UPDATED 10:00 PM
Lazarus, Judge Perry, Shannon Presby 2-12-12. © Thomas Broersma.
We are on the morning break.
This morning the jury was shown the rest of the interview video of Lazarus. Detective Jaramillo was questioned on cross as to why they came up with a story to get Lazarus in the jail interview room. Judge Perry sustained objections to many of these questions.
The next witness was an LAPD officer, Brian McCartin who went through LAPD accademy training with Lazarus. Part of their training involved "combat wrestling" and "gun retention drills" which involves trying to take a weapon away from one's opponent.
McCartin described Lazarus' abilities in combat wrestling as, "She was the strongest, most aggressive, most persistent woman in all the class." McCartin testified that he trained with all the women in the class. Over the years he saw her on the job and still considers her a friend.
On cross examination, Overland asked him if in those training, wrestling sessions if she ever bit him. He replied, "No."
The current witness on the stand is Thomas Fedor, a DNA analyst from an independent lab known as SERI, that does contracted work for the LAPD, the LA Co, Sheriffs, and other law enforcement agencies.
I almost forgot! As I exited the courtroom, I see John Ruetten clearing security on the 9th floor. I don't know why he has come back to the trial.
The SERI DNA analyst is still on the stand under cross examination. Overland is challenging the minor profile results he found in the bite mark swab. He also asked questions about the integrity of packaging in shipping and receiving samples from the LAPD and whether or not inadequate packaging could invalidate results, or the results could have no value.
John Ruetten was sitting in the gallery directly behind me.
Gail Ruetten, John Ruetten's older sister is in the gallery. The SERI DNA analyst is still on the stand under cross. Overland is questioning him about DNA he tested that came from swabbings of fingernail scrapings or cuttings from Sherri Rasmusen. Many of these nails had incomplete profiles and/or profiles from one or more individuals that could not be identified. Only one fingernail so far that this witness tested that had a partial profile that could have come from Stephanie Lazarus. The chance that this DNA came from some other random individual was one in 26,000.
As far as future witnesses in the prosecution's case-in-chief, I'm sure there is more DNA analysis to come that will be challenged by the defense. I expect we will still hear from the prosecution's crime scene analyst as well as a firearms expert that will testify about the gunshot residue on the blanket that indicated the muzzle length of the weapon was two inches.
I could almost see the tension building in DDA Nunez’s back as he sat waiting for Overland to finish cross so he could get up and redirect his witness, SERI Analyst Thomas Fedor.
Overland was asking question after question about single DNA locations in many different samples and how those specific spots showed no indication of that DNA coming from his client, Lazarus.
It wasn’t until 3:35 PM that Nunez finally was able to ask questions about the DNA in it’s totality.
PN: Defense exhibit UUU, this chart is for the bite mark? (snip) Does that have all the loci on it?
(The exhibit is for “MiniFiler” a test that specifically targets 9 loci spots.)
TF: It has nine of fifteen.
PN: (When you do a comparison) are you looking at each individual (locus) by itself, or (?)?
TF: No. It must be drawn from (the profile as a whole).
PN: Is it intellectually consistent in your field...
MO: Objection! Argumentative!
PN: Is it consistent in your field to take a high peak and a low peak and say (that they belong together?)?
TF: I would not normally attempt to frame that type of conclusion.
Judge Perry interrupts Nunez’s redirect and asks his own question. When he did that it looked to me like DDA Nunez was frustrated, (pacing in the well a bit) that Judge Perry had taken over questioning of his witness.
JP: What significance is (there) to relative (peak) height?
TF: It does indicate who the particular contributor might be.
High peaks come together. Low peaks come together. Nunez puts up the DNA profile of the bite mark swab were there is a mixture of two sources of DNA. He points the witness to one locus, identified as TPOX. At that locus there is definitely a mixture of DNA.
The totality of the results tells us there is one major contributor. The minor contributor is consistent with the profile taken from skin. The witness states that if the only potential source of DNA is from skin, he would expect the DNA to be very low. Of the bite mark swab DNA profile, the defendant was the major contributor.
PN: Given the strength of the (peak heights) of the profile, it is consistent (with the defendant)?
Nothing in that minor profile is foreign to Sherri Rasmussen’s DNA. John Ruetten’s DNA was excluded from being a contributor to the DNA sample.
Nunez clears up the fact that the population controls that Fedor based his chance random probabilities (the chance percentages) on, for various samples on statistical populations, are recognized by other scientists and used by some other laboratories. (In other words, the basis of these calculations is accepted in the scientific community.)
(Then Nunez moved onto the the two torn fingernails that were found at the crime scene, collected by LAPD criminalists and stored in LAPD custody.)
Judge Perry interrupts Nunez’s redirect again to state, “The (reports, Electrophermographs) are clear, there are drop offs from both tests.”
”(Drop offs, are when the analysis detects some DNA, but it’s not as high of a signal detected to meet the minimum parameters, so the information “drops off.)
Fedor states that from one fingernail, there is DNA that is consistent with Stephanie Lazarus’ profile. “One in 26,000 (random) women would qualify as Ms. Lazarus does to the mixture,” Fedor adds.
In SERI’s item #13 (the second torn fingernail) Fedor states that Sherri Rasmussen and Stephanie Lazarus could each be a contributor. One in 9,000 (random) women would qualify asas Ms. Lazarus does in this mixture. Ms. Rasmussen, one in one hundred.
Nunez moves onto redirecting testimony on the blanket, but we are getting close to 4:00 PM and Judge Perry shuts down questioning telling Nunez he will have to bring his witness back tomorrow.