Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Three B's. DDA Shannon Presby
© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT yahoo.com
Continuing with my commitment to bring T&T readers the complete closing arguments. Sprocket.
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 Closing Arguments Continued
At 10: 24 AM Judge Perry tells the clerk, “Bring the jury out.”
DDA Shannon Presby gets up to address the jury.
I also want to thank all of you for being here a long time. In jury selection there were a lot of jurors who got out of service... (snip) Some of them were true; some of them pushed the limit.
But not one of you because you answered the questions truthfully and you didn’t work too hard to get away. (It’s) very important that Stephanie Lazarus get a fair trial. (It’s) very important that Stephanie Lazarus get (a fair jury?).
(At the beginning of this trial I told you this case was about) a bite, a bullet, a gun barrel and a broken heart. I told you that evidence (would show?) Stephanie Lazarus murdered Sherri Rasmussen. That was true when I told you (then?) (even more true today?)....
There’s nothing that’s been presented that shows a reasonable doubt ... (snip)... The defendant has failed to provide a reasonable explanation (as to?) how did her DNA get on Sherri Rasmussen. ... a reasonable explanation (why her?) gun disappeared right after the crime..... a reasonable explanation for the fact that Sherri Rasmussen was killed with LAPD bullets.... a reasonable explanation as to why she (died?)..... (and?) who had a motive...
What does that mean, reasonable explanation, reasonable doubt? In the defense (closing argument?) he committed an error in analysis and he committed it over and over again. Let’s look at one marker...just loci D5, let’s look at that...
What did witnesses tell you over and over again? You have to look at the whole profile....everything... the DNA proves.... and it’s that same error in analysis that he wants you to repeat.
He’s saying, that’s fluff and that’s filler...don’t look at that... (snip) and that’s what jury instruction (220) tells you. You must consider all evidence, not (just) one piece of it.
(The defense) called it filler and fluff. There’s another word that described the bullet and the gun, it’s corroboration.
From the human heart to DNA shows only one person committed this crime, the DNA of the killer. But let’s talk about some (specifics?)...
The gun. Every physical attribute of the defendant’s gun matches the murder weapon (of the?) defendant.
Murder weapon was a revolver. (Defendant’s gun was a revolver.)
Murder weapon had five (lands and groves with a) right twist. (Defendant’s gun had 5 right twists.)
The bullets had five right twists.
Murder weapon had a five shot capacity.
Five shots were fired.
And the murder weapon had a short, 2-inch barrel, just like the defendant’s gun.
What about the 1 7/8” verses 2”? There are variances in the model of the gun. When you look at (the) blanket photo, (image of gun laid on the barrel cylinder gap discharge on the blanket).....
Whether 1 7/8, 1 9/8, 1 10/11 or 2 inches, it matched this gun! That gun matched (the barrel cylinder gap discharge) when laid on the blanket.
Patricia Fant (Defense witness #6) said this gun could have been a 3-inch barrel! Could it have been? No way!
The defense made a lot of accusations that the prosecution misled (you?) (but the truth is the defense did just that)... Here’s the evidence of it right here.
The gun. The gun (went) missing. (That’s a) pretty big coincidence that the gun that matches the murder weapon in so many ways.
Presby then goes over the story she told the Santa Monica Police verses what she told Mike Hargreaves (Prosecution #28). What did she tell Santa Monica? What did she tell Mike Hargreaves? When people lie about one thing, you distrust them about another. That Santa Monica Police report is a lie. The only thing that report proves is she reported it.
(Remember back during jury questioning, we talked about questions that matter and questions that don’t. We talked about taking your regular route and your alternate, backup route and the information you needed to decide which route to take.) Presby goes over the questions that are important (when deciding when to take your alternate route). Some questions aren’t important. What’s playing on the radio; the car in front of you.
The defense said the prosecution’s theory is the defendant then went over to Sherri’s house planning on killing her. We never said that and we’re never going to say that.
(The defense said the prosecution’s theory is) she went over there planning on killing her. We never said that. Was she going over there (to kill?) Was she going to tie her up....to keep the pressure on the marriage and confront Sherri? Was she going over there just to sneak around the apartment? We don’t know. It’s a question you don’t have to answer.
Who killed (Sherri)? (Was it?) the defendant, and the moment she chose to kill her, did she make a conscious decision to kill her? On the jury form there’s no question about what she was thinking. That’s a trick, a defense trick and it’s really common.
It’s like a DUI. Was the person driving and were they drunk. Does it matter what lane and where they’re going? Who (who’s car? cares?) doesn’t matter. Just like there are many questions that will never be answered in this case.
The gun - disappeared right after. (She) never reports it to her own department, LAPD.... who (she?) knows that lists every firearm and (she must) present any new firearm for inspection to meet the special requirements (for her to carry).
The defense (said) she reported it to Santa Monica so that means she knew (she was reporting it to AFS). BS! We heard about that system. You have to make a query to it. That’s a lie, (L+G?) one of the deceptions the defense tried to fill you with.
Another thing that’s consistent with the defendant’s firearm and that’s the imprint on Sherri Rasmussen’s eye. Presby goes over the too-mark imprint on Rasmussen’s body.
Another one of the characteristics that is the same as the defendant’s gun.
Presby goes onto speculate that: Maybe she just forgot (to notify LAPD the weapon was stolen). But you know, that doesn’t really fly. March 16th, 1986. Right after... three weeks, ten days or so (after she) reported the weapon stolen, she’s at the LAPD armory, she’s physically present and she presented her new weapon she purchased to the armory (for inspection and modification).
(So at the armory) he’s got the card (listing all the weapons she’s purchased), writing down the new gun. She doesn’t say, ‘You might want to cross that (oher) gun out because it got stolen.’
Is that reasonable and is it true? (The circumstantial evidence jury instruction) explains if there are two reasonable explanations... if they both are reasonable. That’s what reasonable doubt means.... reasonable.
The defense explanation about the firearm is a coincidence upon a coincidence upon a coincidence. It just happened to get stolen. I just happened to tell something different than I (told my friend about my?) stolen my firearm.
In 1986, the best information detectives had was fingerprints and guns. They didn’t have DNA. The defendant knew that. Ms. Fant (Defense #6, Patricia Fant) said microscopic analysis of firearms goes back years. Get the bullet, get the gun and then match (them). The defendant knew this so (she) had a powerful motive to get the gun to disappear.
Is it a coincidence?
Is it believable?
Is it true?
The defendant’s journal. (We’ve) seen a lot of entries, and to be candid, they are banal in the extreme. Restaurants, donut shops, cutie guys. But what does she leave out? I’m a cop and my gun got stolen? Oh the irony. (There’s) nothing about (the gun being) stolen, about making a report, (or) getting a new back-up weapon. And the one thing that happened to you, you conveniently leave it out?
Not fluff. Not filler. It’s fact. It’s corroboration who committed this crime.
The bullets. The defense says it’s just fluff and filler. Is it? In 1986, the LAPD was required to use these type of bullets. (Federal 38J +P) 125 grain. Not maybe they had to use. And these bullets have these unique hoof shaped notch. Mr. Rubin (Prosecution witness #51 Daniel Rubin) looked at those (and he’s?) never seen any other (bullets have that hoof shape?). Mr. Rubin says these are the (Federal brand) bullets. Not consistent with. Not maybe, are.
Presby talks about how Rubin went to the plant with Stearns and saw the machine that imprints the crimp hoof shape on the bullets and cartridges.
The bullet that killed Sherri Rasmussen are these 38 J bullets. At some point those bullets became available to the general public. That’s true and we can’t date when they became available. But what what we know, in 1986, all LAPD officers carried this type of bullets.
By themselves, do they prove (guilt?) No. But it’s one more piece of evidence that outlines the (proof) of this (case?). It’s one fact along with all the others who killed Sherri Rasmussen. It’s not fluff. It’s fact.
The gun disappeared and by the way, the bullets are the same kind. Coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence. Is it believable? Is it true?
Go back to what the defense said (about) six bullets that were fired. Two through the plate glass window. Three fired into Sherri and one was a contact. And his argument for this (is), the coroner said (the weapon) had to be in contact with the body or cloth. Well we know it was (in contact) with the clothing. We know that contact wound (was in contact with fabric?) I’m going to make sure.... the colored robe folded over.
(The front of the robe, the lapel, was folded over and the contact wound bullet went through two layers of fabric and still left an imprint of a contact wound on Sherri's skin . Sprocket.)
Is it also so difficult to believe it (the bullet) also went through the snuggy (blanket)? The short barrel revolver is an explosive event out of that firearm. More power; more energy, more blast.
Assume there were six bullets. Two through the glass window and three... (snip) Only two went into Sherri (?) Where’s the other bullet? Where is it?
There were five bullets. Anything else is the defense asking you to speculate on something where there is no evidence. Don’t be fooled.
(The defense said) the people say that (the) defendant was obsessed, obsessed with John. We’re saying the defendant had a motive to hurt Sherri. Had a motive to kill Sherri. That’s what we’re saying.
What is the motive? The defendant loved John since college....for a long, long time. She kept those feelings hidden even from John. How could a defendant, a police officer, who’s sworn to protect us from such violence, how can that be?
Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, wrote a letter to his friend Nikolai Vitkevich and ended up in the gulag.
“If only it were all so simple..... (snip) The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
Even people that seems like a good person can do (evil things). (A?) some who have secrets... We know she’s the kind of person (because) she locked those feelings away. She hid them from John. When she sees that John and Sherri are getting closer, what does she do? She see’s John’s car and she watches it. (She left the note on the car.) She stops by his apartment but the girlfriend is there. When John and Sherri become fiancés’ we see the walls of her inner prison begin to crack.
Mr. Stearns didn’t mislead you. The defense asked him if he saw any other journal entries and the defense read you all those journal entries. Let’s take a look at them. Presby goes over the entries one by one. ( I don’t try to write them down a third time.) And each time he asks a question afterwards. Is that a boyfriend? Is that the love of your life? That may be a fun night, but it’s not a boyfriend. It’s not the (int? intimate?)... (snip)...
None of them were a boyfriend. None of them Detective Stearns saw as being a boyfriend. These are acquaintances. (Not def? lies?)
(So what does she do next?) She reaches out to him. She finally confronts her true feelings. I want the future with you, that you plan with Sherri. It’s supposed to be me and John says, “No, I’m marrying Sherri.” And then the defendant asks for sex. Why? Is this going to help her move on?
This is ammunition. Just like bullets. This is manipulation of John. John makes a mistake. John was truthful with you. He was a young man. Just because John made a mistake...Sherri should die?
But what does the defendant do? She uses it as a bludgeon against Sherri. The defendant goes 20 miles out of her way, finds the nursing administration office, finds Sherri and tells her.
What does she tell Mike Hargreaves? Oh, I went and saw that nurse, and she wasn’t even that pretty. And Sherri goes home and tells John and they discuss it. (But fortunately, they get through it and the marriage goes forward.)
The defendant has a different explanation for it.
John Ruetten admitted that he was unfaithful before the marriage.
(But according to the defendant) I went one (time) to tell Sherri to tell John to pick, to choose.
Does that make any sense?
(I can’t believe it. Both counsel ended using this line.)
If John was even calling her, she wouldn’t have told Sherri because she would have wanted that to continue.
Presby then brings up Lazarus’ interview video.
Look at her statements, demeanor, facial expressions! (Look) how she changes the subject! You can see the wheels turning (in her mind). What do they know? What should I say? (When they ask her about confronting Sherri) I’ll just spin it (that) it was about John but it wasn’t very important.
It’s not reasonable.
It’s not logical.
It’s not true.
Presby then goes to the letter Lazarus wrote John Ruetten’s mother, Margaret. (She) then writes at the end of the letter, “I hope I meet some ONE I can love as much. Not some family. Some ONE.
Presby questions the line in the letter that says, “I had to build up the courage...” Why did she have to build up the courage? She had a farewell with John; farewell sex. Why did you have to build up courage, if it was so amicable?
Presby questions the line in the letter that says, “I’m sorry it ended so...” If it (the ending of her and John’s relationship) was so banal, why are you so sorry?
That was an UGLY confrontation at Sherri’s work. She couldn’t know how much John’s mother knows and if she does, she has to give some justification for that, so read it (that letter) closely.
John and Sherri get married, then this, the (Christmas?) card the defendant gets from Mrs. Ruetten and that makes her very sad. Is that Mrs. Ruetten, John’s mom, or is that Sherri? We don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
And we know that many many years later, because she’s (? in the video?)...
(The defense asked if she did kill Sherri, why didn’t she ever initiate contact with John? Why didn’t she try to contact him?)
Are we saying she killed Sherri to get John back? And so if she did that, why didn't she contact him? That would be a little delusional even for this defendant!
That doesn’t make any sense. We’re not saying she went there to kill her. And now she’s beaten this woman down in her own home. She has to kill her, or she’s finished.
It’s an interesting question but it won’t... (snip). It would be delusional to pop back up into John’s life. Here I am! Look at me! But what else didn’t she do? She never reaches out to John, to say, “Oh my God! I know we’ve had our differences! Is there anything I can do? I know I’m not a detective, (snip) but I’m there for you.”
That’s what an innocent person does. It’ can’t (do nothing but?) add (to the) the ugliness of this murder. She did nothing. Another fact. Another piece of the evidence that shows the defendant had a motive to harm Sherri.
Let’s talk about DNA. The defense says this is the (centerpiece? of the prosecution’s case)...
This case is a BANQUET of evidence. We have the vegetables. We have the turkey. We have the salad. What it is, is they are corroboration of each other....
Corroboration (rishing?) against the defendant or motive evidence against the defendant.
The case was reopened. There was the profile. Detective James Nuttall looked at it fresh. He eliminated all the other women in her (Sherri’s) life and he was left with the defendant. Then they took the next step, they looked at the gun. Well, if the bullets were Remington or Winchester...(but that would exclude her?).... but she was included. But if the defendant was working that day....But she wasn’t on duty. That’s what they did. (They followed the evidence.) It led them to the defendant. Because wonder of wonders, she did the crime!
The DNA. Every person is unique, except for twins. DNA doesn’t transfer (into someone else's DNA). No matter how it’s packaged. No matter how it’s stored. No matter where it’s kept. It cannot become someone else’s (DNA). The defendant’s DNA is in item #30.
One in 1.7 sextillion. It’s the defendant’s DNA (mixed with) Sherri’s DNA. Saliva amylase. Degradation can’t explain it. So, how did it get there. But that’s what we see....(?) (snip). Contamination can’t explain it. We see contamination in this case. Presby explains that, with the pieces of evidence (fingernail scrapings, the blood on the garage wall, the blood in the car) that have one or two random allele’s that cannot be traced to any known person.
There’s some kind of break here. No one in the gallery sees everything that happened. Someone saw that Lazarus’ sister Judi pointed to someone on the defense side. Someone else saw that Courtney went up to the court clerk to say something. Judge Perry calls a short break. Overland left the courtroom then came back at the end of the break. We start closings again at 11:30 AM.
Presby begins again. So how did the defendant’s DNA get into item #30?
And then I see Mr. Overland! His face is all red! He’s leaning forward, his arms on the defense table and he’s put his head face down into his arms!
Presby continues arguing, possibly unaware that Overland might not be well behind him.
You get contamination when you have a mix of alleles. What are they? They’re not a complete person. A (random) allele here (is not?) a female there.
The defense says there (there’s?) the only (one?) way you can (get those allele’s in there? and that’s through contact? scratching?)... (snip)
He wants (you?) to reject item #30, where there is the strong (personal?) profile, (of the defendant) but the random (alleles).... (he wants you to question who that is). I’ll tell you who that is. It’s nobody! One allele here, one allele there is not a complete person.
What the coroner did in 1986, (was) use the same clippers, over and over again. They (were not looking for DNA) they were looking for fibers, dirt, big items. Those DNA (random) alleles don’t establish anything. They’re like static, between the radio stations, back when you used to have to tune the radio.
Presby mentions the movie Poltergeist, and that those random alleles are like ghosts, static. That’s what they are. The background static of DNA.
They’re all weak samples. They all had to be amplified. It’s not a full, strong (statistically?), a complete person.
Presby states, the defendant bit Sherri when she was attacking her. Someone had to intentionally bite Sherri.
Let’s talk about what would have to happen for someone to plant evidence in that tube.
What’s the motive for framing Stephanie Lazarus? Have you heard of any motive? So, you’ve heard she was a police officer. She was liked by her family and friends. You have her personnel file. Look at her commendations. Does it say anywhere that Stephanie Lazarus caught a serial killer? No. Stephanie Lazarus helped out with a BBQ. At best, she was a “B” (as police officers go). There was no reason anyone would try to frame her.
(To frame her) the person who did this had to be a scientist or criminalist to manipulate DNA, or be sort of like a Dr. Moreau from H.G. Wells...
They’d have to get the defendant’s DNA, salivary amylase... It’s possible, because detectives did just that. But it took a team of officers following the defendant day after day, following the defendant. Now (the framer is) Dr. Moreau and a combination of Sam Spade. I don’t mean to be flippant, but (I’m trying to show you) how farcical this explanation is.
Then they had to get Sherri’s DNA. Sherri’s skin cells. (How did they get) Sherri’s DNA, when, one week after she was killed, she was buried. So now they’re (the framers) grave robbers? Dr. Moreau meets Sam Spade meets Dr. Frankenstein?
How did they do it? They had to do it in 1986, because that’s when Sherri’s DNA was available. But they had to know that DNA in the future, would be available.
They had to now break into the coroner’s office. Break into the evidence room. Now find the evidence envelope and switch that sample. It’s not to be flippant but it’s a combination of (the characters mentioned before) and James Bond or (what’s the more current one) Jason Bourne.
Occam’s razor. Selection between two explanations. When you have two explanations of facts, the simpler one, must be true.
It’s clear how it got there, because she bit Sherri when she attacked her.
(During testimony) defense counsel asked witnesses over and over again, why are (the evidence seal) tapes on envelopes? To protect (the) integrity as to what’s inside. And that’s true, in the abstract. He never asked, were the contents tampered with. Not could they have been, but WERE they. He did get an answer when he talked to Mr. Anderson (Prosecution witness #17 Dan Anderson). The outside envelope, yes. (It was torn.) But (Anderson testified) nothing happened to the tube itself.
The explanation is the defendant did this crime and that’s why her DNA is there.
Presby goes over the seals on the evidence.
The first seal is the plastic tube. The second seal is the envelope. Yes, there’s a tear in it. The third seal is the refrigeration (freezer) that locks items away from the rest of the world. The fourth seal is the locked evidence room. The fifth seal is the Coroner’s Office itself. It’s not like it's a public bus station. The sixth seal is the integrity of everyone who worked there. You saw them testify. You saw the (evidence log). If they wanted to frame her, why did they document (everything they did?)? That’s a seal on the integrity of this evidence. That’s a seal.
Now, if we go to the frame job (theory), He (the framer) says, Oh, I’m going to frame her. I’m going to mastermind (a frame up?)...
Why just item #30? Why not put the defendant’s DNA on the snuggy? Why not on (this other evidence, or this other item?).
It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s desperation.
It’s 11:45 AM and I wonder if Presby is going to finish by noon.
There were some real efforts to try to mislead you. Swab verses Swabs.
Look at the testimony of Dan Anderson and Lloyd Mahaney. (Anderson testified the company made both kinds, of swoob tubes single and two sticks inside the tubes.) Since 1990, since (before? and when) I (Anderson) arrived, (they used the two sticks type tubes) and that was mainly to cover the surface of the items being swabbed.
Presby goes onto explain that, the coroner’s criminalists used tubes with two sticks to ensure they had enough material to test more than once.
Presby then reads Lloyd Mahaney’s testimony to the jurors.
It doesn’t mean that there was just one applicator. This was a direct effort to deceive you. Presby puts up a photo SERI took of the tube they received from the LAPD, and the questions the efense put to Jennifer Francis, asking if she put those numbers on the sticks. (Jennifer would have not seen the evidence when it was packaged up five years later, the two sticks labeled separately and sent to SERI.) It’s a desperate attempt to mislead you.
(The defense was) talking about the minor profile in item #30, with respect to (allele/loci) D2. Over and over again he misstated the evidence. There were 9 loci for Sherri Rasmussen. 13 loci for the defendant.
Presby then addresses Judge Perry. “Your honor, I don’t think I’m going to finish before lunch."
I have a note that Mark Overland looked like he was about to faint when we had that earlier break. Someone tells me that at first he was real pale, and then he was real red in the face.
As we pack up to leave the courtroom, the male bailiff addresses the packed gallery. “Be sure to pick up all your things. We had a pair of shoes left behind.” Then the tiny gray-haired female sheriff, (I’ve seen her at many of the cases I’ve covered) I think the name on her badge is Parra, tells us about the shoes..., “And they didn’t match any of our outfits.” The room laughs.
Matthew points out to me who he thinks is Presby and Nunez’ boss, the department head of the Justice System Integrity Division (JSID). Overland wipes his face, his eyes with a tissue. One of the things Matthew noticed was, for several days in a row, Lazarus was drinking water from a plastic coke bottle and not a standard brand of water bottle.
During the lunch break, I finally get confirmation on the name of the woman who sat with the detectives behind the prosecution table and who looked so lovely in her sharp outfits I often commented on. DDA Rosa Alarcon.
1:35 PM. We’re all packed back inside the courtroom, and I mean packed. The room is stuffed with as many people as the Public Information Office can get in there.
Presby continues with his rebuttal argument.
I want to talk to you about a few more things that were not correct or (were) deceptively presented to you by the defense.
Fingerprints. Identified and identifiable. There were two fingerprints of all the prints that were identifiable, that were never identified. One was a joint print on the phone in the kitchen. There’s no evidence that any part of the attack happened in the kitchen. And the palm print on the banister.
The prints in databases in 1986 that were in the database were fingerprints only. (It wasn’t until years later that palm prints and other types of prints were added to the database.)
There were several other (prints) that were unidentifiable. They may very well be Sherri’s or Johns, there’s just not enough information (to tell).
Other DNA in the crime scene. Blood down the stairway. There was no witness who said, this is the blood of (the? killer?). (There was) one marker. It had one allele. One out of thirty (30). (Note here. When Presby states “30” he’s talking about at each loci, you get alleles from each parent. So the 15 loci that are looked at in a DNA analysis, you will get the number of repeats from each parent, ergo 15 x 2 = 30. Sprocket) That’s not a person. That’s a single allele. It’s not a question that can be answered to that very limited stain.
The blood on the arm rest in the vehicle. The blood was Sherri’s blood. A few male alleles in that mixture. We know Brian Lane drove Sherri’s car (the day before). There was no testimony to say (those alleles belonged to the killer) (snip). No evidence of that whatsoever.
The blanket. The “snuggy.” Two swatches were cut. Two samples. On the control swatch, there doesn’t appear to be blood and the DNA is John and Sherri’s. (The swatch with blood) comes back to Sherri with one other allele. The defense wants you to speculate to this stuff, (that) is part of the background noise (we talked about earlier).
But ( the same time, they) want you to ignore #30. Remember, all the blood in the crime scene belonged to Sherri.
Mr. Alexander (Defense witness #4 Michael Alexander) worked with Stephanie Lazarus. He doesn’t remember whether or not the defendant was injured. That’s not surprising. (I believe Presby goes onto remind jurors that he couldn’t remember anything about that day, who he worked with without looking at the work logs.)
Sherri Rasmussen was a nurse. With her whole professional life, she had wanted to help people. The police, part of their training, is fighting, gun retention training. Mr. (?) talked about..... (snip) She was an outstanding, superior athlete. Brian McCartin testified she was the most aggressive female in that (LAPD) academy class. It’s not surprising once the defendant (started) to (assault? Sherri? she won?)... Sherri was in her underwear and the robe. She fought as best she could.
The defense talked about the documentation. The (coroner’s) evidence log, and the missing GSR entries, and that this (the log) was never updated. What’s the reasonable explanation? This is on microfiche. The card (log form) doesn’t physically exist anymore. The fact that GSR kits were destroyed doesn’t mean anything to item #30. In fact, the GSR kits were never released to anyone. (They) were never given to another agency. (They stayed completely in the control of the Coroner’s Office.)
Where do we stand in respect to the evidence?
The defendant’s DNA could only get there by her doing this crime. The other explanation isn’t reasonable. But there’s more evidence. Sherri’s fingernail, found at the scene, (with a) one in 26,000 (random chance of a match). One in 26,000 is not as much as 1.7 sextillion, but it’s not ‘nothing’ either.
Presby then gives a visual explanation as to how view that one in 26,000.
If you were sitting in the Staples Center (this is a known, local stadium) and it was filled with women, only one of those women could have committed this crime. The defendant is that woman, and one (other) in the Staples Center. That woman, would also have to have, motive, a gun, dispose of the gun, kill with LAPD issued bullets and have the opportunity to bite Sherri in the arm.
DNA. (multiplying) alleles. Let’s talk about how they come to the percentage in a DNA profile, one multiplied times the next times the next time times the next. That’s what you have to do in this case with each piece of evidence.
We’re talking about what is a reasonable explanation and what is a made up explanation. That fingernail was never in the Coroner’s Office. It was in the LAPD. So now, somehow.... and now they would have to plant that DNA in the LAPD also.
If you’re going to plant, why didn’t they put that full DNA profile on the fingernail, or the blanket, or the rope? Why not go all the way?
But there’s more evidence still. There is a staged crime scene. The defense said, Mr. Safarik put this all together. No one put this all together. It’s the evidence that puts it all together. I’m not going to list all the things that Mr. Safarik (testified) that shows it’s a staged crime scene. Wrong apartment; not right for a robbery location. The door has a sticker that there’s an alarm system. Look at the stacking of this stereo equipment. It’s right in the middle of the stairs! We know the fight started upstairs and we know it ended at the bottom of downstairs. So Sherri had to get downstairs over that stereo equipment and so did her attacker.
We know Sherri is crawling around on the ground by that entry way. (You have to conclude they were placed there after) Sherri was killed. The drawer pulled out and not rifled through. The straight pins, undisturbed. This was an after the fact, staging of the evidence. The only person who has a reason to stage (it) is the defendant. A stranger would not have any reason to stage the crime scene.
But, if you’re the ex-girlfriend of someone who’s wife was killed. (Stephanie Lazarus thought he ~John~ should be mine.) It was someone who knew the spotlight would be on them. The BMW was not stripped. This was a made up motive because she knew the police would look at her, and that’s exactly what we see, staging.
There’s one other piece of evidence that this defendant committed the crime. Sherri wasn’t just killed. She was beaten. Her face was disfigured. Her beauty, was marred. IT was that face, that beauty, that took John away from the defendant. Who else had a reason to do this (photo placed up on the overhead screen) to Sherri’s face?
So where does the evidence stand at the end of the day? Presby goes over the list again. (snip) ...And the staged crime scene.
The defense talked to you a bit about reasonable doubt. it’s not just looking at one (DNA allele) marker and having doubt abut the case. It’s about looking at all the evidence, and having an abiding conviction about the evidence in this case.
Mr. Overland gave you an example of himself being wounded, struck, and “Steve” standing next to him. That’s true you couldn’t decide if that’s all the information you had. That’s not a true example of this case.
Lets say, an analysis was done of the wound (on Mr. Overland’s head). The wound was made by a special tool, say a special hammer. Steve owned such a hammer. Steve owned that hammer and then that hammer disappeared.
And lets say, there were particles in the wound. Something like the bullets (but from say, nails). And lets say, the nails that he used in his work, and those nails were special nails. The only nails he could use.
Then, they find out that Steve hated Mr. Overland because Mr. Overland had stolen the woman Steve loved.
But then there’s more. Let’s say the wound was analyzed and there was wiping done around the wound and they find Steve’s skin cells with Mr. Overland’s DNA.
There are too many coincidences to try to explain away.
William Congreve wrote (and it’s often misquoted):
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
That’s what we see in this case. That’s what we see in Sherri’s face.
You have only two questions to answer in this case. One: Who killed Sherri Rasmussen? (Was it) the defendant, Stephanie Lazarus? and Two: Did she make a conscious decision to kill.
Presby goes over the evidence of the contact wound and how the defendant, at that point can decide. I’ve beaten her. What do I do? Do I leave or finish what I came here to do? She wrapped the snuggy around the gun. And this tells you, she wants to get away with it. She fires once. She fires twice. Sh fires a third time. Each one of those acts was a conscious cold calculated decision to kill.
(You’ve? We’ve) worked on this case a long time. Five weeks. But this case is not about me or Mr. Nunez, Mr. Overland, or you. I’s not about John Ruetten or Sherri’s mom and dad. This case is about Sherri Rasmussen. This case is about justice for Sherri, and it’s about responsibility for this action.
Mr. Overland told you there were tragedies all the time in this courthouse. An equally big tragedy is to have a defendant gain the system, because she knows how to change the crime scene. She knows how to beat the system. But she did steal from Sherri Rasmussen. She stole every day from that day to this day. All the joy and pain that Sherri might have existed. All the pain and joy that makes up a life, she stole from Sherri.
I really implore each and every one of you to use your logic and to look at the big picture and see who did this crime. There really is only one profile that explains all the evidence. (snip) (When you?) go back and do your deliberations, give justice to Sherri Rasmussen.
It’s 2:05 PM. Judge Perry reads the instructions to the jurors.
2:34 PM The clerk administers the oath to the bailiff to take control of the jurors. The prosecution starts to pack up. DDA Nunez takes the prosecution’s evidence books over the clerk, Melody. The alternate jurors are taken to another empty courtroom or empty jury room.
2:35 PM the jurors entered the jury room.
Stephanie Lazarus appears to still be reading the jury instructions. She was reading along as Judge Perry was reading them.
Then Judge Perry asks everyone (prosecution, defense) to stand by.
JP: There’s a minor error in the jury instructions.
Inside I groan. That can totally screw up an entire trial, if they don’t fix that right away and haul the jurors back in. Judge Perry continues to look at the computer screen for the “minor error”.
There is a single line missing from the jury instruction 520 or 521. It has to do with defining second degree murder. The prosecution has no problem adding the missing line in and giving it to the jurors.
JP: I will leave it up to the defense.
MO: As I’ve said (before) I have an objection on second degree.
JP: I will accept your rejection of any modification of the jury instructions.
The courtroom is still packed with most of us in the gallery.
3:05 PM Overland is still in the jail area with Lazarus. He knocks on the door, but the bailiff that’s supposed to be inside the courtroom has left for a moment. Overland is locked inside there.
3:10 PM Overland and Courtney come out. He ensures that Melody has their numbers to reach them.
Most of the press has left. Judge Perry comes back out. He’s not in his robes. I can clearly see the patterned black and white tie he has on. From where I’m sitting, it could pass as an Aubrey Beardsley drawing or some other very intricate pattern.
Judge Perry answers a question about what time the jurors will be deliberating tomorrow. 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
There are questions (to Melody) about the reading of the verdict, once it’s been reached. It would probably be about an hour later, but it’s a function on how long it takes the attorney’s to get here. Mark Overland is about an hour away in Santa Monica.
I finally pack up after seeing the jurors leave at 3:55 PM. They avert their eyes from those of us still in the gallery as they exit.
Outside in the hallway, local CBS reporter Dave Lopez tells me that was the most compelling closing argument he's ever seen. I have to agree that Presby probably gave the presentation of his career. It was quite good.
The rest of the story, y’all know already. Thank you everyone, for reading T&T. Thank you to everyone who wrote me and told me how much you appreciated my coverage of this trial. There is no greater personal reward for myself, than to know that the time and effort I put into this trial was appreciated by so many. And thank you to my new friends in the mainstream media, who told me they thought I did a great job, reporting on this case.
I still have a couple of stories to tell about the Lazarus case. There have been several people who have contacted me, people who knew Lazarus at various times in her life. Of those that gave me permission, I will be sharing their stories soon. Understand though, most of these individuals wish to remain anonymous and I will be honoring that request.
I still hope that, if any of the jurors do decide to come forward they will consider talking to my friend Matthew McGough, who will be writing the definitive book on the case. I know that he will honor any level of anonymity they wish to preserve. If anyone still has questions about the case, I will try to answer them as best I can. Sprocket.
P.S. I'm still working on my mail, so please be patient. I will answer your letters.