Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sephanie Lazarus: Closing Arguments Day 1, Part II

3-05-2012 The Defense
Mark Overland, Stephanie Lazarus, Randal "Randy" Later
© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT yahoo.com

UPDATE: edited for clarity, accuracy. 

It’s March 5th, 2012, one day difference from Feb 6th, 2012 when opening arguments were made in this case.

Quite a bit of press has shown up to hear closing arguments.

Inside the courtroom, Judge Perry is already on the bench. His hands are pressed together in a prayer like mode, directly in front of his mouth. I then see him interlace his hands for a moment. Then he takes his glasses off and rubs his face.

There are many family members here on both sides. The seats on the defense side of the room are filled. Behind me are many members of the Rasmussen family, along with their attorney John Taylor. Sherri’s sister Connie is here and Loretta introduces me to her. Also here is Connie’s daughter, Sherri’s former roommate Jayne, some other family friends, as well as John Ruetten and his sister Gail Lopes, who both testified in the case.

We go on the record outside the presence of the jury so that the parties can argue the introduction of a special instruction the defense wants the court to add to the roster of instructions that are given to the jury. DDA Presby objects to this instruction because it misstates the law and shifts the legal definition (of responsibility?) to the jurors instead of the trial court.

I obtained a copy of the defense motion, and I’ll put that up at some time in the future. The people did not present moving papers to counter the motion. Instead, they argued on their feet for Judge Perry to reject the motion. DDA Presby argued, “We’ve had several hearings on this and the chain of custody has already been established."

Overland argues his point that there are two issues in respect to the instruction. 1. Legal by the court; 2. Factual, determined by jury. Chain of custody is a dual finding. I miss getting all of Overland’s oral argument, but will have the complete motion up sometime later.

Judge Perry states that he has read the motion as well as (I believe) the cases cited in the motion. “None of them (the cited cases?) support the giving of this instruction.” Perry then goes onto cite the cases and what they rule.

JP: I don’t think this is (appropriate?)? I think it’s misleading. I believe the standard instruction (224 CAL CRIM) covers the issues. (snip) Frankly, I think to give this instruction invites confusion and I won’t give it.

DDA Presby also asks for a clarification in regards to third party culpability evidence. He would like to approach and give that argument at side bar.

When the sidebar is finished, Judge Perry’s clerk, Melody, informs him that we are still missing three jurors. It’s not technically 9:00 AM yet. They still have a few minutes.

There are several people who are dressed very nicely today. Courtney Overland has her hair pulled back in a tight bun. She’s wearing a light violet colored well fitted sweater top with a plum skirt. It looks quite nice on her. The woman sitting at the detective’s table in the well (who I think is a DDA), has her hair pulled back in a tight bun again. She’s wearing pearl earrings on a wire and a perfectly fitted black suit. The skirt has these pleats on the sides that look to be about four inches apart. She looks lovely.

DDA Presby is wearing a very bright blue striped tie that does not go too well with his dark suit. DDA Nunez is wearing a red tie with his white shirt and dark suit. The front row is filled with mainstream press that I’ve come to recognize. Nunez paces in the well. There is a slight reflective expression on his face. A moment later it is gone and he has smiled at someone in the gallery. Lazarus is in a black knit type of sweater jacket. I see Presby standing at the prosecution table, intently flipping through a huge binder with photos in it. I’m guessing it’s the evidence book.

9:05 AM BUZZ! The jury files into the courtroom. Judge Perry greets the jury. He then explains the next part of the trial where the attorneys will tell them what they believe the evidence will show or does not show. He explains the order of closing arguments. First the prosecutions opening argument, the defense argument and then the prosecution’s rebuttal argument.

Judge Perry stresses your rendering of the evidence controls what the jury decides. If what the attorney say (the evidence shows) is something that is inconsistent with (your interpretation of the evidence), you (should? must?) (rely on your own rendering of the evidence).

Paul Nunez addresses the jury.

Justice has waited a long time in this case. Last week was the 26th anniversary of Sherri Rasmussen’s death. We’re asking for justice in this case. You have the power to give this victim justice and find Stephanie Lazarus guilty of committing first degree murder.

Twenty six years ago, she thought she’d gotten away with it. But after listening to four weeks of testimony, you know the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant committed this murder.

We know that the months before her murder that there were happy times. (Photos up on the over head screen) John and Sherri’s marriage, an new niece and another sister with a baby on the way.

John and Sherri recently shared birthdays and on Valentine’s Day spent it at a friend’s wedding. After three months of marriage, John gave Sherri three roses to mark that anniversary.

For the defendant, those preceding months passed quite differently. Mike Hargreaves saw the grief that she was feeling. Her concentration was lost. She tried to reach out to John, but it didn’t help. She wrote a letter to John’s mother, stating, (I wish it didn’t have to?) I will never understand John’s decision.”

3-5-2012 DDA Paul Nunez © Thomas Broersma

This grief mixed with her skills as a police officer, her days off, the perfect mixture, the perfect cocktail, for a murder that was about to occur. She was waiting for the moment to strike, waiting for the victim to be alone.

We know that all of the blood was her (Rasmussen’s blood). She was bound, she was bitten, she was hit over the head with a vase, she was pistol whipped. And when she was lying there, on the living room floor, the defendant knew what she was about to do. She wrapped the blanket around the gun to muffle the sound. She fired once. She fired twice. Then she moved in closer and fired a contact shot, up against Sherri’s skin.

The coroner told us that last shot, Sherri Rasmussen was lying on the ground. Her back was flat up against the floor.

What happened in that condo? Sherri Rasmussen struggled to survive. She struggled to escape. The broken nails are a testament to Sherri Rasmussen’s struggle to survive. That hand print, so low to the ground on the wall is evidence that she fought for her life. She put her (Sherri) back in that living room.

As jurors, you’re asked to do two things. Was a crime committed and who committed this crime. There is one charge. Murder with a gun. Nunez has the (evidence code or the jury instruction) on malice murder up on the overhead screen, and Nunez goes over 187, felony murder.

There’s not a photo of Sherri on the floor of her condo on the overhead screen. Nunez states he’s going to focus the rest of his argument on the defendant and on her love for John, her skills and her DNA at the scene that will prove that the defendant committed this murder.

Her Love For John
Jealousy. Simply put, the jealousy the defendant had for Sherri existed because she loved John. There’s no evidence that anyone had the motive to kill Sherri.

We looked at the (journal entries?) she wrote before the marriage and how she’s coping with it. Nunez summaries the entries we heard about in the journal.

She watched him for 30 minutes (at the restaurant) waiting for him to come back out.

We heard where she’s dropping by John’s apartment but his girlfriend is over.

Her dream since collage was dashed on Memorial Day weekend 1985. That ring that should be hers is on Sherri’ Rasmussen’s finger.

She’s writing about her depression. Her concentration is a minus 10.

On June 16th, 1985, she doesn’t have concentration. She’s asking for time off, but we know it doesn’t help.

She wrote a letter to Mrs. Ruetten,
“The reason it’s taken me so long to write is because I had to build up the courage. I’m truly in love with John and last year has really torn me up and I don’t think I’ll ever understand his decision.”

She was intending for her to know that John had ripped her heart in two. She was saying to her, ‘It should have been me. You know me.’

She had to confront the victim at work and confront her about what happened (when John came over). But John and Sherri loved each other and the wedding went on. Two weeks before the murder she’s still noting (in her journal?) she’s very, very sad and no one met up to John’s standard.

She’s writing in the border of her journal, a (dating) ad... UCLA grad, available and describes what she’s looking for. She had (memories?) pictures and these journal entries.

As a police officer, she knows motive is a (powerful?) (evidence?). Did she tell detectives about her love? So when they ask her, “Do you now John?” What did she say? She said, (they were just friends?) Was that the truth? They knew that wasn’t the truth. So they pressed her.

Nunez plays a section of the video.

Nunez states, Lazarus says she may have, I may have talked to her.

Nunez plays another section of video.

What is she saying? She’s saying it’s a friendly meeting. But we know, she shows up whenever she wanted.

She admitted that she knew Sherri had been killed, but, she confuses the time line. She tells them she could have been working in Hollywood, stopping by on her way to work. Then talks about.......

She’s deflecting. Watch her facial expressions. Watch her demeanor. She’s trying to pass it off as friendly, much more passive than what’s going on. Was it just a civil conversation?

Nunez plays a section of the video where Lazarus states the meeting with Sherri was nothing confrontational.
Why is she saying this? Because she doesn’t know what detectives know. Maybe there’s a witness at the hospital. Maybe Sherri wrote something down.

Nunez plays another section of the video, where Lazarus states “it’s not ringing a bell”.

It’s not ringing a bell because she doesn’t want that bell rung. In those admissions on the video tape, and in those lies, the truth (lies?).

What she said........................ What We Know

Casual relationship........... The defendant was truly in love.

Made a friendly visit........ Disclosed the sex she had with John.

Visit was on the way......... Sherri worked in Glendale
to Hollywood ................... 20 miles away.

We know this happened. She had to drive 20 miles away, find a nurse administrator in the hospital and then say (what she said about sleeping with John). That’s a lot different than a friendly visit on the way to Hollywood Station.

The visit was the first blow, shot at Sherri’s heart.

Opportunity. Did she have opportunity? We heard she had three days off before the murder. Three days to plan. Three days to stalk. Three days to strike.

We’ve had no testimony about an alibi. The only evidence is, she had the ability.

Mark Overland asks Judge Perry to approach and Judge Perry responds, “No.”

What about the gun? Five shots (were fired). It had a 2-inch barrel. 38 caliber revolver loaded with Federal bullets used to kill the victim. On the day of the murder, the defendant owned a five shot (revolver) loaded with LAPD policy Federal ammunition. Where did it go? Convenient that it was lost 13 days later.

That work journal, that mentioned so much of her work life, didn’t mention the stolen gun. Didn’t mention the purchase of the new gun. Didn’t mention the punched out locks on her personal car.

We heard about the blanket and how it was used to silence the bullets. We heard about the barrel cylinder gap left on the blanket. Two inch barrel guns have a lot of unspent powder and that evidence was on the robe as well.

The testimony of Daniel Rubin, who talked about the lands and groves left on the bullet. Five lands and groves with a right twist on the bullets. That also match, the defendant’s gun.

A photo of Sherri’s wounds to her face is up on the over head.

The right eye area. Steven Dowell talked about the pattern mark on the right eye. That pattern mark was shown (to match) the muzzle at the end of that Model 49, and it compared favorably. Nunez explains the details of this wound that Dowell described in his testimony and how it matched up to the muzzle of a S&W Model 49. Another characteristic that matched the defendant’s gun.

Steven Rodgers and Daniel Rubin compared the crimping on the jacket of the lead bullet and (testified) that one one else (no other manufacturer) puts this crimping on the bullet. Smith and Luczy testified that (the manual?) these same bullets were carried by officers. Another characteristic (that matched the defendant).

Detective McCarten and Mike Hargreaves testified that the defendant was a skilled marksman, skilled athlete, superior to her fellow female officers.

We know the (blows?) (to her head? face?)

This wasn’t a melee. This wasn’t a fair fight. this was a prey caught in a cage with a predator.

She had been to crime scenes. She know how crimes were committed. so she got rid of the gun. She knew how to get past locks. Her calendar reflected the locksmith books. And she knew how to lift prints. Her journal reflected that she knew how to lift prints.

There were only two outstanding prints. One was a joint print on the upstairs kitchen phone and a random palm print on the garage (railing). There were no prints and the reasonable conclusion is that the defendant wore gloves or wiped down because the defendant knew about (prints?).....

If no property was taken then (?)..... but if it looked like a burglary, then (LE) would focus their attention elsewhere. So what did she do? She staged a burglary.

The car was not stripped. The stereo equipment left stacked. There was no (sexual) assault on the body. The evidence shows she did abandon (the car?)....

Mr. Safarik told us this wasn’t a random burglary. To the 2009 investigators, a purse left behind, a car left intact, including (keys left in the ignition). The only thing done completely was the disfigurement and killing of Sherri Rasmussen.

Safarik told us the defendant took a break and contemplated. And then picked up the blanket and wrapped it around the gun, firing once, firing twice. And because you’ve fired four shots (in total) so far, she pressed the gun up to the chest of Sherri, and you (?) fired a third time.

Let’s talk about the defendant’s identity left at the scene. The bite was used to overcome Sherri’s resistance. We heard the testimony of Lloyd Mahaney. He placed the evidence inside an envelope and then he went to the coroner’s office to check it in. And there it remained. Waiting for science (to catch up?), waiting for the evidence (to be analyzed)to unlock this case.

Other bite mark evidence was also collected by the coroner’s office. They did a dental imprint of the bite, but didn’t find one. Dr. Selser put a slide under the microscope to check the wound and there was no inflammation under the skin. That told her that injury occurred at the time of death.

We presented to you all the employees to handled the evidence. What should we expect from a paper that’s been handled (and stored for 19 years?).....

They knew the evidence was inside a tube (inside?) an envelope and that evidence was preserved. So they put it inside another envelope. Jane Rodriguez looked at the envelope under ultraviolet light. Nunez goes over her testimony. The information on the envelope was the same as Lloyd Mahaney’s testimony. And the toe tag in evidence. The information on the envelope was the same as his preliminary hearing testimony.

The integrity of this evidence existed when they found it. Dan Anderson was called and they couldn’t release it until it was repackaged (in?) another envelope. The documentation of the envelope and it’s condition was completed before the evidence was examined. That tube had yet to become evidence item number 30 in this case.

It was there another four years before evidence had even been analyzed (and compared to Lazarus?) in this case.

(The DNA experts testified?) Degraded DNA doesn’t turn into someone else’s DNA. You just get less evidence.

There’s no evidence that tear was deliberately placed. That tear occurred because it was stored for 19 years. There was no evidence that someone snuck in and passed all the locked doors, found the right evidence tube, mixed and planted that (DNA) epithelial cells from the defendant. When there were skin cells (?) of the victim. They were never analyzed in 1986. How could anyone know in 1986... (How could they get skin cells from the victim years later?)

Then they suggested the swabs weren’t real. A SERI photograph, they showed it to Jennifer Francis (and implied) that there was only one swab in the tube all along. Nunez goes over Lloyd Mahaney’s testimony and that there were two swabs mentioned in Mahaney’s testimony.

(I remember that from reading the preliminary hearing transcript.)

They show this picture to Tom Fedor. They tried to suggest that seals on these tubes, that had LAPD analysis stickers.

Ochaie, she had already placed those stickers on those tubes on April 26th. She had already analyzed those tubes.

You heard in Lloyd Mahaney’s testimony they swab the victim’s hands. They used a GSR kit on her face and hands. Is there any question she was in the presence of GSR? Then they keep evidence for 20 years. They destroyed it after 20 years. Why did they bring that up? Because they want you to think (evidence was missing? mishandled?)......

In 2005 Jennifer Francis found the defendant’s identity and mixed with the victim’s profile. In 2005 they tested for 13 loci. In 2009 they tested for 15 loci. All those different items, the rope, the dishtowel, all matched the minor profile (in the bite mark) of Sherri Rasmussen. Francis entered the profile in CODIS. She stood by for four years (for someone?) to bring her a suspect to compare to CODIS give a hit.

In 2009, the investigators knew they had a female perp. They knew her gun was reported stolen 13 days later. They tailed her. They got her DNA. They found it to be a match at 13 loci. The calculations Jennifer Francis arrived at, the frequency that this DNA could show up in the Earth’s population was one in 402 quadrillion. That’s hundreds of Earth’s population.

SERI - on a profile match.... did testing on the nails.... one in 26,000.

That (def? dif) was in that (mil?)

(Fedor explained that on nails, that there was other random (alleles) and that you often pick up materials under your nails.) But that one in 26,000, was the most significant.

SERI looked at the second swab (from inside the bite mark tube). They tested 15 loci. This DNA sample was robust. Saliva amylase. The most perfect sample you could get. (It’s what they use when they take DNA samples.) 15 loci. Female gender marker and all the loci matched the defendant.

3-05-2012 DDA Paul Nunez

© Thomas Broersma

The (random) frequency of that (comparison?) 1.7 sextillion to one. A number that dwarfs the 402 to one figure. That frequency?

There are 7 billion people on Earth. That’s not one Earth. That’s not three Earth’s. Not five, ten or fifteen Earths. You would need the population of 240 billion Earths, to find that frequency again.

The bite mark matched the testing of the cup and straw from Costco. LAPD and SERI (both tested it?).

This is overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s guilt. She had motive, opportunity, means, special skills and the DNA. this is the evidence that proves those horrific pictures we had to show to you.

Nunez then gives an example of what the defense will say is reasonable doubt.

When my son was a small toddler, I’d read him Jack in the Beanstalk. (He knew the story by heart.) One time, I switched to mentioning a story about (monkeys?). What I was doing to my son? I was misleading him. I was (trying) to confuse him.

When the defense talks about one swab, two swabs, when they talk about.....

When they ask if John Ruetten’s profile could be hidden in the major profile of the bite mark, he’s confusing the situation. He’s misleading the evidence. My son would show for you....

You must consider the entire body of evidence. This is evidence that is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Stephanie Lazarus committed this crime. This is the justice that has been waiting so long. This is the verdict.... (?)....

Nunez ends at about 10:05 AM. He spoke almost an hour.

Overland tells Judge Perry that hey were not able to gather all the exhibits they needed. Judge Perry tells him he will give him all the time he needs.

Overland puts on the record his objection to the prosecution’s statement “We have not heard an alibi defense.” and his motion for a mistrial.

Judge Perry rules and gives his reasons for denying the motion. He does not see this single statement as a “griffin?” error.

Overland makes another statement that I don’t get and Judge Perry replies. “I don’t think it was a comment on the defendant not testifying, so I’ll over rule the objection.”

Paul Nunez is now sitting in the gallery beside Loretta Rasmussen. Someone tells me Loretta gave Paul a kiss.

10:35 AM, we’re back on the record and Overland begins. He first thanks the jury for their service on behalf of Stephanie Lazarus, and for taking the time out of their busy schedules for this very important case, and this duty, we know it’s been a sacrifice. We appreciate (you?) taking your time. He goes back to when they first got the jury summons and the different possibilities of what they must have thought. He talks about that in this building tragedy is played out day after day. He talks about how the judge asked you to turn off your cell phones and that you would be doing something different from your daily lives where you would need your full attention and concentration.

3-05-2012 Mark Overland
© Thomas Broersma

He then talks about the questions on the jury form and why they were asked if they were a leader or a follower. Because they want 12 jurors who think for themselves instead of following others. He talks about this case, that it’s a tragic case. This was a woman who was taken in the prime of her life and the prosecution played to those emotions. But like the judge told you, to turn off your cell phones, those emotions have to be turned off as you took the oath. That’s what you have to do. The reason why he told you have to get rid of your emotions, they get in the way of dispassionately finding the facts.

He talks about when he was a young lawyer, another case, and someone said to him, “It’s people like you who put the breaks on the justice system.” As the years went by, he took that as a compliment. He compares the justice system without brakes is like a car without brakes. It’s equally dangerous and it’s up to us to apply the brakes.

Overland then talks to the jurors about what those brakes are. The brake that tells you about the presumption of innocence. (Overland reads a statement that Judge Perry read to the jurors when they first came to court for their jury service. That the fact that a criminal charge has been filed against Stephanie Lazarus is not evidence the charge is true.

He goes onto explain further.

I note that Lazarus does not look at her attorney or the jury. She’s sitting quite still, her hands are pressed together, her fingers slightly interlaced but not crossed on the table in front of her.

He talks about how Stephanie Lazarus doesn’t have to prove anything, and they can’t consider that against her in the jury room. The prosecution always has the burden of proof and he didn’t hear the prosecution talk about that.

Stephanie Lazarus didn’t just sit back; through cross examination (of the prosecution’s witnesses (snip) (That cross) doesn’t just prove reasonable doubt. It proves her innocence. Overland talks more about reasonable doubt and what that is. That Judge Perry will talk to them about what it isn’t. He then gives a simple example about what reasonable doubt is. He gives two examples. One with a simple conclusion and one with a conclusion that is not as clear; one with two possibilities. In those cases with two possibilities, they must choose the one that indicates innocence for his client. Reasonable doubt is questions about the evidence that have not been answered. That’s reasonable doubt.

Then Overland reads the text of what Judge Perry read to them on the first day of service about what “beyond a reasonable doubt” means. He then asks them, “Why does the law require an abiding conviction? It’s to protect people like Stephanie Lazarus because the nightmare of our criminal justice system (when?) an innocent person is being charged.”

It let’s everybody sleep better at night and have a conscience. (Want to be sure you’re making the right choice.)

Overland continues to read through standard jury instructions.

If you don’t apply that brake then the system becomes a runaway car without a brake.

Now let’s go through all the evidence and see if it proves beyond a reasonable doubt....

Overland goes over his interpretation of what the prosecution’s theory is about the case.

The prosecution’s theory is that Stephanie Lazarus was an obsessed (?) with John ruetten and went to the condo with the express.... (purpose to kill Ms. Rasmussen?)....

If I.... when (we first met, I told you at the beginning... I (guen?) to you that there would not be any eye witnesses. So the entire case is based on circumstantial evidence and the center piece is one item of evidence and you know what that is.

And every single witness, the keeping of evidence, and the integrity of evidence, based on that evidence, it cannot be trusted and relied on because it’s been compromised.

(The rest of the prosecution’s case is fluff and filler.)

The other brake in the justice system is circumstantial evidence, how you treat it and what it is. Overland reads the jurors the jury instruction for circumstantial evidence. He then tells them that afterwards, the judge will give them an example.

Overland goes into more depth as to circumstantial evidence by giving two examples and why it’s not always so easy and what the law tells them they must conclude. If there are two conclusions one for innocence and one for guilty, and they choose the one that points to guilt then you’re undermining the prosecution’s burden of proof.

It’s 11:05 AM. Overland has spoken for 40 minutes and there’s not been a single argument yet about what the evidence proves or doesn’t prove in this case.

Overland goes back to the original investigation and what the LAPD experts and criminalists reached conclusions of what happened when events were fresh in everyone’s mind.

He talks about Steve Hooks, and when he signed off on the report, the report had a heading “Investigation Conclusion.”

Overland reads to the jurors, the transcript of Hooks testimony. He reads extensively from Hooks testimony. Hooks was asked questions and Hooks replied, “I don’t recall.”

“Come on!” Overland says to the jury in response to Hook’s lack of memory.

Overland continues to go over more of Hook’s testimony about the conclusions of the report that are consistent with the prosecution’s theory. Let’s test the prosecution’s theory, that new theory.

Stephanie Lazarus went to work the very next day. Her partner, Mr. Alexander, worked with her that day and he never noticed any injuries. He also worked with her on that following Thursday. Again, he saw no injuries and she never complained. Jayne Weaver didn’t recall any injuries or anything (that she saw) in the locker room. Stephanie Lazarus continued to (work?)...

We know there were pieces of evidence that were moved. He shows them the photos of the blanket on the floor and on the chair. He shows them the photo of the stacked stereo equipment with the tile background that’s different from the hallway tile.

So maybe things weren’t done as they should have been. The prosecution said she was bound. There’s not evidence of that. Only testimony from the coroner who said there were marks that were “consistent with”..... You know what “consistent with” means. It means “could be”. Even John Ruetten said he didn’t see her bound.

And a hair found in the wire. SERI analyzed that hair and he analyzed the root and shaft of the hair on the speaker wire... not on the rope.

In respect to the root, it was a mixture of two persons, the majority contributor was a male suspect that’s not John Ruetten. So that ligature type item and Ruetten’s a possible contributor and the statistical probability of that was one in two thousand.

So you have DNA on the root. DNA from two males and one never identified. John Ruetten was excluded as the sole source on the hair.

11:25 AM
Overland talks about the low statistical probabilities (one in two thousand) and how they are not like one in (a large number). There’s a difference in DNA from exclusion to inclusion. He reads what SERI DNA Analyst Fedor had to say about statistical probability. “I never identify someone specifically. I try to avoid forming a view (sir?) as to whether or not someone is a contributor. I only identify possibilities.”

Overland reads more from the trial transcript. I watch the jury while Overland reads testimony. Juror #1 rubs her head. #10 takes a drink of water. #9 chews gum.

One of the other things that became important in Hooks and Mayer’s conclusion is the stacked stereo equipment.

The photo is up on the overhead.

Hooks noted in the report at the time there appeared to be a bloody print on the sony disc player on top of the VCR. Overland goes over Hook’s testimony of this issue and what Hooks thought he saw.

Overland presents People’s #29, the hand written notes of Hooks. There’s no doubt Hooks saw that back on February 24th, 986.

Overland now switches to Gilbert Aguliar’s testimony, the latent print examiner. Aguilar took two lifts from the computer disc player #5 and #6. #6 is the back of the lift card = left middle finger of John Ruetten. Now, Mr. Aguilar said he identified that as belonging to John ruetten. So we know there’s a bloody print so maybe it’s #5, that’s never been identified. Or #6 or maybe one never photographed.

Print #5 was put through IAFIS; defense exhibit 5R’s. She (Dillon) did a comparison of that print with Stephanie Lazarus’ prints and none of them match. Well, the prosecution can conclude that she wore gloves. Well the, where did all those prints come from?

There’s a comment on the bottom of the paper of the fingerprint list “DNA Hit” and also “LAFIS”. (We) now know (the fingerprint analysis) was done before any type of (DNA testing?). We have no clue as to what that means.

Overland now goes onto the photo of the stacked stereo equipment and Defense exhibit I. It’s troublesome because it’s never been explained. It appears to be the back of the stereo equipment. Appears to be a palm and finger that left an impression. The examiner couldn’t find any identifiable characteristics.

Also, #5 put through (AIFIS?). In packet A, prints from the kitchen phone. In packet D, the banister. Never been identified, and didn’t belong to Stephanie Lazarus, John Ruetten or Sherri Rasmussen. It was marked as unidentifiable but enough characteristics for AndreaDillion to put through AIFIS.

Print #10 is important because of the location. People’s evidence #228. He turns the print cards over to look at the back. On these cards, the criminalist who collected the prints, drew little diagrams to show where they were located in the condo. #10 was on the bottom of the outside of the closet door. People’s exhibit 229, Ames diagram of the scene.

Overland now shows the jurors the location of Ms. Rasmussen’s bloody palm print above and to the right of the electrical outlet near the floor.

Ms. Rasmussen’s print hear the electric outlet. Where there’s another print unidentified (#10) near Sherri Rasmussen’s low print on the wall.

Exhibit 302 wall of garage, and in the middle, a tiny spot of blood.

LAPD Item #13 is a stain cloth square used to sample stain. On stairwell wall in the garage. Analysis was requested on March 16, 2005 and completed on May 11th, 2005. She did DNA analysis on that blood and there result was at the time, the computer came back with a result of a very small type X. At LOCI D3, it called a #18. But didn’t compare that at the time to anyone.

It was compared to Ms. Rasmussen and Ms. Lazarus. Neither had an 18 at D3. So blood doesn’t compare to anyone. So we have testimony; so we have her blood, that’s not Stephanie Lazarus or Sherri Rasmussen after a violent struggle.

Keep in mind that just because they didn’t detect any make DNA, they also didn’t do STR-Y testing.

After Hooks & Mayer (wrote their report?) they cleared Stephanie Lazarus. We know that because that’s what John Ruetten said.

Now, 23 years. These are detectives that have no first hand knowledge. They weren’t there. (Some weren’t even in the LAPd back then.) Some started the investigation in 2009. They say, “Trust us. We got it right.” Don’t trust them. Why should we trust them?

Let’s take a look at their investigation. They’re not adversed to lying. Detective Stearns and Detective Jaramillo. Why did they lie and how did they lie. Why did they lie? They didn’t want to tell her the truth. (Overland talks about the ruse they used to get Lazarus in the jail interview room.)

And the reason is they wanted to catch her by surprise. And just by chance (in a) stream of consciousness, she might (say something? incriminating?).

They lied and told her she wasn’t a suspect. But there were four officers waiting and ready to arrest her. Why did they lie? Maybe they didn’t have enough evidence.

And these new investigators are not adverse to staging evidence. Why do I say that? People’s Exhibit #185. The photo portrait, of Lazarus & Ruetten. The photo taken at the Christmas party. Now on June 5th, 2009, (the search of the home) Exhibit 196, the trunk in the closet of Stephanie Lazarus’ home. You can see that binder, the work log and right on top of that, (the Christmas Party photo). And why is that like that?

It’s to make you believe that after all those years, that locker was open and on top after all these years.

And Detective Becker’s testimony was it was on top. What investigator tell as the where the work log was found? Here’s the question I asked of Mr. Stearns.

Then Overland gets confused. He can’t tell from the transcript if Mr. Presby asked the question or if he asked the question, or if the question was asked of Mr. Stearns or Mr. Becker. He finally gets it straightened out and then reads the testimony from whomever it was, to the jury.

“Is that the way the footlocker looked? Yes.”

Mr. Stearns was asked, Did Mr. Becker tell you he found...(and he responded, I don’t remember exactly).

Stearns was asked to look at his preliminary hearing testimony (to see if it refreshed his memory).

Overland reads the transcript. Mr. Becker told me it was at the bottom of the locker under some other items.

So you have a photo completely staged! And to make you think the prosecution’s theory of obsession would be corroborated!

I... we also have the prosecution who withhold documents from witnesses before they testify. Mr.Hooks was not given his 50 page report that he signed in 1986. Let me talk about Mr. Safarik, the nine-thousand dollar man.

Judge Perry asks Overland if this is a good time to take the lunch break.

It’s eight minutes before midnight. I still have to transfer my notes over to blogger and publish. I need to get some rest before I get up at 5:30 AM tomorrow. I promise to get all of my notes transcribed as soon as possible, so the rest of this day’s testimony will be continued and will end up on the blog. Sprocket


Montana kris said...

Hi all + Sprocket,
Test post, have not yet been successful....

Shannon from Seattle said...

Great job, Sprocket! I feel like I was in the courtroom!

Montana kris said...

Hello all + Sprocket,
It's a balmy 28° w/fresh blanket of snow up here in Glacier Country (NW MT). I have not always lived in MT; like Sherri, I grad early my SR yr in 1986 + was living in Northridge, Van Nuys, Pan City amongst relatives. I recall the heinous murder very well being in close proximity to Balboa Blvd + began following the case in 2009 when SL was arrested. Sprocket, ur detailed/benign/entertaining coverage is what I'd been looking for. Recently, I had neck surgery, so it's been a great oppourtunity to catch up. Sprocket, thru a psych lense I believe SL made a decision to commit murder + found violence to be an acceptable solution to her pain/dilema. I believe SL killed Sherri for revenge + to hurt John due to feeling rejected by him. Finally, SL blamed Sherri: Ex: 3 times during SL's video interview when asked "Do you know what happened to Sherri? SL responds vigorously w/confidence in a neg tone, "I know SHE GOT killed"! Hence, blaming the victim. No other choice of words: "heard she past away or, murdered" in a benign tone. Also @the start SL immediately corrects pronunciation of JR's last name even tho her answers are safely vague/evasive during her 06.05.2009 circular
interview w/detective Jaramillo. SL was able to compartmentalize killing Sherri, not tell a soul + take the horrid event to her grave. Narcissistic/Histrionic/Sociopathic personalities are very capable of pulling murder off, are Type A + BPD is usually on the menu: frantic efforts to avoid real/imagined abandonment, pattern of unstable/interpersonal relationships, alternating btwn idealization/devaluation, identity disturbamce: persitently unstable self image/sense of self, impulsivity in 2 areas that are self damaging: spending/sex/substance abuse/reckless driving/binge eating/risky sports, recurrent suicidal behavior/threats, affective instability due to marked reactivity of mood/intense episodic dysphoria/
irtitability/anxiety. As a therapist, I'm not one into "labelling" ppl + do not subscribe to belief a personality disorder is an effective excuse for our behavior. Merely, these descriptions help explain it + find helpful solutions to look in mirror + change ourselves for better/help others. In the end it's not important why ppl commit murder. Redemption is possible, even behind bars. SL's bro Steven said he knows his sister didn't kill Sherri + that's true for him; that's the reality he knows w/his sister.
Thus my prayer is the jury will examine the evidence or lack of, be thorough + listen intently to one another. Finally, deliver a just verdict of guilty. We'll see.

Francaise said...

Thanks Sprocket for the great job.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Overland that the LAPD detectives who interviewed and videotaped and then arrested Lazarus were deceptive. To start with, look at the fact they did not yet obtain a warrant for Lazarus's arrest.A general rule in police work is: if you have time to get a warrant, you obtain the warrant.Its always more desireable to have a warrant since the DA and a magistrate have reviewed your factual probable cause and given it their stamps of approval. It lessens the likelihood of the DA reducing the charge later or of a lawsuit for false arrest.The detectives in this case had plenty of time to obtain a warrant but instead made the arrest on probable cause. They did so with the express purpose of having more of an opportunity to get statements on tape from Lazarus that would hem her in on possible defenses later on in court. For example, if the detectives called Lazarus in and said "We have a warrant for your arrest for the murder of Sherri Rasmussen,you are under arrest", and then read Lazarus her constitutionl rights of a person in custody, Lazarus probably wouldnt have said anything further.Instead, the detectives start a friendly chat with Lazarus about her dealings with Sherri Rasmussen and John Ruetten,without telling Lazarus they know the DNA test results from the crime scene and have every intention of arresting her at the conclusion of the interview.They deceptively get Lazarus to chat with them for a long time, making statements that will later be used against her in court, and limiting her possible defenses. If Lazarus is convicted, I could see the admission of the video tape in court as a major possibility of reversal based on violation of constitutional rights.