Wednesday, May 4, 2011

James Fayed Murder-For-Hire Trial Starts Today

Opening Statements will be heard this morning in Dept. 109, Judge Kathleen Kennedy's courtroom at the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center (CJC) in the murder-for-hire trial of James Fayed for the July 28, 2008 stabbing death of his wife, Pamela, in a Century City parking structure.

The Fayed's were in the midst of a bitter divorce and fighting over control of their Camarillo-based gold trading business called Goldfinger Coin and Bullion Sales and an Internet firm, e-Bullion.

From my understanding, right before 6:30 pm, the Fayed's had been in a meeting with defense attorneys regarding an FBI examination of their business enterprises. Witnesses looked on in horror as a man wielding a knife repeatedly slashed Pamela in the third floor of the parking garage. Paramedics arriving on the scene were unable to save her.

Prosecution team is Eric Harmon and Alan Jackson. Defense is Mark Werksman.

Update 12:35 pm:
A film crew from NBC video taped opening statements.Opening statements are completed and the first prosecution witness is on the stand, the victim's daughter Desiree Gouldie. Ms. Gouldie detailed events from the time her mother Pamela met James Fayed, married, had a daughter, her younger half sister and the years building up to the breakdown of the marriage, the bitter divorce proceedings and the fight for control of the company. At the lunch break, Desires was under cross examination by Werksman.

Update May 5th, 5:00 am:
I apologize that personal responsibilities are delaying my trial coverage. My notes will be a few days behind, while I help Mr. Sprocket in the evening work on a building contract proposal that's due tomorrow. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet Marjorie Hernandez, who will be covering the trial for the Ventura County Star. Here is her article covering the opening of the trial. She indicated to me that she will be here for the entire case.

I've also had some problems with my browser in blogger edit, where it would go to the prior version of the page instead of the current causing me to lose quite a bit of work and entries changing back and forth. Fortunately, it's all fixed now.

The prosecution's opening statement was presented by Eric Harmon and the defense was presented by Mark Werksman. Werksman's co-counsel is Steve Meister, from Werksman's office. I do not know if Fayed hired Werksman's firm or if the firm was appointed by the court. There are two special circumstance charges, financial gain and lying-in-wait which makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty.

Three witnesses testified yesterday and their testimony is complete.

1. Desiree Goudie - oldest daughter of Pamela Fayed.
2. Delilah Urrea - friend of victim and former employee of Fayed's company, Goldfinger.
3. Gregory Wallace Herring - family law attorney representing Pamela Fayed at the time of her death.

Some quick observations. The relaxed atmosphere and body language between opposing counsel is in stark contrast to what I experienced in both Spector trials. It's giving me a totally different perspective of being in the gallery considering the personal harassment I experienced at the hands of Spector and the trial bride. Outside the presence of the jury, Jackson, Harmon, Werksman and Meister are all very friendly with each other. I observed several occasions (which you will read about in my notes) where Werksman, Jackson and Harmon chatted during the break in the well. I have yet to get a solid impression of Judge Kennedy. For those of you who might be interested in a bit of trivia, I believe Judge Kennedy presided over O.J. Simpson's preliminary hearing in his double murder trial on this same floor of the CJC. I've never been in Judge Kennedy's courtroom before so I will wait a few days before I give my impressions on how she commands her courtroom.

Pamela's brother Scott Goudie and her sister Dawn Opoulos are in the gallery. Pamela's daughter Desiree, the prosecution's first witness has been barred from being in the courtroom. A handsome young man has sat beside her for the short times she's with her family inside Dept. 109 while court is not in session. I have not seen anyone in court that appears to be the defendant's family, other than his former in-laws. There are very few people in the gallery. My trial watching friends Katie and Lisa did come for the morning session but had to leave at the lunch break. I will update my notes as soon as I can.

Update May 5th, 12:50 pm:

I've corrected some name errors and misspellings. Witnesses so far this morning were:

4. Mark Avis - Federal prosecutor for US Attorney General's Office (testimony complete)
5. David Willingham - Criminal defense attorney; first one Pamela had, later disqualified (testimony complete)
6. Carol Neve - "Best friend" of Pamela since 1989

Update May 8th, 2011 Opening Statements

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Sprocket said...

David in TN said:


Thank you for covering this trial. Mark Werksman defended Charles Rathbun, who was convicted of the murder of Linda Sobek in 1996. There have been several TV programs on the Sobek case.

David In TN