UPDATED 6:25 PM
THE DEFENSE HAS RESTED!
2-22-2012 Defense attorney Mark Overland,
© Thomas Broersma
It's very possible that defense attorney Mark Overland could rest his case by the end of the day today. If that happens, it's projected there will be no court on Wednesday to give counsel time to prepare for closing arguments. Closing arguments would be presented on Thursday and Friday morning this week and optimistically, the jury could get the case by Friday afternoon.
I'll have an update by lunch today.
UPDATE 12:30 PM
We had a bit of fireworks this morning over the testimony of James Nuttall, Van Nuys detective who received the case from Cold Case Special in March 2008 and did the majority of the investigation before the case was handed over to Robbery/Homicide. DDA Nunez was on fire in his arguments to Judge Perry outside the presence of the jury as well as his cross of Nuttall after Overland's initial direct examination. It was evident to those of us in the gallery that Nunez was trying to clear up issues Overland raised in his direct of what Nuttall did when he physically reviewed all the case evidence he requested from the various property storage areas and opened items of evidence for verification. I could almost see smoke coming out of Nunez ears, his body language and forceful tone in his questioning conveyed a sense of indignation that Nuttall's integrity had been called into question during Overland's direct examination.
During the morning break, Nunez and Nuttall had a discussion and when Overland redirected his witness, he asked many questions about what Nunez said to him, as well as asked Nuttall if Nunez told him what to say on the stand. At that point, Judge Perry interjected to say, "The prosecutor is not on trial here."
One of the items in contention between counsel, was a GSR kit listed on the property log and could that GSR kit be one of the ones that was collected by the coroner's office or was it a GSR kit used on the blanket/garment "Snuggy."
Overland called two character witnesses this morning, female friends of the defendant who testified in the many years they knew Lazarus, they stated they never knew her to be a violent person. A custodian of records for Santa Monica Police Department testified about the number of auto property thefts that were also reported on the dated Lazarus' reported her gun stolen. There were two others. In cross examination, the witness testified those property thefts occurred from the trunks of the vehicles and from a different public parking structure than where Lazarus had parked her car.
We broke for lunch early at 11:30 AM when Overland ran out of witnesses. There will be more testimony outside the presence of the jury from DNA SID serology lab acting supervisor Thompson on a specific issue of standards and practices over DNA lab procedures and another analyst who may have performed work on the case.
I will try to have a complete write up very late tonight.
THE DEFENSE HAS RESTED!
Judge Perry ruled that Thompson would not be testifying on the issues Overland wanted to raise. His finding after the additional testimony in the afternoon was that the reports did not have any relevance to this case.
In the afternoon session, Detective Gregory Stearns took the stand to read entries from the defendants journal (or “work log” entries depending on your perspective) and calendar entries where the defendant mentioned interest in other men, coworkers who had an interest in her, men she found attractive or things she did with other men such as lunch, biking or other sporting activities.
Overland rested his case with the jury on the testimony of latent fingerprint expert Andrea Dillion and the unidentifiable prints she submitted to IAFIS. The defendant did not take the stand in her own defense.
Before the jury was excused, Judge Perry went over with counsel the various scheduling options. A juror had scheduled an much needed doctor’s appointment that was important on Friday. Earlier on the same day, her relative, possibly daughter, was being induced for labor and she was traditionally the first one to hold the new baby.
Counsel and Judge Perry went over the various options on this scheduling issue with counsel, taking into account how long each side was going to argue. Nunez who would lead the prosecution’s arguments, stated his closing would be one to two hours, closer on the one hour side. Judge Perry indicated Overland would argue somewhere between four and five hours and Presby bringing up the final closing one hour. Presby was willing to do closing arguments on Wednesday, getting the case to the jury by Thursday but Overland felt he needed time to prepare and requested that closings be moved to Monday. Monday it is.
Tomorrow, counsel will decide on the specific language for jury instructions. Judge Perry indicated he was favoring CAL CRIM. I don’t plan on attending this part of the trial choosing instead to take a much needed rest.
I will be working on getting the detail of today’s testimony finished as soon as possible. After that, put up a Q&A thread for questions until closings. Then I’ll finish up with the final testimony from yesterday.