Sunday, April 3, 2011
The remainder of the morning session was filled with pandemonium as Baez and Furton continued to tap dance and meander through the issues as Jeff Ashton continually objected and the fireworks continued to explode all over the court room.
Once warned by Judge Perry that if somebody was caught at trial hiding something the testimony may be stricken and the jury told to disregard, Jose Baez continued his examination of Dr. Furton about the "garbage" issue. He again asked how many compound were in common between the Vass and Greek studies. Of the 5 found by Vass. Furton was having a hard time remembering,
and Baez told him to look at the study to refresh his memory.
At this point, Jeff Ashton pointed out that he didn't have a copy. This "oopsie" by the defense brought on quite a reprimand by the judge. While addressing all the attorneys, his comments clearly went to the defense.
Folks, since y’all don’t quite understand the subtleties of trial practice, from now on if you have a document that you gonna have a witness refer to it, please have a copy for your opponent and a copy for the court. Those are things that so-called good trial lawyers will do. If you don’t have that and you don’t have those to provide during the trial, don’t use it.”
Thank you, Bullstopper for that bit of transcription!
Furton summarized that the study referred to non-human decompositional events such as yard waste found in garbage. Methol-disulphide was found in both studies. The Greek researcher said he found it in household trash he had studied.
Baez then asked if 3 of the 5 compounds identified by Vass were also in the Greek study. Furton replied that it was 1 of the 5. In other studies, all three of the methon-sulfides were found and in common with the Vass study.
Baez then asked if 4 of the 5 (between the studies) were in common. Furton paused and finally said that all 5 are found from non-decompositional events in various reports. Fluronated compounds could also be found in other household items.
Baez then started in on the Barker Ranch study. Ashton objected that it was not relevant except for financial issues. The judge overruled the objection because Baez pointed out that they had protocols for garbage.
Baez asked if Furton reviewed the protocols for garbage and he had. They were explicit instructions to avoid taking samples from areas where there were household chemicals (Bring on the Febreze and empty Arm & Hammer detergent bottle!), trash or garbage because they could give false positives.
Baez then showed Furton a picture of decomposing household trash. They discussed the contents of the bag. (Jeff Ashton asked for a copy of the protocol.) He said that aeresol cans, spilled soda cans, cleaning products could cause a false positive.
At this time we had another pause in the testimony when Jeff Ashton objected based on the infamous "stipulation" and fireworks were fired off in the courtroom yet again.
There were arguments over the nature of the stipulation and Dorothy Sims was called on to give her interpretation. Before she could speak, Ashton and Baez were arguing with each other and the judge told them he would fine them for each time they spoke to each other.
Ashton made two memorable quotes during the arguments here, that he didn't know how to respond to the rewriting of history and that he is accustomed to a reliance on lawyers meaning what they say and that the defense was essentially saying "stupid you, you trusted us."
A bit later Ashton indicated he wouldn't stipulate to anything in the future.
Judge Perry summed up the problem quite succinctly by saying, "It is quite evident that both sides can't agree on whether it is day or night." He did say he will permit the State to present any other testimony they feel they need to due to the diametrical opinions as to the stipulation. It was now an appellate issue. In addition, the State will be permitted to recall any additional witnesses they need.
The defense won the battle, the State won the war. The judge keeps piling on more options for the State in the next session than they ever would have before. This may give the prosecution a great deal of work to do before the hearing next Wednesday.
Baez again continued to ask questions of Dr. Furton. We gleaned various nuggets of information.
-The collection of this garbage violated the protocols of Oak Ridge.
-The machinery is older than he is and it's important to follow the protocols.
-Furton doesn't know all the compounds in the Vass study.
-Vass' study referred to buried remains at different depths and was peer reviewed.
-Chloroform was not detected during surface decomposition.
-There have been no studies between decomposition of adults and children.
-The comment about lack of flourination is purely speculation.
-Vass did not replicate his study since there was no positive control. It was an experiment.
-Vass attempted to use a positive control with a blanket from the victim of previous case. (This was the blanket from the Montana child's body. IIRC, the body was in the trunk for about 3 months.) He wasn't able to replicate the results. (Probably due to length of time the child was wrapped in the blanket and the lack of humidity in Arizona, IMHO)
-Carbon tetrachloride is not unique to human decomposition. He didn't find it in his studies and Vass did.
-He disagrees with Vass. He has many disagreements with Vass.
-Fatty acids are present in human fatty tissues, consumer products like milk and are of human/animal origin.
-They can also be present in Velveeta, but he is not sure about coconut shampoo.
(We g0t a 10 minute break here)
-Chemists are the ones who test for adipocere as they interpret results from forensic anthropologists.
Baez then wanted to go back to the bench notes which weren't permitted at the last hearing. Again, Jeff Ashton objected that the procedures weren't to be challenged.
Judge Perry asked Baez what he was challenging. Baez answered that he was challenging the procedures, not the results (buzz... wrong answer). Perry then reminded Baez that this is not Frye material.
Baez wisely moves on to the Chloroform Motion.
We learn from Furton that
-The results were qualitative, not quantitative.
-Vass speculated at to the amount.
Ashton then objected that this material wasn't in the report. Since it wasn't in the report he didn't ask about it. The judge said that he could give an opinion even if it wasn't in his report.
-Vass used a "guesstimate" that there appeared to be a large amount of chloroform.
-Scientists don't give "guesstimates" in forensic science or chemical analysis.
-The FBI found lower levels of chloroform and their work is not being challenged.
We had one final "explosion" before lunch when Baez used the term "crazy levels" when referring to Vass' findings. Ashton loudly objected to the editorial commentary by Mr. Baez. (That is one of Baez favorite things to do, isn't it!"
Baez said that he'd rephrase and move on.
Obviously, Judge Perry had had enough for one morning. Here is my paraphrase of what he said at this point:
We're going to lunch (laughter from the gallery). (To the attorneys) I would stop by my favorite ATM machine. Descriptive adjectives you have used, both have used, loud, audible comments from the defense table. Enough is enough! I don't have a hearing problem as of yet. I look for a certain level of professionalism. I don't look for loud shouting and I've had enough of it. I've had enough of the back and forth between the two of you. If it happens again, donate it voluntarily to the United Way, or I will go to the contempt which will go on the record.
Well, court is at lunch and so am I! I will be back to finish in Part 3. It will be up this afternoon or this evening.