Thursday, March 31, 2011
Linda Burdick and Jeff Ashton represented the State and Cheney Mason represented his client without his co-counsel, Jose Baez. I must say, the tone of this hearing was quite pleasant and at times jovial (on the part of Cheney Mason).
Cheney Mason began by lightheartedly stating that this hearing wouldn't take long since there wasn't much disagreement with the State.
Mason said that he was voluntarily striking proposed witness Sharon Cadieux. She has not been cooperative with either side about giving depositions.
The State agreed to add the remaining three witnesses: Kenneth Lewis, Daniel Kondos, and Patricia Young. These witnesses have already been deposed by the State.
Jeff Ashton said that Drs. Danzinger and Weitz will be deposed next week, on April 7. He pointed out that the issue could be taken up at the status hearing on April 8. He said that the State had the reports, but need to figure them out as they were "rather limited."
At that point, Judge Perry said "You mean those two letters?" Both he and Ashton compared papers, and indeed, "those two letters" were the reports.
Judge Perry called the attorneys to the sidebar to discuss April 8.
According to the judge, they were all done.
Jeff Ashton informed the Court that he had prepared a CD for court and counsel 236 pictures they intend to use at trial. He indicated that some of the photographs contain pictures of the remains which have been sealed. He said he would give the defense a copy so that they can organize their objections.
Judge Perry indicated that April 18-25 would be a time for housekeeping when they could go over photos, final motions, and objections. He also said this all could possibly be done sooner than that.
Perry said that he will rule on the spoliation/trash issues. Ashton said that he hadn’t replied to one of them. Ashton did reply to the motion on the stain in the car (seemingly authored by Lawson Lamar). He did not reply to the concerning the smell in the trunk.
Jeff Ashton indicated that the "Vass" issue was incomplete. The defense has yet to put their witnesses on the stand. They should be Drs. Logan and Furton.
Ashton stated that the only motion finished was hair banding. (We do have that defense motion, which was submitted on the 29th.)
Apparently, there will be no testimony on spoliation.
There was no mention of the heart-shaped sticker motion.
Judge Perry indicated that he hoped that all the testimony could be heard tomorrow and gave the attorneys a choice. The Burdick and Ashton said that 9:00 would be fine and Mason made a funny when he said (to be contrary, I'm sure) that he should say 8:30. Tomorrow will start at 9:00 AM.
As a final warning to both parties, the judge said that if they don't finish Friday, they will go to Saturday. If the don't finish on Saturday, he'd be willing to continue on Sunday!
There is some leftover business from the last hearing. Jeff Ashton presented his witness, Dr. Arpad Vass and Jose Baez did his cross-examination. We should be hearing from the defense and their experts on the matter at this hearing. One will probably be Dr. Kenneth Furton and another, Dr. Barry Logan.
I also believe that I heard Jose Baez say that he had another expert for the cadaver dogs. That would possibly be Dr. Logan, who spoke about cadaver dogs in his deposition. However, Jeff Ashton did mention at a recent hearing that Logan had backed away from testifying about them when they did his deposition. As for Dr. Furton, it will be especially interesting to hear what questions Jeff Ashton will have for him about his time in Oregon.
We will finally get to the rest of the motions in limine which have been hanging around for a very long time.
The first motion is the Motion And Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Defendant's Motion To Exclude Irrelevant Evidence Of Stain In Trunk Of Car. Here is what I wrote about the motions previously:
The defense uses the terms "imaginary, silhouette or fantasy image" to describe the stain. They argue that if found relevant, the information would be more prejudicial than probative. (Remember all the internet speculation that the stain is an outline of little Caylee's body in the fetal position, spurred on by comments by a lab worker?) Also, the defense argues that testing by the FBI indicated that the stain was not biological in nature. There was no DNA found.
The State reply, Jeff Ashton stated that "the State does not concede the accuracy of the statement of facts and does not stipulate that the defendant's burden of proof is satisfied by their mere claim that certain facts are true. If the history of this case has proven anything, it is that attorneys can make extravagant claims in pleadings that are not borne out upon closer examination."
Ashton points out that the Oakridge Labs tested the stain and found that it contains "volatile fatty acids consistent with decomposition" and that the stain was, "the approximate size of a small child."
The Spoliation of Evidence (Odor in Trunk) motion wants the odor or all mention of the odor in the car kept out. They want no mention from Cindy on the 911 call, no testimony from people who have previously smelled decomposition to qualify it as such. That would disqualify an awful lot of people who have testified to that odor! The defense cunningly amended their ancient Spoliation of Evidence motion to explain that there was spoliation of evidence due to the fact that the CSI's dried out the contents of the garbage bag. The defense claims that by allowing the various items to air out, they lost their odor. They also want to implicate here that the rotting garbage in the bag was the source of the odor.
Finally there is the Heart Shape Sticker motion. We all know that the supposed "heart shape" was observed by fingerprint examiner Elizabeth Fontaine is the only person to have seen the shape after "super glue fuming" and the image was destroyed by further testing.
These last two motions are about scientific issues, but are not Frye issues. There is a challenge to the quality of the evidence. As far as I can tell, there are no responses from the State on these. I am eager to hear them discussed from the prosecution point of view.
So we will have quite a couple of days! I look forward to watching the hearings with you all!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
City Attorney Robert Shannon stated, "As City Attorney of Long Beach, I understand the importance of maintaining a partnership with the District Attorney's office. In this regard, the next DA of Los Angeles County must have the integrity to do the right thing as well as the courage to resist pressure in the pursuit of justice. Alan Jackson possesses these qualities in abundance. I enthusiastically endorse Alan Jackson for District Attorney.
"Alan's record as a prosecutor is matched only by his compassion for victims and their families. We are all fortunate to have prosecutors like Alan Jackson working to ensure public safety,” Shannon continued.
Deputy DA Alan Jackson said, “Bob Shannon is an iconic public official and true leader in our community. I am honored and humbled to have earned his support.”
Deputy DA Alan Jackson enjoys strong support from other elected officials such as State Senator Tony Strickland, Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine and former La Cañada-Flintridge Mayor and current City Councilmember Steve Del Guercio.
For more information, please visit Alan Jackson’s campaign website at www.VoteAlanJackson.com.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
With decent gardening time this week, I had hoped to get a lot accomplished. However, Casey Anthony and her lawyers' interminable motions and excessive examination of witnesses is stealing all my time!
I'm also sure Judge Perry is thrilled with the latest developments as well.
I just came indoors to start doing my homework for the hearing Friday (and possibly Saturday) and found out to my dismay that we now have a hearing on Thursday, March 31 at 10:00 AM.
There will be more Frye hearings on Friday, April 1 and possibly Saturday, April 2 at 8:30 AM as well.
Meanwhile, there have been two more motions filed by the defense today. I'm sure you all remember the defense Motion to Vacate & In The Alternative Motion For Clarification Dr. Hall, which the judge DENIED March 21. Today, the defense filed a 03/29/2011 Motion for Hearing: Amended; on the Unreliability of Expert Opinion Testimony of Dr. Hall. To get the root-growth testimony excluded from trial, the defense cites Chavez v. State which says:
Before an expert may render an opinion, the witness must satisfy a four-prong test of admissibility. Section 90.702...requires the court to make two preliminary determinations: (1) whether the subject matter will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a disputed fact, and (2) whether the witness is adequately qualified to express an opinion on the matter. Once these threshold determinations are affirmatively satisfied, two more requirements must be satisfied for the admission of expert opinion testimony. The expert opinion must apply to evidence presented during the hearing, and the danger of unfair prejudice must not substantially outweigh the probative value of the opinion.
I have a feeling that the defense is desperate to try and get Dr. Hall off the State witness list. Could it be that their witness, Dr. Bock, does not have the same extensive credentials in forensic botany that Dr. Hall has? Could it also be that the defense is desperate for a hearing on this, based on the wording of the citation in their motion? I feel there is another DENIED coming down the road.
The second motion filed today relates back to the torturous questions asked by Dorothy Sims to the FBI lab tech, Karen Lowe at the last hearing. She kept being interrupted by Jeff Ashton and Judge Perry who both indicated that the questions she was asking did not relate to Frye. She kept saying that the defense motion was MORE than a Frye hearing. The judge told her to file a motion.
Here it is: Motion In Limine: Amended; for Hearing on the Unreliability of Scientific Testimony by Karen Lowe on Post-Mortem Hair Banding. This is a five page motion, but you can get the gist of the argument by reading the topics discussed in it.
The State did not satisfy the requirements under Frye because Ms. Lowe's testimony was the only testimony offered by the State on the general acceptance of hair banding during the March 23, 2011 hearing
Ms. Lowe's testimony is pure opinion testimony
Ms. Lowe is not qualified on an expert in hair banding
Hair banding is an inappropriate subject matter for a lay witness
Ms. Lowe's testimony regarding hair banding lacks relevancy and, as a result is inadmissible
Any probative value of Ms. Lowe's testimony is outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice lay witness and is, in fact, an expert. (This isn't making any sense to me!)
Because the State failed to provide an independent witness, Ms. Lowe's testimony is pure opinion, Ms. Lowe is not an expert in the subject of post-mortem hair banding, and post-mortem hair banding is an inappropriate subject for lay witness testimony, the Defendant asks the Court to strike Ms. Lowe as a witness. In the alternative, the Defendant seeks a hearing on the issues
There are so many things that bother me about this motion. Karen Lowe is a highly trained person who works for the FBI. She has studied hair-banding as part of her job. While she isn't a researcher, she showed her knowledge of the subject during her direct and cross-examination.
Unfortunately, Ms. Simms did have a hard time understanding how the results of testing hair from living people produced different results than the death-banding.
I also recall that when Jeff Ashton filed his response to the defense motion, he included nearly 400 pages of learned articles and a transcript from a Frye hearing held in New York.
Again, aside from the fact that the hair-banding shows a deceased Caylee in the trunk of the car, the defense doesn't even have an expert of their own to argue their case. Dr. Petraco, a well-respected expert in the field refused to testify for the defense. Ironically, it is Dr. Petraco's testimony in that New York Frye hearing where the testimony was allowed in for the defense.
It will be interesting to find out if Judge Perry pulls out his DENIED stamp for this one!
Hearing Wednesday, March 31
The defense filed three motions concerning adding new witnesses. Of the three, the Defense Motion Clarifying Motion for Leave For Additional Witnesses explains them all.
The first witness is Dr. Jeffrey Danzinger, the same psychiatrist who tested Casey on the orders of Judge Stan Strickland during the bond hearing. The defense has retained him to work with Casey and he recently completed his work. When the motion was filed on March 22, he had yet to write his report.
The next witness is Dr. William Weitz. He is also a psychiatrist and he specializes in PTSD. As with Dr. Danziger, he has yet to produce a report. For both doctors, the defense has stated that each "is a necessary witness to rebut recent rulings related to the Defendant's state of mind an consciousness of guilt."
While they were originally to be added to the witness list for the penalty phase. At the end of the last hearing, however, Ann Finnel approached the bench and told the judge that the defense wished to include one or both of these doctors to the guilt phase of the trial and she would have reports for the State.
This has been the topic of much discussion on the message boards I visit. What is confusing to me is that it seems the defense wants some sort of psychiatric testimony that will explain Casey's lying and flat demeanor. This move obviously derives from comments by Judge Perry in his denial of the motions to keep out all communications between Casey and the police, her family, and jail friends.
Since psychiatric testimony during the guilt phase of trials is traditionally limited to cases which deal with a mental illness defense, this move is very unusual. I look forward to the discussion of this during the hearing.
Next is Kenneth Lewis, Assistant State Attorney. I believe he was the prosecutor in the Maya Derkovic trial and would not be used unless Maya testified at the trial. The State has already said they are not calling her and the defense is thinking about it.
All we know about Sharon Cadieux is that he will be returning to Florida soon for a deposition. There's nothing about how she relates to the case. I believe she may have been a witness to the "assault" on Patricia young by George Anthony.
Daniel Kondos is the supervisor of the individuals responsible for maintaining the landscape on Suburban Drive. He is a recently discovered witness. It seems that the individuals who actually did the work on Suburban Drive transfer around and he's the only person who is available to testify. We can translate this to the fact that he supervised the people who routinely cut the grass at the edge of the road. That would be the only "landscaping" Suburban Drive would have. I'll be interested to know what kind of lawnmowers the workers used there since I have a feeling Mr. Kondos would be talking about when the grass was cut and how the workers told him things about the water levels. This should be interesting once we see his deposition. Finally, there is
Patricia Young. Ms. Young is a person who volunteered with TES. Unfortunately, the weather was bad that day and she went to the Anthony home where she became involved in an incident with George Anthony, who pushed her off the curb. She filed a complaint against George, but apparently, no action was taken. It's interesting to note that, although she didn't search with TES, the defense motion says, "Good cause is shown because Ms. Young was recently deposed as a member of the Texas Equusearch and was found to have material testimony for the Defendant."
I have to wonder if Ms. Young ever did search. However, once the name and the complaint came to light, the message boards and blogs have been busy speculating about her testimony.
Kathi Belich and Bill Sheaffer had some ideas!
Video State Interviews 'Possible' Witness In Casey Case
Tomorrow, I'll show you my homework for the April Fools Day Hearing!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Media Relation's Division
Lonnie David Franklin, Jr.
LOS ANGELES -- Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the alleged “Grim Sleeper” serial killer accused of murdering 10 victims over a more than 20-year span, was arraigned today on an indictment charging him with the killings.
“The indictment in the ‘Grim Sleeper’ case that was unsealed today in the Superior Court was necessitated by a desire to move this significant murder case forward to trial,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley in a written statement.
“The families of the victims should be accorded timely resolution of the allegations of the murders of their loved ones,” the District Attorney added.
Franklin, 58, was charged in July of last year with 10 counts of murder with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. He also was charged with one count of attempted “willful, deliberate and premeditated murder” in the case of an 11th victim who survived. The indictment contains the same charges.
Although the case was filed nearly a year ago, there never was a date scheduled for a preliminary hearing of the evidence, which would have been the next stage of the proceedings. At a preliminary hearing, a judge determines if there is sufficient evidence for a felony defendant to stand trial.
The indictment returned Wednesday afternoon by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury following a little more than six-day hearing supercedes the criminal complaint and moves the case directly to trial.
Franklin is accused of killing his victims – girls and women ranging in age from 14 to 36 – between August 1985 and January 2007. Most of the victims were discovered dumped in alleys and covered with debris. They were shot to death and/or strangled.
The charges make Franklin eligible for the death penalty, but the District Attorney’s office has not made a final decision on whether death or life without parole will be sought against the defendant.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman of the Major Crimes Division and Deputy District Attorney Marguerite Rizzo of the Family Violence Division are prosecuting the case.
Franklin was arrested by Los Angeles Police Department Robbery-Homicide detectives after a lengthy task force investigation.
This is one of the cases I'm keeping my eye on for possibly following when it gets closer to trial. I briefly met Beth Silverman when I attended a few pretrial hearings in another case at the Van Nuys Courthouse in 2009. Sprocket
LA Times: Nabbing the Westside Rapist
Today's hearing was mind-numbing, to say the least. We managed to get through one witness on the K-9 issue and one witness on the chloroform/trunk odor situation.
Dep. Jason Forgey was the first witness today. He is a canine handler with the OCSO. He told Baez his is a good one!
He used a dog names Gerus for just over six years. He now has a new dog, Griffin.
Baez asked about Gerus' training. He trained with the OCSO and with other outside specialty schools. The schools are run by the Andy Redmond who authored the Cadaver Dog Handbook.
Baez asked what Gerus trained on. Forgey listed the different types of materials he trained on. It is an extensive list.
Forgey filled out training logs. When asked by Baez, "Who gave you the bright idea to keep a training log?" (That was an insult!) Forgey answered that he didn't know. He indicated that the forms had changed over the years.
Gerus was certified after the 400 hours training school in general work and again after a 160 hour specialty training school
There is no State or FDLE training program. Gerus had certified and continued to have a trainer who evaluated the dog on a regular basis.
Gerus was last evaluated February 29, 2008. The evaluator was FDLE certified as a trainer. Deputy Ramos was the trainer. It was cadaver training using bones. Gerus located both bones. There were no problems noted.
The next time the dog was evaluated was in June, 2008.
Baez wanted to know if this was double-blind testing. Forgey didn't know. Baez went after Forgey asking if he wasn't thorough in his reports.
One thing I would like to know is if this is a normal set of procedures for dog training. Otherwise, it has no meaning.
Baez asked if Forgey knew about single and double blind testing. Forgey pointed out that there isn't a space on the form for that sort of information.
Baez next brought up the issue of handler bias. Forgey didn't seem to think much of it, so Baez went on to explain it to the deputy.
Baez then had Forgey go through the entire log to see when Genus was last tested in a double blind situation (neither the handler nor the dog knew the location of the bait.)
Forgey found one in 2005. This testing was for Forgey's own certification as a dog handler. This was done also in July, 2005, November 2005, and the same for a school in 2006.
Baez tried to make a big deal that some of the details of the double blind studies that are not written in the logs. Forgey states that there were other experts there to validify his testimony.
Baez fought mightily to prove that it was quite possible that Forgey "cued" the dog when doing the searches of the Pontiac and the Anthony back yard.
Personally, I think that these searches were indeed double blind since nobody had told Forgey where the target odors were, if there were any.
Baez pointed out that since Forgey filled out the logs, it was possible he could lie or lie by omission.
Linda Burdick objected for relevancy and Judge Perry sustained the objection.
Baez still went on to insinuate Forgey could have lied on the records for Gerus.
I found it odius that Mr. Baez accuses all sorts of people who go on day after day, doing their jobs, and doing them well are liars.
Baez then went on to the actual search of the car, although there was no body in it. Again today, Baez honed in on the phrase that Forgery said he'd, "give it a shot." (I'm wondering what THAT was about!)
Gerus searched two vehicles that day. The Sunfire and a blue truck.
Baez then had Forgey draw the picture. (I'm waiting for an "aha" moment from the defense when all are revealed and there are slight differences in them.)
Baez had Forgey go through how he had conducted the dog search. He first did the blue car and then Ms. Anthony's car. It started at the front bumper (driver side) counterclockwise around the vehicle. He knew it was the suspect's car. The dog started to alert as he approached the vehicle. The second time around he started indicating and had someone open the driver side door. The dog put his head in the car and looked towards the rear seat. They then opened the trunk and the dog jumped up with his front paws only, looked at Forgey and sat for a final trained alert at the trunk.
Baez pointed out that Forgey had to refer to his bond hearing testimony for details and he used this to indicate that the logs weren't detailed enough.
Baez then showed Forgey his police report which is not very long. Baez pointed out that there was no blue car there that day. (Needless to say, Baez is looking for every nook and cranny to get his butter into.)
Dep. Forgery also pointed out that in a "real world" scenario, it's not always possible to do both cars. Baez then tried to get the witness declared "adverse". Linda Burdick corrected the term to hostile because he is a State witness. The judge didn’t agree with this as he is not being hostile!
At this point, Linda Burdick started objecting more. Forgey did mention the blue car/truck in his deposition. Baez then asked what he testified to at the Grand Jury. Forgey is instructed NOT to answer the question.
Baez said that the defense will be asking for this testimony in the future.
Baez asked if the search was videotaped. When Forgey answered that it wasn't he pointed out that while the handbook might state it as a suggestion, it is not a hard and fast rule.
There was a test set up for a new dog with a lineup with one car with a pizza in it to run that scenario due to all the hype in the case!
Mr. Baez was then asked by Judge Perry to look at the four corners of the motion he filed and see if it fit his questioning. Then, Perry told him to move on. (Mind you, there had been no objection at that point!)
Forgey also took Genus to the Anthony home to search the back yard. He they completed a search of the entire yard. He got an alert near the play area and the dog ended up giving him a final alert in the southeast corner of the yard
When he finished the search, he called Osceola County to run a second search to verify the results. He did not call out Dep. Brewer because of the changes in the case. He wanted to go "above and beyond" at that point. He believed the dog was off the leash. The dog was on the lead for the search of the car.
When Sgt. Brewer came out, he told her he'd probed three areas and that the area was clear but did not tell her what the dog did in the yard. Bones alerted at the same locations.
He then informed the detectives of the results. Forensics then began to search where the dogs alerted.
Forgey went back the next day. The area where the dog had alerted skimmed the area. The dog did not alert at that time, nor did Sgt. Brewer's dog.
Baez kept calling the alert a false positive because the dogs didn't alert the second day. Forgey pointed out he didn't believe so and, had Sgt. brewer said yesterday, soil had bee moved and the scene changed.
Judge Perry then called for a bench conference. I do believe that he was telling Baez to get a move on with his witness. This whole cadaver dog thing has been a big waste of time as the testimony will come in and the defense can pull all these cards at the trial.
After the break, Baez continued with Dep. Forgey. He stated that there is no testing for residual odor. He also said that the term "false positive" doesn't really apply.
Baez started going into the smell of garbage in the back of a car until Linda Burdick objected and the judge sustained the objection.
Forgey pointed out he does not know what forensics has. (As I recall, the dog is a tool, and it was the CSI who examined the trunk and discovered there was adipocere, a volatile fatty acid from decomposition in it. It simply isn't the job of the dog or it's handler to identify the nature of what they found. The dog alerts, someone else investigates. This is the fallacy behind Baez' whole argument about false alerts. In fact, I have to wonder if dog handlers ever find out that their dogs have these so-called false alerts in real life because by the time the area has been thoroughly searched or tested, the dog and handler are long gone.)
Linda Burdick briefly cross-examined Forgey, pointing out his years with the OCSO and the number of dogs he trained and how they were trained
Burdick clearly understood that the admissibility of cadaver dog information into a trial rests mainly on the dogs' training and certification. She certainly gave the judge enough information to make a decision! She included both the many hours of training and on-the-job experience. This detective had literally been on thousands of searches with his dogs.
It is also to be noted that she pointed out that Gerus had been trained under situations where a body had been discovered and removed. The dog had alerted on that site.
Burdick then asked for Gerus' records put into evidence. As with last time, Baez objected due to heresay and the judge went through them all. Perry accepted all the documents into evidence.
Burdick, in her final question, elicited the fact that Forgey is a certified dog trainer.
Baez got up and then asked Forgey if he knew what the dogs alerted to and asked him if he knew if his dog had a false alert on urine. Forgey had to go back through the logs to find out. He found an example where Gerus was slightly distracted by animal urine. He did not alert on it.
Baez also asked if Forgey knew what chemicals the dog alerts to. Forgey indicated he was not a chemist and couldn't answer that.
Baez took that to segue to "false alerts" as in the second visit to the yard. Baez then asked if he had training logs for false alerts in "real life" scenarios. Forgey explained that in real life, the dog is not in training and he can't know if there are false positive alerts.
Forgey also took the dog to the remains scene. He stated that the dog did not alert there, but that he had not taken the dog into the area near where the body was found.
Baez tried to go on further, but with one more objection as to relevance, he was finished.
When asked if he had more witnesses, Baez said that he had one who would also testify against Vass and he could testify during that portion.
Arpad Vass is a research scientist at Oak Ridge Laboratory. He gave a brief summary of his education.
He developed an interest in forensic anthropology while working for the department of microbiology. He worked with Dr. Bass, the founder of the Body Farm. He became interested in post-mortem intervals from a biochemical perspective. He earned his PhD in 1991.
He worked in that field for 10 years and published a number of articles on his research. He developed a number of methods to determine post-mortem interval which have been peer reviewed.
He became interested in the location of clandestine graves in about 2000. He felt he would be most productive in studying odor analysis (based on what cadaver dogs do).
They used four subjects and buried them at various depths in the soil and put a piping system around the body with a capture hood at the top to capture the decompositional gasses.
They would collect the gasses with a triple sorbent trap containing activated carbon. They were then taken to the lab and analyzed. These traps have been used for many decades.
They collected data from 2002-2006/7. New samples were taken at shorter to longer intervals as the bodies decomposed.
They studied how these chemicals "liberated" from one time to another.
He first published on these findings in 2004. It discussed the chemical compounds found. With the publication of that study, Vass continued to monitor the graves and in addition on individuals decomposing on the surface in anaerobic conditions.
They also collected the gases with the same traps. There were about six bodies involved. They sampled the gasses from "fresh" to almost skeletonized at intervals. Since these bodies decomposed more quickly, they collected the samples more often.
He also collected samples from a crematorium where the bodies had not been cremated.
There was also research from a Greek scientist whose name I did not catch. He referenced this research in a 2008 paper he published.
Both of his articles were submitted to the Journal of Forensic Sciences for peer review.
Jeff Ashton asked if there had been any disagreement with the material in his 2004 paper and the article was never sent back for any objections or revisions. The same was true for his 2008 paper.
He was given evidence in 2008 to test from this case. Yuri Melich contacted him to see if Vass could ascertain the source of the odor.
The sample was sent in a sealed paint container. Dr. Marcus Wise ran the initial test. Wise is an analytical chemist. Material was removed from the head space of the item and injected it into the GC-MS (gas chromatography mass spectrometer). There was a large peak of chloroform. Vass was surprised at the result. He had never seen chloroform in that amount in any sample he had ever seen.
They then decided to concentrate the sample to see what else they could find in the sample.
They took the carpet sample out of the can and put in a Teldar bag and heated it. They then drew out the sample and tested it.
From that test, they saw the major chloroform peak and another 51 or so compounds.
(At this point, we lost sound.)
When sound returned, Ashton was discussing squirrels. Vass got a squirrel and allowed it to decompose on a control piece of carpeting. It stained the carpet and there was bodily debris on it.
The squirrel smelled nothing at all like decomposition. It hardly had any smell at all.
Based on everything he found, he tried to used Laser-induced spectroscopy to use a non-destructive method to save the carpet piece.
Dr. Martin helped with these tests.
They also received a sample of a paper towel from Dr. Neil Haskell. They had a large amount of fly pupae and Haskell wanted to know what the substance was that attracted the flies.
He studied the stain and discovered it contained the components of adipocere (grave wax).
Based on the results from the paper towels, he decided to check the carpet. Again, he discovered a fatty acid (butyric acid) which is common in early stages of decomposition.
This information is backed up from information from his formerly peer-reviewed papers.
Going back to the chloroform, the levels were uncharacteristically high. It was the dominant peak. Chloroform is a product of decomposition, however the amount of chloroform could not be accounted for by decomposition. There was much more.
There was an explanation about the chloroform that went right over my head. However, it was a huge amount, like 10,000 the amount of the standard sample.
Ashton then asked Dr. Vass if he had smelled human decomposition. He said he had and had also smelled the decomposition of other animals he studied. Based on his experience, he said he can tell the difference between human decomposition an other smells, such as a skunk. He said that when you run over a skunk, you don't have to look at the skunk.
Ashton then asked if he had smelled garbage. Dr. Vass went through all the ill-smelling types of garbage he had smelled and none of it smelled like decomposition.
Then, when Vass opened the can, he detected the strong smell of human decomposition.
Jose Baez started out by telling Vass he is not a chemist. He also pointed out that Mark Wise is an analytical chemist and Dr. Martin is a physicist. Vass entitles himself a research scientist.
He then went through Vass' CV with him.
I'll spare you the details.
Baez accused Vass of being intentionally vague in not listing the type of PhD he has in one article. He pointed out that there are some sources such as Wikipedia that list him as a bio-chemist. (Mind you, Vass DID say he "did some" biochemistry.)
Baez then told Vass he REFUSED to turn over his data base. Ashton objected (the data base is proprietary in nature and does not belong to Vass).
After an objection, Baez then stated that the defense had not received the decompositional data database because it belongs to the sponsor of the research.
Vass said that his publications are taken from the data base and his conclusions were based on the chemicals he found. They were only based on compounds he used in his publications.
Baez was trying to get Vass to say that his results couldn't be verified unless they had the complete data base. Vass replied that the only verification needed was what was in the articles.
Much as he tried, repeating himself, Baez kept asking Vass that IF he wanted to verify his results, wouldn't he ask for the entire database and bench notes?
Baez then tried asking if Vass would want "partial disclosure" of information. Vass didn't understand this because there is a lot of information that may be relevant.
Vass finally agreed that if ALL the information to allow him to replicate the experiment was provided it, that "yes" "partial disclosure" was fine.
Baez then brought up a "sniffer" machine that wasn't used in the tests. Ashton objected and then stated that it went to financial issues. This machine, the Labrador, has not been validated.
Baez asked if the goal was to sell the device to LE was the end goal and he would get royalties from the patent.
I got very angry at this point. Baez tried to get Vass to say that being involved in a high profile case would earn him a lot of money if his Labrador machine were validated.
Vass said it was possible but the machine was not used on the case.
According to Baez, this scientist was going to make a fortune off of the machine.
When Jeff Ashton objected, Baez stated that this financial interest would go to his credibility. Judge Perry pointed out that it would, but that Baez needed to get back to the Frye issue, which is the science.
It sounds like he's trying to turn Vass into the inventor of the Sham-Wow. He spent all that time getting educated as a research scientist in order to get rich if he invents something. The fact is, most of the money would go to the maker. The royalties would be a drop in the bucket of Dr. Vass life. Perhaps Mr. Baez thinks about it from his own perspective.
Baez then set up his easel with paper and had Dr. Vass write stuff on it. What it was, we'll never really know since we couldn't see it. It seemed to be something about error rates. When Baez asked why it was written the way it was, Vass replied that he was "frazzled" by all of this.
Vass then said that an error rate does not apply to the comparison Baez gave him.
Baez asked if Vass if his articles used buried remains. Vass replied that the first one did. Baez asked if the soil would have an effect as to what gasses came out. Vass indicated that the soil could affect the flow of the gasses. In a burial situation, the gasses took 17 days to reach the surface.
The 2008 paper also included bodies on the surface. Baez asked if chloroform was detected in bodies on the surface. According to the 2008 paper, chloroform was not detected in surface cases.
Vass indicated that the issue was oxygen deprivation. In this case, he referred to the bodies laying on the surface being wrapped and anaerobic in nature. (Much like Caylee in the car.)
Baez tried to ask if only buried bodies would have chloroform. Vass pointed out that some of the bodies above ground were wrapped in body bags.
Baez then read from Vass 2008 paper that the top 30 compounds could be found anywhere. Vass said that was as individual compounds, not as a mixture which he deemed to demonstrate human decomposition.
Baez read sections from the article and Ashton objected because it was out of context. Baez had to read the entire section.
There were more questions that I missed. It got pretty complicated for non-scientific me.
Baez did try and get Vass tp say that the author of another paper "disclosed" all HIS compounds. Vass didn't agree with that.
One thing in all this testimony told me that Dr. Vass is a true academic. When he gave his answer, he added, "that's cool." That man is a scientist first.
Baez asked about the bag of garbage found in the trunk. Vass had no memory of even seeing pictures of it. He was sent a list of what was in the trunk. He said he looked at the list and said most were plastic and paper products, not a pile of rotting hot dogs.
There was a bit of confusion about Baez' stipulation about questioning the instruments used in the testing. Apparently, Jeff Ashton believed was going to do so.
Baez said that they were bench notes and problems they ran into during the testing.
Ashton went through the information in the stipulation which was part of the agreement for the State to drop the show cause motion.
Baez then tried to wiggle out of it. Baez then used terms such as coercion, forcing his hand to say that he doesn't understand what was said in open court.
Perry re-read the stipulation that he was only going to attack the results.
All of a sudden, Baez wanted to talk about a machine that wasn't working properly. Perry pointed out that Baez knew it at the time he executed the document.
Perry indicated that Baez was "waiting in ambush". Baez incorrectly said that Ashton was waiting in ambush. He said that Ashton took advantage of him!
Perry then made himself "abundantly clear" and said that both sides overly uses the term "contempt" and that he had only applied sanctions, not contempt. Only the State and Baez used the term contempt.
Perry also said it sounded like Baez was trying to rescind his agreement. Baez could have written it down and he and Perry might or might not have come to agreement.
Baez was in big trouble and tried to weasel out of it.
Perry went on to explain the Frye rules and that his problem with the machinery could come up in trial itself.
Ann Finnel came up and spoke in Baez' ear. Baez asked for a five minute recess.
After a short recess, Baez returned to the podium and said that he would "clearly reiterate" that he would not enter into agreement to rescind it.
He then continued asking questions of Dr. Vass. He asked if it was generally accepted scientific procedure to use the GC-MS to measure human decomposition.
Vass doesn't understand the question because the machine is scientifically accepted to measure the compounds. He finally answered yes.
Baez then asked for another laboratory that uses the machine to measure human decomposition. Vass then stated that all institutions use it and he would like to know if they do measure for human decomposition.
Baez then honed down the number of gasses to exclude gasoline. At the present time, Vass only used a smaller number. He also said that not all the 478 gasses he found are relevant.
Baez asked which compounds Vass found critical and Vass said there were the 30 in his report.
Baez then went after the 30 gasses and if Vass had them written as a protocol.
Ashton voiced the objection that Vass has stated that if all 30 gasses are found, there is human decomposition. Baez said he wanted to know the methodologies how he came to that conclusion.
Ashton pointed out that Dr. Vass had never implied that in his report. (He said that they were consistent with human decomposition.)
The judge allowed the question. He did indicate that the release of the compounds were cyclical and it was a very taphonomic issue. (At that point, I got lost.)
In this case seven of the thirty compounds were found and Baez had him list them.
Baez went on teaching Dr. Vass science. There was a disconnect between the two, for sure. What I found most interesting was that there were only trace amounts of carbon tetrachloride in the trash bags with higher levels in the carpet in the trunk.
I hate to say this, but this whole section of questioning sent me reeling back to my Jr. High days when my mother, who never studied algebra, attempted to instruct my algebra teacher in proper methodology.
At this point, Baez was trying to indicate to Vass that most of the chemicals found in the trunk overlapped with other items in the trunk.
Vass clearly didn't understand what Baez was trying to prove. By eliminating the chemicals found in the trash and junkyard car carpet, there would be no reason to say that he could say there was a possibility of a dead body having decomposed in the car.
It is my conclusion that Baez wouldn't allow him to differentiate between trace and higher than trace amounts.
This was a very painful series of questions because there was never a meeting of the minds as to what the results of the test meant.
Baez then questioned Vass about the paper towels. He referred to the fatty acids found and said that it could be that the individual chemicals would not mean there was a body in the car.
Vass pointed out that this particular combination would indicate it was adipocere or similar to adipocere.
Baez then tried to indicate that it could come from meat.
Vass also said that certain flies were attracted to it. Baez quickly pointed out that Vass wasn't an entomologist.
There was also marijuana found on the napkin. (THC)
Baez continued with the fatty acid found on the paper towels. Baez indicated that it would be consistent with smoking a joint and eating a hamburger.
All Vass would say that the composition of the fatty acids were consistent with adipocere.
There was a comment from Judge Perry that today's hearing would go to 5:30 and would continue next Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2.
Baez asked Dr. Vass if there was anyone in this country who could replicate his tests. Vass said that everything needed was in his articles. Baez then asked for a laboratory. Vass said it could be done in any lab with the correct equipment.
Then Baez asked if scientists "every day" do what he has done. Vass said the procedures were common and anyone could do it.
Then Baez asked if there was any other scientist who could do what he had done. Vass said that there were at least two people he knew of who could do what he did.
Baez then brought up the case of the Manson Ranch. Baez claimed it went to his methodologies. Judge Perry allowed the questions.
As the questioning continued, Jeff Ashton objected yet again that this testimony was not heading towards the Frye Hearing.
Vass pointed out that this was a totally different situation.
More questions were asked about the Manson Ranch and trash near the samples.
Baez kept pushing the trash, Vass kept putting it off pointing out the differences.
Baez question that "trash could give off false readings" elicited "I don't know how to answer that question" from Vass. (I call a super-over-simplification.)
Baez then mentioned fabric softener sheets that were in the trunk. Vass said that he didn't know but assumed there would be no chloroform in them because it was a carcinogen.
At this point Vass had his arms crossed and was looking at his watch. I think the hours of over-simplification were getting to him.
Baez started talking about air samples from the garage. Dr. Vass looked exhausted and frustrated.
Vass never received air samples from the garage or the Anthony home.
I'm not quite sure what is going on at this point!
Thankfully, Mr. Baez had no further questions and Mr. Ashton had nothing to say.
Baez stated that there were 3 more motions. Ashton asked about the root growth motion. Perry decided that at 8:30 AM April 1 the hearing will reconvene. Jeff Ashton pointed out that the rule of sequestration should still apply since there is still Dr. Logan to testify about both the cadaver dog and the air in the trunk issue. Should the defense decide to add an amended motion concerning root growth, it must be filed by March 29.
The defense wants to add two witnesses (mental health experts). The judge asked why they were added so late. Baez said it was in his motion. Judge Perry told him he had not received the motion yet.
Baez asked to approach about Danziger, but the judge made him speak in court. Baez stated that they had just received the information. Ann Finnel stated that they are for the penalty phase and also for the guilt phase. Their testimony goes to state of mind. Jeff Ashton pointed out he needed the reports.
Finnel pointed out it is not an insanity defense, but their opinions and recent conclusions are ongoing. Jeff Ashton wanted to know when he would get the results. He was not a happy camper about that.
Judge Perry said he had a problem with this because he would want to have her examined. They said it is not a mental health defense. Judge Perry said that it was curious if it went to diminished capacity. Finnell said that wasn't the issue. Ashton said he needed a copy of the report!
Finnel said they could have the report tomorrow and Ashton wanted to conduct depositions as soon as possible.
At that point, my feed went away and I do hope we had heard enough for one day!
Courtroom Gets Heated In Day 2 Of Casey Hearing
Videos available at link
Today's hearing started promptly at 9:00 AM. The first issue to be discussed was the post mortem root banding issue.
Jeff Ashton began by asking Judge Perry if he had received the State response to the hair banding motion (the one that is 388 pages long). The judge indicated that he had been in Tallahassee all week and hadn't seen it yet. Ashton began his presentation by referring to the transcript of the New York case that was attached. He, of course, mentioned the former defense witness Nicholas Petraco who argued successfully for the defense in the New York case.
Dorothy Clay Sims objected, saying that transcript was not complete and verified. Jeff Ashton pointed out that all of Petraco's evidence in, including cross examination.
Sims indicated that there was no cover sheet or certification clause. Judge Perry said that Petraco is in the defense's employ and asks if she asked him if it was his complete testimony.
Sims said he is a non-testifying expert and that she could present testimony helpful to the defense. Unfortunately, she didn't bother to bring pertinent materials to back up her assertions.
Judge Perry said that she can turn it in and he will reserve his ruling.
Jeff Ashton called Karen Korsberg Lowe, an FBI analyst at Quantico (via video). Due to a lack of sound, we missed the first portion of her testimony. I would imagine that Ashton asked her about her background and experience in this field of forensics.
Based on Ashton's questions, it would seem that she identified hair Q-12 as the one with post-mortem banding. She also gave a short history of research into post-mortem banding. Once we got sound, Lowe read off titles and basic content of peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic. She indicated that post mortem banding is often seen in persons who are deceased and that the FBI has been examining hairs for this artifact.
Dorothy Clay Sims objected to this information. She said that Jose Baez had gotten a call from the FBI saying they have research about this, but has not yet been or will not be provided to the defense. Therefore, they wouldn't be able to cross examine the witness.
Jeff Ashton stated that the State had just learned this also on Friday. He added that Ms. Lowe would not testify to this today. Apparently, the research has not undergone peer-review at this point.
The report is of a study from the Body Farm and is not yet complete. The testing mentioned in the report apparently tested hair from living people. The hair had been exposed to the elements (water, soil, etc.) and no root banding had been observed. Judge Perry asked if any of her testimony would be from this study and he was assured by Ashton that none of her testimony would involved in this new study. In fact, at this point the manuscript of this report is not yet available and it is not known when it will be available.
The judge indicated that there needs to be threshold questions asked. He also indicated to Ms. Sims that there are probably other studies and, "whose responsibility is it?" He said he can't determine if it's exculpatory unless he knows what's in it.
Ashton repeated that his witness would not discuss this in her testimony. At this point, he was finished with his direct examination.
Dorothy Sims was up next and began a dizzying array of questions concerning hair banding.
Unfortunately, a large number of her questions were ones not related to a Frye hearing and Jeff Ashton was constantly objecting to her questions. They were the sort of question that could be asked at trial, where her testimony is always subject to objection. What she was asking will go to weight to the jury.
Ashton continued to object to issues which don't directly deal with Frye issues.
The judge sustained the majority of the objections since Sims kept wanting to go into credibility and other issues about the hair beyond the banding.
Sims asked Lowe about a Power Point presentation. Sims asked about an example (of root banding) she used, saying that the banding on that hair was much closer to the root than the darkened area to Q-12 (the sample from the trunk of Casey's car). Sims wants the power point Lowe used in teaching. She even asks Lowe if she can measure the distance of the root band on the photocopy of the picture to show the distance to the root end. Ms. Lowe explained that she would not be comfortable doing that, that it would be more appropriate to measure the distance to the end of the root by doing it under a microscope with the original hair.
Ashton said he thinks Linda Kenney-Baden provided it a year ago and Lowe explained that "this" is the slide used in the presentation used at the school. That was the only slide she had on this topic.
Sims then asked if she had ever testified in a case where a single hair has been used
Lowe stated that she hadn't and she would would testify Q-12 was CONSISTENT with decomposition.
At this time, Ashton again objected that Sims questions went well beyond the confines of a Frey hearing and the judge reads the Frye rules to Ms. Sims and said that her questioning sounded more like a deposition than a Frye hearing.
Sims argued that her motion contained information which made this is MORE than a Frye hearing, there are other issues she needed to argue.
Judge Perry said, "I don't know how many more times I can say this, this is a FRYE HEARING!"
Nevertheless, Sims continued on with her questioning and Jeff Ashton was constantly on his feet objecting, and the judge mostly said "sustained".
Sims is finally allowed to ask if ONE hair was enough to draw the conclusion.
Lowe stated, "it is consistent with a dead person"
Sims then brought up a study in progress which demonstrated that post-mortem root banding can be mimicked by tests done on hair from living people put out in the elements (dirt, water) . Lowe kept saying NO! The hairs from that ongoing experiment putrefied at the root and became darkened.
Sims seemed to confuse the darkening of the hair shaft from a live person with banding which has only been observed post mortem.
There was also some discussion as to whether hair banding could be caused by enzymes from food items. Lowe said it could but was not the same as post mortem banding. It did not go around the width of the hair shaft.
During the 10 minute break, I watched the commentary on InSession, An ex-FBI expert said that the defense tipped their hand. They are trying to say that the food in the trunk caused the hair banding. The state witness was adamant she can tell the difference.
She went on to say that there is no error rate. To have an error rate, you need to know how many hairs with PM banding came from a live person vs. dead person. There haven't been any such cases based on what she has said. (She completely ignored the fact that there are no examples of post mortem banding from live people.)
Judge Perry sustained the objection.
Sims said that there was no study done on her personal error rate and that the evidence was less strong because there was only one hair.
Ashton: objected Judge: sustained
Sims indicated that scientists don't know cause of root banding.
Sims also questioned Lowe, asking her if she is an expert in causes of root banding. Lowe replied that she is an expert in hair analysis.
Okay, folks. About this time, we developed some huge thunder storms that kept me off the computer the rest of the night. Here are my slightly edited notes from the rest of the hearing!
Please note that I have done my best to proof them and have them make sense. Let's hope the thunder-boomers stay away today and tonight!
Banding was not destroyed.
Sims asks if banding can be caused by enzymes in lab.
Sims asks again about lab enzymes causing a band... Lowe says it is different.
Sims is going on now about toddler vs. adult hair (objection-sustained).
Hair was preserved so defense expert could examine it!
No published criteria... is her methodology for comparison. Sims keeps going on... studies of male vs. females.
Sims brought up other issues not dealing with Frye. Perry pointed out her motion deals with facts dealing w/Frye. She will have to file another motion!
Ashton then cross examines.
Ashton: Error rate: does that term apply to measurement error rate?
Lowe: Would be for something that is reproducible, regular, recurring.
Ashton: No lab in world has error rate about how often their experts are wrong.
Error rate is being misinterpreted that doesn't apply to this situation. (Expert opinions)
Ashton mentions the Lynch article Sims was asking her about. He asks her to read it into the record the summary.
The expert examiner can identify post mortem root banding.
Enzyme banding cannot be mistaken for post mortem root banding.
Sims then questioned if error rates do not apply to an opinion? "You can be wrong, can't you?"
Lowe responded that an error rate has to be for reproducable results.
At the end of this Frye Hearing, the Judge quickly granted the defense 300 more investigative hours.
The hearing broke for lunch. When we returned, it was on to the K-9 issues. Yuri Melich was the first witness for the defense. On July17-18 he called out deputy Forgey (cadaver dogs) Melich wanted to know if his dog would go over car to detect human remains vs. other remains. Forgey said he'd try. The car was driven outside the bay at Forgey's request and positioned just outside the bay door. It was in the rear parking lot of the sheriff's office.
Baez then asked Melich to draw a diagram and show the position of the cars and asked if the dog search any other cars. Melich said that the dog stopped at end of car near trunk and sat down. That was the dog's alert.
The dog did not alert on Tony Lazzaro's car. It was in another forensic bay.
Baez asked Melich if Forgey went to Anthony home after the car search.
Melich said it could have been Sgt. Allen who sent them out. There were a couple other tips where he had requests for dogs which he was there for. Nothing found.
The State had no questions
Next witness:Gerardo Bloise (CSi with OCSO)
He was there for vehicle inspection and Moved car out of garage for Forgey. He testified Forgey walked around the car with his K-9
He also drew a picture showing Forgey started with driver's door and went back and alerted at the trunk. He was not there for the search of Lazzaro car. He was at Anthony home for dog search.
Forgey was at the home the same day. When Bloise was there and they found some soil disturbed. He did his inspection and that's it. He didn't see the dog alert, didn't go to the back yard. He said that the dog was probably on a leash. Can't say about in yard because he didn't go in the back yard.
Bloise stated that Forgey is the only one who can testify about the back yard. Bloise was there when the second K-9 came out. (Dept. Brewer). He was aware her dog (Bones) alerted.
State: No questions
CSI Michael Vincent was the next witness. He was also present for cadaver dog investigation of Casey's car.
It's obvious that Baez is trying to catch people in small discrepancies. He asked Vincent if HE drove the car out! Vincent said, no... Bloise did. Vincent didn't recall where Forgey started the search and the doors weren't open. He said that the dog was not on leash. The dog alerted at right rear corner of the vehicle. (Sat down)
Vincent was not there for inspection of Lazzaro car, but was at the Anthony home for cadaver dogs. He was not in back yard during the search.
Was informed dog alerted on 3 spots in back yard. He wasn't informed of this at that time because Forgey suggested another dog for verification.
He was present when Dep. Brewer came but didn't see the dog deployed. Vincent didn't know if Forgey in yard when Brewer searched.
Both dogs alerted on three spots. Excavated 2 spots that night, the other the next day. No human remains were found. He didn't know if dogs were deployed again.
State: No questions
20 minute break pending the arrival of the next witness
The next witness was Dr. Scott Fairgrieve.
Baez had him give his credentials. Fairgrieve stated that there are no national standards for cadaver dogs. There are groups that do have training manuals.
He studied the records of Genus and Bones, the dogs used in this case.
Dogs should be trained at all phases of human decomposition.
Limitations. Conditioned to respond to a certain stimulus. Can't interview the dog. It is important that the dog and handler work as a team.
Use of a cadaver dog has been to assist in searching for human remains as efficiently as possible.
Baez: Can dogs alert to decomposition not from a human body? Possibly... blood through a cut, semen stains, urine stains, fecal matter, other things that have cells that will decompose.
Fairgrieve: A soiled diaper could work unless a dog hasn't been "proofed off" of that. Can alert to skin cells, hair, fingernail clippings. Teeth
Linda Burdick objects at this point because his deposition gives no information about residual odor. He's not qualified to give an opinion nor has he given one in the deposition.
Here it comes. The judge made a very strong ruling about the fact that if it's not in a report or a deposition, it's out!
Fairgrieve: Residual odor: an instance where a item that's produced a scent may be left in an area and then removed and then the scent may be retained in that spot.
Baez: How long can it last? No answer
Baez then asked about scent line-ups and Fairgrieve said they includes multiple vehicle searches.
Fairgrieve: First, handler has no previous knowledge or expectation. Other vehicles should be part of the line-up. No specific number. Should be videotaped. Handler can give cues to dog to alert. Even inadvertent.
Burdick again objects. This information is not in the disclosure. He adopted his deposition all the positions he will take.
Baez: Any training on residual odor?
Fairgrieve: Not to his knowledge. He reviewed his records from 2003 to 2008. Dog trained on bone, decomp, blood, clothes with scent, soil from beneath a body, cremated remains, ADIPOCERE! Wide variety, no fingernails, no hair.
Baez had Fairgrieve define a false positive.
Fairgrieve: No remains found. (like in the back yard). There is no test to verify false positive. (Meaning there could have been decomposing remains that were removed from the area.)
She gets him to admit to the fact that he is not an anthropologist or chemist. Has limited experience with dogs to searches.
Fairgrieve: he has been involved with archaeological digs. Cadaver dogs are the easiest to employ to locate the buried remains.
Burdick: Has he ever been involved in training of a cadaver dog?
Fairgrieve: He observed and supplied samples.
Burdick: It is not easy to find suitable human remains to use in training?
Fairgrieve: He agrees. He got involved in the field because he is "the guy with the old bones".
Burdick: Did he supply placentas? No Some tissue? No Teeth yes Dry Bone - yes his own blood yes.
Fairgrieve: His involvement is observation. Never had a dog on/off lead or made determination ... watched others do that work. Primary research - burned human remains. Published research has nothing to do with training, deployment, or reliability of K-9's. He's watched cadaver dogs on 10-20 cases, not in training or certification.
Burdick: Most of what he's testifying is based on his own observation?
Fairgrieve: He has observed dogs as to if they are or are not signaling to various materials. He's not testifying about these dogs.
Note, Ms. Burdick has done a good job of impeaching Dr. Fairgrieve as an expert in the field. He has kept up with the literature, not authored any. He claims no expertiese in the chemistry of scent detection.
This sort of questioning went on longer. I'll spare you the remainder.
Baez got up to rehabilitate the witness and elicited the following information:
Dr. Fairgrieve is a forensic scientist, not a dog handler. As as such, he reads articles in his field. It is recognized as an acceptable method of professional development. He is an expert in buried remains, among other things.
Dog hits can be viewed as a presumptive test needing further corroboration.
Sgt. Kristin Brewer was the last witness of the day. She was the dog handler of Bones. She is from Osceola County. She obtained Bones from Sgt. Fogery and she helped her to train him.
To make an extremely long story short, she was the second dog handler called out to Hopespring Drive. Since Gerus, Fogery's dog had made a weak alert in the back yard, he wanted another dog to check.
She marked the areas where her dog alerted on pictures of the Anthony's back yard.
More on canines coming up at the hearing today!
Casey Anthony In Court For Hearings On DNA, K-9 Search
Monday, March 21, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Los Angeles, March 18 – California State Senator Tony Strickland endorsed Deputy DA Alan Jackson today. This highlights Jackson’s determination to earn the support of a wide array of elected officials, community leaders and victims’ rights advocates. Jackson officially launched his candidacy in early December and took the fundraising lead during the first financial reporting period.
Senator Strickland declared, "Public safety is a top concern for my family and all of the constituents in LA County. The next DA must possess not only superior prosecutorial skills, but have the courage and moral strength to keep us safe and hold criminals accountable. I can think of no one better to lead the District Attorney's office into the next decade than Alan Jackson. He is a proven crime fighter and a top prosecutor. I enthusiastically endorse Alan Jackson for District Attorney."
Deputy DA Alan Jackson said, “I am honored to have earned Senator Strickland’s endorsement and promise to commit an unwavering dedication to the goal of District Attorney—public safety.”
For more information, please visit Alan Jackson’s campaign website at www.VoteAlanJackson.com.
T&T endorses DDA Alan Jackson for LA County District Attorney in 2012! Sprocket
Monday, March 14, 2011
Just a quick update to say that nothing was litigated today. Case has been held over to April 8th, 2011. Case calendar set at 0-30. My only news is a personal one. Even though it's in a leather case, my cell phone fell off my lap and broke while in court. It's dead in the water. I think it's been dropped one too many times. I had some short videos of Sprockey kitty on there when we brought him home from the San Diego clinic in the White Whale Work Truck...unfortunately, those are all gone.
I have to help Mr. Sprocket with a big project that will take about six hours. I'll write up my detail notes of the hearing and who was there later tonight.
More to come....
Update March 17th, 2011:
Monday, April 14th, 2011
As I enter the back entrance of the downtown Criminal Court Building (aka the Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center) I see defense attorney Mark Overland holding onto the arm of Courtney Overland. In his hand is a blind cane. This is what I missed by arriving late last month. I had no idea that Overland is either completely blind or losing his sight.
When I get up on the 9th floor, Sherri Rae's family and friends are already here. Some gentlemen who appear to be detectives join them. Not long after, DDA Shawn Presby arrives and I almost don't recognize him. He's shaved off his beard. I like the new clean-shaven look. I think it's at this time that I overhear Presby tell the family that there is another case in front of theirs.
There's an older, tiny auburn haired woman talking to Courtney Overland and they both head to the ladies restroom down the hallway's left wing. It's a good guess that she is part of Lazarus's family. When the prosecutors head into the courtroom, I do too. If I didn't mention it before, this courtroom is an almost exact replica of Judge Fidler's courtroom, except its not as deep. Instead of four bench rows, there are three. I take my favorite spot I like to sit in during these pretrial hearings. Against the back wall in one of the plastic chairs, right next to the end of the last row of wood bench seats. (When testimony is being presented and I have to take hand notes instead of using my computer, I like to sit in the second bench row, directly in line with the witness.)
Paul Nunez sits with the detectives on the tiny benches on the right. The defense team's investigator, Bert Luper is here. I see him shake hands with the auburn haired woman and they chat. I note the court's phone number is posted in huge numbers over the bailiff's desk and I write it down in my notebook.
8:30 am: The court reporter is here and she sets up in the well area in front of the witness stand. The auburn haired woman takes a seat beside me. Of the five plastic chairs against the back wall, three closest to the inner courtroom doors have signs on the seat backs that say they are reserved for the Sheriff's Dept.
8:33 am: Judge Perry takes the bench. In Judge Ito's courtroom there are clocks on three walls. In this courtroom, there is a single clock on the back wall above my head. I take out my cell phone and put it on my lap. I note that the long benches have the blue seat cushions and seat back cushions.
Judge Perry is chatting with his court reporter about a party. "How many people were at the party?" he asks her.
Courtney Overland sits beside Bert Luper. As I glance over at her, I notice she has what appears to be a two page motion that she is reading. I have no idea if it is related to this case or not. I can't read the detail; just the cover page layout looks like the standard motions filed with the court. Mark Overland comes in with his cane and sits on the bench right beside me. I'm making a guess that he's not completely blind. You have to give kudos to him for continuing to practice law even though his eyesight might be failing.
Another case is being heard first.
Nunez and Presby come in and sit in the Sheriff's Dept. marked seats beside the inner doors.
The three defendants in the other case are brought in. (I cannot confirm the defendant name spellings on the following since this case is not listed in my E-mail notification of cases on calendar from the DA's office.)
People v Sepulveda, Baroe (sp?), Alvarez. There is one attorney for each defendant at the table. One of the defendant's is a woman (Baroe). One of the defendant's is in an Orange jumpsuit, instead of blue. There is a motion before the court to sever Sepulveda from the other two defendants.
Judge Perry indicates he is very disappointed. "We wait and wait and wait. Justice delayed is justice denied. Certainly I'm known to...."
The charges, subject of the case occurred in 2003! The preliminary hearing was last July. The prosecution is seeking death for one of the defendants.
As this hearing is going on, two jurors for the Judge's current case enter the courtroom and head back to the jury room. There is some holdup of the case. It's a committee in the DA's office. The Judge asks the prosecutor something to the effect if the committee is even aware of what the court's needs are for their decision. I miss the prosecutor's reply. The motion to sever is put over to April 26th. One of the attorneys requests an in camera review of some personnel records (for some agency that I miss). A sign language interpreter is requested for one of the defendants at the next hearing.
That ends the hearing for this case. Several people in the gallery file out after the defendants are taken back to the holding area.
The people who are left are here for either side in the Lazarus case, and some reporters.
Mark Overland enters the well. From the well he smiles at a gentleman in the gallery.
JP: (To Mark Overland) What's going on down there?
Judge Perry is referring to the case Overland is currently involved in, the Mattel Bratz case in an Orange County courtroom. He says something to the effect, I haven't seen your name in the paper in a few days. I believe Overland responds that the case will go to the jury April 1st. Judge Perry and Overland continue to chat about the Mattel Bratz case. After that chat is finished, Overland asks Judge Perry to see his client before they start. He also asks for an in camera with Judge Perry, with him and his assistant.
A man (looks like a detective) comes in to speak to Shawn Presby. They step outside the courtroom for a moment. Jurors for the current trial slowly come in a few at a time.
8:55 am: I discover that my phone has died. It fell off my lap and hit the floor one too many times. Judge Perry is on the bench, Mark Overland, Bert Luper and Courtney Overland wait at the holding area door to see their client. Judge Perry chats with the court reporter, mentioning something to the effect about possibly taking a week off in August.
Judge Perry informs the room, "We know Ms. Lazarus is in the building. It's just a matter of getting her up here."
I see two, possibly three reporters in the gallery on the benches far to my left. It's not anyone I recognize. I note that Courtney Overland has very dark brown hair that falls just past her shoulders. Under the stark fluorescent lights there appears to be hint of auburn. She's wearing an all black suit again with a silky appearing white top.
Lazarus must have arrived since Mark Overland and Courtney enter the holding area to speak with their client. Bert Luper comes back to sit in the gallery. I note the black box mounted on the wall right beside the holding area door. This must be the box the deputies have to store their weapons in before they enter the holding area.
Judge Perry tells his bailiff they will be starting a new trial today. There's some banter between them that is confusing to me. Is the judge really saying that some jurors come to court in inappropriate clothing and that they have to provide clothing for them?
9:08 am: Courtney and Mark Overland come out of the holding cell area. Lazarus enters the courtroom. Again, she's in an orange jumpsuit. Underneath, she's appears to be wearing a white, long-sleeved underwear type shirt just like last time.
Judge Perry goes on the record. Mark Overland, Courtney Overland for the defendant. DDA Presby and DDA Nunez for the prosecution. The case is at 28/60.
Mark Overland asks to put the case over to April 11th.
JP: Will you still be in trial? (Mattel Bratz)
The date April 12th is offered, that it might be better. The date that is settled on is Friday, April 8th. That's better for all counsel. Mr. Overland asks that the calendar be set at 0/30. There is a request for documents. Lazarus waves the speedy trial question from the judge and approves of the case being set 0/30. As Lazarus is let out of the courtroom, she searches the gallery for her family. When she locates the auburn haired woman sitting to my right, she flashes a big smile.
Mark Overland, Presby and Nunez chat momentarily. Outside in the hall while speaking to the family, one of the prosecutor's states, "That's it, I have to run." I don't have it in my notes, but I believe it's Presby. Several reporters wait to speak to Mark Overland. Paul Nunez speaks to the family and friends. I believe the other two suited gentlemen with them are detectives.
And that's it. I make my way back to my car and home to help Mr. Sprocket with a big automotive project he is going to undertake. I may blog about that on my sewing blog, or start a totally new blog on that altogether.
Stephanie Lazarus Case Coverage Quick Links