Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Pre-Screening of Jurors Continues

UPDATE: 9:58 pm Edited for clarification and errors.

UPDATE: Feb. 1st, 7:00 pm: First day of pre-screening has been updated.

Sherri Rae Rasmussen

This is just a short note to let you know that the pre-screening of jurors continued this morning. At noon, the court ended up with 79 individuals who filled out the jury questionnaire. Within the first batch on Monday, there were a few who did not fully complete it. DDA Shannon Presby, in this mornings session felt that there were about eleven or so questionnaires that were not completely filled out, possibly due to language issues. They are going to try to get another 40 jurors in the hopes that there might be 10 or so that could fill out the questionnaire. The jury commissioner told Judge Perry that he could receive more jurors after 2:30 pm. Court will resume with a new batch of jurors.

I still have my afternoon notes from yesterday to finish as well as today. In the morning session, a potential juror, a woman, spoke up and informed Judge Perry that they knew the victim, Sherri Rae Rasmussen. She was a colleague of Sherri's. Judge Perry immediately excused her from this court's jury service. The woman was visibly shaken as she left the courtroom, an expression of anguish on her face.

During lunch in the first floor cafeteria, I saw her and asked if she would be willing to talk to me about Sherri. She agreed. Please keep checking back for updates later tonight.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Pre-Screening of Jurors Begins

UPDATED: Feb. 1st, 2012, 7:00 pm with afternoon session notes

Feb 2nd, 2012: Short edit for accuracy.

Stephanie Lazarus, June 2009

I get into Department 104 right after 8:30 am to find that the trial won't start until 10:00 am.

The first phase of jury selection gets underway today where Judge Perry will pre-screen jurors to try to find as many jurors as possible who can serve on a five to six week. trial. Today, 100 potential jurors will enter Department 104 and the goal will be to find those who would not endure a hardship to sit on a jury for that long. Not all employers pay for jury service. And of those that do, not all will pay for a long trial.

The jurors that can serve, they will be taken to another courtroom where they will complete a juror questionnaire. This exact same process with a second set of 100 jurors will be repeated on Tuesday. Judge Perry hopes to get from the 200 jurors, at least 75 to 100 that will be able to fill out a jury questionnaire. Then the jurors will be ordered back on Friday, February 3rd, 2012. Judge Perry did indicate at a prior hearing that the court will read through the jury questionnaires, and if he finds any that he feels will not meet the needs of this trial, he will excuse them before hand, calling them and letting them know they don't have to report on Friday. He would notify the prosecution and defense those juror numbers that the court excused in this process.

Mary and Arlene from the Public Information Office are here talking to Lazarus' mother and the friend I saw at the last pretrial hearing about what will happen today and what will happen for trial. Mary reassures them that they will have reserved seating during the trial, there's no problem about that. Mary reminds them that Judge Perry is a stickler for starting on time. I hear Mary ask the friend what her name is but I don't catch it. It's Judy or Jane. I have also heard Lazarus' mother called "Carol" but I do not know the correct spelling of her name. I don't have it confirmed yet, but I believe Lazarus' husband's name is Scott Young, a detective with the LAPD.

Mark Overland enters the courtroom with Courtney who was here a bit earlier. There is a tall suited, black haired gentleman sitting in the jury box and I wonder who he might be. I believe I overhear Courtney ask the sheriff's if Lazarus is in the jail area because then she says, "Oh, she's not?"

I ask Mary what Judge Perry's regular clerk's name is. It's Melody Ramarez. Judge Perry comes out and calls the suited man in the jury box back to his chambers. Mark Overland and his daughter Courtney work on their laptops at the defense table, and empty seat for Lazarus between them. Overland is on the left; Courtney on the right.

9:20 am: I go out in the hallway to finish and publish my prior entry and see a woman I first met at the first Phil Spector trial, Susan from Dateline. She recognizes me. She's not here for Lazarus, but another matter. I publish my prior story and go back inside. Lazarus' mother has her arms on the back of the bench seat and is resting her head down on her forearms. I note that Courtney, a slender woman, has on a light gray skirt and matching jacket with a pink button down blouse. Her hose are very sheer. After some deliberation in my mind, I think there is a slight gray tint to them. Her black shoes are stylish but practical low heels.

Like Judge Perry mentioned, he added quite a few chairs to the well of the court and a few in the gallery. I counted an extra 35 seats to try to seat as many jurors as possible. The court reporter asks the Overlands how they would like their copies of the prior days transcripts. It doesn't matter how they want them, the cost is the same.

A very slender blond woman in heels enters and I recognize her immediately. It's recognized journalist Pat LaLama. Mary patiently explains the procedure for today, the pool reporter, the lottery for the extra seat and that there won't be much going on today, just pre-screening of jurors. I happen to introduce myself to her and she was so kind to tell me that she reads T&T. Thank you Pat.

9:40 am: Paul Nunez enters the courtroom with Detective Jamarillo. There is a dark, curly haired woman with Jamarillo and they both sit in the first row of chairs that have been added to the well of the court. A minute later, Shannon Presby enters after him. I leave to try to write up my notes so far for today.

9:52 am I'm back in the hallway of the 9th floor of the Criminal Court Building.
Things must be starting because Public Information Office acting head Mary Wells just came out of Dept 104. I see a local TV reporter speaking to Mary in the hallway, I think ABC 7 or NBC 4. I recognize the face, but I can't put a name to him.

In the lottery, I lost the extra pool report seat. A man I've never seen before from City News got it. I see Matthew McGough in the group over with the PIO ladies, getting the low down on what will happen today.

10:10am: Melody calls jurors for 104 into the courtroom. I start writing and Matthew McGough comes by to sit on the same bench with me. I'll update as soon as I get more information.

12:00 Noon
As soon as the first batch of jurors left the courtroom, several of the reporters were allowed back in to listen to the rest of the potential jurors give their explanations to the judge as to why they couldn't serve. At this point I can only see the back of Lazarus' head. She's in black pants and a black top.

One by one, over 60 plus jurors explain their hardships. For most, it is financial. Many of those employed, their employer only pays for ten days of jury service. Others were self employed and being on a trial this long would be a financial hardship. A few mentioned they had made up their minds and could not be an impartial juror on this case having seen shows about the case on Dateline, 48 Hours or Cold Case. Other excuses ranged from pre-scheduled/paid for business trips, pre-scheduled medical procedures, language issues, having to care for an ill parent or spouse or they were in school full or part time with finals coming up. One potential juror stated they worked as a civilian employee for the LAPD for seven years. When asked directly if she had "prejudged" this case, she said she had not, but the process; she understood how hard it was to get a case to trial. Another potential juror felt she could not be impartial because she was held-up at "gun point and knife point" at the LA Music Center in 1991."

Lazarus whispers with the defense investigator. As her face is turned sideways, I see her give him a big smile and a big animated expression of surprise at something he said. It doesn't appear as if Lazarus has put on any makeup. Her skin looks very pale to me. I thought it was interesting when some would cite language as being an issue, Judge Perry would ask them how long they had lived in the US. The time frames ranged from twenty to thirty years. Then Judge Perry would ask if they spoke English on the job. One potential juror was a lawyer themselves starting in February. Judge Perry asked which law firm they worked for. Another potential juror said they had a conflict. He and Overland's co-defense counsel used to work together.

11:30 am: After every juror had been questioned, Judge Perry asked to see counsel at sidebar. Lazarus is still whispering with the large defense investigator. Judge Perry states, "I'm going to let this group all go." Hearing that, the people file out of the courtroom. The TV reporter who's name I couldn't remember introduces himself to me, and as soon as I hear it I remember. It's Patrick Healy, with local NBC. Lazarus is taken back into the jail area. I think Presby is asking if they can get more jurors in the afternoon. Judge Perry is shaking his head.

Judge Perry says something to one of the bailiffs and I hear, "31 questionnaires." Matthew asks Mary from the PIO if there are any furlough days. Mary says no, but there are two holidays, Monday the 13th and Monday the 20th, in February. There is also a holiday day at the end of March. We will be able to get a copy of the questionnaire from the Public Information Office when the judge releases it to the media.

Linda Deutsch is asked if she could remember a case where the lead defense attorney was "legally blind" and Linda indicated no. Judge Perry chats with a member of his staff. Paul Nunez and the other lead detective get up and ask to speak to Mary in the ante chamber.

Lazarus comes back into the courtroom, picks up some belongings she has left there, smiles at her friend in the gallery and is escorted back into the little jail area.

We then learn that there are an additional 50 jurors that they will receive at 1:30 pm. So, I'm here for lunch. Out in the hallway, Patrick Healy asks to get some chat time with Mark Overland. I'll be back for the afternoon session.

January 30th, 2012 1:30 pm
I get into Department 104 at 1:28 pm. Carol and her friend are sitting to my right. The investigating detectives are in the first bench row. Presby and Nunez are at the prosecution table. Judge Perry is on the bench and Overland is at the defense table. I rode up the elevator from lunch with Courtney. Since I saw her up close, the color of her blouse is more of a rose color, not pink. All the male counsel are wearing black suits today. From where I’m sitting I can see Presby has on a striped tie. I’m trying to describe what Lazarus has on today. It’s a three piece, very thin, stretch like black material. She has a black top on with a loose, flowing type cardigan/jacket. But it’s not really a jacket. I work with fabric all the time but at the moment my mind is a blank for a better word to describe it.

Jurors start to file in and fill up the jury box first. The bailiff takes a head count and they are missing 10 jurors. Judge Perry states he will wait a bit longer. Two more jurors show up. Melody tells Judge Perry there is an issue with the elevators and a few more are coming.

Lazarus and Courtney chat. From where I’m sitting, it looks like Lazarus is wearing tortoise shell glasses, but they could be black. The shape of the lenses appears to be half oval. We’re still missing five more jurors. We go on the record at 1:40 pm.

Judge Perry starts off with the usual declaration of People v. Stephanie Lazarus. Then he introduces the parties to the room, starting with himself.. He then goes from my left to right, starting with DDA Shannon Presby, DDA Paul Nunez, Mark Overland, Lazarus, Courtney and then their investigator, Randal "Randy" Later. I finally have the man’s name. I believe everyone stood including Lazarus as they were introduced.

Then Judge Perry instructs all jurors to stand and take the oath. He then moves onto the charge. It is alleged that on February 24th, 1986, Stephanie Lazarus committed the crime of murder (?) and with malice aforethought and use a firearm on that occasion. She has pled not guilty. This is not a death penalty case and jurors are not to speculate as to the punishment.

At the time of her arrest in 2009, Stephanie Lazarus had been a police officer with the LAPD for over twenty-five years. Ms. Rasmussen was killed on February 24th, 1986. She was killed in her home, unit 205 of the Balboa Town Homes at 7100 Balboa Blvd., in the city of Van Nuys.

The principle of the criminal justice system, is the defendant is presumed to be innocent. The prosecution has the burden of proof. Judge Perry talks about proof beyond a reasonable doubt. “It is the kind of proof that you have an abiding conviction of the truth at trial.”

Judge Perry then goes on to mention the considerable publicity this case has attracted. Judge Perry stresses the importance of jurors not being influenced about the guilt or innocence of the defendant from media coverage. I believe he adds, “If you have opinions about this case, you cannot be a fair juror.” He asks for a show of hands if anyone has formed an opinion so far. “I see no hands,” Perry concludes.

“As a prospective juror, you must put aside anything you’ve seen or heard; keep an open mind and wait to see the evidence in court.” Perry tells the gallery. “I’m going to give you an order. You will bring this home with you. (snip) As jurors, you must do your part not to be influenced by outside sources. (I) order you, you must not read, research, talk, listen to (TV, news broadcasts) about this case with (anyone). Do not discuss with your fellow jurors (details about) this case. Do not investigate or read or watch TV or listen to the radio or look on the Internet. You must not do research on the Internet or library or anywhere else. It’s a violation of the court order and could result in a contempt of court charge (and possibly face prosecution and/or fines).”

“Why we are so hard (on this?) is because we have no control outside the courtroom and it defeats the opportunity for a fair trial. (snip) The rules are designed that we have a fair trial for both sides. You don’t go out and investigate or talk to people about the case.”

Judge Perry then tells the gallery a true story that happened some time ago. A family of four in the San Fernando Valley were murdered in their home. It was a month-long trial. A lot of time and effort went into (presenting? prosecuting?) the case. During deliberations, a juror went to a library. There was a lot of media attention on the case at that time. Juror went to the library about the case. Don’t know what he read but he violated the court’s order. He compounded the error by bringing into the jury room (the information that he read at the library). A mistrial was declared. There are other similar stories over the years. Another case, with a judge in this building on another floor. An issue in the case was, whether or not you could get fingerprints off of a gun. A juror whipped out his i-Phone and googled it. “What’s the problem with that?” Judge Perry asks the gallery. Because you don’t know if you’re getting good information or not. There’s all kinds of problems with that.”

Judge Perry mentions a third case, in Illinois. A juror was tweeting a “blow by blow” account of the trial that caused a mistrial in that case. “Trust the system,” Judge Perry tells the potential jurors. “This case will take five to six weeks. A long one. But for those that can serve, (we would like you) to fill out a juror questionnaire. There are eight pages of questions and a list of prospective witnesses that you may know. Once you fill that out, you’re done. You come back on Friday, February 3rd, at 8:30 am. for the next stage. Filling out the questionnaire gives the attorneys (the opportunity) to find out (a bit about you) and not have to ask (you) questions in open court.”

Judge Perry informs the jurors that they are under oath on the questionnaire. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t write on the back, since these pages are copied. We’ll give you pens, and please give the pens back. We’re a government operation and not the doctor’s office. (Laughter in the gallery at Judge Perry’s comment.) “Leave now folks, if you can serve. Go to Department 103.

Several jurors get up to go next door. I want to remind everyone that the legislature (rec? record? requires?) that a trial by jury is a cherished constitutional right and jury service is a required obligation to serve when summoned. We need jurors to decide cases. (So) I say to you, (serve). Somebody died in this instance and we need jurors to sort out the evidence.

It is a repeat of the rest of what I observed during the morning session. People were giving their excuses as to why serving on this jury would be a hardship. Just like in the morning, most of the excuses were for financial hardship. The employer only pays for ten days or less of jury service or didn’t pay for jury service at all.

The “don’t know English” excuses were comical. Judge Perry would then ask, “How long have you lived in the US?” (20 years) “Have you worked in the US?” (yes, at Sears) “Did you speak English on the job?” (most of time, Spanish)
One juror’s eight year old daughter has epilepsy, with seizures every few weeks. One man had just enlisted in the National Guard and basic Several were leaving on vacations where their flights and hotels were already booked or paid for. Others were self employed, full or part-time students and others have medical issues.

I start to get sleepy, closing my eyes and blame the cafeteria food. I make a mental note to ensure I have a Mr. Sprocket cooked meal for lunch tomorrow. The last juror in the back row gives Judge Perry this speech about how she’s been wanting to serve, and Judge Perry responds, “But the message comes with a ‘but’”. I have had jurors take their vacations to serve.”

Lazarus and Mr. Later whisper. When Judge Perry retakes the bench all the jurors are excused except one. Overland gets up to speak to Detective Jamarillo.

Presby has an issue they wish to bring to the courts attention. It’s about their powerpoint they will use in their opening statement. They know Judge Perry wants to see it before trial. At this point, it’s a “work in progress.” It has to be shown to other side before trial. The sooner the people can get it to the defense, the better. Overland won’t use a powerpoint but will use exhibits. The people state they will have their’s ready by Thursday. Judge Perry asks both sides to “talk to each other” on this issue. “You don’t want to have to do this on Thursday, where you would want to be going over the juror questionnaires.”

Overland asks when they will be able to get copies of the questionnaires. The courtroom will stay open until the building closes so they can pick up the completed questionnaires. 10 am start time tomorrow. And that’s it. I make my way back to my car and almost get all the way home when my car breaks down. I’m able to get it off the freeway and within a 1/2 mile from home. From everything I tell Mr. Sprocket, over the phone he diagnoses it as a failed fuel pump. Now you know what he will be working on fixing the next few days.

Stephanie Lazarus Pretrial Hearing 14, Part II

Please note that this entry is in draft form and not completely edited. I wrote it over the last two days while helping Mr. Sprocket on his big job project. I just finished it in the hallway of the 9th floor Criminal Court Building, where jury selection will get underway at 10:00 am today. Sprocket

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
When I enter the courtroom and take my seat, I overhear Dateline Producer Robert Dean talking to Loretta and Nels Rasmussen. Dean is asking if they will stay in town through the week until January 30th, when jury selection begins. I see that the woman friend of Lazarus, whom I first saw at the July 21st, 2011 pretrial hearing is here in the front row, sitting with Lazarus' mother. She has brownish-blond hair that stops at the center of her back. Attorney Mark Overland is chatting with her. The two LAPD Robbery Homicide detectives arrive with DDA Shannon Presby. Presby stops by and greets the Rasmussen family. I see that the ABC 20/20 producer Lisa is here sitting in the back row near the entrance and we exchange smiles. She asks to borrow a pen and I pull one out of my purse for her.

The court reporter is at her computer, working. Courtney Overland is at the defense table but I don't recognize her at all. She is wearing all black, her hair is pulled back in a tight bun and her hereface looks gaunt. I would not have thought it was her, that it was someone else, but it was confirmed for me when Judge Perry read into the record that Lazarus' counsel, Mark Overland and Courtney Overland were present.

Terri Keith from City News arrives and sits in the second bench row, on the far right near the door. We exchange smiles. (Terri is an excellent reporter, often keeping tabs on over forty cases at a time.) Presby and Overland are going over evidence documents at the defense table. Co-counsel Paul Nunez goes ove to chat with the detectives sitting the first row on the right, behind the bailiffs glassed-in desk area.

Presby comes over to Nels and asks him to "...step out for just a second." The court report and Nunez greet each other and discuss cases that have recently settled in Judge Perry's court. I don't know what case she is talking about, but I overhear her tell Nunez something to the effect, "...the mother yelled profanities at the judge.... as the defendant was being sentenced..."

Matthew McGough arrives and gives me a big smile. McGough is an accomplished journalist and writer who wrote scripts for several of the last seasons of the original Law & Order.

At almost exactly 10:30 am, Lazarus is let into the courtroom. She's carrying the bag I saw her with last Friday. She give a big smile to her friend in the front row. Her mother had stepped out of the courtroom a few moments earlier. Overland is showing his client something. Lazarus puts on her glasses to read while her mother reenters the courtroom.

Lazarus' mother hands a paper to the bailiff and they speak for a moment. I overhear the bailiff reply, "That will be okay. That will be fine."

Judge Perry takes the bench. We are on the record. The 'chain of custody' issue is the first up. Judge Perry is speaking. He has read the memorandum from the defense. "Mr. Overland, you are seeking to challenge the chain of custody?"

As the judge is speaking, I realize Overland is seeking to exclude more evidence than just the bite mark swab. He's also seeking to exclude the fingernail clippings at the coroner's office, a bindle with torn fingernails collected near the entryway. Judge Perry asks to start with the bite mark.

Since I don't have a copy of Overland's motion (memorandum), I'm not completely following the argument. "Your primary objection is your position that the interpretation of the evidence log as to when the bite mark.... (reflects?) ... if at all..." Judge Perry starts.

I believe Overland repsonds, "I think the basic argument is the prosecution is relyin on the log in the absence of any entry when place into evidence until retrieved by the LAPD in December."

There's nothing in that log that it was checked out. (I think this is Judge Perry.)

"The problem with that is, they dont have any witness to put any entries that it may have been released," Overland responds.

Judge Perry asks how long the item was in evidence.

"Eighteen years. So what we have is non-testimonial hearsay. So all we have is the log," Overland continues. "No witness testimony that they were there all that time."

Judge Perry asks, "Is it your position the log is not a business record?"

Overland replies, "No, not at all. I think it's clear the coroner keeps these items for (possible? future?) prosecution. (snip) It's clear they fall within testimony hearsay."

? The other evidence is whether the absence of evidence is testimony.

The cases Overland cited in his memorandum relate to immigration cases.

Overland states, "The principle is the same."

? Whether the absence of an entry is evidence. The principal is the same...the facts are different.

I'm slightly lost with this exchange. Overland's memorandum cites a "CNR" short for Certification of Non-existence of a Record, in relation to immigration cases. Judge Perry states, "I'm glad we are having this discussion. Overland is relying on US vs. Martina? (Menendez?) Rios (sp?). Most federal courts felt that a CNR was akin to a record. Judge Perry reads from the prior court ruling motion about CNR's.

"To me, in reading the cases, I felt the situation here is different and maybe I'm missing the point," Judge Perry tells Overland.

Judge Perry muses his thoughts for the record.

The CNR is offered to prove a fact. Here, you have in the Lazarus case a log maintained by the coroner's (regulations?) items that are (retrieved?) and held and when they're checked out is indicated who checked out the item.... and I thought that if there was an (apr? exception?) of what the log says, the log is the evidence. I didn't see that as a violatio nof Menedez Rios.

Overland replies, "No witness is able to say that I was there the eighteen years and that's how the log was prepared."

? Present(ation?) of the (regulation? requirements?) (of the log) gets you past the business records.

? In a CNR, nobody is testifying in respect to the preparation...that the absence of records that nothing was checked out.

Judge Perry gives a hint of his ruling, "I just don't agree with you. There is a presumption that the required duty has been performed."

? I have a question that these documents were prepared in advance of this case. (I think Overland said this.) The coroner's manual is specific on that... that the records are (to be maintained?)...

Judge Perry tells Overland, "I think you should put that in the record and not (?) during trial. I'm confirming allowing the evidence because you have the log and someone who testifies how the log is maintianed... The fact that you have someone testify how the logs are maintained and not someone there for eighteen years... I think that goes to weight and not admissibility. I don't think that will affect my ruling, but you should present that."

Overland states he can do that during the trial.

Now they move onto challenging the fingernails. Ochi (sp?) collected at the scene and the investigator is deceased.

Paul Nunez tells the court that, Ochi was an LAPD criminalist at the location. Ochi collectd torn fingernails at the scene at the entry door. They were observed by detectives and photographed prior to collection in the presence of investigative officer (?) at the scene. He is the one that observed that process. The items were picked up and stored at LAPD, not at the coroner's office.

Judge Perry goes over what they plan to present. Photos, showing where they were at the scene. Nunez states they have witnesses that can testify to the same thing. Under observation of Detective (Hostf?) and was checked out by the LAPD serology unit.

Nunez goes back to case law, telling the court that every step of collection does not have to be presented. Overland argues that Judge Perry can't rule on (this issue) without listening to evidence. Judge Perry replies, "I agree."

Perry goes over more evidence. There was evidence collected by Mahaney. There was the bindle with two (torn) nails... the argument Nunez made, goes to both "B and C". (This is probably how they items are identified in the prosecution's rebuttal motion.)

Judge Perry goes over the next items. Now we're down to Mahaney collecting evidence... (however), there was nothing to cross (during the preliminary hearing) because those items
were not a part of what he testified. These items had not been analyzed by LAPD (Serology Unit) yet.

Both side agreed that this evidence would be tested by SERI. (See my notes covering the hearing on September 1st, 2011.) There were two nail clippings (in a bindle) damaged nail clip kit. There were an added eight fingernails collected under the fingernail kit. Eight fingernails clipped in some fashion. Two damaged fingernails that were left at the crime scene.

(At some point, it’s not clear in my notes I know Judge Perry got confused, as I did. I believe the prosecution clarifies what Mahanay did at the coroner’s office. Mahanay clipped all ten nails at the coroner’s office. The two torn nails, he clipped again, taking some of the skin. The defense wishes to only introduce the eight nails of those ten.)

I believe that both parties agreed that Mr. Mahanay collected the additional nails at the coroner's office. The people put forth to the court that all ten fingernails should not be allowed at trial. I think Nunez states that they are not going to introduce them at trial. (Now I'm confused. I thought the two torn nails that Ochi collected, and the DNA typing found on them by SERI supported their case. But maybe the prosecution is stating that they are only objecting to the nails collected by Mahanay, at the coroner’s.)

Overland then interjects. "No. We will introduce the eight." I don't think he will introduce the other torn nails.

Paul Nunez continues to argue his position, describing a possibility in the coroner's office. "In essence, we don't know what sterilization procedures were in use at that time (1986). SERI's testing will tell you the DNA is more of a trace... (snip) ...when they were collected (the eight), they were looking for fibers, trace evidence. (Back in 1986, they would not have been looking for DNA under fingernails.) Since that time, the coroner's has switched to using disposable clippers."

Back then, they possibly used sterilization procedures of soaking clippers in solution. That's not done today. Today they use single use disposable clippers. The prosecution is unable to pin down in time, when that procedure changed at the coroner's office.

Judge Perry asks some questions of the prosecution. The nail clippings, of undamaged fingers from the victim, you have eight? Yes. The defense seeks to use these then you have two clippings, two fingers that are damaged and the defense is objecting to those?

Nunez states, The bit mark, all (13?) of the alleles, they all match completely to the defendant. The damaged nails at the crime scene, some of those alleles came up to twenty-six thousand to one.

I believe Judge Perry asks if there is some scant DNA on damaged nails that came back to the defendant, and the prosecution answers. “There was such a (concomphony?) of random alelles it... (snip) miniscule. Not even something you could say one in nine.”

Overland interjects. “That’s (correct? not correct?) and those numbers are not accurate.

Nunez clarifies that Mahanay did not collect the two at the crime scene, Ocho did. Mahanay collected ten at the coroner’s. The defense is objecting to the two re-cut by Mahanay.

Judge Perry rules, “I think it all comes in. (snip) And let the jury figure out the significance. I think that’s the only way to do it. Anything else to discuss regarding chain of custody at this time?” Paul Nunez replies, “Blood typing evidence. They overlap.”

The prosecution wants a Kelly-Frye hearing on the typing. Judge Perry asks the prosecution to “walk him through” this blood and where it’s from.

I’m going to condense this section into a short synopsis. Back in 1986, they did blood typing to try to identify people, victims. The blood typing testing kits are still they used are still in use today, to type blood. The test back in 1986, on swabs of blood taken at the crime scene came back with two types: Type A and Type O, giving the impression that the assailant’s blood (Type A) was mixed in with the victim’s. When the case was reopened, the blood was tested again via DNA testing. All the blood tested back to the victim.

The prosecution wants to exclude that early test because it’s inaccurate to use for identification. The prosecution states that blood typing tests are no longer used for that. Overland wants to be able to introduce this evidence. Investigator Ochi collected the swabs. (To recap, Overland wanted to exclude the two torn fingernails collected by Ochi, but let this evidence come in.) The prosecution also added that the victim had a rare blood type that expressed a (single?) allele of Blood Type A. They have a witness that will testify to that.

Initially, Judge Perry states that they need to set a time for this Kelly-Frye hearing. The prosecution states they are not going to introduce this evidence. Overland objects that they don’t need a hearing. He argues that blood typing is acceptable for typing. It’s accepted science and the court can’t preclude us from presenting this type of evidence. Judge Perry and Overland argue back and forth. Judge Perry wants a hearing; Overland doesn’t. Nunez interjects and states that it’s acceptable for general blood typing, but it’s not as specific in this part of the case. The victim is part of a rare population of people that exhibit this blood type of O and A. Nunez adds that the testing back then was sensitive enough to picking up the type A antigen. This absorption (solution?) is still done.

Judge Perry rules. “I think you have to sort it out with the jury.”

Nunez then asks, “Then are we going to allow the testimony of Ochi? She collected the evidence.” Judge Perry clarifies his ruling. “You can’t pick and choose. It all comes in. But I will allow folks to sort it out with the jury and sensitivity issues. (snip) But, I’m on a search for truth.”

Presby tries one more argument. Blood typing is accepted for typing, It’s no longer accepted in the science community as evidence of identity.” Judge Perry responds, “If the defense bases their defense on that and you blow them out of the water, then....” (Judge Perry raises his hands at the end of his ruling.) “I think you are just going to have to explain that to the jury.” Nunez adds, “We just felt that it would take a lot of time and this would not advance (the? theory?).” Overland states that the defense can recap. Judge Perry accepts Overland’s argument. He states they should not have a Kelly-Frye hearing since the procedure is still in use today.

Judge Perry rules he will allow evidence in that Ochi did and only use evidence... (I miss the rest of this statement.) Item #30, the bite swab, chain of evidnce custody issue, that comes in. “It all comes in for different reasons,” Judge Perry rules. There is a question about Mahanay’s nail clippings at the coroner’s and Judge Perry responds with his ruling, “I think it all comes in. (snip) I feeli I’m (conceding?) to the defense to use those blood stains, that then can’t exclude the nail clippings. (snip) I don’t think chain of custody has to be proven to the ninth degree. If the defense want’s to use blood (stains?) I don’t think it’s fair to also say, can’t use fingernail clippings. They all come in. (snip) I think people should make the proof.” Presby responds, “We will.”

I believe Overland is now questioning a (new?) addition to the witness list by the Prosecution and requesting scheduling an expert and sanction for the delay in notifying the defense about the witness. The people respond by explaining about the evidence their witness will testify about. The item was given to the defense, per the Red Cross in 2009, prior to the prelim. “She did the blood banking and found the rare allele. (snip) (This) Analyist sent her (the victim’s) blood to SERI and got it analyzed.” The people identified the witness who did the testing.... an analyst.

Judge Perry moves to the prosecution motion to limit the testimony of Lyle Mayer and to limit polygraph evidence. Overland argues, “This is just the interview. 99% of what they claim is interview. I plan to introduce his conclusions. Yet the prosecution plans to introduce an expert and his analysis, based on the examination of the scene.” Presby reminds Judge Perry as to what he ruled their expert could testify to. Judge Perry states if they have the defense expert conclusions, then the prosecution’s conclusions. “I believe that in (involving? officials?) of any kind have to testify to facts. Mr. Mayer’s conclusions are not admissible. Should (not?) be able to testify to conclusion.” Then Judge Perry goes on to say in open court that Mr. Mayer now feels differently. Mayer now feels the defendant is guilty. We hear a bit of Mayer’s thoughts now through Judge Perry. “Mayer (now feels) that John Ruetten was getting into this girls pants and not telling his wife. I feel this case will be over tried by both sides.”

I believe Overland asks the Judge to explain what that means. I don’t get Judge Perry’s quote exactly but it’s something to the effect of, ‘I mean if people get involved in calling witness over witness and then there’s confusion in the case.’ He then clarifies further. “ fear that both sides will be burdening the jury with information. To me, less is often more. Lyle Mayer can testify to what he saw and what conclusions he drew based on evidence, but can’t go into opinions.” Judge Perry then asks both sides a question. “Realistically, I’d like to have a sense and how we’re going to proceed.”

Presby explains that the bones of the case was presented at the prelim. During the trial, “...there’s going to be more meat.” Judge Perry asks, “Are you planning on putting the LAPD on trial?” Presby responds, “No.” Judge Perry then asks about how long their case will take to present and Presby responds, “It’s difficult for us to call the length of cross examination.” Judge Perry states, I believe I’ve given you a lot of trial time.” Nunez adds that they anticipate, or would like both opening statements by noon and get to their first witnesses by the afternoon of the first day. Overland states that his opening statement will be two hours. Judge Perry states that with the defense opening statement, they will get to witnesses a bit later in the day, about 2 pm. The prosecution states that with their witnesses, their case will take only about two weeks. (I believe Presby states that there is a short court week in the middle of February.) “I would be done by the 21st or the 22nd,” he adds. This is for the prosecution’s case-in-chief. Judge Perry replies, “Which is what I expected. We’re having a lot of scientific evidence.”

Judge Perry then looks to the defense and asks, “Four weeks for the defense?” Overland replies, “I’m not sure that’s accurate. I can’t tell you.. (miss the rest of his sentence). (snip) Then there’s rebuttal.” Judge Perry states, “I think you always want to over estimate.” Perry asks both sides if they have anything else they want to add.

Presby state they have a motion on polygraph. Judge Perry states that’s not admissible. The statements are but not that they were made during a polygraph. (This gets me wondering as to “who” was polygraphed.) Nunez brings up the fingerprints found at the scene. Judge Perry asks, “Can you stipulate that there are no defense fingerprints at the scene?” Nunez replies, “We can your honor. But there are several witnesses on the defense list. (snip) (Comp?) to testify that these prints are not any of the defendant.” Overland rubs his face. The prosecution adds that an analyst is gone the entire month of February. Judge Perry asks, “Mr. Overland, what fingerprint evidence do you need?” I believe Nunez responds that there were two unidentified prints on a banister and on the phone. Overland tells the court, “I don’t want to get into that right now.”

Judge Perry tells the parties, “When a defense counsel says that on the eve of trial it give me concern. I don’t want any surprises.”

Overland states, “There are certain (privledges?) that I’m not willing to give up. (snip) Work product.” Judge Perry tells Overland, “I’m not going to require that you divulge what (that is).”

Presby brings up the issue of cameras for opening statements. Judge Perry rules, “Because of my uncomfortableness of where this is going, I’m not going to allow cameras for opening statements.” Judge Perry tells the parties that they will get 100 jurors on Monday, January 30th. They will try to pull in more, but they will not get the 200 that they initially wanted for this day. The issue of seating for the families is discussed. Sherri Rae Rasmussen’s family counts off the people that need seats and she tells the court “Sixteen.” Judge Perry responds, “No way. I don’t think that’s reasonable. I’ll cut it down to five or six.” The family confers and limits it to siblings and spouses. Loretta Rasmussen states, “The core group is eight.” Judge Perry rules that eight seats will be reserved for each side, victim and defendant families.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Pretrial Hearing 14


Sherri Rae Rasmussen

There is a pretrial hearing today in the Stephanie Lazarus case. For those of you who have been living in a cave, Stephanie Lazarus, a 25-year veteran detective of the LAPD has been charged with the February 1986 cold case murder of Sherri Rae Rasmussen, the new wife of her ex-boyfriend, John Ruetten. Her trial is scheduled to start January 30th, 2012 with jury selection.

Last Friday we learned that the parties will be arguing "chain of custody", most likely concerning the bite mark swab located in the Coroner's freezers back in December 2004. It's also possible the prosecution will be presenting motions for a "402" hearing regarding one or several defense witnesses testimony. What is a 402 hearing? It's a preliminary hearing to determine the admissibility of evidence. It's conducted outside the presence of the jury, or before a trial starts.

I forgot to mention it in my last entry, but Judge Perry did indicate that if they are unable to get through all the motions (or any testimony) today, they will be able to reconvene of Friday, January 27th, 2012. I will have an update later tonight or Thursday.

UPDATE: January 25th, 2012 9:55 am
I've made it to the cafeteria in the lobby with a half hour to spare and purchased my first bottle of water for the day. One of my personal goals for covering this case is to try to stick with water or tea and not slip back into drinking soda for a pick-me-up caffeine fix when I'm dragging. When I walked by the rear entrance windows, I saw Nels and Loretta Rasmussen in the cafeteria. They both smiled at me as I walked by. Both Nels and Loretta have been very polite to me during all these pre-trial hearings.

I don't have any expectation that I will be one of the reporters selected for the pool reporter during voir dire (if Judge Perry even allows a single seat for the media) but I will hang out in the hallway anyway, to see if I can get any information during breaks.

If you are considering attending some of this trial, I recommend getting here before court starts and Judge Perry is one of the judge's who is usually very punctual to the 8:30 am start time. Although there are several lots much closer to the courthouse, I park two-and-a-half blocks south of the Criminal Court Building in Broadway. There is a Joe's Parking on the west side of the street that is only $9.00 per day. All you have to do is walk up Broadway and you can enter the building from the rear. The incline up Broadway is not that steep, even for those out of shape like myself. New management has taken over the dim cafeteria of old but I have not tried the new menu; I usually bring my lunch. The walls are painted some bright colors but the chairs, tables and floor is the same.

The other thing to be cognizant about is there could be long lines to get through building security as well as the time waiting for an elevator. There are only four elevators that go to the 9th floor from the lobby and the area in front of the elevators is often jammed with people trying to get to their courtroom. Then when you reach the 9th floor, there is another security scanning station to clear. I'll try to check back in during the lunch break.

UPDATE 12:05 pm
The short news is, the hearing is over and there will be no collected or DNA tested evidence excluded at trial. The chain of custody issue raised by the defense on several items of evidence was denied. The bite mark swab comes in, as do the torn fingernails, blood stains, blood stain typing, fingernails collected by the coroner and DNA testing done on those items. The evidence collected by investigators that are deceased (Ochi (sp?) and Mahanay will be allowed in. Judge Perry ruled against cameras in the courtroom for opening statements. The court ruled, "Because of my uncomfortableness of where this (case) is going, I'm not going to allow cameras (for opening statements)." (More of what he meant by that in my detailed update.) Judge Perry also limited the number of reserved seats for the defendant's and victim's families to eight seats each.

I'll have a detailed update on the hearing late tonight or later in the week. I'll get to it as soon as I can.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Pretrial Hearing 13, Part II

Murder victim Sherri Rae Rasmussen, date unknown

January 20
th, 2012
I wrote this entry over several days, down in the "dungeon" basement of Mr. Sprocket's current job project, acting as his helper. I'd get a little bit of writing done, and then I'd be called away from my laptop to hold a pipe or retrieve a tool. Sprocket

I get into downtown LA with just enough time to make it to the 9th floor if security isn’t too bad. As I’m walking past the glass windows of the rear entrance of the building, I see John Taylor (attorney for victim Sherri Rae Rasmussen’s family) standing with a tall, bald-headed black man in the cafeteria, talking to a dark haired woman working on a laptop. I don't believe I've seen the woman at the Lazarus pretrial hearings before, but it’s a good bet she’s talking to Taylor about the case.

I breeze through first floor security and head for the best spot to keep my eyes on the elevator lights. I want to grab the first one that lights up so I make it into Department 104 before 8:30 am. Success! I clear the 9th floor security and make it into Judge Perry's courtroom just in time. Sherri Rae's parents, Nels and Loretta Rasmussen are in the same spot, the center of the first row. Lazarus' mother is next to the aisle in the first row, but today there is a tall slender handsome man to her right. I believe it's Lazarus' husband, Scott.

The Dateline producer, Robert Dean is here in the second row and I take a seat on the cushioned bench to his left, almost directly behind Nels and Loretta. The court clerk is someone new that I don't recognize. John Taylor finally arrives. A few moments later, writer Matthew McGough slips quietly into the back row on the far left. I turn around and give him a smile. I make sure my phone is completely turned off and remind myself that I need to purchase a watch. Because of Judge Perry's rules about cell phones, I won't be able to use it to watch the time. Besides, the clocks in the courtrooms are notorious for never being set on time and are difficult to see from where I'm sitting. Sometime during the hearing, 48 Hours producer Greg Fisher also slips into the back row behind me, slightly to my left.

The large, barrel-chested defense investigator whose name I can never remember arrives with a shorter, older looking gray haired mustached man, casually dressed in a dark brown polo shirt and tan pants. I finally see the court reporter standing behind the clerks desk. The LAPD detective (who I think is Jaramillo) is chatting with the defense investigator. One of the court bailiffs comes over to the Rasmussen family and says something I can't hear. Judge Perry finally comes out of his chambers and takes the bench. He drops a big set of files on his desk and then goes back inside his chambers. One of the courtroom staff members says, "Let me get the clerk."

Mark and Courtney Overland come out from the jail holding area, and Lazarus comes out shortly after, carrying a type of canvas looking satchel/bag. She smiles at her husband and mother. The older, gray haired mustached man is holding a brown file folder. He approaches Mark Overland and shakes his hand. There's a very young, slender Asian looking woman sitting in one of the chairs directly behind the prosecution table in the well of the court. She wearing a medium gray colored suit, typical of what I've seen on other clerks in the DA's office.

Judge Perry is back on the bench and calls court to order. He informs the room that there are some issues regarding when they can start and it has to do with juror availability. I think he mentions something about discovery that still needs to be resolved but Overland speaks up and tells the Judge, "No need for the court to take action. It's all resolved."

Judge Perry states he had a discussion with the jury commissioner for the county. The commissioner told Judge Perry that he has been ordered to cut back on the number of jurors called to various courts. They are cutting way back because of the costs involved. To that end, the commissioner gave Judge Perry three options.

Perry states he felt this trial needed to talk to 80 to 200 jurors to get the 80 to 100 jurors that would fill out the juror questionnaire. Monday and Tuesday of the week they had planned to start the trial is a heavy day. There are lots of trials starting that day. Without getting into the details, Judge Perry was given some options. The first option was starting the trial a week early. The commissioner could give them the full compliment of jurors they wanted (200) on January 25th, and hand out juror questionnaires on that date. This would advance the start of the trial date. They would then be back on January 31st to start voir dire and start the trial on Wednesday. With this option, they could get 75 jurors at 10 am and another 75 at 11 am. Judge Perry would pre-screen them to find jurors that could sit for four to five weeks. To start the trial on January 25th, would be the jury commissioner's preference.

The second option would be to stick with the original trial date of January 30th and hand out questionnaires to those who can serve for the four to five weeks. However, the jury commissioner will only be able to provide the court 100 jurors on that day. They would be able to provide another 100 jurors the next day, Tuesday January 31st. That would mean rescheduling voir dire from February 2nd to February 3rd.

The third option would be to look at January 26th or January 27th to pre-screen jurors. Judge Perry states that he has a scheduled hearing in a capitol case on January 27th, but he could probably work around that.

Shannon Presby states the prosecution would have a problem moving up the trial. "That would not be ideal," he tells the court. Presby has a number of witnesses coming from out of town that are traveling a long distance. "Advancing the case even a few days would be difficult," he adds. Presby also mentions something about scheduling a day (before trial) for the change of custody ruling.

Mark Overland also agrees that advancing the trial date would be a problem.

Everyone agrees to settle on option number two, to pre-screen jurors on January 30th and the 31st. Judge Perry feels the time spent pre-screening should only take a half an hour. He also tell the parties that the first group to fill out the questionnaires, those would be the first jurors in the box. They would only hand out the questionnaires to those jurors able to serve. Then they would come back on that Friday, February 3rd, (for voir dire). Judge Perry states that he would hope to seat a jury that day.

Overland tells the court that a trial of five to six weeks is a more reasonable time frame (that will be needed to try the case). Judge Perry asks the parties if they want to discuss the questionnaire. He would "entertain added requests." Judge Perry ensures that all parties have his most recent version of the questionnaire.

Overland speaks up and requests the court that in the juror questionnaire, Lazarus be referred to by her full name, and not "the defendant." Judge Perry responds, "She is the defendant. I feel uncomfortable to do that. She is the defendant. It is denied."

Overland requests that the prosecution be referred to as the plaintiff. Judge Perry thinks about that request for a moment and then denies that request also, giving his reasoning that this is a criminal case. Shannon Presby has an updated list of names for the jury questionnaire and Judge Perry states that he will do the integration of the new names into the current list.

Judge Perry then tells the prosecution and defense his "vision" of what's going to happen on January 30th. They will have a list of jurors names that will be alphabetized and random. (I'm surprised at this. I think he means the juror number for court but behind the scenes the court will have their names). The court will announce and introduce the parties and what he will say to the potential jurors. "It is alleged she committed a murder (of Ms. Rasmussen). That the defendant discharged a firearm. " I believe Judge Perry asks if the prosecution would like him to tell the potential jurors that it is not a death penalty case and they agree.

Then Judge Perry would ready the charge. He would stress to the jurors the charge is not evidence and remind them about the rules of evidence. He would also stress that the defendant does not have to testify. Judge Perry would also stress the issue of publicity and stress that the jurors not be influenced (by the press). He would then ask them if they (have heard about the case) and made up their minds, or if they have specific details about the case. "We'll find out if the jurors have details about the case from the questionnaire. From this point forward, I would remind the jurors not to do research on the case."

After that, they would talk about the questionnaires. Those jurors who can serve would then go to another area where they would fill out the questionnaire and then come back (on Feb 3rd.) The prosecution and the defense both state they don't have any concerns about Judge Perry's vision for the start of the trial. Judge Perry says, "That will be it for Monday and the same thing on Tuesday. At 8:30 am on Friday, we'll bring the jurors back (for voir dire). If things come out in the questionnaires, we'll deal with it at that time, or otherwise turn it over to the attorneys." (I have a little chicken scratch of a note here, about numbers being used to refer to the jurors.)

Judge Perry also tells the parties, "We'll give each side an hour to do follow up questions. Talk to anyone you want to in the room, not just ones in the box. That's the way I would encourage you to go forward." (I've never seen voir dire done that way.) (snip) "If I see reasons in the questionnaire enough to excuse them, I will let you know and they won't even have to show up. I'm hopeful to have 70 or 80 that will fill out the questionnaire. You will know the order of seating and who they are (juror #?) in the jury box." Overland has a question that I miss and Judge Perry replies, "In voir dire, you can talk to anyone you want. After that, you get an hour. I'll be flexible if you need more time. I'll give you more time. You'll have all day to select this jury."

I don't have in my notes who asked about setting a date for the chain of custody issue, but Judge Perry answers it with, "I'm happy to select a date next week for the chain of custody."

Overland then tells the court that he has prepared a memorandum of law and he can give it to the court now. This must be in regards to the chain of custody issue the defense is raising.

Judge Perry states he thinks they should have the chain of custody hearing next week, January 25th at 10:30 am.

Mr. Presby states, "I have not seen the defense memorandum."

Paul Nunez tells the court, "I think we can address some of those issues on the 25th." I believe Nunez goes onto say, "(There are) some added witnesses that were not at the prelim and I think we need to address those next Wednesday."

I believe it's Presby who brings up the possibility of a 402 hearing on chain of custody issues. He then goes on to tell the court that he and Mr. Overland have been going through the defendant's statement (This is the video that was made of Lazarus when she was being questioned in the LAPD jail.) and there is a dispute as to whether (parts of) the defendant's statement are out or should be out. Presby states, "(There is) another section he (Overland) failed to object to and he is objecting to now."

Stephanie Lazarus, interrogation video image

Overland states his concerns were outlined in an E-mail to Presby, and that E-mail is being copied for the court. While this is going on, I note that the young Asian woman who is most likely the prosecution's clerk for this case, gets up from her seat behind the prosecutors and whispers to a tall, young dark-suited Asian looking man in the gallery. She then leaves the courtroom.

The prosecution believes they have edited the video tape according to the court's order about the defendant's statement. Overland has issues with the prosecution's interpretation of the court order.

Judge Perry states, "I've read the E-mail Mr. Overland wrote identifying the text. Page 62 line 6. I would be inclined to sustain the objection." I believe Judge Perry goes onto say, "They argue over the conflict.....that Jaramillo is asking about....the conflict is with the victim. (snip) There is a question to Lazarus about her contact, conflict with the victim."

I think it's Presby who interjects, "I don't believe that's hearsay. (snip) A conflict with a woman that took the man you loved, you would remember."

Now the question is, did you have a conflict.... Judge Perry rules, "I'm going to sustain the objection. It's going out."

Presby goes over another issue the defense has with the prosecution's video tape. "The way the tape is currently redacted, the bottom of page 89, middle of line 25, that portion is out." They then discuss the first line of (?) on line 23. (I miss the rest.)

Overland interjects, "I'm just seeking compliance with the court's order."

I think at this point it's Judge Perry who states, "I didn't say what I intended (for lines) 23-25. I meant to say to sustain that. I think that page 23, line 5 on page 90, 89.... should go out." (I know this doesn't make sense, but those are my notes that I got.)

The defense wins their motions to get more of the video tape redacted.

Judge Perry says, "I'm sorry to see that prior ruling as that was written."

Presby answers, "It is currently redacted (from?) the word "some." Judge Perry responds, "I think that's all I meant to have taken out there."

Judge Perry reads on through the written transcript of the video statement. I observe that Mark Overland has his arm draped around the shoulders of his client, Lazarus, and he is whispering intently to her.

Judge Perry says, "From the second word 'some' on line 19 to 25 (page?) ...one of the concerns...those all come out. "

Overland has one more issue for the court. He is asking that the prosecution disclose who the additional witnesses are (for the chain of custody issue) so they can prepare. Paul Nunez responds that, "(I'm) referring to counsel (Overland) and his motion and Miss (Ocean?), and Miss Ocean died well in advance of this case. (We will) address those concerns on the 25th. He makes reference that he (Overland) recently was made aware of that."

Presby brings up the prosecution's 402 concerns about discovery. "We have received from the defense some witnesses who have been interviewed and (we have) 402 motions as to their testimony." Presby wants to know if they should address these issues before trial or before the defense case. (My notes are not clear here.) The witnesses (could be) the first investigator from the original investigation and experts and friends who knew the defendant. The original investigator was Lyle Mayer. Presby states, "Mayer provides a lot of material that we would object to at trial. We're not calling him and we'd like a 402 before trial, or opening statements or if the defense has an opening statement. (snip) We're not going to mention this in our case (in chief)."

Judge Perry answers, "Bring a 402 motion and we can talk about it on Wednesday."

Presby mentions the defense expert (I think this might be a firearms expert) and that he has not written a report about his testimony or conclusions. "We have one paragraph (of a?) report (and?) no notes." There are not reports of witnesses testimony. Judge Perry answers, "They (experts) don't have to write a report. I think they look bad when they don't." Presby continues, "Mr. Overland (stated) that he would call DNA experts or (?) experts and they are not on any witness list." Judge Perry replies, "Well, I think that's obvious..." Presby says, "Well he mentioned he was going to call (them)."

Judge Perry addresses both parties. "I think I've commented that I don't want either side to call surprise witnesses." He goes onto mention the current trial they are waiting for a verdict on and an 802 hearing. (I'll mention a bit about that case, at the end of this entry.) Presby also brings up another issue, "Mr. Overland indicated he might call Judge Shelly Torrealba and we've asked the relevance of her testimony. He said it would depend on the cross of several witnesses and he never told me who those witnesses are."

Judge Perry replies, "We'll have to wait and see. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. If someone said something and only Shelly heard...." Judge Perry must have said something that I totally missed because Presby makes a joke in reply, "What is sleep, your honor?"

Nunez asks about available seating space for family members during voir dire and Judge Perry says they will see how many respond to the questions we have. "It will be tough," he adds. Judge Perry then adds that he is not anticipating a packed courtroom, "But, you never know." He then mentions the seating ticket lottery that the Public Information Office holds.

Overland has one last issue regarding discovery and he asks to approach the bench for sidebar. I see that Lazarus is in intense conversation with the investigator at the defense table during the sidebar. When the side bar is over, Judge Perry states, "See everyone on Wednesday at 10:30 am." Before he leaves the bench, I believe it's Presby who asks about which jury instruction set Judge Perry will use. They are going to use CAL JIC since this is a 1986 case. Now I see Lazarus and Courtney Overland in intense conversation. Since the hearing is over, I head out to the elevator bay.

At the elevator bay, I see DDA Craig Hum and ask him if Cameron Brown is being represented by a public defender. Hum tells me that Brown has, "...a court appointed attorney, Aron Laub." I ask him when the case might go to trial and he felt it would be sometime late summer. I tried to find a web site for Laub, but could not. Laub recently defended convicted serial killer, Michael Hughes.

The case with the 802 hearing.
Earlier today (Monday), I received a press release from the District Attorney's office regarding the case that was in trial in Judge Perry's courtroom during Friday's hearing. Former California Highway Patrol officer Tomiekia Johnson, 32, was found guilty of shooting her husband Marcus Lemons in the head three years ago, shortly after they left a Compton restaurant. The jury also found true the special allegations of personal discharge of a firearm and discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury. Johnson, who had been out on bail during the trial, collapsed under the defense table as the verdict was being read. Paramedics were called and she was taken out of the courtroom handcuffed to a gurney. Judge Perry remanded her into custody. Lemons was fatally shot as he was sitting in the passenger side of Johnson's BMW near a 91 freeway off-ramp around 11 pm on February 21st, 2009. She then drove the car to her parents home in Compton and had her mother call police. Johnson is facing 50 years to life in prison and will be sentenced March 9th, 2012.

Updated January 24th, 2012 to correct spelling and a factual error. Sprocket.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Pretrial Hearing 13

Stephanie Lazarus, at her first arraignment hearing in 2009

There is a pretrial hearing at 8:30 am in Department 104 of the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Court Building. At the last pretrial hearing, both prosecution and defense asked the judge to set a date for trial and that date is January 30th, 2012. Today's date was selected for a last check in with Judge Perry and to argue some last minute motions. I'll be posting an update on the hearing later this evening.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Case - Interview with a Former UCLA Dorm-mate

Stephanie Lazarus, date unknown

With the holidays a few weeks behind us, I have "finally" finished my portion of a massive project on behalf of my family. Three months of daily work late into the night, literally hundreds and hundreds of pages of detailed worksheets and a thirty-plus page report summarizing my findings. Calling it a difficult project doesn't even come close. I'm so relieved to put that task behind me and get back to what I enjoy most and that's attending a trial and reporting on the proceedings for T&T's readers.

I recently had the opportunity to meet in person, an individual who lived on the same floor of UCLA's Dykstra Hall during the time that Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were enrolled. They also kept in contact with Lazarus for many years after graduation. For those of you who have been living in a cave, Stephanie Lazarus, a 25-year veteran detective of the LAPD has been charged with the February 1986 cold case murder of Sherri Rae Rasmussen, the new wife of her ex-boyfriend, John Ruetten.

The individual I spoke to was not looking for media attention for themselves, but did want to give T&T's readers a more in depth picture of Stephanie Lazarus, one other than the two dimensional character that the mainstream media has presented. I have agreed to protect this individuals name and gender, identifying them only as "Pat" (not their real name) for the rest of this entry.

Pat is in their 50's, has a family and and works as an administrator for a company affiliated with a local university. Before I even agreed to speak to Pat, I stressed that I could not talk to them if they were on the prosecution or defense witness list. I did not want my interview with Pat to be construed as possibly trying to influence the trial or potential witness' testimony. Pat assured me that they were not. Between Christmas and the new year, Pat and I met at a local coffee shop.

Pat first met Stephanie when she was a freshman and Pat was a junior at UCLA. They lived on the same floor of Dykstra Hall which was a co-ed floor. Back during the late 1970's, California universities, including UCLA, were considered the cream of the crop in higher education. Pat remembers there was a strong feminist sector during that time and the women who were accepted for enrollment were probably scoring much higher than average on intelligence tests.

Pat got to know Stephanie very quickly. "You got to know everyone who lived on the floor," Pat said. Stephanie was not "unique" in that, she didn't stand out from other women, but Pat went onto say, "She was more strong willed and assertive than most." During Stephanie's years at UCLA, Pat remembers her as a very outgoing, gregarious and strong willed person. Pat said, "She still has that same personality today." Pat also said that Stephanie's tongue could turn sharp very quickly, putting someone in their place if they said something that she perceived as negative or talking down to her. This attitude Stephanie projected could also make people feel a bit uncomfortable.

Lazarus was a jock in high school where she played on the women's basketball team and she continued her strong interest in athletics at UCLA. Pat and Stephanie socialized at UCLA basketball games or when there might have been a party in the dorm. Pat remembers that they had one or two classes together and they sometimes studied together.

Stephanie's major was political science. Back then, UCLA did not have a 'pre-law' program and Pat states a political science major was "...code for pre-law." Pat also recalls having at some point a discussion with Stephanie about plans for a future career as an attorney. When Pat learned Stephanie had joined the LAPD, they were surprised and could not immediately see her in that role. Later Pat came to believe being an officer did fit her personality and that Stephanie seemed comfortable and happy with her career choice. Pat said that they talked with Stephanie over the years about being a peace officer and "...Steph took a lot of pride in her job and was comfortable with it."

Through the 1980's, Stephanie would call Pat up, looking for information about friends and they would chat, catching up with each others lives. About ten or twelve years ago, Pat came home to find a business card left on their door from "Unique Investigations". Pat showed me the saved business card. The note on the back said, "Call me. Don't have your number. Steph." In prior conversations with Pat, Lazarus had mentioned she was getting into PI work and was being mentored by a senior officer. When Pat called back, it was for an invitation to a "reunion" party that Stephanie was hosting at her Simi Valley home, for her fellow dorm-mates who lived on the 10th floor at Dykstra Hall.

Lazarus initiated and hosted the party. Pat remembers Stephanie's current boyfriend was there but Pat did not interact with him or remember his name. (It's quite possible this person is Lazarus' current husband, a fellow police officer.) At the party, Pat was mostly focused on their fellow dorm-mates and catching up with their lives.

Pat does not remember having any conversations with Stephanie around the time of Rasmussen's murder. At the time, Pat lived in a different part of the city and wasn't too concerned with crime in the San Fernando Valley. Pat indicated they may have read about the crime when it happened, but has no memory of that.

Pat said, "I can't imagine her doing something like this. Although she can be cocky and brash, the Steph I know is a straight forward and to the point woman." Pat also said that as Lazarus progressed in her career, she became more serious, professional, and dropped her playful side. Still, she was outgoing and had a lot of energy. Pat never saw Lazarus as someone who could become obsessed.

The next pretrial hearing is scheduled for Friday, January 20th, 2012, in Department 104 at the downtown Criminal Court Building. Opening statements are tentatively scheduled for February 6th, 2012.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Christian-Newsom Torture-Murders Five Years Later

Channon Christian and Christoper Newsom

On the anniversary of the murders of Channon Christian and Christoper Newsom, guest writer David in Tennessee takes us back in time to remember Channon and Christoper and the horror that they suffered. Prayers are with the victim's families, who will have to sit through four heartbreaking trials again. Sprocket.

The Christian-Newsom Torture-Murders Five Years Later
by David in Tennessee

Five years ago, on the night and following morning of January 6 and 7, 2007, University of Tennessee student, Channon Christian, and her boyfriend Christopher Newsom were abducted at an apartment complex in Knoxville, Tennessee. The couple was about to drive to a party with friends when three armed men forced them into Channon's Toyota 4Runner and took them to a house about 3.5 miles away.

At the house, both were raped, tortured, and murdered. Chris Newsom was anally gang-raped. Channon Christian was raped orally, anally, and vaginally. Both were brutally beaten and cleaning fluid was poured down Channon's throat in an (unsuccessful) attempt to destroy DNA evidence.

According to the medical examiner, Channon Christian was found at the Chipman Street house in a trash can wrapped in five garbage bags. She was bound so tightly her knees were touching her cheeks. Christian was alive when placed in the trash can and died of suffocation. She had a plastic bag over her head. Her body had bruising and abrasions indicating rape with blunt trauma and an object. Her vaginal area had been kicked bloody.

The attorneys for the supposed ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson, called this "consensual sex."

Christopher Newsom, as described by the medical examiner, was raped with an object hours before he was killed. His bare feet were bound and he had been led or dragged to a railroad track a short distance from the house were Channon's body was found. Newsom's face was wrapped in a sweatshirt with a hole in it where he was shot in the head. His hands were tied behind his back and he was gagged with socks. Newsom was shot three times, the third to the head caused death. He was dead when his body was set on fire at the railroad track.

When Newsom's body was found, his mother, a genteel lady, wanted to see it. The police would not let her. She put her arms around the body bag.

The four suspects, Lemaricus Davidson, his half-brother Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman were arrested a few days later. Davidson was hiding in a house in Knoxville and was wearing Chris Newsom's shoes when the police found him. He took them off but they were found in a corner of the house. Cobbins, Thomas, and Coleman had fled to Kentucky. They were visiting Davidson that weekend and were at his house by chance.

Davidson, Cobbins, and apparently Davidson's friend, Eric Boyd carried out the abduction. Boyd was convicted in federal court in 2008 of helping Davidson escape. There wasn't enough evidence to charge Boyd in the murders.

It should be emphasized that the killers almost got clean away with it. Davidson's fingerprint was found on an envelope in Channon Christian's SUV. When run through the AFIS database, Davidson's name and address came up. Without this fingerprint, The police would not have gone to the Chipman street house and found Channon Christian's body.

Each of the four suspects blamed the others and claimed not to have done the killing. There was overwhelming DNA evidence against Davidson and conclusive forensic evidence against Cobbins. Thomas didn't leave any DNA but admitted to being in the house at the time, claiming he was stoned on drugs. Coleman also admitted being in the house but claimed to be a prisoner herself. Cobbins was her boyfriend.

There was also semen from two unidentified males found on Channon Christian' undergarments. The suspects said they were the only ones in the house, but they can't be trusted, to say the least.

Each suspect was tried separately. Cobbins was convicted in August, 2009 and sentenced to life without parole. Davidson was convicted in November that year and sentenced to death. Thomas was convicted a month later and sentenced to life without parole. Vanessa Coleman, the only female, was found not guilty of every charge relating to Newsom and not guilty of murder regarding Christian. She was convicted of facilitation of Channon Christian's murder and was sentenced to 53 years.

In 2011, it was learned that Judge Richard Baumgartner, who presided over all four trials, was addicted to prescription drugs that were provided by probationers in his court. Among other things, he had sex with one of his drug suppliers in judge's chambers during one of the trials. Baumgartner was eventually disbarred after resigning in disgrace from the bench.

On December 1, 2011, Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, who took over Baumgartner's cases, overturned all four verdicts and ordered new trials for all four suspects. Judge Blackwood ruled "structural errors" made new trials necessary. This supposes that Baumgartner's drug addiction made him unsound and everything he did suspect.

The Knox County District Attorney's office has appealed Blackwood's ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court. There is supposed to be a hearing on January 12 to set the dates for the new trials. Despite the murders taking place place five years ago this weekend, the case is still undecided. We don't know how long the Tennessee Supreme Court will take to make their decision or whether there will be any trials in 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


This page will be periodically updated. Sprocket

Note: Goodman has filed a federal lawsuit against the LAPD and the coroner's office for false arrest.

CASE #LA071714

State of California v. Lois Goodman

Victim: Alan Goodman
Defendant: Lois Goodman (wife of victim)

Prosecution: DDA Sharon Ransom & DDA Lisa Tanner
Defense: Alison Triessl; Robert Sheahen; Kelly Sheahen Grener

UPDATE 8/16/13: Lois Goodman is suing LAPD & Coroner for false arrest.

The prosecution alleges 70 year old Lois Goodman, a tennis line judge with the US Open, bluggeoned her severely disabled husband, Alan Goodman (80) on the stairwell of their San Fernando Valley home with a coffee cup.  When the cup broke, Lois allegedly continued to stab her husband in the head several times with the broken shards attached to the handle of the cup.  Prosecutors allege several shards from the cup where found in Alan Goodman's head wound.  Blood was found in several areas of the home.  Goodman called 911 when she came home from a tennis match and after having her nails done.  Detectives originally believed Lois Goodman's initial statements that her husband must have fallen down the stairs.

 Search Warrant
Charging Document
Defense Motion to Reduce Bail; Letters of Support

People's Motion for DNA Sample
Defense Opposition Motion to Provide DNA Sample
Lois Goodman Federal Complaint Against LAPD, Coroner

08/24/2012 Lois Goodman First Court Appearance
08/29/2012 Lois Goodman Arraignment & Bail Hearing
09/03/2012 Lois Goodman Makes Bail
09/15/2012 Upcoming Cases & Uploaded Documents
09/22/2012 Lois Goodman Case: Emergency Hearing
10/11/2012 Gerhard Becker Dept 30 V, and Brief Notes on Lois Goodman
10/17/2012 10/3 Lois Goodman Case: Pretrial Hearing 5
11/12/2012 11/8 Lois Goodman Case: Pretrial Hearing 6
08/23/2013 Lois Goodman Sues LAPD, Coroner for False Arrest

08/21/2012 ABC 7 SoCal tennis umpire arrested for murder
8/22/2012 LAT Tennis umpire arrested in husband's slaying
08/24/2012 CBS 2 Arraignment postponed for tennis ref
09/03/2012 ABC 7 Tennis umpire charged with murder out on bail
09/17/2012 ABC 7 Goodman ordered to give DNA sample
10/03/2012 ABC 7 Family and friends support Goodman
10/10/12 ABC 7 Daughter Calls Affair "Completely Made Up"
12/3/12 LAT Lois Goodman on Dropped Murder Case: Thank God It's Over. 
 08/18/2013 LAT Lois Goodman Sues LAPD, Coroner for False Arrest 
09/10/2013 Goodman Thrilled to Work With US Open Again


This page will be periodically updated. If you have a link that contains relevant information on the case, please email me or write a comment on the current story. Thanks! Sprocket.

Short Synopsis
On December 9th, 2013, Jahi McMath had three complicated surgical procedures to open up her upper airway. She’d undergone an adenotonsillectomy, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, and submucous resection of bilateral inferior turbinates to treat her sleep apnea. On December 12th, she was declared brain dead.  What happened to Jahi?

Jahi McMath - (13) year old who had three surgical procedures at once
Omari Sealey - Jahi's uncle and family spokesperson
Marvin Winkfield - (Stepfather?)
Latasha Nailah Winkfield - Mother to Jahi
Christopher Dolan - Family attorney
Jabria Milsap - (19 or 20) Jahi's older sister
Jose Llamas - (10) Jahi's brother
Jordyn Johnson - sister (kindergarden)
(Source for sibling info.)

01/01/14 Jahi's Legacy - by CaliGirl9
01/03/14 The Long, Sad Death of Jahi McMath - by CaliGirl9
01/06/14 Jahi McMath: Merely Dead, or Really Most Sincerely Dead? - by KZ
01/10/14 Jahi McMath: A Body in Limbo - by Sprocket
01/13/14 Legal History of the Jahi McMath Case - by VenomousFeminist
02/03/14 Jahi McMath: Frequently Asked Questions, Part I - by KZ 
02/09/14 Jahi McMath: Emotional & Spiritual Predators - by KZ
02/10/14 Jahi McMah: Frequently Asked Questions, Part II - by KZ
03/26/14 Jahi McMath: No News on This Case - by Sprocket 
10/04/14 Jahi McMath: Alive Again? - by KZ 
03/04/15 Jahi McMath: Family files lawsuit against hospital, surgeon - by Sprocket

(Reader help building this would be most appreciated. Sprocket)
San Jose Mercury News - Timeline of Events

(Note: I still have many documents to add to this area. I'll get to it asap. Sprocket)
12-16-2013 Dolan's Cease & Desist Letter to CHO 
12-20-2013 Children's Hospital Opposition to Temp. Restraining Order
12-20-2013 Children's Hospital Physician's Declaration
12-23-2013 Dr. Paul Fisher's Report of his examination of Jahi
12-24-2013 Children's Hospital Opposition to Petition to Appoint Dr. Byrne an an Independent Expert
12-27-2013 Children's Hospital Atty Response to family atty
12-30-2013 Children's Hospital - Family Filed Appeal
12-30-2013 McMath Civil Rights Lawsuit Filing
01-03-2014 Supplemental Declaration of Dr. Heidi Flori 
01-29-2014 Plaintiff's Dismissal Without Prejudice to Dismiss Federal Ct. Filing
12-30-2103 Plaintiff's Notice of Status Conference on 4-2-14 Federal Ct. Filing

03-03-2015 Malpractice Complaint Against Hospital, Surgeon  
December 19, 2013
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Jahi McMath. This is a tragic situation.
We want the public to know that the family has not permitted us to discuss the medical situation. We are unable–without the family’s permission–to talk about the medical procedure, background or any of the details that are a part of this tragedy. Details that would provide transparency, openness and provide answers to the public about this situation.

We implore the family to allow the hospital to openly discuss what has occurred and to give us the necessary legal permission–which it has been withholding–that would bring clarity, and we believe, some measure of closure and deeper understanding of this medical case.

Many of the statements made by the family and its attorney must be taken in the context that they will not allow CHO to discuss the case and provide the information necessary for there to be a fuller understanding.

David Durand, M.D.
Chief of Pediatrics
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
- - Medical Resources: NCBI; Nuc Med; Springer; Research Gate
NCBI: The Concept of Brain Death Did Not Evolve to Benefit Organ Transplants
NCBI- Organ Preservation in a brain dead patient: information support for a neurocritical care protocol development
NCBI: Stability and Autolysis of Cortical Neurons in Post-Mortem Adult Rat Brains
NCBI: On the Autolysis of Brain Tissue
Nuc Med Resource: Brain Death Scan
SPRINGER: Autolysis of the granular layer of the cerebellar cortex in brain death
RESEARCH GATE: A clinico-neuropathological study on brain death
RESEARCH GATE: Changes in Spinal Reflex Excitability in Brain-Dead Humans
MEDICALOOK: Reflex Arc Anatomy
NEUROLOGICAL BULLETIN - Undulating Toe Flexion Sign in Brain Death 
- - Magazine Articles
VQR: The Paradox of Brain Death
Discover Magazine - The Beating Heart Donors 5/2012
Salt Lake Tribune 10/15/2004 Brain Dead 6 yr old 
-- Information Websites
Wofford College, SC, G.R. Davis, Ph.D. - Lessons From the Pithed Frog
University of Toledo - Care of Brain Dead Patient Procedures (PDF)
US Federal Court - Northern Calif. website 
Superior Ct. of Calif. - County of Alameda website
Controversies In The Determination Of Death: A White Paper by the President's Council on Bioethics
HIPPA - US Dept. of Health Website
How to Perform a Tracheotomy
California Health & Safety Code 1254.4
CCM-L.org Online discussion among MD's about Brain Death (blunt language)
Journal of Clinical Ethics - Treating Brain Dead for Family Benefit (PDF) 
- - Blogs, Website T&T Recommends
Thaddeus Mason Pope
Stories from the trauma bay - DocBastard Blog
All Nurses Website - Jahi McMath Discussion
- - Wikipedia Pages
Wikipedia: Single-photon emission computed tomography
Wikipedia: Dermatome 
Jahi McMath Wikipedia Page
President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research
Uniform Determination of Death Act 
- - Miscellaneous
 CLASSIC CASES IN MEDICAL ETHICS, Chapter 14 by Gregory E. Pence
TECHNOLOGY & REDEFINITION OF DEATH in 1968 - by Mita Giacomini
Funeral Consumers Alliance - Who May Control Disposition of Remains
FFRF email to E.C. Reams Academy of Tech. & Arts
2005 SF Gate article with image of CHO PICU unit, curtains sep. beds
Undated photo of CHO PICU unit, curtains separate beds

YouTube - Frog Legs Dancing With A Little Salt
- - Twitter
Twitter Pic of Agreement between Family & Hospital
Christopher Dolan Twitter Page 
Christopher Dolan Law Twitter Page
Omari Sealy Twitter Page 
Angela Clemente Twitter Page
Alleged Jahi's sister Twitter Page
Image of hand holding on Twitter
Better Image of hand holding on Twitter
Alleged cousin of Jahi McMath Twitter Page 
 - - Facebook
Family Facebook Keep Jahi on life support
Image of hand holding on Facebook
Team Jahi McMath Prayer & Support Facebook Page
Team Jahi: A Family in Denial Facebook Page
- - Instagram /WebStagram
Omari Sealy WebStagram Account
? Nailah Winkfield Instagram Account
- - YouTube 
YouTube: ALLEGED VIDEO of Jahi's feet & ice cubes
YouTube: Video of grandmother speaking to media about suctioning Jahi
01/17/14 Black Hollywood Live - Justice Is Served (McMath is discussed)
12/17/13 ABC7 - In this video Jahi's mother says she was spitting up clots
01/03/14 Raw footage of Christopher Dolan arguing with the press 
01/16/14 Dee Dee Simon Official Jahi McMath music video
- - Etc.
Official Jahi McMath Website - Give Jahi A Chance
FundRazr Account for Jahi McMath - currently suspended
Family GoFundMe Account 
Nailah Winkfield's letter released 2-19-14
Possible Marvin Winkfield Google+ Page 


ALL InsideBayArea articles on Jahi McMath - ARCHIVE
ALL LA Times articles on Jahi McMath - ARCHIVE
ALL Huff Post articles on Jahi McMath - ARCHIVE
ALL MercuryNews articles on Jahi McMath - ARCHIVE
ALL New York Times articles on Jahi McMath - ARCHIVE
Christopher Dolan's SF Examiner Blog - ARCHIVE 

12/18/13 NBC Bay Area - Okland 8th Grader "Brain Dead" After Tonsillectomy
12/18/13 SF Gate - Tonsil surgery patient to remain on life support (Image of father supposedly in this story.)
12/19/13 KRON4 - Jahi McMath: Doctor Releases Statement Following Meeting With Family
12/21/13 ContraCosta Times - Jahi, her mom & 13 days at Children's Hosp. Oakland
12/24/13 MercuryNews - Jahi McMath: A mother's undeniable love is lost in divisive battle
12/25/13 San Fran. Examiner - A Personal Story of Representing Jahi McMath -by Dolan
12/30/13 ContraCosta Times - Appeal Describes Jahi McMath's post-surgical bleeding

01/02/14 CNN Opn: Let Parents Decide if Teen is Dead + Video
01/02/14 San Fran. Examiner - Behind Scenes Fight Over Jahi - by Dolan 
01/03/14 CBS San Francisco - Death Certificate Issued for Jahi McMath
01/03/14 CNN Video - Legal Battle over Jahi McMath
01/03/14 San Francisco Gate - Hospital Agrees to let Family take Jahi
01/03/14 San Francisco Gate - Lack of Brain Activity Separates Jahi from Other Cases

01/04/14 NBC Bay Area - Family Cleared to take Teen from Hospital 
01/05/14 San Jose Mercury News - Jahi Moved from CHO

01/06/14 National Right to Life - Jahi Flown to NY Facility
01/06/14 Fox Video - Father Jonathan  Morris weighs in on McMath Case
01/06/14 Fox Video - Founder of New Beginnings Allyson Scerri's Fox News Interview 
01/06/14 Fox Video - Why Schiavo's family stands by Jahi McMath
01/06/14 Fox Video - Could Jahi McMath Make Miracle Recovery? 
01/06/14 CNN - Case of Jahi McMath Raises Questions About Life After Brain Death

01/09/14 NBC News - Brain Dead Girl Gets Feeding, Breathing Tubes
01/09/14 Newsday Opinion - The Case Against Care for brain dead
01/09/14 The Catholic Key -  Sometimes things are not as they seem by Bishop Finn
01/09/14 San Jose Mercury News - Medical Experts Say Organ Failure Inevitable   
01/09/14 New York Times: At Issue in 2 Wrenching Cases: What to Do When the Brain Dies?
01/09/14 Traditional Catholic Priest Blog - An Important Comment on Jahi, Dr. Paul Byrne & Brain Death
01/09/14 Post News Group - Faith Confronts Economic Reality in Fate of McMath

01/10/14 NBC Bay Area - Friends Believe Jahi McMath "Quiet Leader" is Alive
01/10/14  Huff Post - Jahi McMath and the Dangerous Language of Hope
01/10/14 Huff Post -The Ethics of Being Brain Dead:  Doctors And Bioethicists Discuss Jahi McMath And Marlise Munoz
01/10/14 Guardian LV - McMath Case Has Alarming New Details
01/10/14 Mercury News Ed: -McMath story demonstrates Americans need to talk more about death
01/10/14 CNN Video -HLN Dr. Drew - Jahi McMath won't wake up 

01/13/14 UC Hastings College of Law - David Faigman on Jahi McMath
01/14/14 Renew America - Jahi McMath is a Living Person - by Paul Byrne MD 
01/14/14 MercuryNews - John Horgan: Readers React to Jahi McMath Commentary
01/14/14 The Californian - Deaths put focus on child surgery risks
01/14/14 Ntl Catholig Regstr - McMath Case Renews Moral Debate over Brain Death Diagnosis 

1/7 Updtd 01/15/14 MercuryNews - John Horgan: Jahi McMath saga draws too many judgemental comments
01/15/14 Christian Century - Jahi McMath & the bodies of children
01/15/14 New Scientist - McMath & Munoz cases challenge definition of death
01/15/14 Huff Post Live - Video Rpt - If the Brain is Dead, Should the Person Die, Too? 
01/15/14 Life Site News - Kansas City Bishop pens passionate defense of life in defense of Jahi McMath case
01/15/14 The New Yorker - Lights Out: A New Reckoning for Brain Death

01/16/14 Secular News Daily - FFRF asks for probe of charter school
01/16/14 FFRF - Press release asking for proble of charter school
01/16/14 CentricTV - The Jahi McMath Saga: Is The Media Creating False Hope?
01/16/14 - Washington Times - Schindler: My Sister Terri Schiavo was alive like Jahi McMath
01/16/14 Press Telegram OP - In Cases Like McMath's, Listen to Doctor's Diagnosis: Letters
01/16/14 LA Times OP - In Jahi's case, past time for a reality check 

01/17/14 Huff Post - Defining Death: Four Decades of Ambivalence
01/17/14 ShreveportTimes - Jahi McMath is dead, it's time to let her go
01/17/14 Huff Post - McMath Case Could Set Precedent for Parents' Rights
01/18/14 RenewAmerica - Jahi's functioning hypothalamus: Some social and scientific considerations
01/18/14 OregonLive OP - The importance of not letting go too soon

01/19/14 Christian Sci. Monitor - When does life end? Two emotional cases...
01/19/14 Santa Barbara Indep - When dead is dead
01/19/14 SF Gate - Matier & Ross comment in this article on Jahi McMath
01/19/14 Santa Barbara Indepndent - When Dead is Dead

01/20/14 Boston.com - When is someone dead: Biology, Humanity & the Law
01/20/14 CNN (The Chart) - 'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine
01/20/14 Christianity Today - Medicine does not know what dead is
o1/20/14 Time - Jahi McMath, Ariel Sharon and the Valley of Death

01/21/14 Northwest Herald - Oliver: Jahi's parents faced heartbreaking choice
01/21/14 Christopher Johnson MD (Blog) On Brain Death & McMath Story
01/22/14 Huff Post - Death has become a choice
01/22/14 LA Times OP - Sad saga of Jahi McMath made sadder by family's lawyer, readers say

01/24/14 Huff Post - How an Outdated California Law is Impacting the McMath Case
01/25/14 Inside BayArea - McMath: Could Her Case Determine How California Determines Death?
01/25/14 MercuryNews - McMath: Five similar brain death legal cases 

01/27/14 MercuryNews - McMath - Video claims to show her feet and toes move
01/31/14 SF Gate - Dying while Black: The case of Jahi McMath

02/01/14 MercuryNews - McMath - Is it safe to have tonsil surgery at CHO?
02/01/14 RenewAmerica - Paul Byrne: Jahi McMath, can you move?
02/06/14 Christopher Johnson MD - What is death & when is dead really dead?
02/11/14 KevinMD - Analyzing the Jahi McMath Case
02/19/14 KTVU.com - Letter from Jahi McMath's Mother About Recent Developments
02/24/14 LA Times - Mother of Jahi Defends Ventilator Decision
02/27/14 MercuryNews -McMath Family to get award from Schiavo foundation

03/13/14 ContraCostaTimes - JM: State Releases Report on CHO Handling of Patients
03/13/14 MercuryNews - McMath Family Calls State Report B.S.
03/15/14 Mail Online - Family says teen is showing signs of life
03/15/14 FoxNews - Uncle: Jahi McMath Knows Where She Is 
03/18/14 RenewAmerica - Pal Byrne: Jahi McMath, Accepting her life
03/25/14 NBC BayArea - McMath Family to be Honored by Schiavo Network
03/28/14 LATimesNow - Mother of brain dead Jahi McMath says daughter is "still sleeping"

05/22/14 Calif. Calthoic Daily - Brain death is not death, it's liability protection (Quotes from a 1/6/14 article by Paul Byrne)

03/03/15 Inside Bay Area Jahi McMath: Oakland girl's family sues hospital, surgeon
03/03/15 LATimesNow - Family of Jahi McMath Sues Doctor, Oakland Hospital over brain damage
03/03/15 ABC Family of California Teen Declared Brain Dead Sues Hospital For Malpractice
03/03/15 SFGate Family of Jahi McMath Suing Oakland Hospital
03/03/15 NBC Family of Jahi McMath Alleges Medical Negligence Against Children's Hospital
03/03/15 Mercury News - Timeline of Events According to Family Lawsuit