Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Closing Arguments, Day II, Part II

Overland and the bite mark.
© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT yahoo.com

Continuing with my commitment to transcribe the full closing arguments in this case. This is the rest of Mark Overland's closing argument. Sprocket.

Closing Arguments, Continued Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
It’s gray day for Courtney and Mark Overland’s suits. The color of their suits is so close that from where I’m sitting it looks like an exact match. Overland goes back into the jail area to speak to his client privately.

It’s 8:20 AM. Nunez has on a dark suit, close to black and Presby has on a medium navy suit and I can barely detect a faint, light pinstripe.

We’re waiting for jurors. I finally get the first name of a gentleman whose been in the courtroom for most of the proceedings. His name is Greg and he is one of the DA’s investigators. He is one of the people who rushed to the Rasmussen’s aid during a very difficult part of the trial for them.

A few of us in the gallery mention how Detective Stearns has a constant, serious contemplative expression on his face. He looks exactly like what you would expect a seasoned homicide detective would look. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him crack a smile. He naturally looks serious all the time.

As we wait, Mona, Pat LaLama and I chat about our pets. It’s a packed house in the courtroom again. Pat shares a great story about when she was on a stake-out with two big, burly suspender wearing detectives and a cat that was living at one of the crack houses kept coming up to her. She ended up adopting the kitty, “Kiki” the crack house cat. Hopefully, I’ll have time to share that story in detail because her husband Tony gives a great punch-line at the end and it’s a fun story.

Lazarus comes out and she’s in a silver gray loose knit jacket cardigan. Almost exactly like all the clothes she’s worn to court. At 8:40 AM the late juror finally arrives and Judge Perry takes the bench. We’re finally on the record.

Lazarus and the defense investigator, Randal “Randy” Later whisper. The jury comes in and as they enter Lazarus then leans into Mark Overland to whisper to him. Now Overland and Randal whisper.

When Overland approaches the podium he tells the jurors, “Don’t worry. It’s not the middle. We’re coming close to the end.”

There are two things related to the bite mark swab. First: One swab or two.
And second: The envelope and how was it found.

In terms (of)..... (snip) You may recall that question I asked of Mr. Anderson. The questions that were asked, to try to get Anderson to explain that reference (that was?) made to the swab and that it was really a reference to a tube....that had two swabs in it.

The second problem, that’s not really accurate because we looked at Exhibit #90, form from the Coroner’s Office that was filled out by Lloyd Mahaney and his initials. And Mr. Mahaney was very careful if you look at 4D (on the form) again to note that where (a?) swab was made, he was careful to note one or two and crossed out (the number there?) and put in “two”.

And Mr. Anderson didn’t really know what was going on in 1986 (at the Coroner’s Office). Overland reads Anderson’s testimony back to the jurors. In 1986, Anderson was in high school.

Lazarus’ arms are in front of her on the defense table. Her fingers are interlaced. She stares straight ahead and occasionally looks off to her right, away from the jurors. Overland is reading more of Dan Anderson’s testimony to the jurors.

Another missing link in the chain of custody. The prosecution’s reliance on that coroner’s log. The prosecution is relying on that log that that item was in there for that period of time. And that’s true if it really was there. But Overland brings up the GSR kits. Overland brings up that the GSR kits don’t show being logged out, and (that?) they were supposedly destroyed 20 years later.

Overland has the log up on the overhead screen and goes over the columns and that the “signed out” column is blank. Overland points jurors to the GSR kit entries and those don’t show being signed out either. The log shows no further entry on the GSR kits.

But we know different and we know different because of Exhibit 140, the log of destruction of kits by the GSR analysts. All the 1986 GSR kits were disposed of on January 12th, 2007. If they were destroyed on that date then there should have been an entry on the log showing they were taken out.

Should there have been an entry? Overland puts up the procedure manual and goes over the manual portion for documenting the log for the jurors. If they were disposed of as shown by those notes, should (mark?) disposed and mark the date disposed in the evidence log.

And that’s not there. Si either that was done or the log is inaccurate. They should be in the control of the coroner’s office, but they’re not. The log says they should be there. The prosecution is relying on the log for “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Can you rely on it?

There’s something very troubling about items for so long in the Coroner’s Office. Look at Defense exhibit P, another part of the Coroner’s Manual. (Coroner’s Office property room employee) Alicia stated (she?) follow(ed?) (the) manual. Overland reads the manual procedures for this section to the jurors. They are responsible to release evidence as soon as possible. Not 20 years later.

So it’s troubling. You have evidence that’s supposed to be analyzed by the LAPD but it’s not until 20 years later.

Then I hear something I’ve been waiting to hear in someone’s, anyone’s closing argument and Overland says it first.

“It makes no sense.”

This is one of the brakes you must apply in this case. Overland puts up on the overhead screen, jury instruction 224 covering circumstantial evidence. Before you can rely on circumstantial evidence (you have to ask?) where was this bite mark (evidence?) for 20 years? That fact has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

What was collected (swab?) by Lloyd Mahaney, one or two swabs?

Integrity of the item.

And is the item in control of the Coroner for 20 years?

Are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt? Do you have any question about that? Overland then reads the final paragraph of the circumstantial evidence instruction. Overland then goes back to his example about two reasonable conclusions and then to reject the one that leads to guilt.

Courtney Overland comes over to the podium to help him, point to an area in his prepared argument.

In respect to the question I asked about (bite mark swab?) was it taken, where it’s been. In looking at DNA analysis, Mr. Fedor, he put it best. In terms of value of items of evidence, in terms of which that is the actual item that was collected... (snip?) Back (then?) what he said was, “...preserve the integrity of the sample (wear as?) what was analyzed was taken at the scene of the crime...”

And that makes sense. If what you’re analyzing is (really what you collected at the scene?).

DNA. Mr. Safarik never looked at that. He didn’t think it was relevant. DNA. It’s a bit more complex than what we read in the paper. I believe Overland says something about the statistical analysis and it’s interpretation.

We know Ms. Francis switched tubes in one of her analysis, confusing the analysis. (I don’t specifically remember this from her testimony, but I my notes say one of my colleagues tell me Francis did acknowledge making an error.)

Overland challenges the databases that are used to create the statistical analysis percentages.

If you really look at it, it points to the innocence of Stephanie Lazarus.

SERI received from the LAPD item 8A, from mail scrapings and clippings from the left hand of Ms. Rasmussen. They (marked?) it as:
8A1 = the scraping
8A2 = three nail clippings from left nails

The prosecution “poo-poos” this evidence. (They say) you put your hand on a door knob and you pick up DNA. It doesn’t make sense, (?) But these were scrapings under the nails. This is something you would get if you scratched somebody, not something if you touched a door knob. Ms. Rasmussen was a (clean? person?). She must have washed her hands (we know?) when she got up in the morning.

The testimony of the maid cleaning, Ms. Flores, whatever happened, happened at 12:30 PM and if Ms. Rasmussen was sick, she wasn’t walking around touching door knobs getting DNA under her fingernails. What ever was under her (hands?) and nails was from the struggle.

Mr. Fedor took a swab from the underside of the nail(s?) and (here’s what?) the result was from the underside of (swabs?).

A-2-(1?)(The result was a) weak and inconclusive results (included?) a mixture from at least three persons: Sherri Rasmussen was a possible contributor to the mix, statistical probability 1 in 3,000. Stephanie Lazarus was excluded in the mix. So DNA of two people under that fingernail and Stephanie Lazarus was not one of them. We talked about that how (statistically?) just means she can’t be excluded.

What about the next one, 8A-2-2, a swab from the second nail, a mix from at least two persons and at least one male. Sherri Rasmussen was a possible major contributor of 1 in 130 trillion. Stephanie Lazarus was excluded as a contributor. The male contributor was never identified.

8A2-3 was a mixture from at least three persons including at least one male. Sherri Rasmussen, Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were all excluded as contributors.

So we had three people, at least one male. It’s not Stephanie Lazarus, it’s not Sherri Rasmussen. It’s not John Ruetten’s DNA. So who was the male DNA in 8A2-2 and 8A-2-3. And in 8A-1, just because male DNA wasn’t detected doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Don’t we want to know the answers to those questions?

A8-4-1 was from the right hand. It had at least two persons. Sherri Rasmussen was a possible major contributor of 1 in 1 trillion. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were excluded. Both of them. Who is the other one? Down’t we want to know (the answer to those questions?)?

8A4-3 Another swab from the right nail was a mix from at least two persons. Sherri Rasmussen (possible?) major contributor of 1 in 21 trillion. (The other) DNA could not have come from Stephanie Lazarus or John Ruetten. Whose is it? Don’t you want to know the (answer) to that?

8A4-4 Another swab from the right hand finger. It’s a mix of two persons. Sherri Rasmussen possible major contributor of 1 in 58,000. (Low number doesn’t mean it wasn’t her.) The rest was too weak to be detected but it was there. Don’t you want to know whose DNA that was?

8A4-5 Swab. Mixture from at least two persons, 1 of which is a male. One same profile as Sherri Rasmussen of 1 in 490 quad trillion. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were excluded. Don’t you want to know (whose that was?) The male DNA has not been identified to this date.

Don’t you want to know the answer to those questions?

The prosecution presented (the two torn nails) (testimony?) the statistical probability (of one nail) were 1 in 26,000 and (other nail?) one in 9,000. I expect that... (snip?)... We have a very low statistical probability. The prosecution (argument) said (this?) shows that (she’s the killer?).... It only means she can’t be excluded. It could be or it could not be. In circumstantial evidence in two (?possible outcomes, you must choose the one that supports innocence?).....

Item #10 was 1 in 26,000. Item #10 was analyzed by Francis in 2005 and she didn’t (k?) any blood. But when Fedor did he found blood. So she either missed it... or.....?

Swab from the ignition key was a mix from three persons, at least one of them a male. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were excluded. Don’t you want to know who that is?

Item #31 was what Nuttall mistakingly said was from #30 when it was from item #9. The DNA results for this item (swab from car). Results from the analysis from the towel found at the scene. DNA from Stephanie Lazarus was excluded as a contributor. And one hair has DNA that could be from a male.

Then there’s the hair discovered on the blanket by Patricia Fant. The hair no one had ever seen before and the foot print that just appeared.

And doesn’t it make you question this evidence that supposedly was taken care of? Doesn’t it make you wonder how this evidence was (taken care of?)?

The cuttings from the blanket (snuggy). Results (a mixture?) of blood on the blanket snuggy. Mixture from two persons including at least one male. The majority porting from Sherri Rasmussen of 1 in 490 trillion. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten excluded. So whose male DNA was on that snuggy? This was after the (struggle?).

You would expect someone to have had some blood on them, but it’s not Sherri Rasmussen and it’s a male. Don’t you want an answer to that question? The other cutting 6B, Stephanie Lazarus was excluded from the DNA. So whose is it?

Talk about the DNA on the bite mark with respect to minor contributor. Well, you know the major and Ms. Lazarus and lets forget about (the fact) that it was (not?) properly preserved and collected. And lets just look at the analysis and see if the prosecution is correct in telling you the truth in that minor contributor. (I think Overland is now quoting the prosecution’s argument.)

And naturally when you swab you would pick up some cells from Sherri Rasmussen and that was Sherri Rasmussen’s DNA.

Let’s take a closer look. I’ll (there’s?) you’ll see the bottom line. That Ms. Rasmussen’s DNA contains certain alleles.

(I have to stop writing for a moment. I’m getting a cramp in my hand.)

Is there a number at a particular allele that is inconsistent with a profile. Overland goes over Fedor’s testimony at loci D21.

We looked at peaks and the number of the minor contributor #31.2 Sherri Rasmussen at D21 is #32.2, and therefore that was inconsistent with her profile. The explanation given was “allele drop out”. That’s a reasonable explanation. But there’s another reasonable explanation and that allele was not in the (sample?) and inconsistent with Sherri Rasmussen’s DNA.

Overland then goes back to the jury instruction on circumstantial evidence and the choice jurors are instructed to make if there are two reasonable explanations. They are to choose the explanation that supports innocence verses guilty.

At D21 (loci) we have an inconsistent allele. (snip) Overland goes over parts of the DNA sample.

(The prosecution is looking at (a) chart while Overland is presenting his closing and it appears to me that he shook his head.)

Unanswered questions about item #13, a smear of blood that was not Stephanie Lazarus, Sherri Rasmussen or John Ruetten. Don’t you want to know (whose DNA that was?)?

The hair on the speaker wire.

Fluff and filler by the prosecution because this is evidence that really proves nothing.

The theft of Stephanie Lazarus’ firearm in 1986. (The prosecution) wants you to believe this was all made up, because the gun stolen was used by Ms. Lazarus. That assumes that the gun stolen was used to kill Ms. Rasmussen. The first question is, that’s kind of weird. You’d do it before the crime and not sometime after. She knew she was a police officer and she could have gotten rid of the gun anytime. You can’t match the bullet. You need to have the gun and many times (criminalists?) can’t match the bullet. If your gun really wasn’t stolen, then why make a report when you’re really faking the whole thing?

It makes really little sense.

Overland brings us the “many” thefts in the Santa Monica area.

9:40 AM

She reported it. It went into AFS. Overland claims the reporting (document?) was really a (doc?) to LAPD. (??) There were three other thefts of firearms from police officers in Santa Monica. (I don’t remember Overland presenting that, but he may have and I missed writing it down.) (The prosecution’s argument) assumes the gun stolen was used to fire the bullets. Ms. Brown (#38 Elaine Sena Brown) testified that she checked the car and the car (lock?) had been punched.

Overland then presents Lazarus’ daily planner/calendar for March 17th that shows (I can’t read it from where I’m sitting.) “Take in car.”

The dental impression. Insufficient characteristics. (In the autopsy report?) Dr. Gerald Bale, (Dr. Law’s mentor) People’s exhibit #79, dated February 25th, 1986. Dr. Bale called investigators and told them the bite mark was good for comparison.

The next piece of fluff are the bullets (that are) supposedly linked to the bullets that killed Ms. Rasmussen. Prosecution tells you there were five bullets fired. But were there really five shots fired? But not by my count. And the blanket, according to the prosecution theory was wrapped around (the gun) as a silencer.

But there was another shot. There was a contact wound to the skin. Overland reads Dr. Selser’s testimony to the jurors; her testifying about the contact shot. (It was) consistent with a muzzle imprint contact gunshot wound. But sufficiently tight against the skin, the soot would be drive into the wound itself. If (it was?) fired through a blanket, it’s not a contact wound if fired through the blanket. Two plus three plus one = six shots.

(One of the alternates looked over at me and I could swear he gave me an eye roll.)

Overland now moves onto the bullets.

(Jurors are rocking in their chairs in the back row.)

It’s 9:50 AM. Overland goes over the prosecution’s argument (about the bullets) and why that’s not the right conclusion to draw from the evidence. The bullets that were found in the home of Ms. Lazarus, none of them matched the bullets that killed Ms. Rasmussen. And I say again, she was a pack rat. None of them matched the bullets that killed Ms. Rasmussen. None of the (bullets?) is critical. What’s critical is the firearm. Whats the relevance? It points to evidence that proves Ms. Lazarus’ innocence. (The prosecution) assumes that this was the firearm that killed Ms. Rasmussen.

Forget the guns.
© Thomas Broersma

Mr. Rubin (#51 Daniel Rubin) talks about the various types of guns that could (have) killed Ms. Rasmussen. What we heard from Rubin, there were 30 or 40 different types of firearms. Rubin said, after 2-inch narrow window of firearms with a 2-inch barrel, which ones, another list. The prosecution (tells you to?) forget about all these other ones, just focus on this one.

Now finally Mr. Luczy (#44 George Luczy), who talked about the barrel cylinder gap and 2-inch barrel.

(Judge Perry is leaning back in his tall leather chair. His head is back and his chin is up a bit.)

The measurement of the barrel cylinder gab was two inches. But the (Smith & Wesson) Model 49 was 1 and 7/8 inches. But the prosecution wants you to focus on the fact that the defendant (had that type of firearm) but that Model 49 has a 1 and 7/8” barrel. Not 2-inches.

Barona (#37 Donald Barona) testified that the barrel length of (S&W?) not 2-inches but 1 and 7/8”. The Smith & Wesson had a barrel length from 1 7/8” to 2 1/4”. Her firearm did not have a two-inch barrel. It was 1 and 7/8”. The barrel does not fit.

Now Overland talks about the defense witnesses who testified about Lazarus’ character. He then goes over what the jury instruction for character evidence can be. And (it can) be a basis for reasonable doubt.

10:05 AM.
(The) prosecution could have presented evidence of bad character. But they didn’t because there isn’t (any). So, if I’ve said anything to you that made any sense at all..... (snip) see if the prosecution has answered all those (questions?). There are so few answers.

Overland thanks them and then adds: If I’ve said anything that angered you or offended you, put it against me and not Stephanie Lazarus. See if you can answer all those questions. See if you can answer. Those brakes; and apply those breaks given to you by the law.

Overland’s closing argument is finished and Judge Perry calls the morning break.

Dear T&T readers: I haven't forgotten about transcribing DDA Presby's rebuttal argument. I'm working on it now. My only excuse is, I got lassoed by some real maverick cowboys, where we relaxed around a campfire, swapped amazing stories and I learned all about the difficulty of wrangling in the wayward calf. Hands down, the best company and one of the most memorable days I've had in a long time.

To be continued in Day 2, Part III.... Sprocket.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me...or did Overland just say a whole lot of nothing of substance in his closing???

Becky said...

Hm. Interesting. I'm looking forward to comparing this to the rebuttal. Also, Sprocket, can you explain what Randal Later does as the defense's investigator?

Sprocket said...

Just like the Robbery/Homicide guys on the prosecution side, he would conduct interviews with potential defense witnesses, then write a report of those interviews for Overland. Those interviews would then be passed onto the prosecution team.

I would imagine he would go to the jail and speak to his client, updating her on the case as well (I suspect) review the evidence to see if there is anything that could be used to support the defense case.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone out there believe that she could have been set up I think the public found her guilty from day one and she never had a chance for a fair trial. The judge set the highest bail ever, didn't allow evidence that maybe could have proved her innocence, he rephrased questions for the defense in his own words, he was pro-prosecution 100% from day one. There were 4-5 other types of guns that could have been used, the bullets used were also sold to the public not just to law enforcement, there were no finger prints, there was blood DNA from a male (but was never looked into), out of close to 600 journal entries she only wrote about John 5 times. And, for the smoking gun evidence according to the prosecution-the bite mark swab-it was lost for a while and when they found it had been torn open and the tube was sticking out. The tube did not have an evidence seal to protect it from being opened.You could just unscrew the cap. The integrity of this evidence was gone and should not have been allowed in for evidence. The Coroners Office is not as secure as most people think and anyone could have tampered with the evidence. One last thing, if she really did the crime, then why didn't she just remove the swab herself and get ride of it. She could have done that very easily. I just want people to really look at all the evidence with an open mind and wonder if maybe someone else could have done it.

Sprocket said...

"Does anyone out there believe she could have been set up..."

1)Who would have the motive? For someone to go to the length to frame Lazarus, the evidence presented at trial needs to have reasonable basis to show that could have happened.

2)Overland did not present a single witness explaining who might have a motive against Lazarus.

3)Overland (in his opening statement) listed Lazarus' stellar career and her many commendations. She was a decorated and respected officer. Overland did not present witnesses who testified that Lazarus had enemies who might want to frame her.

4)If someone wanted to frame her, explain how they would:

a) Obtain access to the Coroner's Office.

b) Obtain access to the locked property room.

c) Obtain access to the locked freezers.

d) Find the correct freezer.

e) Find the right envelope.

f) Plant evidence of Lazarus.

g) Get out without being seen.

And how did they get a robust sample of Lazarus' DNA mixed with a minor sample of Rasmussen, who was buried a week later?

That's (in my opinion) a fantastical set of circumstances.

Anonymous said...

In answer to the question "does anyone out there believe she may have been set up"? Actually after viewing the interrogation I was HONESTLY SURE Lazarus had committed the crime. Not to mention the OVERWHELMING evidence against her. Someone out there is watching too much TV with all these "conspiracy" theories :)

Shannon from Seattle said...

Hi Sprocket:

I thought I'd tell you about a free transcription service called reqall. http://www.reqall.com/

You can call into it and read your notes. Within about 20 minutes, your transcribed notes are emailed to you. I dictated once for over 30 minutes, so it seems to be unlimited. The accuracy is pretty good too. The best part is that it's free! I think it could prove very useful as you work to transcribe your trial notes. I love it!

Sprocket said...

I know there is a program called "Dragon Speaking" or something like that, where you can speak and it types out the words for you.

I'll have to wait and see if that's something I could work with.

I'm tempted to go to a pretrial hearing on Monday for Michael Gargiulo, the accused serial killer featured on CBS's 48 Hours this past weekend.

The 48 Hours piece indicated there may be more bodies out there.

Gargiulo has been incarcerated since June 6th, 2008, an entire year longer than Lazarus.

Anonymous said...

I think that if the jury would've gotten hung up on just one of Overland's concerns about the reliability of the evidence, we would've seen a different outcome. I think the prosecution must have had a brilliant closing. I can't wait to read more. Thank you, Sprocket.
PS I just received my copy of D'Adamo's book and am very intrigued.

Sprocket said...


Let me know which D'Adamo book you picked up. If you have any questions about his work, please do not hesitate to E-mail me.

It appears the jury did not see Overland's arguments about the circumstantial evidence as being a "reasonable" explanation for it.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if SL is left or right handed?

Shannon from Seattle said...

The Dragon program is not free, Reqall is free. You can set it up in 5 minutes and the try it out. I am not certain how it will do with back and forth dialogue, but it is worth exploring it.

debbiescalisi said...

Sprocket, we watched the 48 Hours on Michael Gargiulo last Saturday night (had seen the original one last year) with the updated version of some men that identified him working in a bar in LA. This too was a very tragic case and to be so close to the first family! It appears the other victims were somewhat random and I am sure there are going to find other victims out there.

Sprocket said...

Left or right handed:

I watched her write at the defense table many times but unfortunately, my mind is drawing a blank whether she was writing with her left or right hand.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the possibility of SL being set-up. I too questioned this as I have a degree in Criminal Justice and have worked in the field. Proper evidence handling is tantamount to the truth of the case. If the evidence is mishandled, there is a loss of credibility and therefore the case can be lost. I struggled with the question of was it okay to have an exception regarding the time it took to locate the evidence envelope at the Coroner's and the condition when found, because of the age of the case? I am the same age as SL and back in the day it was drilled into my head that if the evidence was compromised in any way, out went your case. I made these very comments throughout the trial on Sproket's blog. What changed it for me was the fingernail DNA evidence that came back as matching SL and finding another match in another person by 1 in every 26,000 and 1 in 9,000 AND this evidence was tested by a private lab, was not compromised and was stored at LAPD.

I was surprised to hear Overland, after the verdict was read, state something to the effect of "we never had a chance." I thought, you never put on a case! I had expected, with Lazarus having served her career in LAPD and having plead not guilty and hiring someone who was described as an outstanding attorney, to frankly have put on a better case, an argument for her release, it just wasn't there. You can see the worry and dread in Overland's face as he is turned away from SL just before the verdict is read. He knows what's coming, it was no surprise.

Anonymous said...

To Annonymous at 9:40

I agree with your coments regarding Overland. As I have mentioned here before, at no time (that I am aware of) did he proclaim SL's innocence. He focused strictly on the POSSIBILITY that some of the evidence could be interpreted in a way different from the prosecution or that the evidence was compromised. He tried to raise reasonable doubt but it was not reasonable. He didn't even come up with the SODDI defense because he couldn't find any one else with motive, means and opportunity. Yes, the missing burglars, but not it seems that he didn't even really pursue that. All I could get from his closing was that he asked the jury "Don't you want to know that?" in an effort to raise doubt. This jury, unlike so many others in trials that we have followed, got the difference between reasonable and unreasonable doubt.

Even more now that I have read Betsy's "replay" of his closing, I think that Overland knew his client was guilty as charged, perhaps even from the beginning and was just doing his duty as a responsible defense attorney in the adverserial system. Also, as I have said before, I would not be surprised at all if SL's husband, as a trained detective himself, strongly suspected if not actually knew that his wife was guilty and chose to stand by her for the person he has known as a "good and responsible person and police detective." Unless he chooses to speak out at some time, we'll never know.

I have often wished that when, in cases such as these, a defendant is found guilty and comes up for sentencing, they stand up and say, "You're right. The verdict was correct. You got me." and take that opportunity to apologize to one and all. That will not happen because an appeal naturally follows and that, of course, would make that impossible. It would be refreshing, though.


TS said...

It was mentioned that a pre-trial hearing for Michael G. is scheduled on Monday. What exactly goes on in a pre-trial hearing and what is its purpose? Also, do you know the courtroom and time? And last...how do you find out when trials and pre-trials are scheduled, times, etc? Is there any type of one line court house calendar or??

Anonymous said...

I have to agree at Anon at 9:40 a.m. For someone who has been a defense attorney for 40 years, and is no doubt being paid a substantial amount, it was shocking that his defense was so lacking. Granted, I realize you can only work with the evidence that you have, but I would think that Overland and his investigator would come up with someone who had a motive against SL, or something else that could have possibly occurred. The evidence against SL was overwhelming and undeniable. And to answer the person who asked why SL didn't just go and take the evidence--I guess that she didn't even know they swabbed the bite mark. There was no DNA at the time of the murder--so why would they have swabbed it? Rewatch the interrogation tape when they tell her that they have DNA. Her face and her reply that she would "maybe' give a sample says it all.

debbiescalisi said...

In Regards To Anonymous on 3/13/2012 at 5:00 PM: After reading more and more about this case on T&T (because we were surely not finding it in the newspapers!) I realized how very smart and wise this Judge was to set the bail at $10M. He KNEW. She got away with murder for 23 years, why wouldn't she bolt? She was going to lose her husband and adopted infant regardless. First impressions are everything, unfortunately at times, but when I saw that first photo of her in The LA Times in the orange jumpsuit standing in the cage in court with those crazy Manson-type eyes, a chill went down my back. I won't ever forget it. People attributed that to thyroid problems; I've had thyroid problems for over 25 years and didn't look like that ever. It was the look of a caged animal that had been trapped, yes, after 23 years of freedom. That judge knew what he was doing setting that very high bail that a wealthy celebrity could barely afford. They had three years to raise bail. Participants and "donors" for bails start turning their backs and running in the opposite direction once they start hearing the full story.

debbiescalisi said...

Anonymous on 3/14/2012 at 9:40am said it perfectly. Obviously with a degree in Criminal Justice you are going to have a background opinion that is right on-target. I also observed in the video Overland being turned away from SL before the verdict was read because he knew. I will always feel "That's My Story And I'm Sticking To It" might have not been the way to go on this one. If SL had admitted to being there and there was a confrontation, fight, all the craziness that there was, we might not have been looking at first degree. But then I take a breath and remember that picture of her again in The LA Times and that she figured she had gotten away with for 23 years.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 9:40 AM:
Overland often sat like you see in the reading of the verdict. That was when the prosecution was questioning witnesses. There were other times that he sat with his arm around his client, much like a father figure.

I often check the LA Co. Sheriff's web site to find out when the next time a defendant will be appearing in court. It's the easiest way, if a defendant is incarcerated. Those that are out on bond, I either have to call the courtroom directly or call the Public Information Office and have them call the courtroom for me.

For information as to "What exactly goes on in a pre-trial hearing and what is its purpose?", I would suggest reading my year of coverage of this case, from February 2011 forward to get an understanding as to what goes on.

One of the main reasons is, the defendant's constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Every so many days, (I think it's 60) they must continually waive that right, on the record, delaying the trial.

What usually takes a long time is, one side or the other is not ready, usually the defense but sometimes the prosecution. If one side raises something, an issue, whatever it may be, pretrial (or even during trial) the opposing side has the right to investigate that issue, question a new statement by a witness, etc., before the case is presented to a jury.

Did anyone here watch the Conrad Murray case? Well, I didn't attend the trial but I did attend the preliminary hearing in January 2011, and I covered that here on T&T. Right after the preliminary hearing, the defense said they wanted to go to trial right away, within the 60 days; that they were ready. Judge Pastor really questioned the defense attorney's on that issue, because that totally messes up the judge's calendar and the trials that they expect to start once the preliminary hearing is over.

Now, IF I recall correctly, the defense was slow in turning over to the prosecution, their defense evidence pretrial, or something like that. They must do so at least 30 days before trial. If I recall correctly, when the prosecution did get the defense documentation, they had an objection to what the defense wanted to do; something in that evidence. There was quite a bit of arguing back and forth, what happened was, the trial did not start within that initial 60 days. Conrad Murray eventually gave up his right to a speedy trial and it did not start until much later. For example, right after the Murray prelim, the Cameron Brown case was scheduled to start. But since Murray wanted a speedy trial, the Brown case got bumped.

So pretrial hearings can be for several reasons, including pretrial motions to include or exclude evidence, or to compel the other side to turn over evidence they might have promised but haven't delivered on yet; or like in Lazarus' case, if they are having trouble getting in to see their client at the LA County Jail.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope Lazarus is being treated how all the other MURDERER'S are being treated in Jail & not getting special privy's because she's a cop.

Anonymous said...

I think that Overland had to work with what his client gave him. The SODDI defense would've involved pointing the finger at another cop, a co-worker of Lazarus. Only a cop could've pulled off a frame job like that. Attacking the integrity of the evidence was Overland's only line of defense, i think. I guess i'm seeing her defense as adequate and only Ms. Lazarus could've given him permission, and information, for a different line of defence, such as SODDI or "I was there, but she attacked me and I defended myself."

Anonymous said...

Lazarus did work in Internal Affairs investigating other officers for misconduct. Someone could have really hated her enough to possibly frame her and plant her DNA in the same tube with the victims skin cell DNA. Back in the early days after the murder, the Coroners Office was very easy for law enforcement to have access to. They would send off duty officers in to try and locate old rape kits and they would just pilfer through the evidence to see what they could find. What if one of those cops was out to get Lazarus?. I'm not saying that she didn't possibly commit the crime, it's the justice system I'm attacking. If evidence has been tampered with or the integrity is gone, then it should not have been allowed in. There was plenty of other circumstantial evidence against her. Where does this leave us in future cases...unreliable evidence could be allowed in even thought it could have been tampered with! To me that's not a fair trial.

Anonymous said...

LOL I just wiki'd SODDI LOOOOL

NancyB said...

SeniorMoments said: I have often wished that when, in cases such as these, a defendant is found guilty and comes up for sentencing, they stand up and say, "You're right. The verdict was correct. You got me." and take that opportunity to apologize to one and all. That will not happen because an appeal naturally follows and that, of course, would make that impossible. It would be refreshing, though.

I've had similar thoughts/fantasies. From the time of her arrest I kept hoping that there might be some redeeming character that would not allow her to put all the REAL victims of her crime suffer a day longer, and that includes her own family.

By the time a person such as
Inmate Lazarus, who had such a "productive" career in law enforcement, (the irony is rich) is 51 y/o one hopes that such a criminal has come to a place of deeper self-reflection and introspection regarding their life and the horrific crime that they committed. By this time there should be some struggle in contemplation with existential life issues. One normally would be asking the how and why questions of life. One thing that is most troubling regarding Inmate Lazarus is that she appears to have done very little of this.

Lazarus has made absolutely no progress over the past 26 years in her acknowledgement and understanding of the factors which motivated her to plan and plot and carry out such a vicious and cruel crime. She is intelligent and I think that she must be well aware of the likelihood that she will never be paroled.

Because of Ca law she will have a parole hearing in 14 yrs, according to an article in the LA Times. As part of its consideration, the parole board will look to see whether Downs has accepted any personal responsibility for her actions. If she hasn't become introspective about herself or her crime after 26 years...well fat chance of that happening. I'll be glad to eat my words if she proves me wrong.