from August 27, 2009. At the same time, it points out exact details about a number of the issues, including that of the Laura Buchanan situation. The document makes very clear Mr. Nejame's frustration with Mr. Baez. I strongly recommend reading the entire document for yourself. I am just going to excerpt a few pieces for you here because they clearly outline what will probably be one dynamite hearing.
2. ... it was not until approximately three weeks later on September 18, 2009, a member of the Baez Law Firm... finally contacted the undersigned's office to make an appointment to come by and review the aforementioned documents. .... the undersigned's office was informed by the Baez Firm that they were not sending a member of its firm over to review the documents but were in fact going to send "The Presentation Group" instead. "The Presentation Group" was determined to be a document copying company, which was to come and copy all the documents from all of the files. Upon learning this, Mr. Baez' representative was informed that their request was contrary to the directives, instructions an dictate as was set forth in this honorable Court's Order of August 27th, 2009 and would not be acceptable...
3. Thereafter, for the next approximately 4 months, Mr. Baez' office has never contacted undersigned counsel...
Paragraph 4 indicates that 18 days after the canceled meeting, nobody from Baez' office had come to pick up the documents concerning the 32 searchers. When NeJame called Baez' office, he was told to fax them over. Instead, NeJame had the documents delivered to his office so that there could be no claim that they had not received the documents. NeJame also points out that the information was sensitive and should not be faxed anyway.
5. The Defendant, through her counsel, has alleged that "Joe Jordan's name was not among the thirty-two (32) searchers identified by TES and none of his reports were disclosed to the defense." This is a misrepresentation of the facts as Mr. Jordan's name and signature are on the Field Activity Form 08-895 dated September 1, 2008, which was hand delivered to counsel for defendant.
8. ... They haphazardly filed the Motion to Modify the Court's Order ...
9. ...A simple visit to the undersigned's office and a perusal of the documents would have illuminated the correct information...
Finally, here is probably my favorite snips from the motion. They appear in the final paragraph.
10... The Defendant, through her counsel, is unnecessarily wasting this Honorable Court's time, the taxpayer's money and the undersigned's resources by filling these frivolous motions.
...However, it is counsel for Defendant who has frustrated and circumvented these efforts, while attempting to shirk his responsibilities and blame others for his inaction...
...TES respectfully asks this Honorable Court to assess attorney's fees against the counsel for the Defendant, especially since he has been advised of the inaccuracy of the defendant's motion and has failed to take any remedial actions.
There we have it! NeJame has had it "up to here" with Baez and his letting him know that he won't take it anymore.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Phil Spector Appeal: Opening Brief
It will take quite some time for me to read this document and cross reference the relevant points to my trial coverage. Understand that I don't have a copy of the transcript covering the first or second trial to reference, only my layman's notes so I am somewhat at a disadvantage.
I welcome any help (via E-mail only please) that you, our T&T readers can give me regarding your thoughts on the merits of the defense arguments in this motion.
Remember, the five women who testified against Spector in both trials are considered "Prior Bad Acts" or, 1101(b) witnesses. From my understanding it was ruled they could testify because their testimony would prove identity as well as "common plan or scheme." From my understanding, the defense argues that all of the these witnesses were really character evidence against Spector ( and should not have been allowed) because the common plan or scheme is not the same because Spector never fired a weapon at anyone before. (Keep in mind, all arguments in the appeal are limited to what was/is admissible at trial and not whether Spector really did fire at someone or not.)
I've been told that there is a difficult to define line between "character evidence" and "common plan or scheme."
Friday, March 12, 2010
The appellate brief is B216425. The LA County District Attorney’s office is not involved in the appeal. That’s handled by the Attorney General’s office. The appellate court’s web site indicates the response from the Attorney General’s office is due Friday, April 9th, 2010. With such a lengthy brief, I would not be surprised if there are filings for extensions to respond by the Attorney General’s office.
For those of you living in the dark ages, Lana Clarkson was killed in the foyer of Spector’s mansion during the early morning hours of February 3rd, 2003. Spector’s first trial ended in a hung jury and declared a mistrial. He was convicted in his second trial on April 13th, 2009 and sentenced on May 29th, 2009. He received a sentence of 19 years to life. I covered a good portion of the first trial and every day of the second trial here on Trials & Tribulations.
A big thank you to the T&T readers who wrote me to let me know that the appeal had been filed.
Continue reading here.......
The Associated Press
Known popularly as the Pauper to Princess Motion, the State was concerned about possible conflict of interest between attorney Jose Baez and business deals relating to Casey Anthony's then-current riches.
After an in-camera meeting with the defense, Judge Strickland stated he was satisfied with the defense's presentation and the motion went no further.
Since that time, it has been noted that the defense was constantly discussing the costs of various expenses. Noteworthy among them was the statement by Andrea Lyon at the latest hearing that perhaps Casey Anthony could be declared indigent for purposes of the deposition of Jill Kerley, Roy Kronk's ex-wife.
Fast-forward almost a year, and Casey Anthony has filed for indigency. Based on the form she filled out, Casey was deemed indigent by the Clerk of the Court.
Today, the Orlando Sentinel has reported that
An attorney for the Tallahassee-based Justice Administrative Commission questioned Anthony's need for public money for her defense on a first-degree murder charge because she already has paid out more than $110,000 in legal fees, according to a document filed with the Orange County Circuit Court and obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
The most interesting part of the article states that
In its response to Anthony's request, Lake said attorneys must submit an affidavit attesting to the estimated amount of attorney's fees and the source of payment for those fees.
The key work here is SOURCES. Now, we may find out more about where Casey got her money and why there is not more available for her defense.
The hearing for indigency is set for Thursday, March 18, at 11:00 AM. This could be very interesting, indeed.
I will post any documents concerning this latest news HERE as it becomes available.
How is Casey Paying Baez? Hearing Tomorrow
Chalk one up for Jose Baez?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I have had some legal training with some fine attorneys, but I am mainly an educator with a firm grip on the use of the English language. When I read the motions, I focus mainly on the common sense as well as all I have learned through training, research, and many hours of trial watching and reporting.
That being said, I can assure you that I have no crystal ball as to the outcome of these motions. I do have a feeling, however, that the results will be a mixed bag.
The first motion, the Omnibus Motion To Exclude Heresay Evidence, Gossip, And Innuendo is accompanied by a Memorandum Of Law and a 24-page table of Compiled Hearsay Statements. This is unlike anything I have ever heard of. The defense obviously set their student volunteers to reading every document, every interview,every deposition submitted in discovery, the transcripts of Cindy Anthony's 911 calls and combed them for every possible heresay statement! If you go to the link, rotate the text and read a few items, you will get the general idea.
Now, in the motion, the defense admits that there are exceptions to the heresay rule, but wants the judge to rule all these or many of these statements inadmissible in court. Somehow, I don't thing that is going to happen.
First, Linda Drane Burdick and Jeff Ashton, are fine attorneys who know how to deal with heresay! In addition, not everything that is in the interviews and depositions will be brought up at trial. If so, the trial could take years and years. Also, most of the information on the chart can be brought into the trial by asking the appropriate witness.
For example, on the third page of the chart, there are two of statements that Yuri Melich made to Leonard Turtora concerning phone calls he made to Cindy Anthony and possibly Zenaida Gonzalez. Well, why on earth would any self-respecting attorney ask Turtora what Melich did when Melich himself is a witness in the case? One of the two is labeled "double heresay" because it is assumed that Melich told Turtora what Cindy said. Come trial time, Drane Burdick or Ashton could ask (if it was necessary in trial) who he called. While Melich probably can't say what Cindy told him, he can say what he did as a result of the call.
Second, I can't imagine Judge Strickland holding a marathon hearing and going through those 24 pages of supposed heresay and hearing arguments on each item.
The most amazing part of the motion and memorandum comes in when discussing Cindy Anthony's 911 calls. The defense wants them out of the case for very understandable reasons. I am surprised, however, that they have not asked to have the very first phone call excluded as well! In that call, Cindy inadvertently broadcasts her threat to take custody of Caylee as well as accusing Casey of auto theft and thefts for which she has bank records. The phone calls the defense references are actually the 2nd and 3rd calls.
At this point, it would be a good idea to listen to the all 3 phone calls to refresh your memory.
The discussion of the calls begins on page 4 and continues on for a few more pages. I'd highly recommend reading all the text, but I'll pull out some snips and pieces for the sake of the discussion. I will also omit references and just include the basic text.
Cynthia Anthony's calls were made under calm circumstances. She informed the 911 operator that she wanted her daughter to be arrested for stealing money and a car that had already been returned. (pp. 4-5)
Actually, the "first" call was relatively calm. Cindy would later state that she was just trying to "scare" Casey into telling her where Caylee was.
By the "second" call, Cindy had learned that Caylee had been missing for 31 days and that the nanny supposedly kidnapped her. I believe at this point Cindy finally put the putrid odor and her missing granddaughter into perspective and totally panicked . Nevertheless, the defense writes,
Cynthia Anthony is more agitated and upset during this call. Bet despite the fact that she says she just found out that her granddaughter had been taken and is missing, the fact remains that the child had been missing for a month and Cynthia Anthony was aware of that fact. (p. 5)
Hello? Cindy had just learned that the child had been supposedly kidnapped! Yes, she was aware that Caylee had been out of the house for a month... but kidnapped?
There is nothing the police can respond to at the house, as the child has already been missing for a long period of time. They can only ask what happened to establish facts about the crime. (p. 5)
There was something the police could do and they did respond to at the house. That's why all those police officers came to Hopespring Drive to interview Casey. By the next morning, the detectives had a rather large number of facts about the crime, all of them lies by the missing child's mother. When the defense later goes into some details that a "nanny" was named as the suspect, the defense nicely leaves out the fact that when Cindy reported the situation she thought the "nanny" was the criminal and it turned out that it was her daughter who was charged with the crime. It's called karma!
Factors a judge should consider to determine whether the necessary excitement or stress is present are the age of the declarant, the physical and mental condition of the defendant, the characteristics of the event and the subject matter of the statements. Cindy Anthony is not a child, in good physical and mental health, and even though she found out upsetting news the subject matter of the calls are things she had been dealing with for some time. The same considerations are true for Casey Anthony, and though she is younger she was not in danger of any physical harm at the time of making the call and calmly explained the events to the 911 operator. (p. 7)
The defense has clearly shown what their strategy at trial is going to be in this little snippet. They indicate that Cindy, as a well-balanced, healthy, mature adult could easily swallow the concept of her granddaughter being missing so that the second call, while somewhat stressful, is not an excited utterance!
As for Casey's lack of concern when speaking to the 911 operator, the defense attributes that to the fact that she's known her daughter has been missing for a month! Unbelievable.
I have a feeling we will soon have a motion to bar Casey's first call home because Casey knows police are on the case and it is normal for her to want to talk to her boyfriend!
I don't think this motion will get past the judge...
The next motion is the Motion To Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony. The defense is attempting to keep out any information that would show Casey in a bad light.
2. In these interviews, law enforcement repeatedly solicited--and Miss Anthony's friends and acquaintances repeatedly offered--their opinions as to Miss Anthony's overall character, motives and undisclosed intentions, and character for truthfulness.
The motion continues by saying that some of the people who spoke to LE went to the media and spoke of Casey's character. The memorandum that is attached to the motion goes into details about the situation, specifically mentioning media appearances or statements made by Jesse Grund, Chris Stutz, Amy Huizenga, and Rick Plesea, Cindy Anthony's brother.
In addition, the toss in Yuri Melich. Do you remember the interview at Universal? Melich and John Allen confront Casey over all the lies she told them. The fact is, Casey admits that she lied, although she doesn't back off from the Zanny the Nanny story.
As with the "heresay" motion, there are probably items in this motion that the judge might grant. I doubt any witness would be able to attribute a motivation to the crime. That's the prosecution's job! The motive will be thick in opening and closing arguments, no doubt about it. They aren't testimony.
As for Casey's propensity for lying. I can't imagine how this will never come out at trial. She lied to the police, she lied to her friends, she lied to everyone. She lied about Sawgrass, she lied about getting the house, she lied about her whereabouts. Probably the best witness to Casey's lies will actually be her mother, who, almost incessantly told LE and the State Casey's various cover stories. Lying was (and probably still is) a way of life for her. Even Judge Strickland indicated such when, at the bond hearing, he said, "The truth and Ms. Anthony are strangers".
The last motion filed yesterday was the Motion To Exclude Irrelevant Evidence of Party Pictures with the Memorandum Supporting Party Picture Motion. This is a more typical motion one would expect in such a trial. The defense clearly doesn't want all the party pictures of Casey allowed into evidence. Their reasons are quite clear as indicated in the memorandum.
The photographs at issue in this case depict Miss Anthony drinking alcohol, wearing revealing clothing, and dancing on stages at nightclubs. They also depict her in close contact with a number of different men and women as she dances. Some of the photos depict Miss Anthony at a party, wearing nothing but an American flag costume. Still others depict Miss Anthony appearing to be intoxicated. These photographs do not bear on a single issue in this case. Their only value is to paint a picture to the jury of an irresponsible, drunken, promiscuous, and wild defendant. (p. 4)
The defense indicates that the Fusian pictures are not even necessary as witnesses can attest to Casey Anthony's presence there and her behavior.
The judge will certainly not allow in every single photo that has been in the media. It wouldn't surprise me if allows one or two from Fusian. He will have to way the probative value of the pictures allowed in as compared to the prejudicial value to the defendant.
Well, we're on to the release of more documents tomorrow! I'm sure we are all anxious to see what the Sunshine Laws have to offer up.
Monday, March 8, 2010
The first motion was filed at the very end of the business day on Friday, March 5. Unfortunately, there were some pages missing, so the defense had to re-submit the papers on Monday, March 8.
The Defendant's Motion For Determination Of Indigency For Costs indicates that Casey Anthony's coffers have run dry and that she has received no income while she has been incarcerated.
This point interests me very much, since Casey was only out on bail for a limited amount of time after her initial arrest on July 16, 2008. Did she make whatever deals she made while out on the bail paid by Leonard Padilla, or did it occur later on when she was out on bail prior to her October 14, 2008 arrest for murder? Whatever the case, she made her money early on by selling photographs and videos of her daughter. Those were her only assets.
The motion is replete with representation of Andrea Lyon's expenses and her pro bono status in the case.
5. Here, as Ms. Lyon appears pro bono, Ms. Anthony only seeks a determination of indigency to cover the costs necessary to ensure adequate assistance of counsel and due process of law.
Ms. Lyon already has a day job as a professor at DePaul University. Judge Strickland has been very amenable to holding hearings on the case when Ms. Lyon does not have to teach. She did have to have someone to cover her for the hearing on January 25, when Casey plead guilty to check fraud charges.
8. The Affidavit of Attorney's Fees from Miss Anthony... indicates that the $22,500 has been paid to Ms. Lyon has been used directly to cover these costs... such as transcripts, travel, and investigation. Ms. Lyon has not received any fees. She has been and continues to appear pro bono.
Based on this information, it would appear that, in the future, these expenses will be paid by the State of Florida. We've already seen that Ms. Lyon needs to be at every hearing in the case as she is the lead attorney. Mort Smith has also been in frequent attendance at the hearings. The costs of housing and feeding them, the flights from Illinois, the phone bills and travel expenses for the PI, etc., etc., will be from public funds. During the actual trial, these bills will be huge!
9. ... the court shall consider the amount of any attorney's fees and who is paying the fees. Given that Ms. Lyon has never received fee, and Miss Anthony is indigent, the request for costs necessary to ensure an adequate defense is reasonable.
One does have to wonder why Baez couldn't find a death-penalty qualified attorney in Florida. One who lived in the Orlando area would have been optimal. I would bet that it is more expensive to shuttle in an attorney and her PI from Illinois to Orlando than it would be to pay fees to a local attorney.
12. Over the past ten months, Ms. Lyon has built relationships with experts and worked with investigators in order to provide Miss Anthony the unique standard of care required, and to facilitate the relationship between Ms. Lyon and Miss Anthony -- a relationship that is the very foundation of adequate assistance.
Again, Baez seems to feel that he needs to justify Ms. Lyon's position as lead counsel. Does he think that Linda Drane Burdick or Jeff Ashton will challenge her being imported for the trial?
I don't for a moment resent that Casey Anthony has a stellar death-penalty attorney. I want her to have the best, I want her to have someone so competent that there can ever be later appeals based on ineffective counsel.
As for himself, Baez says very little.
11. Mr. Baez has been representing Miss Anthony for over a year and a half. He has expended many hours ensuring that she have adequate and effective representation...
In an affidavit filed along with the motion, Casey Anthony states that Baez has already been paid $89,454.83. Considering the amount of time he has spent on the case and the expenses he has had, I would assume that a good chunk of that money did not go to Baez's fees. We'll probably find out more after the trial is over.
There is one thing I find unusual in the motion. There is no mention of attorney Linda Kenney-Baden. She is supposed to be the attorney who will be dealing with expert witnesses. She has made appearances in court and has a retainer contract with Casey Anthony. Has she been paid fees and expenses?
Every expert attorney in the media has said that this motion will be granted by Judge Strickland. Obviously, somebody has to pay, and Casey has no money. Even in the Scott Peterson trial, where his parents plunked down a cool million for the services of Mark Geragos, he ended up in the same situation. We all had to know this was coming.
The positive here is that from now on the defense will have to live with oversight on the expenses. The state will pay the bills, but on their own scale of payments.
In other news today, it was announced that the defense had filed a Motion In Limine concerning the admissibility of certain evidence in the case. Since the motion was filed later in the day, I have yet to get a copy. Hopefully, it will be out tomorrow.
The Orlando Sentinel has reported this evening on the motion. Here are some snippets from the article.
Casey Anthony's defense team doesn't want a jury to see the "party girl" pictures of the 23-year-old, fearing the photos would "inflame the jury" against her.
Her attorneys argue the photos have caused a "hostile reaction" by the public, according to the motion.
"The issue in this case is whether or not Miss Anthony committed first-degree murder of her daughter," her attorneys Andrea Lyon and Jose Baez wrote in the motion. "These photographs add nothing to the resolution of that issue."
Her legal team wants to keep out the 911 calls made by Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, the day she reported Caylee missing. Cindy Anthony told a dispatcher that she found her daughter's car and it smells like there's been a "dead body" in it.
The defense's third request involves asking the judge to bar prosecutors at trial from eliciting "lay opinion" testimony about Casey Anthony's character or motives. Many witnesses have offered to testify to Casey Anthony's inability to tell the truth — a move the defense wants out.
Right now, I'm thinking "probative value" and "prejudice" until I get my hands on the actual motion.
Stay tuned to T&T for coverage of that motion.
Application For Criminal Indigent Status
More details when the documents are available!
We've also been hearing that the next set of documents should be made public on Wednesday.
Check back with T&T for the actual documents as they become available.
Depositions of expert witnesses (State), September 30, 2010
Evidence review by defense expert witnesses, October 31, 2010
Expert witness list (defense), November 30, 2010
Depositions of expert witnesses by defense, February 28, 2011
Motions related to forensic/scientific evidence to be heard by February 28, 2011
Depositions of LE officers/employees, September 30, 2010
Non-forensic/scientific evidentiary motions to be files by October 31, 2010 and heard no later than January 31, 2011
All other witnesses are to be listed by August 31, 2010
Depositions of all other witnesses by October 31, 2010
All other non-forensic/scientific motions filed by and heard by January 31, 2011
Discovery schedule for penalty phase witnesses will be addressed in June 2010
Trial date, May 9, 2011
There is also a General Discovery Order:
Once a witness becomes known to the Defendant, she shall decide within 30 days whether the witness will be listed... In no event shall any witness be listed or deposed, by either party, outside the time limits provided in this order. In the absence of a stipulation, it will be the burden of the listing or deposing party to show good cause for any delay to this Court.
It looks like it's going to be a LONG and BUSY year!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
OK, we all know very well there is a gag order in the Melissa Huckaby case, but some disturbing news has been circulating recently that has me worried that total justice for Sandra Cantu may get circumvented.
The Tracy Police Department has begun an internal review to determine if any investigative rules were broken by detectives. Apparently, one of the detectives, Nate Cogburn, made a comment to Melissa Huckaby when she was being questioned on April 10, 2009. Because of the gag order we haven't been told what the comment was, but it may have led to Huckaby incriminating herself which led to her arrest. Whatever Huckaby uttered, it was used in several search warrents.
Prosecutor Tom Testa sent a memo to defense attorney Sam Behar saying several detectives were being looked at though it is not known how many. The investigation was filed January 21 and led to Behar requesting more time to prepare for the February 16 hearing. Ultimately, the hearing was delayed.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 29 at which time Behar will try to suppress some evidence that could be used in the upcoming trial or ask the judge to toss out key evidence.
Maybe the internal investigation will prove nothing untoward and we are erring on the side of caution to avoid appeal issues down the road - I just don't know.
Then, news today that an appeals court overturned the convictions of two men in a 2004 fatal stabbing case.
Among errors, the judge allowed the prosecution to characterize Frankie Joe Prater and Robert Kenneth Memory as Jus Brothers with ties to the notorious Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled. The pair were convicted in what amounted to "guilt by association," the 61-page decision says. The prosecutor called them members of a criminal gang, but never proved it, the ruling says.
The "irrelevant, inflammatory evidence harmed the defendants' credibility," the appellate ruling says. It adds that "absent the error, it is reasonably probable they would have received a better result."
Any guesses who was the presiding judge was? None other than San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus who is currently presiding over the Melissa Huckaby case!
Maybe all will be well and little Sandra and her family will get the justice they so deserve, but I'm getting nervous.
And, that's my opinion!
Tracy police investigating Cantu detectives
Detectives In Cantu Case Investigated
Convictions overturned in 2004 fatal stabbing case
Friday, March 5, 2010
WKMG is reporting about this long-awaited catastrophe.
Bold is mine:
Defense attorneys for Casey Anthony have filed a motion requesting that the court declare her indigent and have the taxpayers shoulder some of the cost of her defense.
Jose Baez filed the paperwork at 5 p.m. Friday. He is asking Judge Stan Strickland to declare Anthony indigent for costs, meaning she does not have the money to fund her defense.
Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee.
Anthony has already paid Baez and death penalty expert Andrea Lyon $111,954, but Baez said that is not enough to give Anthony the defense she needs, and taxpayers should make up the difference.
Nearly $90,000 of the amount was used for Baez's fees, the remainder covered Lyon's costs. She is working on the case for free.
Baez said Anthony, 23, was willing to pay for her defense until the state put the death penalty back on the table, making her unable to cover the expense.
The motion asks the state to cover the cost of depositions, transcripts, investigators, legal research, expert witness fees, medical or mental examinations, travel expenses and other costs the defense has or will incur.
Legal experts said defending a complex death penalty murder case like Anthony's can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially when potential witnesses and experts are dispersed around the country.
Baez estimated the total cost of defending Anthony will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If Strickland signs the order, Florida taxpayers will pick up the bill for the defense costs, but not the defense fees.
Now, I have to ask... If Baez is claiming that the defense has spent $111,954 for the defense so far, and about $21,954 was for Andrea Lyon's expenses and the rest for Baez's fees, has the defense ever paid anyone else for their services?
Is the State of Florida to pay Dominic Casey the $90,000 he claims is owed to him? How many other "unpaid experts" have not had their expenses covered? It would seem so from what the article had to say.
Of course, Baez blames the reinstatement of the death penalty for the problem. However, the death penalty was reinstated April 13, 2009!
What Baez is saying here is that for the past 10+ months, the defense expense fund has been running on empty, with the exception of his fees and Andrea Lyon's expenses.
As an attorney, Baez should have had Casey declared indigent from day one of this case. Casey had even filled out the form prior to hiring Baez!
There has always been a great deal of speculation as to how the defense was being funded. A hearing held March 25, 2009 was instigated by a motion by the state to investigate the funding of the defense and the possible conflict of interest for the defense attorney. Read HERE for what that motion entailed. The judge was apparently satisfied that everything was okay after an in camera session with the defense.
I also find this new development fascinating because the motion apparently does not include Mr. Baez's fees.
When the issue first came up, it was pointed out that if Casey were to be declared indigent, the defense would have to open up the books to prove their case.
I have a few questions and hope you all have some ideas!
Will Baez have to produce his books to get the expenses?
Will he have to justify his $90,000 in fees?
Will he be able to withhold his fees from the case for indigence?
I am so looking forward to actually seeing this motion and I hope that Mr. Hornsby or Mr. Sheafer will fill in some of the blanks.
Vanessa Coleman, the only female charged in the Christian-Newsom case, was once again before Judge Richard Baumgartner for another pre-trial hearing.
Her attorneys, Ted Lavit and Russell Greene, are arguing to bar Coleman's statements to federal authorities from the trial. They claim that Coleman was questioned for two hours before authorities turned on a tape recorder.
Prosecutors Leland Price and Takisha Fitzgerald countered that Coleman was declining protective custody and saying she wanted to go home to Kentucky and that she wasn't being questioned during those two hours.
But, the real bombshell in today's hearing is the fact that "Nessie" apparently kept a journal and may have memorialized the crimes against Channon Christian and Chris Newsom and Price and Fitzgerald want to use it against her.
Needless to say, Lavit argued the prosecution has to prove the journal is hers and is relevant to the trial.
Baumgartner responded by brandishing a photograph of the journal in a purse prosecutors say belonged to Coleman.
"You mean the photograph of her purse with the journal in it?" Baumgartner told Lavit, a note of sarcasm in his voice.
"A purse," Lavit replied.
"It's got her stuff in it," prosecutor Leland Price countered.
The journal has not been made public so we don't know what's in it, however it appears to be loaded with references to the 2007 murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.
"I've read it, and it certainly seems to be relevant to this incident," Baumgartner said.
Talk about your jaw dropping, holy cow moment!
This could crack this case wide open and as tough as it will be for the families, they may finally know exactly what happened to their kids. Also, I certainly wonder if we will find out Eric Boyd's full participation in the crimes and will the other sources of DNA be revealed?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
If defense attorneys Tom Dillard and Stephen Ross' mitigating circumstances were to be believed, Judge Richard Baumgartner should show leniency in sentencing George Thomas on the lesser charges in the Christain-Newsom kidnap, rapes, and murders.
You see, while his mom was hard working and struggling to support her family, his father was a crack addict. His father was abusive and beat him as a child which explains Thomas' history of thefts and drug use and ultimately placed him at the Chipman Street house of horrors.
While there was no forensic evidence tying Thomas to the crimes, he admits to being at the Chipman Street house and additional testimony placed him there at the time of the crimes. Eventually, Thomas was sentenced to life without parole.
Today, Judge Baumgartner 'stacked' the two life sentences given by a jury in December. He also handed down another 25 years for lesser charges which will run concurrently with the life sentences.
Prosecutor Leland Price told Judge Baumgartner that Thomas was just as culpable as Cobbinss and Davidson and that just because Chris was murdered it didn't mean Channon had to die. Price said a message needs to be sent to this community!
Judge Baumgartner agreed and said, "I'm of the opinion Mr. Thomas along with Mr. Cobbins and Mr. Davidson are dangerous offenders who had no hesitation, absolutely none, when these two young people were raped and killed."
Baumgertner also said, “Mr. Thomas, you are the kind of individual who should not be out on the street forever with the rest of us.”
We also got a brief glimpse into Judge Baumgartner's mind. “I’ve had to sit here and listen to the evidence and see the photographs, and it affected me just like it does other people,” he said. “The difference is I have a job to do. I believe, and will take it to my death bed, we have the best justice system in the world. … I will continue to the best of my ability to uphold the law and ensure people get a fair trial.”