UPDATED! Edited for accuracy, clarity.
Here is your opportunity to vote your opinion as to whether or not the prosecution met it's burden of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" or if they did not meet their burden.
If you have a question about witness testimony, Judge Perry's rulings or anything else about the case, I will try to answer. You can also share your opinion as to what you believe the evidence proves.
If you plan on trying to get one of the public seats at trial, I recommend getting there at least by 8:30 AM for a 9:00 AM start time.
THE FULL WITNESS LIST
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Question from Nancy B:
I have to say that even though many of Judge Perry's decisions have restricted the public's ability to have access to information that was presented in court...(snip)
Judge Perry did not limit or restrict the public's ability to have access to information. He just doesn't like cameras in his courtroom. Anyone can enter any courtroom in the US and listen in on the proceedings. The mainstream media is there, covering the trial. Judge Perry can't control what they choose to write about.
Question from Kathy:
Sprocket, I really like Judge Perry. He seems to take great care in what line of questioning is allowed so as not to confuse the jury. Am I correct in thinking, that at this late time, Lazarus will not be taking the stand in her defense?
You are correct. When the defense rested, I was surprised that, outside the presence of the jury, Judge Perry did not get it on the record that Lazarus made the decision of her own free will not to take the stand (or what ever language Judge Perry would have used to ask her that question) in her own defense. After the defense rested, I immediately told one of the respected crime beat reporters in the room who was surprised also. It's my "guess" mind you, that Judge Perry may have felt that Lazarus had adequate counsel regarding this issue. Remember, at one time Overland supervised a staff of over 400 attorneys while in the Public Defender's Office.
Question from Anon on 3/1 7:55 PM:
WOW!!! When this case is over with, weather she is found guilty or not, we will never know the real truth. I was surprised that none of her former coworkers like her last partner would testify on her behalf. I understand that he is in complete denial. There were so few, you would think after 26 yrs, her friends on the force one of them would step forward. (snip)
It's my best bet that Judge Perry would not have allowed the defense to present character witness after character witness after character witness after character witness. There has been a suggestion by the defense, that an individual identified as the godmother to Lazarus' daughter, Ann Young (possibility related to husband Scott Young) was unwilling to meet with the defense investigator unless certain conditions were met and that those conditions were set by her superiors at LAPD.
Question from Anon on 3/1 8:24 PM:
1. Thank you for your continuing exhaustive detail of the trial, it's much better than TV or being there. 2. Thanks also to the gifted Mr. Broersma for his fine sketches. Request that he sketch you for posting, call a vote of the readers if necessary. 3. How was entrance to the condo achieved, unlocked door or lock picking?
1. You're welcome. 2. I'm sorry. There will be no sketches of me. I'm a shy person and I've already had my image illegally taken on the 9th floor of the courthouse, by Phil Spector's trial bride wife, drastically photo-shopped and then published up on the web. That experience will last me a life time. 3. How the killer gained entrance to the condo remains unknown. The prosecution contends the defendant used lock-picking tools. The defense contends the front door could have been left unlocked.
Question from Anon 3/1 10:58 PM:
Sprocket, could you please go over the charges. are there lesser included? or just the one big charge?
187 Murder in the first degree. With the circumstances of this case, I do not see how Judge Perry could add the option for second degree or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter. There is also a gun enhancement charge. I have only been able to find one newspaper article from the LA Times, well over a year ago that stated the number of years she would be facing was 27 years to life. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of what the LA Times reported back then. In California, when they say 27 years to life, that means the convicted individual would have to serve at least 27 years before they are eligible for parole. If there are legal eagles out there reading who know differently, please chime in.
Question from Anon 3/2 8:38 AM:
Greatly appreciate your coverage of this trial! Has the defense indicated a direct reason and method the bite DNA tested could be the same as SL if she was not the person who actually made he bite?
This is an excellent question. The defense has inferred through cross examination of prosecution witnesses that since the bite mark swab envelope took time to find by the Coroner's Office staff and the fact that it had a hole in it when found, the evidence could be contaminated or unreliable. The defense did not present witnesses to answer your question, nor, in my opinion, was that question answered in cross examination of any prosecution witness.
Question from Anon 3/2 11:29 AM:
There is one issue about the BMW that puzzles me. With such a bloody struggle, shouldn't there have been blood on the seat? Yet I didn't read or see anything that indicated the BMW was in anything but pristine condition.
There was biological evidence collected from the car. From two spots on the inside of the driver's side door, the keys (that were found in the ignition) and a hair from the center console. The car itself was in pristine condition. It was not stripped or damaged in any way.
Question from Anon 3/2 12:33 PM
Though you addressed something of that, can I take it that Nunez brought out that those prints not identified were smudges. Which would indicate to me that though they couldn't be definitely matched to Lazarus, it doesn't necessarily mean they weren't hers. Or Sherri Ramussen's or even John Rutten's. Hope you continue to report on trials. maybe a paid position. Something to supplement Mr. Sprocket's car repair!
I called them smudges, Nunez did not. The latent print analyst stated the material was not enough of a pattern to identify for comparison, ergo, it was classified as unidentifiable. That was clear on direct testimony. Nunez only asked a couple questions on cross. It would be a dream come true to be able to earn a living at this type of reporting, that I feel provides a great service to the community. Keep sending those positive vibes out to the universe for me that the perfect opportunity comes my way.
Question from Natalie:
I also have a question about the BMW. I think I recall that it was found a few days after the murder, nearby Sherri's condo. Do they believe the car was immediately left there, or was it stolen, and left a few days later? This may answer Anon's question above regarding the blood. Thanks, Sprocket. You rock.
The car was found On March 7th, 1986 around 8 or 8:30 PM, 2.5 miles almost directly east of the Van Nuys town home. The vehicle was not in the garage when John Ruetten arrived home and discovered his wife's body in the living room. The prosecution's theory is, the killer left the crime scene in the vehicle. The officer who found the vehicle could not remember if it was locked or not.
Question from Darlene:
Yes, thank you for making us feel like we have been there everyday! So , if I understand correctly, the bite mark DNA led to finding that a woman caused this and that led to the fingernail and bite mark DNA match? Wow!
Not quite exactly like that. Running the DNA determined that there was most likely a female killer. That information was discovered in 2005. Sometime in 2010, after Lazarus' arrest, the prosecution and defense agreed to send samples to an independent lab, SERI, to do more sophisticated testing. SERI tested the broken fingernails and came up with the DNA matches on those items to Lazarus.
Question from Anon 3/2 12:58 PM:
How do you decide which cases to report on? Why did you decide to report on the Stephanie Lazarus case. As always, many thanks.
First and foremost, where will the case be tried. Mr. Sprocket is supportive but I can't spend a lot of money on my trial coverage at this point. It's why I bring my lunch and take public transportation. I currently have limited resources to spend on this labor of love so I can't cover a lengthy trial that will be held in an outlying courthouse where I might have to pay for parking and have a lengthy drive. I prefer cases that are tried on the 9th floor of the downtown criminal court building. I'm familiar with several of the judges on that floor.
Second, the case needs to be a murder case or a compelling case involving a child or children.
Third, hopefully there is something unusual about the evidence or story. A mystery, if you will.
Fourth, if there are no cameras, that's a plus since I'm not competing with an online or TV watching audience.
Cases I have my eye on. Cameron Brown third retrial scheduled for later this summer in Department 107, Judge Pastor's courtroom, where Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Kelly Soo Park, (female defendant; female victim; DNA match) Lonnie Franklin, Jr., (serial killer solved by familial DNA) both in Department 109, Judge Kathleen Kennedy.
If convicted, where will Lazarus end up?
One strong possibility is Frontera, where the Manson girls ended up. It's my understanding the housing is in small groups verses the individual cells at Chowchilla.