Wednesday, March 7, 2012
UPDATED 6:40 PM
Judge Robert J. Perry
© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT yahoo.com
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.
We are waiting on a juror, #7. Possibly a traffic problem.
The juror was brought up to the courtroom through one of the employee elevators. They've started deliberating at 9:35 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.
Buzz! It's most likely the jurors are taking a break.
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.
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.
Jurors broke for lunch. They'll resume at 1:30 PM.
BUZZ!! The jurors are back to deliberating for the afternoon session.
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.
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!"
BUZZ! BUZZ! The jurors have another question. As soon as I know, I'll post.
The jurors have a question on a jury instruction.
3:16 PM It's DEFENSE WITNESS #1, PROSECUTION WITNESS #4.
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.
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.
UPDATED 6:40 PM
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.