Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: VERDICT!

EDITED for accuracy 3-9-12
UPDATED 10:40 PM


A verdict has been reached in the Stephanie Lazarus Murder case.

GUILTY OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER.

Stephanie is facing 27 years to life

2:01 PM
I rushed out to publish the verdict.

2:44 PM
There were some heavy hitters in the room, especially from the DA's office. Here's a short recap. (My good friend) Matthew McGough provided notes for me. (If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't know what happened directly after I left the courtroom to publish.) I had my laptop under my arm, ready to run out of the room to publish the verdict as soon as I heard it.

AT 1:40 PM Steve Cooley enters the courtroom and sits between, DDA James Garrison, and DDA Sergio Gonzalez. DDA Pat Dixon, was also there. The well of the court was filled with two rows of detectives and DDA's who worked on the case. The first row left to right in the well was Det. James Nuttall, (Van Nuys Homicide) Det. Dan Jaramillo, Det. Greg Stearns, DDA Rosa Alarcon (Who always looked so lovely. Today she had on an elegant black dress with a short jacket and white pearls. She was stunning. Sprocket.), Det. Rob Bub, Det. Marc Martinez (also Van Nuys Detectives). Judge Lance Ito was in the room sitting directly in front of the defendant's family.

There were nine uniformed Deputy Sheriff's present in the well and in the gallery.

1:45 PM Perry takes the bench and warns the gallery he won't tolerate outbursts of any kind.

Presby and Nunez stood for the jury. As we saw throughout the trial, the defendant and her counsel did not stand for the jurors.

As soon as the guilty verdict was read, Lazarus' husband quickly left the courtroom, along with several supporters. As soon as Stephanie's mother stood up, officers escorted her out.

Teresa Lane and Sherri's former roommate, Jayne Goldberg burst into tears as the verdict sinks in.

The jury exited the courtroom at 1:52 PM. Perry orders the probation report. Perry asks Overland if he wants Lazarus to be interviewed for the probation report, and Lazarus declines.

Sentencing is then set for May 4th, 2012, and Judge Perry states, "This matter is concluded." Perry steps down from the bench DA Steve Cooley makes eye contact with DDA Nunez and gives him a salute. Cooley's first handshakes are to Presby and Nunez. A moment later, Cooley shakes Jim Nuttall's hand and they speak for a time in front of the jury box. Rob Bub and Marc Martinez of Van Nuys Homicide unit were exchanging hand shakes with the RHD Detectives Jaramillo and Stearns.

At this time, all the media has left the courtroom, but Matt stays behind. Nunez comes over and shakes the hand of Nels Rasmussen. Nels was very emotional. He can't even speak. John Taylor shakes Nunez' hand and says, "Congratulations and thank you. Great job." Shannon Presby also comes over and embraces the Rasmussen family. JSID Department Head Sergio Gonzalez comes over to pay his respects to the Rasmussen family. Detective Jaramillo also came over and gave Nels a big hug.

This was emotional journey for everyone involved, including me. I've had the wonderful opportunity to meet some amazing people. A big thank you to Matt, who took these last notes since once I left, I was not allowed back into the packed courtroom.

May 4th, the day of sentencing will be Stephanie Lazarus' 52nd birthday.

6:30 PM
I'm finally home. It's been surreal day for me. I was humbled and honored to meet three of the Van Nuys Detectives (Nuttall, Bub, Martinez) who solved the case. Even though they had just worked all through the night on another murder case and hadn't slept since Tuesday, they made it down the the Criminal Court Building to hear the verdict read. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to meet the other member of the Van Nuys team, Detective Pete Barba, who I'm guessing was getting some much needed rest.

I still have a few more stories left to tell on this case. I've interviewed a few people who've contacted me, and I want to share with you what they've had to say about Stephanie Lazarus.

There was a very emotionally charged moment in the hallway before the verdict was read that Matthew and I experienced. Matthew and I were chatting with DDA Shannon Presby's wife (who I swear could pass as Marsha Cross' double) when Nels Rasmussen came up to the three of us and took Clara's hand. He wanted to convey his gratitude to her husband, through her, in case he wasn't able to speak to Presby after the verdict. Matthew described it best. Nels had difficulty getting the words out without choking up. His eyes welled up with tears. The electricity on the entire floor was apparent with all the people there anticipating hearing the verdict. Seeing Nels in such a state, Clara became teary eyed too. I had to look away before I too, became affected by the power of the moment.

I'm going to get a bit of dinner, and I will share some more of my thoughts later tonight. Sprocket.

9:18 PM
Here are two videos by the mainstream media.

FOX NEWS
and also NBC Patrick Healy

The FOX video has more of the reading of the verdict. In it you can see many of the players that I've talked about for the past month. DDA Shannon Presby is standing for the jurors on the left; DDA Nunez on the right. You can see that everyone at the defense table (Mark Overland, Lazarus, Courtney Overland, Randal "Randy" Later) did not stand for the jurors. In the very beginning of the tape for a few moments you can see those sitting right behind the prosecutors from left to right are Detectives Nuttall, Jaramillo and Stearns. Next to Stearns is DDA Rosa Alarcon. (Unfortunately, you can't see Nuttall's lovely tie in the video.)

In the NBC video, for a brief moment you can see Rasmussen's family to the far left of the video. Sherri's parents, Nels and Loretta are far left of their attorney John Taylor who is speaking to the media. Directly behind Taylor is John Ruetten. Next to Ruetten peeking over Taylor's shoulder is Teresa, Sherri's sister. On the other side of Taylor behind him, is Jayne Goldberg, Sherri's former roommate. Right next to Taylor is legendary Associated Press reporter, Linda Deutsch. Off to the far right is on air KFI reporter Eric Leonard. In the foreground with her back to you in the pink blouse, is Pat LaLama.

During the press conference by Mark Overland, you can see Steven Lazarus who has stood by his sister, in the background.

There are moments in the video where Lazarus does look over at the jurors. For those brief seconds, you can see that she is much thinner, almost gaunt. She does not have any of the wild-eyed look that was published so heavily in the press right after her arrest.

After I had heard the three buzzes signaling a verdict I rushed out to the ante chamber to publish. I was so nervous I had Matthew McGough hold my laptop for me so I could type standing. I didn't want to go out into the hallway. Once the realization settled in that a verdict had been reached, I started getting that same nervous energy that I had experienced before during the second Spector trial and the James Fayed case: a feeling of heightened awareness of my surrounings and a sense that my whole nervous system was on edge. The electricity in the air was already building.

I was on pins and needles when I sat down to lunch with Matthew when who of all people sit down with us, was none other than Detective James Nuttall. After the verdict, he gave T&T readers a quote: "Better to be lucky than good." There was no "luck" to it in my book. It was damn fine police work. The Van Nuys detectives worked tirelessly for four months, making sure they had every possible loose end tied up before they handed the case to Robbery/Homicide.

Matthew and I attended the DA's press conference, where (I was disappointed to hear) James Nuttall's name only mentioned once at the beginning. We then dropped in on John Taylor's press conference. We got to speak to Jaramillo and Stearns for a few moments after that where we heard that Chief Beck would be giving a separate press conference in front of the new LAPD building. (It was later cancelled.) While Matt was talking to them, I saw Detective Stearns break into a smile for the first time and I said, surprised, "I finally get to see you smile!" Stearns has such an expressive face. Stearns replied, "I never smile in the courtroom."

Waiting out in front of the LAPD, Matthew and I spot Dateline NBC's Josh Mankiewicz. I sit down on a bench, my feet and back finally giving out. Matthew goes over to introduce himself and Mankiewicz says he's read Matthew's article in The Atlantic. Before I can stop him, Matthew is telling Mankiewicz who I am and I get introduced. Imagine my shock when Josh says to me that he's read T&T. Who would have ever thought that the mainstream prime time network media would be reading the trial coverage of a shy, semi-retired, middle aged housewife. I still can't believe it myself.

10:40 PM
The sentence is set by law. It's written into the California Penal Code 187. From my understanding, Judge Perry does not have any leeway regarding the sentence. She will receive 25 years to life for the for the first degree murder conviction and an additional two years for the gun enhancement charge. Lazarus will be sentenced under the Penal Code that was in effect in 1986, when the murder occurred. If Lazarus had committed this crime in 2012, she would have been facing a much stiffer sentence.

I will still be sharing with you the final day of closing arguments within the next few days. Sprocket.

94 comments:

Shannon from Seattle said...

WOW!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you for all you do. I love this blog...just never comment. I hope you know you've got many followers who just love to read.

Mari

Shannon from Seattle said...

By the way, you beat all the news organizations. No one else has posted anything yet!

Sprocket, you are awesome!

Anonymous said...

You scooped everybody!

David In TN

Maddie said...

Looking forward to your reporting on what everyone's reactions were -- particularly the defendant's.

Thank you!

Theresa M said...

thank you! wow!

Starbright said...

Justice is served. Thank you so much Sprocket for your hard work. Will continue to follow you in the next one.

Starbright

Theresa M said...

Tell us about Stephanie and the families?

Anonymous said...

Amen. I did not want Robert to jump off the bridge, he is way too smart for that. Robert, please tell us what you do for a living. Sprocket, you are the best. Your website gave the verdict before the news media. YOU ROCK.

Kitten said...

Wow! Justice was a long time in coming but so relieved the jury did the right thing. A terrible day for all the families. Thinking of Sherri's parents and wishing them peace.

Anonymous said...

Guilty of first degree murder by a LA jury. They were paying attention.

My faith in the legal system is restored.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear that she's guilty !! She's not above the law !! Great blogs , keep up the good work...

Maddie said...

By the way, I find it incredible that we can read the news here first, as opposed to the "big" news agencies! So grateful for that....

Does this mean she'll be stripped of her pension? I think it's unbelievable that she would still be entitled to that.

Shannon from Seattle said...

And Robert, I guess we are going to have to just go for a swim instead of jumping off a bridge! The verdict was just. It won't bring Sherri back or end the suffering for her loved ones, but it does bring some semblance of peace.

I am very sorry for Stephanie Lazarus' husband and their child. They are victims too.

Marcie said...

Thanks for publishing the verdict so quickly ... I was watching your blog and other media sites ... yours was up first! Nice coup!

Jane from PA said...

Thank you for all your excellent blogging. Thank you to the jurors for finding her guilty.
I am happy for the Rasmussens, though this will not take the pain of their loss away.

I was a friend of Sherri's when I lived in LA. I was at the condo many times and felt I could see the crime happening as Sprocket described it. It is surreal.

Thanks again Sprocket. I will be hitting the donate button because you have been invaluable to me through this all.

joe said...

Glad to see justice finally for Sherri and her family, also feel sad for Lazarus family and her husband and daughter,

thank you once again for your hard work in reporting on trials

Anonymous said...

Thank you for covering this and thank you universe for some justice for Sherri family and friends. You did a great job here sprocket..WOW still reeling here!

Anonymous said...

Amazaing the jury got it right....

Anonymous said...

If the defense had just stipulated, yes, she was there, it would have kicked the legs out from under 3/4ths of the prosecutions case, which was all aimed at putting Lazarus in the condo. Then the defense could have concentrated on explaining how and why the fight between the two women happended and hopefully held the charge down to voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.The way the defense presented the case just made Lazarus look like a liar. Lazarus could have retained credibility with the jury by admitting, "yes, I was there, but I can explain what happened".

Crickit said...

I agree whole heartily agree with this Guilty verdict! I know this does not bring Sherri back to her family but I hope at least in this instance, they FINALLY feel like justice has been served!

Thanks Sproket for all you have done!! You are AWESOME!

Tammy said...

Will the jury names be released as public information?

Tammy said...

Will the juror's name be release as public information?

Anonymous said...

Finally, a jury got it right! DNA evidence is hard to disprove! I am elated for the Rasmussen family as they have waiting along time for justice for Sherry! Also, congrats to the prosecution team and detectives,who sought justice dogged and determined! Thanks Sprocket for keeping us all in the courtroom throughout the trial! Get some rest, because you've earned it!

Anonymous said...

WOW from Denver too!! I have been holding my breath cause after the Casey Anthony show I am leary of what the jury will come back with no matter what the evidence is. Thank you for letting us be there thru your eyes.

Robert said...

Justice was served. The Rasmussens can finally get a night's sleep, and Sherri can finally rest in peace.

Kudos to the judge who performed magnificently and to the cold case officers and the DDA's. This was not an easy one for obvious reasons, but they did their jobs.

Well done, Sprocket. Get some rest.

Anonymous said...

So glad for Rasmussen's family. Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for all of your work on this trial. As a friend of the Rasmussen family, I was pleased to be able to follow along and am so relieved with the verdict. The jury reached the right decision. The system works!
GH, Tucson

Anonymous said...

Once again you have done a stupendous job. I feel as though I was there. From the hearings, opening statements, testimony, closings and now the verdict. After reading you, I googled to see if anyone else had the verdict. No. Only you. The closest in time-line was "1 hour ago" listed. Thank you for your time and as always your great writing. Rest well before your next trial coverage. LOL

Anonymous said...

How did Stephanie react when the verdict was read? Also how about her family members?

Catherine Schofield Sezgin said...

Great coverage -- the ARCA Blog (art crime blog for the Association for Research into Crimes against Art) featured your blog -- great work on the coverage of the trial!

Maddie said...

I almost forgot -- a huge THANK YOU to the jury.

Anonymous said...

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! My faith in Justice has been resumed :) THANK YOU SPROCKET!!!! WE ♥ YOU!!!!

Anonymous said...

THANKING GOD! Finally, the Rasmussen family has some peace, knowing the MURDERER of their daughter is where she needs to be. I bawled as I read the verdict. In our relief for the Rasmussen family, we must not neglect prayer for SL's family. They, now, will have to live with loss. Thank you Sprocket, for your excellent coverage of this trial. God bless you...

Unknown said...

Thank you Sprocket! Justice at last!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sprocket. I so much appreciate what you do. Thank you for your incredible patience and your good, unbiased writing.
I am sorry for Ms Lazarus's family and friends, but not so much for her. She has been living on borrowed time. Congrats to the DA for a good, clear case.
But mostly congrats to you Sprocket, for doing what you said you would do, and doing it so well.
Best,
Wise Latina

Anonymous said...

I just saw local news film of Stephanie as the verdict was read. Very stoic....no tears that I could see.....no exclamations or swaying. The whole defense table looked like they were expecting it. I look forwrd to reading Sprocket's first hand report.

SeniorMoments

Anonymous said...

Sentencing scheduled for May 4? Isn't that SL's birthday?

Anonymous said...

I can't WAIT to hear the reaction in the courtroom when the Verdict was read!!! I read that SL just stood there emotionless with her hands clasped in front of her. SHE KNEW SHE WAS GUILTY!!!!! I'm just SO relieved!!! Like I said from the beginning ~ it was a "slam dunk" :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Sprocket,

Where will you take us next? Honestly, checking in with you is a delightful habit now!

LC, California

Anonymous said...

She took the life of someone's daughter. Now she will pay by forever
being separated from her own daughter. Could there be any worse punishment? My heart aches for her daughter and her mother. I hope she thinks every day of the price they will pay forever.

Anonymous said...

sentencing is May 4? isn't that her birthday?

anonymous said...

Who from Steohanie's family was present for the verdict? The LA Times said her mother was escorted out but didn't say a thing about her husband. The article also said she was emotionless. I think the verdict was just but still feel very sad for her family. I am sure they were blindsided and this puts her husband in a very hard situation.

Anonymous said...

She's had 26 more years of freedom than Sherri had.

Anonymous said...

Sprocket YOU ROCK!! Thank you for all of your hard work and effort, I also want to thank the bloggers for all of their comments. I am so relieved that justice has been served, I feel so much for Sherri's family, and also for the family that SL has been lying to for 26 years..When the lights are out and SL is laying there by herself with no noise, no light, just the sound of her breath, i wonder if she has ever secretly asked God for forgiveness. Hopefully she will have a lifetime with no possibility of parole to think of this, and realize all the pain she has caused to so many people...

Anonymous said...

This has been a riveting case. THANK YOU, SPROCKET, FOR YOUR REMARKABLE COVERAGE!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I can't find the local TV news showing the reading of the Verdict. Who is carrying it? I thought I read that NBC had exclusive to it... but can't find it.

debbiescalisi said...

Sprocket, I was running between the computer in the bedroom and Channel 5 KTLA News in the living room, as they announced it seconds after you...NBC did not have anything as I had thought they were given coverage. Regardless, we will have to see which TV stations got an inside peak? Your notes were fabulous. I have been thinking all morning about how SL possibly knew SR was alone that Monday morning when she should have been at work? My feeling is that SL had been stalking the Ruetten condo for long time getting a jump of their schedules and because SR was a nurse, possibly was home alone during the day if she worked some nights? That particular Monday she caught SR at home alone, picking the lock. Anonymous at 2:06 on 3/8, in due respect, is way off. SL was not there to visit with SR and discuss their mutual relationship with JR (there was NO mutual relationship). I believe this killing was planned for some time as she had told SR she would be there for John when the marriage "went to pieces." I guess we won't ever know the whole crazy story in SL's mind. I don't think she ever in a million years thought she would be caught and then to be arrested 23 years later, Thank You DNA. Scott Young will probably divorce her and just have to move on with his life. Their adopted daughter is probably by now almost a teenager and will have the opportunity to find her biological mother in the near future. That may sound far-fetched, but honestly how can a teenage girl go visit her adopted mother in prison? Someone else pointed out that Sherri's parents lost their daughter and now SL is losing her's.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your superlative, timely on scene reports!

Wonder if she's headed for Chowchilla or Fontana?

Anonymous said...

Sprocket, you are awesome!! Thank you for all your hard work!! Please be sure to shake your husband's hand for me and kiss the cat (chuckle)! You should be so proud of yourself; I think you're the next Ann Rule!!

JUSTICE FOR SHERRI!!! AMEN!!! Woo-hoo!!!

Anonymous said...

Karma is a b****!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is right, what if the defense had admitted Lazarus WAS in the condo? They might have argued temporary insanity. Instead they gambled -- and lost.

I'm sorry for everyone in this case. Everyone has lost something: either a loved one, a spouse, a daughter, a sister, a friend, or the time spent working on this case. Lazarus' daughter has lost a mother.
Sherri lost the most: her life.

Lazarus had 26 years to try and forget what she did. There is no hiding now.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please post the link to where you can watch a video of the verdict being read? Still can't believe that Stephanie was really emotionless...

Also, love you sprocket!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am elated that the jury saw the obvious. The Rasmussen family now have closure and I hope they will have some much deserved peace. My hugs and tears go out to them all, my dear friend Teresa especially!

Thank you Sprocket for your fabulous coverage. Bravo!

LH, Lodi

Utah Chris said...

So... the chickens came home to roost for SL. Finally!!

Charlie N. said...

a delightfully just verdict for a change,kudo's to cold case detective's who figured out who murdered an innocent woman out of jealousy. Thanks Sprocket for your hard work bringing us the trial thru your blog.

Francaise said...

I can not imagine leaving my children behind, that is why I feel sorry for her. The conclusion I personnally get out this is nobody is worthy for me to fight for. I always tell my husband if one day he decide to go with another woman, I will not pursue or fight for him because my children are my first love, they deserve all my love and attention before anybody esle whether boyfriend or husband. He does like when I sais that but that is my conviction. Nobody deserves for you to go to jail for or even lose life for.

I really feel sad for her, her child, husband, mother and the rest of her familly.

And Sherri was a beautiful person that was loved by familly, husband and friends.

No matter how you turn the pancake, it is still brown, it is still sad day for every one invold

I hope they all find some peace with life going on.

I play for them all.

Francaise.

Robert said...

To Anonymous...

I'm just a guy who lost his sister in much the same way the Rasmussen's lost their daughter, but to a cop who was a hell of a lot better at covering his tracks. And when I heard about the case I had to go down there and see SL for myself, and I had to see it to the end. And i did.

I did everything in my power to listen, then paint a clear picture, in the hopes if the prosecutors had any doubts or misconceptions, they would see it all clearly and present it in a way the jury could understand. I wanted to stop the Michael Jackson-Robert Blake-Casey Anthony madness of our times. I wanted to help well meaning people frame their arguments as well as they possibly could be framed, and to settle their thoughts on the real issues at hand... I wanted to be a persistent pain the system's arse and not allow that poor girl to get buried a second time.

SL's DNA was in that condo, and there's no explanation for how it got there unless a half dozen locks got picked by a half dozen Jason Bournes. And if you want to believe that, then where was SL on the day of the murder? MO had three years, and he came up with nothing. Nothing.

I can't do anything about my sister, it was too neat and tidy... but something stuck in my throat when I read about Lazarus and I needed to see it to the end. I might not have helped the DA form his questions or his arguments in any way, but I refused to sit idly by and do nothing. In the end, I did what I did for a sweet girl who is laying cold in San Fernando cemetery and whose blood still cries from the ground...

It was the least a brother could do.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dilís, May her faithful soul be at the right hand of God.

Annette Hindman said...

My faith in the Justice System is restored. This is a bittersweet verdict for the Rasmussen family and those of us who are friends of theirs. My prayers go out to them still. This had to be very hard. I also feel for SL's family as they now have a loss. I must admit that I am glad to see her get what she deserves. It has been along time coming. You did such a good job Sprockett, I will keep following your blog. Now go get some rest.
Dr and Mrs Rasmussen, Connie and Theresa, we love you and hope this brings some peace to you. God is Good!!

Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine JR's feelings at this time. Relief at the verdict, but also
shame & regret when he remembers he was intimate with SL both after his engagement to SR & after her murder. Especially if he initiated the 1989 contact.

TS said...

Stephanie's husband, mother, brother and I think a couple cousins (?) were present. Her husband was the first one out of the courtroom; the other family members (apart from her brother) came out next escorted by deputies. They were all quickly taken out of the building. Her brother came out of the courtroom much later and was at the press conference given by Mark Overland; however I did not see Steven interviewed by anyone. The jurors must have been taken out of the building by a separate exit.

Diane said...

Yes, SCOOPED everyone. Great job and THANK YOU. I really don't know why this case didn't get more press. TO ME, big friggin deal.

Well, we've got YOU!
Diane
Lacey, WA

Montana Kris said...

Well Done LA Jury! This verdict is very just + hopefully allows Sherri's family/friends to grieve + validate some feelings they were denied when initial investihayors shut them down. After watching SL's demeanor during verdict delivery she was livid, not shocked or sad. SL knows what she did, yet doesn't believe she's guilty. SL still blames victim. It's sad she will not her horrific act even to her own family for their healing. Victim impact statements are for
victims + their "post traumatic growth". My prayers are w/Sherri's family + victims of SL's family too. Great coverage Sprocket! Let us know if cameras will cover SL's sentencing day May 4rth. I'll be far away doing something fun as May 4rth is my B-Day too. So, be checking in. Smiles...

TS said...

A comment earlier in the blog about the current age of SL's daughter...I heard it mentioned she is now 5 and that SL has not seen her since she has been in jail.

debbiescalisi said...

To Robert at 5:03pm on 3/8 (today): I guess that is why Shannon from Seattle, myself and a lot of others have LOVED your inputs because you have lived it, been there, done that. I am so sorry about your sister. When I picked up that LA Times off the dining room table back in June 2009and saw SL's photo, a chill went down my back. I read the stories and it was like a flashback because I was newly married like Sherri a year before and I know what that first year (or in her case, months) are like and it is bissful, different, loving, sometimes more stressful, more loving and all around a whole new world, etc. We've all had romantic liasions creep into the picture when dating "the one" and I when you become engaged some of those old romantic liasions raise their ugly heads. That is what happened to John & Sherri. For those of us that survived that "crap", we look back and laugh. And for the ladies out there that had some broken hearts 25 or more years ago, they probably would be lucky to remember the guys' first & last names as they have moved on in life. Which reminds me, in SL's video interrogation, she sure did not forget John's name. We don't have to worry about her winning any Academy Awards because she did not pull off her guilty feelings....it was so stammered for a seasoned police officer. Thank You LA DDA's Nunez and Presby, and all the detectives who did their homework for putting this to rest. This was a CRAZY 25 year old love-sick female who had the professional and physical background to pull this off. This was not your normal 25 year old love-struck woman. RIP Sherri and blessing to JR and Sherri's parents. I can only pray now for Scott Young and his adopted daughter to move on with their lives without Stephanie.

Anonymous said...

It is appalling that the police department let SL retire while in custody awaiting trial. What a slap in the face to all the hard working city employees who's pensions and benefits are being threatened daily. If SL was a civilian employee of the police department would she have been allowed to retire? I think not. But I guess there are different rules for police officers.

Don said...

Here is the link to the actual video of the verdict if anyone is interested .....

http://www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/local/breaking-news-stephanie-lazarus-found-guilty-20120308

Grainne Dhu said...

My own theory of the crime is that Stephanie Lazarus broke into the Ruetten/Rasmussen condo that day not expecting to find Sherri present.

Even though it wasn't introduced at trial, Sherri told her father that Stephanie Lazarus had done so once before. Personally, I suspect Stephanie Lazarus had done it several times, prowling through it obsessively. And that is how she knew where to look for the marriage license; she already knew where it was supposed to be.

On the day of the murder, Stephanie Lazarus broke into the condo as usual and was horrified when she realised she was not alone this time.

I think she made a cold blooded decision to kill Sherri to eliminate Sherri as a witness to her B&E. The decision was made easier by Stephanie Lazarus's obsessive envy of Sherri.

I think Stephanie Lazarus had rationalised the whole thing by blaming Sherri herself and John Ruetten for the murder.

Sadly, as I recall, Stephanie Lazarus's daughter is only about 7 years old now. Very, very young. Poor child.

Anonymous said...

Here's video of the verdict...

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Verdict-Reached-in-Murder-Case-Against-Ex-LAPD-Detective-Lazarus-141948153.html

CaliGirl9 said...

She will be processed at California Institute for Women (Corona) and I would not be surprised if she stays there; although CIW is primarily level I through III inmates, it's probably better set up for the protective housing needs of a former cop. Based on the crime Lazarus is likely a level III/IV.
Chowchilla's a really rough place. The girls there aren't very nice, though most every prison does have a protective housing unit, why take up a space for a rough non-compliant/non-programming inmate? The state of California has lots of those! I suspect Lazarus will program just fine ... she and the surviving Manson girls could be roomies!

Shannon from Seattle said...

I got married on December 21, 1985. I started my married life to a wonderful man only a few weeks after John and Sherri. I guess in that sense I've identified with all of their lost years. My husband and I have raised 3 kids, survived cancer, and severe postoperative complications that nearly took my husband's life.

I feel blessed for each day together, and I feel deeply saddened for all that John and Sherri were deprived of all those years ago.

I am happy for the verdict, but there is a lingering sadness for Sherri's family. I hope they can begin to heal and that they realize there is a community of support for them.

Sprocket said...

I'm thinking T&T's new additional byline might be:

"Scooping the mainstream media, one trial at a time."

Anonymous said...

Don, thanks so much for posting the link to the verdict. The courtroom was just as I had imagined it with the help of Sprocket's great descriptions and the terrific artwork of Thomas Broersma. I frankly was surprised at Lazarus' reaction.

The news media reported that she had no reaction, but if you watch the video carefully, her hands drop slightly and she is gulping back her tears. She also has a look of pure hatred and distain for the jurors. I guess I can say now that I have seen the anger the prosecutors spoke of during the trial. It's a good thing she did not have a weapon with her!

Anonymous said...

Sprocket, please put a chip in link on your page or something. Many of us would like to recognize your efforts in this case. Don't your kitties need some new toys or treats?

I understand the spirit of your blog, but everyone is entitled to earned compensation.

Please consider......Your writing smokes ALL the competition!!!

Natalie said...

Yes! I love the tag line, sprocket! You are the best!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I suppose SL didn't have the scarey wide eyed look as previously published, however she DID have a guilty eyed look. Her whole demeanor screamed guilty to me. I feel justice has been served. Thank you so much Sprocket. Thank you for everything!

Anonymous said...

Excuse my ignorance but who decides the sentence?

Personally, seems to me if you add only the 26 years SL literally got away with murder, and the 60+ years Sherri should have continued to live on... Life is the only reasonable sentence.

Sprocket, so many wish to financially contribute... a small token of our sincere appreciation, give us a way to do so, won't you? I'd certainly LOVE to support your "Scooping the mainstream media" !!!!!

LC

Shannon from Seattle said...

So that is 27 years minus the time served -- 24 years? Will she get credit or will the time be reduced for good behavior etc? It seems like killers rarely serve even half their sentences.

Larry L. said...

Sprocket,

I would be remiss if I didn't add my name to all those who expressed appreciation for all the energetic efforts you put in on the reporting of this trial. If it were not for you, all your readers would have been totally in the dark as to what was going on in this case and the day-to-day progress of the pre-trial hearings and trial itself. You have contributed an invaluable community service. I want to express to you my personal thanks for an excellent job all around.

Now it's time for you to get some needed and well-earned rest and to do something nice for yourself and Mr. Sprocket, as well as "the 'real' Sprocket".

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sprocket!

I love your new byline!! Excellent! I also hope Dateline, 48 Hours, The First 48, etc., decide to hire you as a consultant!! That would be excellent and very lucrative - a much deserving reward for your hard work!!! If you need your readers to sign a petition on behalf of you for that role, let us know!! : )

Anonymous said...

Twenty-five years to life (well 27 with the gun charge)means that she has to serve at least 27 years before being eligible for parole, is this correct? I just need a little clarity. Thanks, Sprocket!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Sprocket!

You're the Ann Rule of the blog world! You go, girl! You'll have to get over being shy though, because sooner rather than later, people are going to want to interview you!! : )

Montana Kris said...

Hello from Big Sky Glacier Country!
A couple things: SL had a pattern of stalking Sherri, including going to their condo + threatening her @hospital. My theory is SL likely called Glendale Adventist to+determined Sherri was not @work. (most RN Dir work days+Sherri had called in "sick" that am due to straining her lumbar back during an aerobic class over wknd). SL would not have known this info. Sherri's vicious beating + hands being bound + just one desk drawer pulled out suggests SL beat the info re marriage license out of her. Sherri was pistol whipped+ why bring a back-up gun to a
simple B/E? As Sherri's friend, Jayne Goldberg said: how "symbolic" to steal only a marriage license+BMW, engagement gift from John, drive it 2mi+ leave keys in it! Have so enjoyed the "forum" that Sprocket provides us. Being adopted as an older child thru LA Cnty DFS in the 70's I wanted info regardless of where the journey went. Yet, ur parents are who raise you + it's very sad SL's actions have put her daughter @risk. SL's husband leaving
courtroom after verdict so fast was hopefully to be w/their daughter b4 media blitz + protect her. Yet we didn't see an embrace or comfort btwn SL/SY. My guess is he knows who he is married. Re SL's LAPD pension, as a "recovering attny", those funds could be used for her daughter; estab Sec 529 college savings plan, life ins, ect.
Also, the retainer req by most priv prac JD's is btwn
350+500k; yes even up here in NW MT! Those of you contributing in this forum that know Sherri's family, please fwd my prayers + wellness for contd fortitude/strength. Debbiescalisa like ur insights as well. We should talk. Robert, I lost a sister to suicide @age 14. Not same scenario, yet my heart goes out to you. Send me some
warm ocean salty air in the 70's...don't get down to LA/OC as much these days. Smiles + snowballs...kris

Summer said...

Sprocket,

Thank you so much for your excellent coverage throughout this trial and for scooping the verdict for us all--and still having a buddy take notes for T&T readers so you could give us some color commentary after the verdict. You're quite the reporter!
I am also glad to hear you'll still be transcribing the last day of closings for us, as even though the case has been decided, I would still love to hear Presby bring it home.
If you have a chance, will you also tell us a little about yesterday before the verdict came in? I am particularly interested in the reading back of testimony (did that happen in the jury room?) and the jury instruction question they had. It's been said the question was whether or not they were able to convict of 2nd degree murder. If that's accurate, it's a bit surprising they were able to come to a 1st degree conviction so quickly after that. Your thoughts?
I agree wholeheartedly with the verdict, but I don't feel much like celebrating. There are no winners here and I can't help but feel terrible for SL's husband and daughter and the consequences they know suffer for the decision she made so long ago.
Rest up and enjoy some down time, Sprocket. We appreciate you!

Shannon from Seattle said...

I read where Luis Patino of the CA Board of Prison Terms said Lararus will be eligible for parole in 16 years and 8 months.

Anonymous said...

You are the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

The defense erred by not admitting what was obvious to everyone, that Lazarus was in the condo on the day in question, and by not putting Lazarus on the stand to testify in her own behalf.This is an experienced police officer who has testified hundreds of times in court.You are being accused of the most serious of crimes, and you are just going to sit there and let the state beat up on you?Lazarus should have looked the jurors in their eyes and told them in a loud and clear voice, factually,her version of what happened. Instead, she just sits there, while the States Attorney puts expert witness after expert witness on the stand to make her look like a liar about being in the condo. All that DNA testimony about "one in ten billion" etc. would have never been necessary if the defense had just stipulated, "Yes, Lazarus went to the condo that day to talk with Sherri about her relationship with John, and a fight broke out.."Then put Lazarus on the stand to explain what happended.I dont believe Lazarus went to the condo that day with the intent to shoot the victim with her own gun. A cop who works the street everyday can easily take a gun off gang members or drug dealers if they were planning such a crime. Why would Lazarus have said to herself,"Im going to the condo and kill Sherri with my own gun" when other, untraceable guns were avialable. Probably the fatal fight was spontaneous and unplanned, but we'll never know because Lazarus didnt take the stand.

Arlene said...

From Arlene in Montana. Justice has been partially served for which we are grateful, but there is still more to this story for the cover up for so many years.


Also SL needs to admit her murder. If there is a pension for SL it should be for her daughter and husbands only. She deserved the death sentence because that is what Sherri received by Sl's hand.

Thank you for reporting so we could follow what was happening as we prayed for conviction. Now we pray for healing in the hearts of her parents and sisters and families.

Mort Snerd said...

Thank you for your attention to detail and your coverage of this trial. I appreciate it!

Utah Chris said...

Thanks Sprocket -

Has there been any discussion of the case convictions SL has completed since the time of the murder and possibly jeopardizing her testimony due to the obvious character defect since identified?

I'm sure every convict put away by her is happy to see her past testimony put into a negative light and possibly opening an appeal door for their convictions. What do you think?

Also, I think another Q&A session this weekend after you get a good nights rest would be worthwhile for us lifers so we can hear your last perspectives on this case before you move on to the next case.

Once again, thanks from your followers here in Utah.

Anonymous said...

Lazarus:What the heck have you been doing in your jail cell for the last three years? Talk about having time to prep for questioning at the trial.And you just sit there in silence.Dont give me that about "the state as the burden of proof". These people are trying to lock you up for the rest of your life and you personally should have put up more of a fight.You should have taken the stand and given first person testimony about what happended.Then the state would be forced into the role of speculating, with third party testimony. Overlands defense was just grasping at straws in the wind.Overland doesnt have to do the time, you do.People arent stupid. Just admit what is obvious and tell the truth. You could have gotten a much lesser sentence for manslaughter.

TS said...

Dateline will be covering this story tonight (Friday, March 9) at 10:00 p.m., Channel 4 (PST).

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Anon at 8:33 a.m. Steph's defense was lousy. If the sentence for first degree in 1986 was only 25 years to life, then I bet manslaughter would be 15ish. Since she will be up for parole in 16 years, imagine how much sooner she could have gotten out with manslaughter. (But then again, when you go before a parole board, you have to show remorse, so really, she'll probably die in prison.)

To argue with a straight face that you weren't at Sherri's condo when your DNA and fingernails were at the scene just seems idiotic. A 25+ year detective should have known that. Of course, the problem was the interrogation, where she said she had never fought sherri and never been at her condo. Still, she would have been better off taking a plea or admitting she was there. Denying it, with so much evidence to the contrary, was just a horrible defense strategy.

Sprocket, please have another Q&A. I still have so many questions about the last couple of days.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 6:50 AM:

I consider myself media, but not mainstream media. I think there's a noticeable difference in what I do and what the MSM does.