December 7th, 2009
Continued from Day 1, Part I....
After a recess was taken the court states that a second amended felony complaint was filed November 30th, 2009. It adds a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. The defendant was arraigned and entered a not guilty plea.
The people bring to the court’s attention that there are two possible witnesses in the gallery who may testify. Presby identifies one of them, Ms. Jayne Goldberg, who may testify. She’s excluded.
The people called their first witness, Lloyd Mahanay. After Mahanay takes the stand, the other potential witness is identified by Presby. It’s Sherri Rae Rasmussen’s father, Nels Rasmussen. The people don’t want to totally exclude him but will make specific motions to exclude him from any witness that might testify to something that is relevant to the possibility of his testimony. Torrealba presents the witness.
1. LLOYD MAHANAY
On February 24th, 1986 Mahanay had been a senior criminalist for the coroner’s office for six years. He testifies to his CV and training. He was experienced in the proper collection of evidence, especially sexual assault evidence and how to package them and preserve them. In ‘86, he had already processed over 200 crime scenes. He worked for the coroner’s office for 27 years and retired in 2007.
Mahanay states he was called to 7100 Balboa Boulevard, unit number 205, in Van Nuys, CA. He prepared a lab report of his activities at the scene. He remembers going to the scene specifically because that day, he was already dispatched to a crime scene and he received notification at that scene that he had another crime scene (Rasmussen) to go to when he finished up there.
Mahanay needs to review his notes to refresh his recollection as to what he specifically did. When he arrived at the scene the victim’s body was still there. Then Judge Perry interjects and asks a few questions if the witness remembers what time of day he arrived, (early morning) whether it was still dark outside (it was).
The coroner’s investigator, Walter Rainey, was already at the scene. Since Mahanay cannot remember specifically what he did, he is asked to recount what his normal practice and procedure would have been to process a body.
Depending on the position of the decedent, Mahanay would check for trace evidence on the front or back of the body. Once he gathered trace evidence (hair, fibers, anything unusual) they he would proceed to take sexual assault evidence.
Mahanay describes collecting the sexual assault evidence. Oral, breast and external genital swabs and making slides. Two vagina and two rectal swabs and making slides as well as a body surface control swab. He would also look for evidence of gunshot residue.
Mahanay identifies the unique case number assigned to this death: 86-2676. (This means this was the 2,676th death that the coroner’s office processed. That’s a significantly larger number than for a similar month, seventeen years later. Lana Clarkson’s death was 03-903.)
Mahanay’s report is entered into evidence. Looking at the report he filled out to document the sexual assault collection, Mahanay collected nipple swabs, oral swabs and slides, anal swabs and slides, vaginal swabs and slides, vaginal aspirants.
At the top of the document, it indicates he collected “bite mark evidence.” Mahanay states the document reflects he collected that sample back at the forensic science center.
Photographs of the tubes containing the sexual assault swabs are entered into evidence. Torrealba has the witness identify the number on the tube #671 and that number matches the kit number he used to collect the evidence. Judge Perry asks if the photographs were taken at the time the evidence was collected (they were). The victim is visible in the photos and Mahanay identifies her for the record.
Mahanay outlines the procedures for sealing and documenting the evidence in the kit box and then taking it to the coroner’s evidence room. The coroner’s evidence log is entered into evidence.
Torrealba goes over other items on the evidence log that indicate his initials: the fingernail kit, the damaged nail kit, the hair kit, pubic hair kit, sexual assault kit. Torrealba points out the bite mark swab on the evidence log and his initials beside it that Mahanay booked it into evidence.
Mahanay explains how he collected the bite mark evidence. He first moistens the swab with distilled water and then he takes a swab of the bite mark area on the arm. He describes the type of cotton swab that is used. It looks like the type people use when they clean their ears but it’s much longer and on a wooden stick. It’s about six inches long. The end of the wooden swab stick is attached to the cap of the plastic tube.
The labeling of the tube and how it’s packaged and documented is described in detail. The tube would be put in a physical evidence envelope and that envelope would be documented with the case number, the decedent’s name, what the contents are, where it was delivered, date and time then sealed.
Torrealba presents Mahanay with two photographs to identify. The first item Mahanay identifies as the envelope he put the bite mark evidence in.
Mahanay testifies that the envelope did not look like how it appears in the photo when he first put the evidence in the envelope. He states when he first packaged the evidence, it was a nice, clean envelope. The witness didn’t bring his glasses, so Judge Perry takes the document and attempts to read the writing.
Judge Perry states he can read Sherri Rasmussen and the date of February 25th and 10:32. Judge Perry then asks the witness a few questions regarding the envelope, if it was the type of envelope he put evidence in (it was); how he put the swab in the tube and then place the tube in the envelope (correct); and if there was anything on the envelope that indicated his signature (there is; it’s pointed out to Judge Perry).
A photo of the tube containing the swab is reviewed with Mahanay and the fact that the swab was taken from Rasmussen’s left arm.
That’s the end of direct and cross begins by Overland.
Overland verifies that Mahanay looked at his notes to help him remember what happened. Those notes are the criminalistics expert laboratory report, the form 81 and also looked at the evidence log. People’s exhibits 1, 2 and 5. Mahanay states that the photographs of the victim also helped him remember.
Overland asks Mahanay if he knows who Dan Anderson is. Mahanay states when he retired Anderson was the supervisor of the criminalistics laboratory. Overland asks if Mahanay remembers taking any notes himself, three pages of notes. Mahanay remembers taking notes but not the number of pages. Mahanay doesn’t remember giving those notes to Anderson. He states they should have stayed with the laboratory’s copy of the criminalistics laboratory report.
Overland has Mahanay state that he doesn’t specifically remember collecting the evidence in this case. Mahanay is firm that he collected the sexual assault evidence at the scene since that’s what his report states he did.
Overland questions the fact that the report states the evidence was collected at 0634 Hours. Mahanay states that would have been the time that he finished collecting all the evidence, not just the sexual assault evidence.
Overland also questions Mahanay at about what time Rainey also arrived. Mahanay states that they arrived about the same time. That Rainey was at the prior crime scene with him. Mahanay states that the prior crime scene was at the corner of Chevy Chase and Woodland in a parking lot in a car.
Overland questions Mahanay about his procedures in collecting evidence at that crime scene and how it was packaged.
Mahanay explains exceptions to his following his normal procedures. If a body was tied up or wrapped up Mahanay would have to wait until a pathologist visually observed the ligatures on the body. Once they were removed then he could complete his sexual assault kit on the body.
Overland asks Mahanay detailed questions about the sexual assault kits, where they are obtained from, their numbering and what specific items make up one of these kits.
Overland asks Mahanay about fibers taken from the robe and hair and if Mahanay remembers specifically taking those items (no).
Overland asks almost the same specific questions about the vial/swab he used to collect the bite mark evidence as Judge Perry did. Where the swab kit came from, if it was numbered and the procedures he did to collect the evidence.
Mahanay explains that there are two swab sticks inside each vial. The reason they do that is so that for testing at the crime lab, they have two swabs to work with instead of just one.
Overland asks if there was blood or some other kind of fluid that he collected. Mahanay states it was just a swab of a bite mark. Overland asks again if there was blood but Mahanay doesn’t specifically remember if there was. He states they automatically swab a bite mark for he chance of having saliva there.
Judge Perry asks if he remembers what the bit mark looked like (no).
Overland asks about a GSR Kit #4322 that was used on Rasmussen’s hands. Anything they have a victim that’s been shot, they automatically take GSR kits from their hands to see if the victim may have also fired a gun or not.
Overland goes over the evidence log with Mahanay and has him explain every single column on the log and what they mean.
Overland moves to the evidence envelope that contained the bite mark swab and it’s current condition. Mahanay states that on the photo of the swab tube, the word LEFT is barely readable along with the coroner’s case number, which is not readable in the photograph.
Overland asks questions about the number of crime scenes Mahanay visited before this one in the course of his work and about how many swabs he took at those crime scenes.
Cross is finished, there’s no redirect and the next witness is called.
2. RICHARD HEATH
Torrealba presents the witness. Heath currently works in the Investigations Division at the LA Co. Coroner’s office. He’s been working for the LA Co. Coroner since 1972. Back in February, 1986, his position was evidence custodian. His duties as the evidence custodian were checking evidence into the evidence room and releasing evidence. He would obtain evidence from a “drop site” where he would sign for it and collect it.
Torrealba asks him if he knew the individual who just left the courtroom and he identifies him as Lloyd Mahanay. Heath states he did not work directly with Mahanay. Mahanay worked in the labs which ws associated with the evidence room. Heath received his training to work the evidence room from other staff employees. He started in the evidence room approximately 1983. A year later he became a full time employee. Heath also trained others in the evidence room procedures, including Joe Murillo.
People’s exhibit #5, the evidence log is presented to Heath and he explains everything it’s used for. Heath identifies his initials on the log where he received evidence in this case. He received several items on the card into evidence, including the bite mark evidence.
Torrealba has the witness look over the columns on the card for initials for when evidence is released. There are no signatures on the card by where the bite mark is logged in that indicate the bite mark was logged out of evidence.
In cross examination, Overland asks about a box that’s checked that indicates there is more information on the back of the card. Through further questioning by the court it’s testified to that the back side of the card is also present on the prosecution’s copy of the card.
Overland brings out the first defense exhibit, A, an evidence log. On the card is the case number 1986-02676, the victim’s name Sherri Rasmussen (with an “O”), the investigating officers names Pida and Mayer. There is an objection as to whether this document has had the proper foundation to be admitted, and Judge Perry asks some foundation questions. Heath’s name is on the card, but he states his signature is not on the card. Heath testifies that the “R. Heath” on the card was not done in his handwriting.
In further questioning, Overland is having a problem laying the foundation for the document to come in. He’s not able through this witness to say where the form came from even though the form looks exactly like the one that the prosecution entered into evidence.
Judge Perry states that he will accept that this form is the type used by the coroner’s office, but at this point he can not state through this witness, where he obtained the document.
At this time, the people interject and state that they are going to call the witness who prepared this form. With that information Judge Perry asks Overland why they can’t wait to hear from that upcoming witness to what he did and why. Overland concedes and there is no more cross and no redirect.
They take the lunch recess at this point. After lunch, the next witness is called. Ms. Torrealba presents the witness.
3. JOE MURILLO
Murillo is employed at the LA Co. Coroner’s office. He’s been employed there 21 years. He started working there in 1982 and became a permanent employee in 1988. In 1986 he was a student worker and he worked in the evidence room. His job duties were to wrap clothing, blood swatches and release evidence to the agencies. He received on the job training from his supervisor, Richard Heath.
Murillo describes his duties as to how he prepared wrapping and drying clothing as well as making blood swatches. He then is show people’s #5, the coroner’s evidence log card and the items on the card labeled “collected” and an individual’s name that he personally wrote on the card. The blood vial, the panties, t-shirt, robe. Murillo verifies that the time listed on the card, 1500 hours, is when he placed those items into the evidence room.
Several photographs are shown to the witness regarding evidence he handled and logged into the evidence room. A photograph of the bundle of wrapped clothing; the items of clothing; the toe tag; the various packaging and close-up photos of the labels and his signature on the tags.
On the evidence card, the witness identifies the handwriting of his supervisor, Richard Heath as logging into evidence on the evidence card, the bullets that were collected by Dr. Selser. His initials are by those and other items as being released from evidence on February 28th, 1986. He released the clothing and bullets to LAPD Officer L. Bagget badge number 14750. He would have the officer write in his information when they picked up the evidence.
The witness states that other items booked into evidence, like the blood swatches, etc., he did not do anything else with them.
On cross examination, Overland asks how and where Murillo obtained the evidence to log it into the property room. Judge Perry interjects and asks a series of questions about how the custom and practice back in 1986 in the coroner’s office. Clothing coming into the office is removed by the photographer and placed in the drying cage.
Once the clothing items are dry, Murillo would make his evidence tag for each item, place each item in a separate bag, and then wrap those bags all up in one big bundle. Murillo would then make out a label for when he performed that task. Then the bundle would go in the evidence room on a shelf.
Overland asks Murillo to identify on the evidence card who he released the clothing, the damaged hair kit, the pubic hair kit to. The copies of the evidence cards are difficult for the witness to read and he cannot tell from the document “who” in the LAPD’s Science Investigation Division (SID) he released the evidence to.
Murillo released the sexual assault kit and the envelope with the bullet in it. Going down the line on the card he released the bullets and clothing to Officer Bagget, but the date on the card the items were released are in question. Murillo states that after releasing these items he never saw them again.
Overland now brings out defense exhibit A. Murillo states that his handwriting does not appear on this card. Murillo states that only himself and his supervisor, Richard Heath had authorized access to enter the property room. Murillo also states that the freezer where biological evidence was stored is also located inside the property room.
4. MATTHEW GORDER
Shannon Presby presents the witness. Gorder is asked if he knows John Ruetten. He says he does and he identifies a photo of Ruetten. Gorder met Ruetten in seventh grate a Persian Junior High School, in San Diego, 38 years ago.
Gorder states he was best friends with Ruetten through junior high and high school. They shared a locker, were chemistry lab partners, played on the same sports team and shared most of their classes together. Their families were very close and their mothers were best friends. He testifies he is familiar with all members of the Ruetten family.
Gorder states he knew that Ruetten had girlfriends while in high school. In the fall of 1977, both Gorder and Ruetten enrolled at UCLA, School of Engineering and Applied Science. They were both in engineering school. Gorder’s focus was electrical engineering. Ruetten’s focus was mechanical engineering. In his undergraduate course work, Ruetten and Gorder took classes together.
As a freshman, Gorder and Ruetten were both residents of Dykstra Hall, a large resident hall on campus. Besides the difficult classes they took, they played intramural basketball together, traveled back and forth to San Diego together and saw each other socially quote often.
During his sophomore year, Gorder and Ruetten were still residents of Dykstra Hall. During that time, they met another Dykstra resident, Stephanie Lazarus. Gorder identifies Lazarus for the record. Gorder does not have a specific memory today of how he met Lazarus, but he knows it was during his sophomore year.
Gorder and Lazarus became casual friends. During that time he observed Ruetten in contact with Lazarus. From his observations, he came to a conclusion about the relationship between Lazarus and Ruetten. He observed that they had a very close friendship. They did spend a significant amount of time together. As far as Gorder could tell, it was a platonic relationship.
Gorder testifies that he never saw Lazarus and Ruetten engage in any activity that one would associate as a romantic relationship. He never saw them holding hands or kissing. Gorder did observe Lazarus and Ruetten playing basketball outside Dykstra Hall. During the game he observed their interaction while Ruetten was guarding the defendant. After some detail questioning by Judge Perry, Gorder recounts one particular incident (although he states there could have been more) that stood out for him.
Gorder, Lazarus and Ruetten were shooting baskets. Lazarus posted Ruetten up, backed him down. There was a lot of body contact. He thought at the time, ‘It looks like Steph would like John to guard her a lot closer.”
Overland raises an objection and Judge Perry does sustain the objection but then asks his own question of the witness. “Did it appear to you that she was provocatively backing into him; is that what you’re saying?” Overland makes an objection to that question and Judge Perry overrules. Gorder answers, “Yes, sir, it did.” Gorder is then asked about Lazarus’ level of athleticism while he knew her at UCLA. She was very athletic.
During his time at UCLA, Gorder did not observe Ruetten with a serious girlfriend. During Gorder’s junior and senior years, he lived off campus but he still had a meal ticket. He ate all his meals i the Dykstra Hall cafeteria for both those years. Gorder states that during his senior year, Ruetten moved out of Dykstra Hall and into an apartment. Gorder and Ruetten are still friends to this day.
After Ruetten graduated, Gorder met Sheri Rasmussen and identifies a photograph of her. Gorer’s wife was a nurse at the UCLA medical center and Rasmussen was his wife’s supervisor. They nurses had many friends together among the other nursing staff, so Gorder met Rasmussen on several occasions.
Presby tries to get questions in about how Ruetten and Rasmussen met and if Gorder and his wife played a role in that. Judge Perry questions why the court needs to know who Ruetten and Rasmussen met. Gorder is not certain at what point Rasmussen changed employment from UCLA to Glendale Adventist.
Gorder attended the wedding of Rasmussen and Ruetten. He does not believe that Lazarus was at the wedding. He states he did not see her there. Gorder states that there were somewhere between 150 and 200 guests.
Gorder states that in the entire time he knew Ruetten, Rasmussen and Lazarus he never saw the three of them together. He learned about Rasmussen’s murder the following day. His wife called him at work. That evening he went to see Ruetten at a hotel in the Van Nuys area. Gorder never discussed any details of the case.
Under cross examination Gorder states the last time he saw Lazarus was sometime in 1983. He doesn’t remember the month. During his years at UCLA, he states he probably had direct contact with the defendant somewhere between 10 and 20 times. He can specifically remember the details of three or four events, and details a time in 1983 when he was jogging the perimeter at UCLA He ran with the defendant for about a half mile before turning back around in the direction he was going. They talked as they jogged.
Gorder was interviewed by detectives twice in May, 2009 and at that time detectives told them they were focusing their investigation on Lazarus.
5. CARLOS CELAYA
Torrealba presents the witness.
In 1986, Celaya was a deputy coroner. His exact job title was photographic, forensic technician. He documented evidence through photography. At that time he had been employed by the coroner’s office for five years.
Celaya explains his duties of photographing the bodies that would come to the coroner’s office. The bodies would be brought to the photography room. First, he would photograph the body as it arrived. Overall photos then facial shots and then the clothing would be removed. The clothing would then be placed on white paper to dry. The paper with the clothing on it would be moved into the drying cages.
Celaya states that he is familiar with Dr. Selser and that she was working at the coroner’s office in 1986. A series of photographs are given to the witness to identify. They are not put on the overhead screen. The witness identifies a photograph, People’s #21 as a photograph he took, via the information on a “blue card” (something that’s probably in the photo itself). This is a photograph of the bite mark. People’s #22 is an overall photograph of the victim, clothed. People’s #23 is another photograph of the victim and Celaya identifies the clothing on the body. People’s #24 is an identifying facial photo of the victim. People’s #25 is a shot of the victim’s eyes. People’s #26 is a profile shot. People’s #27 is another photo of the victim’s head.
Celaya describes that as a matter of routine, he would then remove the clothing. Under questioning by Judge Perry, he doesn’t have a specific memory of removing Rasmussen’s clothing. A document is given to the witness, and his name is on it but he states the handwriting is not his.
Celaya states that Dr. Selser was normally a morning doctor but he cannot specifically remember if Dr. Selser was there when the clothing was removed. Celaya remembers when he removed the clothing a bullet fell out and he gave the bullet to Dr. Selser.
Under cross examination, Celaya doesn’t remember if he had an assistant that day.
6. ALICIA RAMIREZ
Ms. Torrealba presents the witness. Ramirez is employed at the coroner’s office. She has been employed there for 18 years as an evidence and property custodian. She was working at the coroner’s office in 2004. Her duties in that position were to collect evidence coming in from investigators, transport, doctors and check that everything was properly sealed, signed and initialed, labeled. They would then process the evidence by putting into the evidence logs and file it away on proper shelves or freezers.
She testifies that she knows who Dan Anderson is. She works with him. He is the supervisor of the laboratory. He was not her direct supervisor. That was Michelle Sandberg. In December of 2004 Anderson asked her and her coworker Jackie Partida to find a piece of evidence from case number 86-2676. Ramirez was the one who found the bite mark swab evidence.
Ramirez recognizes an evidence log where they keep a chain of custody of all evidence coming in and out. She identifies her handwriting on the document. When she found the envelope, she contacted Dan Anderson and notified him that the evidence would have to be repackaged because the envelope was damaged.
Ramirez wrote on the bottom of the evidence log a description of the evidence. She obtained that information from the original envelope. On the new envelope she wrote: “Original evidence torn, repackaged by Dan Anderson in order to release to LAPD. Original envelope included 12/22/04 at 1350 by Dan Anderson” She then initialed the new envelope.
Ramirez identifies photos of the original envelope she found and the new enclosing envelope she placed it in. The original evidence log was obtained from microfilm. After she found the evidence, she placed it on white butcher paper for Dan Anderson to repackage it. She observed him repackage the evidence.
Judge Perry asks the witness a few questions. She states that she started looking for this item sometime in December, 2004. The coroner’s office had four freezers and she had to look through all four freezers to find the evidence. When she found the envelope she states that it had a tear in it.
Overland crosses Ramierez. Ramierez states she doesn’t remember “which” refrigerator she found the evidence in. She states she doesn’t know when the photo of the envelope was taken. She affirms that the photo depicts how the original envelope looked when she found it. She didn’t move or touch anything (inside?) the envelope.
The tear at the top with the red cap protruding, that was exactly how she found it. She states that Dan Anderson came to her department and repackaged it in front of her. She does not know who printed out the evidence log from the microfilm.
The second evidence log, the witness states that she made that new log after she found the evidence. She identifies the lines on the new log that she completed. She states that her coworker’s initials are on the log indicating that her coworker released the evidence to a detective. She cannot remember if she was present or not, when that evidence was released. She’s asked to identify another set of initials beside the “release” column and she cannot.
There is no redirect of the witness.
7. JACQUELINE GARCIA-PARTIDA
Ms. Torrealba presents the witness.
Ms. Garcia states she can be referred to as Ms. Garcia. Garcia states she currently works at the coroner’s office. She has worked there since 1994. In December of 2004, her job title was evidence and property custodian. She explains her job duties (which are exactly the same as the previous witness) and her training. In December 2004, she had been an evidence custodian for ten years.
Garcia identifies Defense exhibit A, as a type of evidence log and her department keeps to track chain of custody of evidence coming into the coroner’s possession and as it’s released out to the investigating agencies.
Garcia identifies the case number on the document at 1986-2676. Ms. Torrealba draws the witness’ attention to a specific area of the card where there are initials for releasing the “bite swab” evidence. Garcia states those are her initials and her handwriting on the card.
Judge Perry asks the witness to use the laser pointer and just point to what she wrote on the card.
Garcia confirms that she also wrote the release date, December 30th, ‘04. Garcia also states that she recognizes the handwriting of the receiving individual, their badge number and agency. Garcia states that it was the LAPD lab tech at the time which was “Millie.” Garcia states Millie has a real long name. She reverifies that she recognizes the handwriting as belonging to Millie who worked at the LAPD at the time.
Garcia explains in detail how the evidence is released, where she obtains it from, signs the envelope released by her, the individual picking up the evidence, sign the evidence log as chain of custody and the individual receiving the evidence takes it from there.
Garcia states that the envelope would not be opened unless something needed to be checked. That would happen in front of the criminalist or in front of the person picking up the envelope. Once the evidence is released, it would not come back to her department. It’s in the hands of the receiving agency.
Cross examination by Mark Overland.
Overland verifies that Garcia has been properly trained in collecting and packaging evidence that the coroner’s office collected.
Garcia explains the purpose of the seal that’s attached to the envelope. It’s to show who sealed it and prevent tampering with the evidence.
Overland shows Garcia a photo of People’s 6, a photo of the original evidence envelope that was torn. Garcia states that when they are trained to package evidence, the envelopes are not supposed to have tears in them like the photo shows of the original evidence envelope.
That’s it for cross and no redirect.
8. DAN ANDERSON
Ms. Torrealba presents the witness.
Anderson states he is currently employed at the LA County Coroner’s office as a supervising criminalist. He has been a supervisor there since 1995. He has been with the coroner’s office almost 20 years. He had a one-year stint at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in between all the years.
Anderson describes his duties as primarily a toxicologist. He manages the toxicology laboratory. Several years ago he managed the filed criminalist program. His job title back in 2004 was managing the field criminalist program.
Anderson then gives his CV (Curriculum Vitae). He is accredited by the American Board of Criminalists in 1988 and certified by the American Board of Toxicologists in 2007.
Anderson states that he does remember conversing with a person named Jennifer about case number 86-2676. Anderson is shown People’s exhibit number 5. Anderson recognizes it as a photocopy of a microfilm of the coroner’s evidence log. Anderson states the department no longer has the original document. The only copy available is the microfilm.
Anderson is directed to some handwriting on the side of the document. Anderson reads the information: “Jennifer” with an “X” and “0061.” Anderson states 0061 was Jennifer’s telephone extension at the old LAPD laboratory at the time. The document has a date of 12/20/04 and there is a note “Jackie will look.”
Anderson states that what he remembers of the conversation along the lines of, “They’re looking for a bite mark swab. Our evidence section can’t locate it. You need to help since you’re the supervisor.” Anderson states he started an investigation.
Anderson is directed to some writing on the bottom of the document. Anderson identifies it as the handwriting of one of the evidence custodians, Alica Ramirez. Anderson remembers going to back to the evidence room on December 22nd, 2004 and repackaging the evidence.
Anderson cannot remember the last name of Jennifer, who he identifies as one of the serologists at the LAPD.
Anderson states again that he repackaged the evidence since it could not be released in the condition it was found. Anderson states the reason was that the envelope was “...pretty beaten up.” It had a hole in it.”
Anderson is shown People’s exhibit number 6, a photo of the torn envelope. He testifies the image is how the envelope looked when he first saw it.
Judge Perry asks a few questions of the witness to determine the sequence of events of what he did when he was notified. Anderson states that when he first saw the envelope, he saw that the red top of the “swoop tube” was sticking out of the envelope.
Anderson states that the evidence would have been kept in one of the freezers in the coroner’s office. There are many different types of containers in the freezer: cardboard boxes, paper envelopes.
People’s exhibit’s number 28 and 29 are shown to the witness. Number 28 has a photo of the original envelope the evidence was packaged in on the left of the photo and the new evidence envelope that Anderson repackaged the evidence in is on the right in the photo.
Anderson explains how he knows this was the new envelope that the evidence was repackaged in. The seals on the new envelope have his initials and the date of 12/22/04 on it. Anderson takes the pointer and identifies his seals and the seals of the LAPD above his seals. Exhibit number 29, is another photo of the new evidence envelope. Anderson identifies his handwriting, what he wrote on the envelope (decedent’s name, case number, etc.) and what he was repackaging.
Anderson states that he did not do anything with the actual contents of the envelope. He did not touch it, remove it, or open the tube.
Direct ends and cross begins by Overland.
Anderson states that he did not shove the tube down into the envelope more when he saw that it was protruding. Anderson states that the length of the scoop tube, is long. The image that is up on the screen of the envelope, that’s the length of the tube and it would already be hitting the bottom of the envelope. He states that it could shove the tube maybe over, over to the left and into the envelope a little bit more. Anderson doesn’t recall doing that.
Anderson states that he doesn’t remember doing anything like that to the “scoop tube.” Anderson doesn’t believe that the tube was protruding any more from the envelope. He believes that the envelope was only damaged around the “cap” area.
Anderson states that in his memory, he does not recall the tube sticking out any further from the envelope when he first saw it. He states that if it was, he would have remembered that.
End of cross, no redirect.
9. JAYNE GOLDBERG
Mr. Shawn Presby presents the witness.
Ms. Goldberg identifies a photo of the victim. Goldberg and Sherri Rae Rasmussen were friends and roommates. They worked together at UCLA and were peers. Goldberg met Rasmussen in 1978 when Rasmussen came to work as a staff nurse. Goldberg was working at UCLA as a nurse as well. After Rasmussen finished her master’s degree, she became the head nurse in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) and Goldberg’s supervisor.
Goldberg states Rasmussen was very well liked by the staff she supervised. In the fall of 1982, she and Rasmussen became roommates at 7100 Balboa Boulevard, Unit 205. Rasmussen has purchased the condo and Goldberg moved in. Goldberg described the condo as a multilevel townhouse. The condo had an attached garage and they entered mostly through the garage.
Goldberg describes the entire layout of the condo. There was a powder room on the first floor living room area and a balcony with a sliding glass door on the level off the breakfast nook area. The bedrooms were off the stairs on different levels higher up.
Goldberg states that Sherri was a very neat and organized housekeeper. Everything had a place. Goldberg identifies a photo of John Ruetten and that she knew him. Goldberg lived at the condo from the fall of 1982 to June of 1985, almost three years.
Goldberg states that during the time she lived with Sherri, she was unaware of Sherri having any enemies. Rasmussen became engaged to John Ruetten in May of 1984. They got married on November 23rd, 1985. Goldberg states Sherri was murdered on February 24th, 1986. Goldberg is asked again about the engagement and restates it as June of 1985.
Presby asks Goldberg a question whether Rasmussen ever described to her an event, sometime between the time Rasmussen became engaged and was eventually killed, where Rasmussen spoke about an event in which Sherri said a person came to her work in regard to her engagement or proposed marriage. Goldberg is allowed to answer that question, but the defense is trying to keep out any more information about the event, making a hearsay objection.
Presby tells the court that the testimony is not offered for a hearsay purpose. Presby tells the court that he believes the witness would testify as an offer of proof that John’s ex-girlfriend came to Ms. Rasmussen’s place of work and essentially said that “I belong with Mr. Ruetten and if the marriage does not work out I will be there to pick up the pieces.”
Presby argues that it’s relevant as to whether or not Sherri would admit her fiance’s “ex-girlfriend” into the apartment or not. It would reflect state of mind of the victim in respect to her prior contact with the defendant.
Judge Perry sustains the objection, so this testimony will not get on the record.
Goldberg is not able to state specifically how many units are in the gated condo complex. She states the entire complex is gated. To drive onto the complex you needed to have a remote control device (to open the gate). For pedestrians, there was a locked gate. Residents were able to enter the complex by either the remote control in their car or with a key at the gate.
Goldberg states that at the main entrance on Balboa Blvd., there was a main board with everyone’s name and a button one could push. There were also locked pedestrian gates at either end of the complex. There was a wall surrounding the entire complex.
Judge Perry asks the witness how high the wall was and she replies “....about six feet.”
Goldberg states there were plantings, bushes near the exterior walls. Goldberg states she had moved out of the apartment once Ruetten and Rasmussen became engaged.
There’s no cross examination of this witness and this is the last witness of the first day of testimony.
Ms. Torrealba did have one housekeeping matter regarding documents that were dropped off at the DA’s office. She asks Overland to stipulate that she can open the documents, make copies and provide copies to him, keeping the chain of custody. Overland says, “Yes.” and that’s it for the first day of the preliminary hearing.
Continued in Preliminary Hearing Recap, Day 2...
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