Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Verdict Watch, Day 2


Judge Robert J. Perry

© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT

Jurors will continue deliberating today around 9:00 AM in the Stephanie Lazarus trial. Lazarus is on trial for murder in the death of Sherri Rae Rasmussen, the new wife of her ex-lover, John Ruetten.

Yesterday, jurors were handed the case at approximately 2:35 PM. Although they did not buzz a start time for deliberations, they buzzed a stop time of 3:55 PM, deliberating a total of one hour and 20 minutes after getting the case.

I will be at the courthouse all day on jury watch, updating the blog whenever anything significant happens, so please keep checking back.

I will be keeping a log of the time the jurors spent deliberating on the STEPHANIE LAZARUS QUICK LINKS PAGE.

You can also vote in T&T's poll on THIS ENTRY. If you have questions, I will try to answer them throughout the day.

9:30 AM
We are waiting on a juror, #7. Possibly a traffic problem.

9:35 AM
The juror was brought up to the courtroom through one of the employee elevators. They've started deliberating at 9:35 AM.

10:03 AM
Pat LaLama is here as well as another reporter whose name escapes me at the moment. Pat is hanging out in the hallway. I'm by myself inside the courtroom. One of Lazarus' family just arrived. It's her sister Judy.

10:37 AM
Buzz! It's most likely the jurors are taking a break.

10:55 AM
The jurors went back to deliberating again. I had to get that time from the deputy who told them they didn't have to buzz when they finished their break. This is quite different than any other trial I've covered.

Lazarus is not in the courtroom. The court building closes down at a certain time, so the jurors can't deliberate late into the night. The court day for them is 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

11:18 AM
Teresa Lane and Jayne Goldberg are here. Matthew McGough is here. Lazarus' mother arrived earlier and so did her brother Steven Lazarus and the woman I've seen with him several times.

12:oo Noon
Jurors broke for lunch. They'll resume at 1:30 PM.

1:34 PM
BUZZ!! The jurors are back to deliberating for the afternoon session.

2:22 PM
BUZZ! BUZZ! The jurors have a question or they are taking an early break. I'll know in a moment.

DDA Presby was just in the courtroom to drop off something with the clerk. He quickly left.

2:30 PM
They want testimony read back of one prosecution witness, #4 I believe and possibly another. I just heard Melody say the name but it just flew out of my head right now.

2:34 PM The other witness is defense witness #1.

2:37 PM Because of the late hour, and how long it will take counsel to get here, they are going to do the read-back tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

2:43 PM The jury will keep deliberating until 4:00 PM. The court does not keep this courtroom open for jurors past 4:00 PM. I have never heard of that. Not with California's budget. The only time the court remains open is if jurors reach a verdict late in the day.

The foreperson is Juror #9, a tall Latino looking man.

The length of deliberations doesn't necessarily mean anything (to me) but I'm sure there are some talking heads on the MSM that have an opinion about that. Like I've said many times, I never try to predict a jury. Juries will surprise you.

2:51 PM: Just a little side note. I'm reading a book inside the courtroom, Deep Survival, Who Lives, Who Dies, And Why, by Laurence Gonzalez.

DDA Presby saw I was reading the book and commented, "Great book!"

3:06 PM
BUZZ! BUZZ! The jurors have another question. As soon as I know, I'll post.

3:09 PM
The jurors have a question on a jury instruction.


3:41 PM The jury has not officially asked a question about jury instructions. They were going to write it out but they have not sent anything out through the bailiff yet. A possibility is they could have answered their own question, or we could hear it tomorrow. So that's not "official" yet.

3:45 PM
The jury is done deliberating for the day. They will return at 9:00 AM tomorrow. After speaking with the bailiff, he indicated the jury may have that question about jury instructions first thing tomorrow.

And that's it for Wednesday. See you all tomorrow.

I highly recommend everyone get familiar with the WITNESS LIST that I painstakingly assembled. If the jury happens to ask for more witness testimony to be read back, I will only be listing the witness number; not their name or what they testified about, so please, please don't ask me to spend precious time explaining who they are. Each time I publish I have to step out of the courtroom and I could potentially miss something important.

This morning from 9:00 AM (when I arrived), until about 10:00 AM, Judge Perry held pretrial hearings in a few other cases. When I walked into Dept. 104, Judge Perry was patiently listening to an LA County jail inmate explaining problems he's experiencing at the jail. Judge Perry was speaking to the man in a very compassionate tone. He told the man he would make an inquiry with the jail on his behalf. His case was being held over for another month. Judge Perry then said to him in a very sincere and concerned voice, "Mr. _______, I'm thinking that we have to (extend?) to April 6th. 0-60. And I appreciate your patience. And I mean that; and I understand the federal matter hanging over your head....."

Another thing that was refreshing to see, was the Judge Perry that I got to know over the year of pretrial hearings in this case. When he was talking to counsel appearing in his court on cases, before they would go on the record I finally got to see Judge Perry's smile return when he would inquire about their other cases in different courts and have a bit of friendly banter with the attorneys. To me (and this is just my opinion), there was more of a lightheartedness that has returned to Judge Perry's face that I have been missing over the past five weeks.

Pretty DDA Lisa Kassabian (who worked behind the scenes in the first Spector case) was there for one of her cases and they were setting another date for a hearing and the date chosen was a Friday. Judge Perry jokingly said, "You're a DA that works on Friday?" Smiling, Lisa replied, "I am!"

Lazarus' family that was there throughout the trial (brother Steven, sister Judy, mother Carol, and a few others) came to court today to wait. They mostly waited in the hallway, stepping in occasionally. Sherri's sister Teresa and her former roommate Jayne came today but I did not see them in the afternoon. There were a few people from the mainstream media but virtually all hung out in the hallway. Matthew McGough kept me company inside the courtroom for the morning session.

I've adjusted my start and stop times on the Jury Clock listing on the QUICK LINKS thread to coincide with court clerk Melody's recordings.


Shannon from Seattle said...

I cannot imagine what you are feeling in the courtroom in terms of emotions watching closing arguments. I was most touched by your description of Overland's closing and pointing suspicion at Mr. Ruetten. Talk about revictimizing the victim!

I don't care where John Ruetten put his dry cleaning as he first came upon his new bride's beaten and battered body. So let's make a big deal that he took all of one extra second to set it on a chair instead of dropping it onto the floor. What else do they have? Oh yeah, they have John Ruetten's prints on his VCR and stereo equipment, which you would expect since he OWNED it!

It is hard not to feel like defense attorneys are pretty scuzzy. I know for sure it would not be a career choice for me.

I hope the Rasmussen and Ruetten families realizes they have a lot of support in the community and many of us are hopeful that justice, though 26+ years late, will soon be dispensed to Sherri's killer.

I also cannot help but wonder what Lazarus must be feeling as she witnesses blame set at her former lover's feet for this horrific crime.

It could not be more clear to me that Mr. Ruetten adored his new wife. It is so desperate of them to cast blame in his direction, but then again, they have little else.

Anonymous said...

In a murder trial, it's pretty much standard procedure for the defense to cast blame on someone besides the defendant. Sometimes it will be direct, other times subtle.

In the Casey Anthony trial, it was direct with George Anthony. In this trial, Mr. Overland tried to make John Ruetten look suspicious in a subtle fashion.

David In TN

Anonymous said...


Is SL in the courtroom during jury watch? What about her family? The Rasmussens? JR?

This is a hunch but I wonder if yesterday, if they didn't take a vote and perhaps have reached a conclusion and decided to sleep on it before rendering a verdict this am? It is surprising that they concluded jury deliberations one hour early. To me it says that they have a decision and went home to sleep on it or they realize that they might have very differing views and have a great deal of work ahead.
My bet is that they come back this am.
Thank you for your fine reporting!

Anonymous said...

Keeping my fingers crossed for Justice to finally be served!!! Your dedication to following this case is SO appreciated!!! LOVE you to PIECES Sprocket ♥

Anonymous said...

I have been following this trial on here from day 1. You are doing an amazing job and deserve a standing ovation if you could see us all doing that for you!. I was a childhood friend of Sherri's, we were classmates in grade school at a small private christian school. Even there she excelled and showed an unusual gift of high achievement and excellence, what a loss to her family, friends, and society! I am keeping her family in my prayers and praying that the jury will do the right thing and bring justice to this horrific crime that was committed!
Emily H.

Jayne Weiandt said...

Shannon said it well! It infuriates me and disgusts me that Overland and his client would sink this low to cast blame on John! I am praying for the Rasmussens and Ruettens that justice will be served and SL will be convicted of this horrendous crime! Waiting on pins and needles for the jury's decision. What an emotion day! Sherri you are in my heart!

Jayne E.

Becky said...

Please explain how jury watch works.. do you sit in the courtroom, like always, but nothing happens and Perry is off the bench? Or are you just at the courthouse, waiting to hear something? Where are the jurors deliberating? Is the mainstream media also there waiting, or do they get called, and then arrive later?

Anonymous said...

It is killing me; I am on pins and freakin' needles waiting for this verdict. I sincerely hope Sherri's family gets the justice they deserve after all these years!! Please don't let us down jury!! OMG!!

Anonymous said...

Once they jury begins deliberations, do they go home at the end of the day or are they sequestered?

Anonymous said...

I once asked an attorney if defense attorneys asked their clients if they did whatever they were accused of. The attorney responded, "No, they don't have to. It doesn't make any difference." I was shocked by his response and have never forgotten it. It's like a game to them. All they want to do is win, justice be damned.

TS said...

Someone questioned why the jury stopped so soon on the first day of deliberation. I think it is usually the judge who gives the jury the time they can stop deliberation for the day; it's not the decision of the jury when to stop, unless they have reached a verdict or are at an impasse. And would just like to say...there is such disparity between the incredibly limited coverage of this trial (i.e. a few paragraphs) by the paid "name" reporters who sit all day in the courtroom compared to the extensive daily coverage by Sprocket (no disrespect meant to the reporters who are doing the job they are hired and paid to do). Sprocket, please don't undervalue your incredible talent, ability, writing, attention to detail (with transcription like a court reporter!) time and commitment. I know you do this because you love it - I hope you continue because you love it and additionally receive the compensation and wider recognition that you so deserve. You are doing something that is completely UNIQUE!!

Anonymous said...

Anon March 7 at 9:59--- respectfully, It's not a justice system, it's a legal system. And even the worst of the worst are entitled to legal representation. We can only hope that justice is served in our legal system.

LC, California

Anonymous said...

I didn't notice Judy's (SLs sister) name on the players list, is this her first appearance in the court room? Seems odd that she would arrive now. Please comment.

Anonymous said...

The jury goes to a debileration room, the room that is behind the courtroom. The judge is in his chambers and SL is waiting in the holding cell that is near the court room. Everyone else is somewhere in the court building, outside the courtroom in the hallway or down stairs in the cafe. This jury will go home at night and everyone watches them as they leave the court room to lunch or at the end of the day for any hints that they give. Jurors are very good at giving a poker face and I might remind everyone you can never predict what a jury will do. We must pray that they take their time and come to a right decision whatever it may be.


Shannon from Seattle said...

I don't think it is "justice be damned." It is actually a really important part of our justice system to offer the accused a reasonable defense.

It is better to set a killer free than it is to convict an innocent person; that is why the burden of proof is so high!

Keep in mind that I believe the prosecution more than met its burden of proof in this case. Also, in general, I am not a fan of defense attorneys. I do understand their role and I am grateful to live in a country with a just legal system where every citizen has a chance to prove their innocence. It is not a perfect system (e.g. Casey Anthony case), but it is a good one.

Anonymous said...

Any update? Was the buzz just a break?

sdnokidding said...

without defense attorneys we would not have a justice system. They are obligated to provide the best defense possible for the accused. If they do a poor job because they have a killer for a client and don't have their heart in it, the conviction can be overturned. Don't hate Overland because he was doing his job! I have to admit it was hard for me to hear "is this the reaction of a loving husband? No, not really." over and over again. But he is doing his job, and doing it really well. Please continue to pray for the Rasmussens, Ruettens, the jury and Stephanie's friends and family as well. All of their lives will be forever changed by this tragedy.

Crickit said...

Waiting on pins and needles! I will keep checking back!

Thanks again for your coverage! :)

Anonymous said...

OH you little Stinker YOU! I saw you wrote Buz! & nearly jumped outta my seat! :) Not sure why... but I'm feeling fairly positive this morning about a GUILTY verdict. I hope my gut feeling is correct. Do you know if SL is waiting in lockup @ the courthouse or if she's still in Lynwood Jail awaiting the verdict? Are there a lot of people there waiting?

Anonymous said...

If she's found guilty...who and what determine her sentence? Am I right, in California it's the judge depending on whether it's first or second? Or now I'm trying to remember the Scott Peterson trial. Didn't the jury decide on the death sentence. Please clarify...

Anonymous said...

Thank you these reports!

Anonymous said...

Shannon from Seattle (11:02) hit it right on the head.

Keep in mind that the prosecutor is going to try to convict whether (s)he thinks the defendant did the crime or not. It's a question of evidence; not truth.

I once heard a defense attorney asked this question and his response was that since the prosecution and the defense are trying to prove their case, regardless of their personal feelings, the truth should come out. It's not perfect, but it's the best we have.

Everyone hates lawyers until they need one. And everyone loves prosecutors until they get accused of a crime.

Starbright said...


Like everyone else I am anxiously awaiting a verdict. I'm checking back about every 10 minutes! I so want justice for Sherri, John and her family. This is such an interesting case, I can't believe it has gotten so little press. Thank goodness we have you Sprocket. Great reporting. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Trials should be about the search for the truth. I agree we need defense attorneys in our legal system, but I have a hard time with the smoke and mirrors, the outright undermining of evidence, and jury members chosen for their manipulation potential. I just want the truth and let the judgement land where it may.

Shannon from Seattle said...

90 minutes for lunch!!! Wow, how nice. Of course, I am teasing. Pins and needles awaiting word on a verdict. Happy to have a smart phone bookmarked to T&T!!!!!

anonymous said...

Is her husband still working for the LAPD? This has to be very difficult for him. I cannot imagine showing up each day to listen to the evidence when the only defense is to argue legal technicalities and put forth some far fetched theories to point blame at anyone/everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if SL looks back over 26 years and thinks, "Was it worth it?"

Anonymous said...

Sprocket - in your past experience with jury trials, does the length of time a jury takes to deliberate, tend to indicate whether or not it will be a guilty or not guilty verdict? It would seem to be so clear that if the evidence is so compelling, a guilty verdict would result in a quick verdict. Does the fact that the only issue is guilty or not guilty of 1st degree murder add an entirely different aspect to a verdict that would otherwise seems a foregone conclusion? Sorry if my question seems to ramble. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Sprocket, do you think, if they feel they're close to a verdict, they'll continue deliberations past 4:00?

Anonymous said...

Who is witness #4?

Anonymous said...

Who is defense witness #1 ?

Anonymous said...

does the callback mean that they are done deliberating for the day?

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, if the jury comes back with a verdict too quickly, then it will appear as though they did not consider all the evidence, no matter how overwhelming it is. However, I know deep inside my heart that Stephanie Lazarus murdered that poor woman. Hopefully her family will get the justice they deserve after all these years. We'll just have to wait and see. Pins and needles.

Anonymous said...

Am I correct that Prosection witness No. 1 was Sherri's sister and Defense witness No. 4 was John

If so, I think I recall there was conflicting testimony about trying to reach Sherri and leaving messages on the answering machine.

Am I correct?

Anonymous said...

Girl, you are on it!! Go, SPROCKET!!! : )

Anonymous said...

I'm on the edge of my seat. Thank you SO much for all that you've given to us, Sprocket!

Anonymous said...

Prosecution witness #4 is the neighbor who walked pass SR house and the gardeners came to her house to bring the purse back...there was discussion as to what time the garage door was opened and when the gardeners brought the purse to her...
Defense witness #4 is the housekeeper next door and the testimony about what time she heard the noise next door..11am

MMmmmmm...bery interesting.

Summer said...

Per Sprocket's witness list, Prosecution witness #4 is the witness who was walking her dog 2/24/86 in the am and witnessed the Rasmussen garage door open.
Defense witness #1 is the maid of the adjoining unit who heard loud noises in the Rasmussen unit 2/24/86--she gave conflicting info on the time she heard them

I don't know what to make of their desire to hear these two witnesses' testimony again...

Anonymous said...


Thanks, Sprocket!!

Jayne Weiandt said...

Defense witness #1 is Evangelina Flores, the maid who was working at a unit close to Sherri's. She testified about hearing noises.
Prosecution witness #4 is Anastasion Voilantis. She and her husband lived in the condo complex. She testified about the two latino men who came and gave Sherri's purse to her around noon on the February 24th. Also was questioned about whether she saw the garage door open. Trial Day 2 of the Prosecution's questioning.
Interesting, they must be looking at time lines of the murder. A maid who heard noises she thinks around 11:20 or 12:30 she wasn't sure. The neighbors who walked past Sherri's at 9:30 and I believe Anastasia said at 9:30 the garage door was open. At noon a purse is brought to her door by the two latinos who she thought were gardners but couldn't say for sure. Her statement said the purse was brought around 4:30 but she told Overland that statement was incorrect even she had signed the statement and it was Not in her handwriting.
Hope this helps us bloggers who are on the edge of our seats waiting for a verdict!
Jayne E.

Anonymous said...

If the jury has no more questions about the evidence, only about jury instructions, a verdict is thisclose, correct?

Anonymous said...

To me, asking for these witnesses' tesimonies suggest that they are having doubts and that the DNA evidence is not enough. It's enough for me, but maybe not for them.

Miz V said...

The jury's request is really odd. Are they considering this
Timeline to Reutten's lunch break? At least this jury is asking questions at all. Hopefully they are being as thourough as possible. This is probably one of the most important decisions they'll make in their lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I was randomly thinking, if Lazarus is found guilty, she's pretty much gotten used to being in custody. She should have a good feel of what being "jailed" feels like. She is a classic example of when a person wants something too badly. Iam sure if she did this, she has thought repeatedly in her mind how she wished she hadn't done this horrific crime. From all accounts, Stephanie had a great life; a great career (a cop's dream job), husband, daughter, and a supportive family. In essence, it was something better, but I guess at the age of 24, that's so hard to see. Well, she is facing a lifetime of incarceration if found guilty. And, that gives her even longer to think about her horrific actions "if" found Guilty!

Anonymous said...

Sprocket, what a job you have done here! It should be read as an example by anyone writing about crime.

I second the idea of adding a "donate" button and some ads to the site, we all appreciate your effort.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in LA County my entire life and been on a 2 trials myself (hung jury), I can tell you that the jury pool in this town is full of people who are not very bright or intelligent. It wouldn't surprise me if this jury comes back hung or they acquit because some of them think the gardeners who returned the purse to the lady next door killed Sherri. What a waste of time. The DNA evidence is quite clear and simple. Stupidity and ignorance are detrimental to our justice system!

Shannon from Seattle said...

Let's don't jump to conclusions too quickly. The jurors are obviously going through the evidence very carefully, and they obviously understand what it at stake. It is a very serious responsibility. I think it is a good thing that they are taking time to get it right.

Maybe they should teach DNA and basic criminology in schools??? Although it sounds like the prosecutor really broke it down into simple terms for them. I will have faith in this jury until I know otherwise. I think they are going to get it right.

Anonymous said...

Even though I am totally convinced of her guilt, I have a feeling that this jury is going to acquit her. My sentiments are in line with Anonymous who posted at 6:16 p.m. Sorry. I just have a feeling. We really need to work on our educational system in this country.

Anonymous said...

Going back over the Witness List, I am really surprised at how successful both sides, but especially the prosecution, was at assembling people who were involved in the case so many years ago. As mobile as our society has become, together with retirements and career changes and name changes, it really is amazing.


Robert said...

I hope they are trying to be thorough, and are going over the evidence. That's my hope.

The maid's testimony indicates there was a struggle loud enough to be heard in another unit. That goes to motive... someone wreaking vengeance on a rival; not burglars interrupted. The maid's timeline has been lowered by 1.5 hrs over the years, so her timeline is suspect. Her recollection of a struggle and someone driving away in the BMW are the only constants and they are VIVID.

The neighbor's testimony about seeing the garage door open in the AM is sad, because it's all Overland has. It's fuzzy and indistinct, but it's all he has. I don't recall her saying then or now that she was certain Sherri's BMW was gone or that she was certain she could peg the time, but only time is important because the STRUGGLE and the CAR LEAVING are the maid's solid memories.

We have two women without a motive who have a slight TIME discrepancy and because of that, a CAR discrepancy.

The neighbor said she saw the garage door in an open mode in the AM and no car, while the maid said she heard a struggle in the LATE AM and then saw or heard the CAR drive away. To me, that means the woman walking her dog saw the garage door open after the murder, because she has no independent way to reckon time after all these years, while the maid's recollection of the STRUGGLE and the CAR driving off are VIVID.

Which takes us to the house of smoke and mirrors. The CAR can't be GONE in the AM and then be driving away in the LATE AM AFTER A STRUGGLE unless we either have cheeky burglars or fuzzy memories of time. We know a murder was committed and the car was stolen, and it was probabLy in the AM BECAUSE SHE DID NOT PICK UP THE PHONE... but nobody would steal the car in the AM then come back to kill Sherri in the LATE AM, then stack her valuables in the hallway only to leave the valuables and then drive away a second time...

That dismisses an early AM time frame for the open garage door and a late AM time frame for the STRUGGLE AND CAR LEAVING. Ruetten's first call to the condo might have interrupted the struggle and given Sherri a moment to break away.

Which means the maid is mistaken about how late it was, and the neighbor is mistaken about how early it was and the forty-five minute difference is lost in the haze of years past. The STRUGGLE and the CAR LEAVING are much more believable than a disinterested party's passing glance at a garage door.

And since Ruetten couldn't have driven Sherri's car away at 11am, because he has witnesses placing him at work all morning AND NONE OF HIS DNA IN THE BITE MARK NOR UNDER SHERRI'S NAILS, MO's witness eliminates Ruetten and points yet another finger at Lazarus.

Once he's out from behind the smoke and mirrors, MO can't explain how the car could be gone in the morning, only to return at 11am, nor how/why Ruetten could have/would have driven it away, then gotten back to the apt and then off to work etc etc. If there is a discrepancy in those two testimonies it causing the defense problems, not the prosecution.

And a the end of the day, Mo can't he explain the love lost, or the confrontation at Sherri's work... the DNA... the 'lost' pistol...the ammunition... the three days off... the physical ability to pull this off... a policeman's understanding of how to stage a crime scene and to cover one's tracks... and most importantly... the lack of an alibi...

And so we return to the original proposition. Where was Stephanie Lazarus on the day of the murder? the DNA says she was in unit 205. Since she has no alibi, no credit card receipts, checks written, neighbors walking their dog past HER HOME who saw her that morning...nothing else matters.

If all that is lost on the jury; if they have neglected a mountain of evidence and are focusing on a fuzzy recollection of an open garage door - which means nothing - I'm jumping off a bridge.

Anonymous said...

Well... God forbid they acquit SL. However I've found satisfaction with the thought that she's spent almost 3 years incarcerated already. Being in Jail at her age, for that long is going to forever change her life and not in a positive way.

Anonymous said...

NOOOOO Robert!!! Don't leave us!!! We need smart people like you in the world!!! :(

Anonymous said...

Even if she is acquitted, her life will never be the same. People will still view her as a murderer and the whispers will haunt her until the day she dies. She and her family would have to leave the country and start their lives over elsewhere in order to regain some level of normalcy. The dirty little secret is out, and there is no hiding it anymore. And even if she leaves the country, that secret will catch up to her sooner than later.

Sprocket said...

Let me see what questions I missed.

Anyone can wait in the courtroom. It's where I'm going to hear the three buzzes before anyone else.

It's more social out in the hall and the media doesn't have to worry about their cell phones going off or how noisy they talk.

Lazarus is held in the holding/jail area until there is something involving the jury.

Lazarus' sister Judy was someone I saw at the pretrial hearings. I didn't know she was her sister then when I started the "Players" listing.

If you were paying attention to the neighbor's testimony about the purse, then you know that who returned the purse, two Latino looking men, were not the regular gardener's of the complex.

Just because the jury has a question about jury instructions, I would not take that as being indicative that they are close to a verdict.

The read back does not mean they are deliberating. They received an instruction that said they are to continue deliberating until the testimony can be read back to them. Mr. Overland is out in the Santa Monica area. It would take him an hour to get back downtown to the courthouse.

Anonymous said...

Robert, I hope you are a DA somewhere because you are so great at explaining things!

4onahill said...

The gardners could not have killed case anyone is wondering...two men would have over powered Sherri ...and usually men don't is a woman thing...John said he went to the bank...i am sure the d.a. Checked his transaction at the bank...but i wonder if he tipped off Stephanie..i was at the trial for about 45 minutes and half of the jury was seriously Paying attention... And these were the older folks..the other half looked bored and were looking around not taking notes..i knew then that it very likely for Stephanie to be found not guilty..after oj and robert blake and casey anthony have lost trust in the judicial system...

Sprocket said...

I'm sorry I meant to say, just because the jurors have requested a read back does NOT mean they stop deliberating. They keep going.

Shannon from Seattle said...

If she is acquitted I am going off the bridge with our smart friend, Robert!

It does feel like they are chasing a red herring with what seems like their effort to settle on the time of death. Normally the coroner would review stage of death such as rigor mortus or dependent livitity to determine the time of death. I am curious as to why they seem to be relying on witnesses who heard noises or saw garage doors opened and a car missing to pinpointmwhen this occurred. The human body gives a lot of information.

Sherri has given us her killer. Please I hope the jury doesn't fall for the BS.

Sprocket said...

I do not understand why everyone is so worried about the jury asking to hear the testimony of these witnesses.

It is what it is.

It could be something as banal one juror disagreeing with another what they heard and they asked to have it read back so they could clear up their differences.

It might also be to just be sure about something within their own minds.

I think people are reading too much into this and that path can drive you a bit wacko.

Be patient. Have faith in the system that these jurors will work hard to reach a verdict.

Jayne Weiandt said...

I hope the jury doesn't get way layed in all the twists and turns in the testimony and circumstantial evidence. I can see how that could get confusing if it were not for the DNA of Stephanie Lazarus. You just can't explain that away or ignore it. You just don't get that kind of DNA result as an absolute. SL was careful and calculating about everything she did but she made one mistake .... she bit Sherri leaving robust DNA from her saliva on her arm! She got her revenge on Sherri and now she is trying her revenge on John but trying to confuse the jury that maybe he did it! Unbelieveable. She is guilty, the DNA proves it. I just hope the jury is smart enough to wade through all the other twists MO tried to bring in and look at the DNA and render a verdict of GUILTY! I pray the Lord will guide them.
Jayne E.

Jayne Weiandt said...

Just another thought that has been bugging me about the injuries to Sherri's wrist that is believe to be possibly consistent with a rope wound. I believe they would be more consistent with a handcuff. The partial autopsy report states one wrist had two linear lines and the other one with one. If you look at handcuffs the top cuff has metal which is hollow making two lines and the bottom is solid. If this was used that would be even more compelling that a police officer used this on Sherri and would have been easier to get her wrists bound in a quick method. Maybe the rope was used for her ankles or maybe not. I don't know if anyone ever looked at that possibilty, maybe they couldn't since there was no handcuffs at the scene. Something to think about ...
Jayne E.

4onahill said... are the best...thank you for being the missing television camera...i appreciate you very much..thanks for taking time and doing this for all of us...when i went to watch the trial i was looking at the front row for you..but i did not knOw what you looked like... John ruetten testified that he waited 15 minutes..did he mean he waited 15 minutes to call 911?...i would have called 911 immediately, as sOon as i saw sherri on the floor with wounds..i heard once that murderers cover the face of the person they kill because they don't want to be stared at..because of the bad thing they did...i think he liked the chase from stephanie...when i first started dating my husband his ex-wife was calling him and begging to return to her..when she called the home and told me ugly things, she would call him immediately and tell him what she told me..i think he got a kick out of two women being after him..when i moved in with him, i took off some days from work to unpack and he would call me a couple times of day to see how i was doing..i felt that he was concerned about his ex wife...i left him for 3 months because he was not over her yet..i felt that he needed to finish with her first..he would laugh when i told him what she said to me over the phone... I reported her to the police and the phone company and then the calls husband did not want to hurt his ex wife's ths day i feel he is not over her..john ruetten never got over stephanie...if stephAnie was the cause of he and sherri almost splitting up and stephanie threatening sherri at work, he never cared about sherri as much as he cared about stephanie...i think his sobbing is all an act..26 years later and in between being romantic with stephanie and remarrying, a person would not sob like that...he reminds me of the husbands that you see on dateline and 48 hours that cry uncontrollably at first and then are found guilty of murdering their wives...he should have wiretapped stephanie...

Anonymous said...

For those worried about Stephanie Lazarus being acquitted, I suggest a Google search for "Vernon Robinson, L.A. Times." You will find the LA Times articles on a trial that took place in October 1993 for a brutal murder that happened in October 1963. This trial was also held in the downtown Los Angeles criminal courts building.

At the time, the 30 year gap between the crime and trial was one of the longest on record.

This trial also had a respectable citizen (Vernon Robinson had been in charge of the maintenance crew at LAX) as the defendant. Many thought he would be acquitted. The evidence was 36 fingerprints at the murder scene.

The jury found Robinson guilty after seven hours of deliberation.

David In TN

Sprocket said...

Jane W:
IIRC, the coroner, Dr. Selser did not indicate there were any marks on Sherri's ankles at all. The partial autopsy report is on my Quick Links page. It lists all of Sherri's injuries. If there was anything that looked anything like a mark on her body, it would have been documented.

Thank you for sharing that you were able to witness John Ruetten testify. Did you see both days or only one day?

I went back and read the testimony I transcribed for Day 7, Part III, and Day 8, Part II, what I have for Ruetten's testimony. Please remember that my notes are not a verbatim transcript of the trial. There is a lot of testimony that I miss writing down.

It's my memory that Ruetten testified that he did not wait 15 minutes to call 911. He called 911 after he got himself composed. When I write my notes, I'm copying exactly what I have in my notebook.

However, I do have a memory of Ruetten testifying it took emergency responders about 15 minutes to get there after he called.

If you read the testimony of the first LAPD officer on the scene, (prosecution witness #3) he testified he arrived there at 6:15 PM. The Crime Scene Entry Log entered into evidence reflected that.

I respect your opinion as to how you feel Ruetten testified on the stand.

It's my opinion that Ruetten was genuinely sad and genuinely crying when reliving the memories of his murdered wife under questioning.

Are you familiar with the truth wizard, "Eyes For Lies" (EFL) and her web site? I've added a link to her web site on my listing of "PLACES SPROCKET LIKES TO GO.." Just scroll down the right side of the blog and you will see it. I've been reading her for several years now. Look around her site and read about her. She's been scientifically tested to be able to accurately detect lies, deception. She's not a psychic. Her skill has nothing to do with some non-physical ability. It's an ability to be able to read body language and facial micro-expressions. She was born with this ability. I recommend reading about what she does and how she teaches her readers to look for clues in deception.

Dr. Paul Ekman and Maureen O'Sullivan tested thousands of people to find those who have this naturally born ability. Ekman also teaches people how to read facial expressions, body language. Author Malcolm Gladwell, mentions quite a bit about Dr. Ekman and his research in his book Blink. It's another book I highly recommend.

One of the things I've learned from EFL is, when someone is expressing a genuine emotion (sadness, laughter, etc.) often times, we will intuitively connect with that emotion and feel it too; feel that emotion of sadness or joy.

In regards to your comment about murderer's covering their victim's face out of an inability to look at the person they killed.

I don't see Ruetten's testimony that he used a blanket or (the kitchen towel) to cover his wife's face as evidence that he might have been the one who killed her.

David in TN:
Always nice to have you weigh in with your observations about trials in Los Angeles David. Can't wait to read your coverage of the Christian-Newsom retrials over the coming months.

Jayne Weiandt said...

Thank you Sproket! I know you have a big day ahead of you today. We will be looking forward to your updates as you are able to get them to us. I cannot say enough of how appreciated you are and I admire you a great deal! You are an angel.
Jayne E.

Anonymous said...

Have a GREAT Day Sweet Sprocket ♥ You KNOW we are here waiting for your every post :) Your fan, Ilene

Kitten said...

I became fascinated with this after reading the Kindle single by Paul Alexander "Murdered". I haven't seen any mention of it here. Has anyone else read it? Thank you Sprocket for your excellent work. Hopefully we will hear a GUILTY verdict today.

Anonymous said...

Im tired of the prosecution crowing about the DNA. Nevermind it was stored in a tube with a pop-off top that anyone could open,in a torn open envelope with the tube sticking out, that was lost for a while.If you want me to convict someone based on physical evidence, having no eyewitnesses to place Lazarus at the victims building, the evidence should have been securely stored over the 26 years, and it clearly wasnt. I remember when I was a kid, wrestling around with my brother, he swung his forearm at me and hit me in the mouth, causing what looked like a bite mark on his arm, but he wasnt actually bitten.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 6:44 AM:

Supervising criminalist Dan Anderson testified about the tubes. He did not say they were "pop-off" tubes. They have screw on on tops. (If I would give an image, I would say much like a plastic soda bottle has a screw on top. You don't need tape to keep that cap on the bottle.)

It was not common or accepted practice or even procedure for criminalists to put tape on these screw caps. The fact that they screw closed is further indication they do not need tape on them.

DDA Presby addressed the controls in place over the Coroner's Office and access to the evidence room. I still have to write up my notes of his closing argument.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly...I think I too would cover the face of a dead person if there was something available to do so. It's kind of a "natural reaction" in my view. How scarey to be in a room with a dead person looking at you!!! I haven't seen the death photo's of Sherry, but for heaven's sake... the description is enough for ANYONE to cover from view! ESPECIALLY A LOVED ONE IN GRIEF!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ruetten supplied Lazarus with a key to the condo.That would explain why there was no forced entry.I cant visualize Lazarus kneeling down by the front door in a busy condo complex, with a set of lock picking tools,working on the lock, and nobody sees her. After all, shes not a Navy SEAL.

Susan said...

Why would jr give sl a key? There's no evidence to support such a scenario and frankly seems absurd. As far as lock-picking, I'd have to agree that is unlikely as lockpicking is actually very complicated & beyond the ability of anyone who hasn't trained extensively. Lots of la cops were carrying around lock picking kits at this time & no one knew how to use them. I know because I was one who spent 40 bucks for the kit & book but never used it!!
I think it is most likely the door was unlocked & believe that jr testified the front door wasn't regularly locked when someone was home.