Friday, March 9, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Verdict Aftermath

3-7-2012 A Jealous Killer, © Thomas Broersma
thomasbroersma AT


Verdict Aftermath

In the wake of this tragic case that has had so many victims beyond Sherri Rasmussen, I'm reminded of the words that I heard family counsel John Taylor say after the verdict in the Phil Spector trial was reached: "There are no winners here."

That is even more true today with the conviction of Stephanie Lazarus. Although I have not spoken to anyone directly, it's my personal belief that Lazarus' family still believes strongly in her innocence. I suspect everyone in Lazarus' family who loves Stephanie are devastated by the jury's decision. Her mother Carol, who was at every single pretrial hearing that I attended. Her siblings, Steven and Judi, her in-laws and many close friends who stopped their lives to attend every day of the month long trial. And her husband Scott Young, an LAPD detective assigned to the Van Nuys Station who blew kisses to Lazarus after her former lover testified. I can't imagine how he can return to work. It must have been an awkward, stressful situation everyone was under at the Van Nuys Station since Lazarus was arrested in June 2009. And then there's Lazarus' and Young's five-year-old daughter (believed to be adopted from Russia), who hasn't seen her mother since the arrest.

Throughout the trial, I had several discussions with Matthew about what Lazarus' loved ones must be going through and how much this trial must be costing them, not just on a financial level (sources tell me it was a significant amount of money that Overland was paid) but a personal one as well. Independently, we both came to the same conclusion that the only way to report this story was to show compassion to everyone involved.

When a verdict is reached and a long trial is finally over, there is a void that quickly rushes in. For those of us in the gallery whose faces we saw every day and bonded over an emotionally charged experience, it's a bit like being lost as we struggle to return to a life we temporarily left behind. Artist Thomas Broersma who missed the verdict described the feeling well in an E-mail to me late last night:

I feel really sad about not being a part of this anymore, as if I lost a loved one. It's kind of tragic how wrapped up you can become with this kind of experience, the connections you make with all the people who go there and share the same setting, live through the same event, feel the intensity of the proceedings, and then it's over in a flash. Gone. But, I know I will be doing this for a long time.

I do hope Thomas continues to pursue work as a trial sketch artist. I think he has great promise. I know that Matthew and I will still be discussing the details of the case for months to come as he prepares himself to write the definitive book on the case. I know that many of T&T's readers have suggested that I write a book, but at this time in my life I don't believe my skills are honed enough to tackle such a Herculean task and do it justice. I will be putting all my support behind his efforts and give him as much assistance as I can. Besides Matthew already being a published author, you've already seen what he can do with his Atlantic article on this case and his extensive piece in Miller-McCune detailing the first ten years of LAPD's cold case squad.

And then there's the jury. After the verdict was read and before Judge Perry dismissed them, he read them the standard jury instruction about not being able to receive any monetary compensation for 90 days after the verdict. The court sealed the jurors names from the public and gave them the number of the Public Information Office if they were interested in speaking to the media. The were then quickly whisked out of the courtroom through an employee elevator.

I hope we do eventually hear from the jurors and learn what the experience has meant to them and what they were feeling throughout the trial listening to the testimony. What a heavy weight they carried sitting in judgement of Lazarus. If anyone of them happen upon T&T, I hope they will consider contacting me through the blog. I will honor any level of anonymity they wish to preserve.

Details from Yesterday
Here are some details from yesterday I didn't have time to write about.

After I published the morning entry with a short synopsis of DDA Presby's rebuttal argument I entered Department 104 at 9:10 am. There was an empty chair along the back wall near the door right beside DDA Presby. He was kind enough to answer a question I asked him off the record.

There was a pretrial hearing in progress on another case. There were seven defendants all handcuffed together in the well and several attorneys standing behind their clients. I was in an antsy state of mind wanting to know what time the jurors had started deliberating today. The other pretrial hearings were finally over at 9:45 AM and Lazarus enters the courtroom. As she was brought out she turned to look at her family and gave them a big smile. To me, she appeared even thinner than before.

At 9:45 AM, Judge Perry goes on the record outside the presence of the jury and informs the court they received a request from the jury for the testimony of two witnesses to be read back. In addition, the court also received a note at 9:05 AM from the jury about jury instructions.

I was able to write down some of what the note said.
"While going through the jury instructions, it is not clear.... (snip)...?

If we are to consider murder second degree, please provide an instruction... (snip).
Respectfully, Jury Foreperson #9."

At the prosecution table is DDA Presby and Detective Stearns.

Judge Perry tells counsel what he is going to tell the jurors. The court has prepared an instruction (for you?). It is a statement that was inadvertently omitted (from...?). The requirements for second degree are expressed in jury instruction 520. (snip) It was the court's oversight and that I raised the issue over (ti?) (snip) and we never really did define second degree.

MO: I don't... (snip) I had an objection the instruction (for second degree) in the first place but (I have no comment on the instruction? at this time?).

At 9:50 AM the jury is brought out and Judge Perry addresses them about the note requesting the read back.

JP: Let me suggest if in the future, (if you have any further testimony you need read back) if you can identify the portion of the read back (that would be helpful?).

Then Judge Perry reads the juror's question about second degree. After he reads the juror's question he smiles and comments, "Respectfully, I like that."

JP: (snip) We inadvertently, left out what second degree is. This statement (is) part of your jury instructions and I hope this will answer the question. (snip) The requirements for second degree murder are, direct or implied malice are included in instruction 520. The options for the jury are first degree, second degree and not guilty. (snip) We're going to turn it over to the court reporter.

Judge Perry leaves the bench and the court reporter takes the stand. In a very slow and steady tone she reads the testimony from the following witnesses:

Prosecution witness #4, Anastasia Volanaitas, (the neighbor who noticed Sherri and John's garage door was left open in the morning as well as received Sherri's discarded purse from two Latino looking men).

Defense witness #1 Evangelina Flores (the housekeeper who testified she heard noises coming from Unit 205 that morning that sounded like fighting.).

While the court reporter was reading the testimony, I tried to see if there were any jurors taking notes. During Volanaitas' testimony, the following jurors took a few notes: #5, #6 and #10. During Flores testimony, again juror's #5 and #6. It appeared to me that juror #3 was looking down at a notepad and writing but from where I was sitting I could not see if she had a pen in her hand during both read backs.

At 10:35 AM, the court reporter was finished and the court clerk Melody instructed them to go back to the jury room to continue their deliberations. During the entire proceeding, Lazarus sat very still at the defense table. When the jurors left, Mark Overland and his daughter Courtney sat with Lazarus and spoke to her for several minutes before she was taken back into the jail holding area.

At lunch, Matthew found out that the Van Nuys Homicide Unit would be coming down to hear the verdict and James Nuttall met us for lunch. Detective Nuttall (wearing a royal blue tie with his standard Homicide Detective's starched white shirt) kept thanking me for my trial coverage so everyone in the Van Nuys Unit was able to know on a daily basis how the trial was going. I had to keep telling Nuttall to please call me "Betsy" instead of "Mam," which he told me was his habbit.

At 12:45 PM, Matthew and I made it up to the 9th floor that was packed with mainstream media, DDA staff, LAPD officers and friends and family on both sides of the aisle. On the 9th floor, I got introduced to many people, including Jayne Goldberg's husband and prosecution witness David Neuman who both repeatedly thanked me for my trial coverage. Neuman told me, "I feel as if I already know you, since I know so much about your life and the car troubles." Sherri's friend Alicia who worked with her at Glendale Adventist was here. Sherri's sister was sitting on a hallway bench, her arm around Detective Nuttall. Matt and I experienced that emotionally wrought moment between Nels and Clara, Mrs. Presby.

I was one of the media with a green badge that got led inside the courtroom first because we wold be seated in the first row. Once I stepped inside, I asked Public Information Office employee Arlene if I could possibly sit on the end of the second row next to the family. With such a packed courtroom, I wanted to try to get out the door to publish the verdict first and try to beat the mainstream outlets. I'm grateful she honored my request. Arlene pointed me to stand next to the back wall and take that end spot after the second row had been seated.

Judge Ito was in the well of the court, sitting next to the bailiff's desk directly in front of the family. I was sitting next to Jayne Goldberg who was tightly holding Teresa Lane's hand. As tension mounted, Teresa and Jayne became emotional beside me. I put my notebook away, set my purse on the floor and asked Jayne to look after it while I clutched my laptop by my side, ready to bolt as soon as I heard the verdict.

On the other side of the aisle from me, sitting on the end was Lazarus' mother Carol. Right after Melody said murder in the first degree, I got up from my seat. I did not see him leave but friends told me Scott Young immediately left the courtroom. As I was getting up, Carol started to stand too. I think she was standing to try to get one last look at her daughter before being taken away but deputies came to her and escorted her out of the courtroom.

I then rushed out to publish.

I'm not positive but I believe that Steven Lazarus told the media something to the effect that their mother was pushed out of the building, and no one was there for his sister to get a glimpse of before Lazarus was led away.

Down in the first floor lobby, waiting for Nuttall outside the DA's JSID suite, I pull out my laptop, set it on a low empty table and gently place my knees on the terrazzo floor so I can write my 2:44 PM posting. Matthew dictates his notes to me of what he observed inside the courtroom after I rushed out. Thank you so much Matthew for being my eyes and ears. Before we left the building to head to LAPD Headquarters, we exchanged a few words with Detectives Stearns and Jaramillo and that's where I got to finally see Stearns smile and comment on it. Stearns also said to me, "You got it right." He was referring to this observation I made about him when he took the witness stand on Day 8 of the trial:

Detective Stearns appeared very serious when he was testifying. He never came close to a smile once. His demeanor kept reminding me how serious this trial is for everyone involved.

Now that I've updated y'all as much as I can this morning, I'm taking a day off. I'm going shopping at the Camarillo outlet mall with a different Stephanie in my life, a friend from Canada who is here visiting relatives. When I get home later tonight I will try to answer any remaining questions you might have and the stack of E-mails in my box today. After constant badgering by Matthew, I've moved the Paypal Donation link that's been on my blog for the last several weeks to a more prominent position on the right side. Don't forget, I've still got a few stories still to write that I think you will find interesting. Sprocket.

PS: Spelling errors: Witness Dave Neuman' first name is David, not Dave. Lazarus' defense investigator's name is Randal Later. I apologize for the errors.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the in-depth coverage you provided throughout this trial! I was on the edge of my seat every day! So glad justice has been served.

FYI... the NBC correspondent you named as Joel Mankiewicz is actually Josh Mankiewicz.

Sprocket said...

Thank you! I made the spelling correction.

Anonymous said...

Sprocket, by all means, get some well deserved rest and diversion before diving back into the stories. I hope that your friend Matt includes you with some substantial credits in his book.

I have watched the press statement by Overland and it struck me that he didn't address SL's guilt or innocence. He stuck to the mechanics of the jury deliberation time, and the admission of evidence. SL's family, at least her blood family, may still believe in her innocence, but I have never really thought that her attorney did. I think he was just doing his job, pure and simple. I would not be surprised to learn that her husband, as a trained police officer himself, realized her guilt inspite of his wish not to. I think that SL could not really take the stand because she was vulnerable in so many areas. Only, as some have suggested, if she admitted being there and having the fight in which Sherri was killed, would it have been in any way advantageous for her to take the stand.

As evidenced by all of the "I thinks" and "I believes" in this post, all of this is purely my opinion and speculation.


Maddie said...

Once again, thank you for your tireless efforts. As Robert has already said, enjoy your well-deserved rest!

Susan said...

I must have clicked on this site 100 times (or more) in the past three weeks. I didn't notice your paypal link until you pointed it out. I hope others will join me & thank you that way!

Utah Chris said...

Thanks Sprocket -

The judge said it perfectly. "This matter is closed." Or he said something very simple to that effect.

debbiescalisi said...

Sprocket, just love the notes you have posted about after the verdict and cannot wait to read more after you finish a well-deserved shopping day. Senior Moments on 3/9 at 10:25am hit it right on the head: MO did not seem that adamant about SL's innocence; I think she would have been better off to take a plea-deal of a lesser charge and anty up that she was there that day but it was a heat-of-the-moment fight and not the savage attack she most likely could have preplanned. I guess we will not ever know. Again, I think Scott Young will divorce her in time, move and start another life as a police officer somewhere else with their adopted daughter from Russia. That he even stuck it out this long during the trial is honorable of him I guess but I am sure he could not exactly bolt during this trial. I know I am going back in time, but if you remember, Christina Ferrare did not file for divorce from John DeLorean until he was acquitted in 1985. I remember thinking she was courteous enough to hang in there until he was either convicted or acquitted and then she bolted.

TS said...

Thank you SO much for mentioning the Paypal donation link on your site - never saw it before (!) and have been wanting to contribute in acknowlegement for your tremendous talent and time! I hope that everyone who has been reading and blogging daily (!) will want to contribute as well. You are absolutely outstanding and so deserving of recognition!

anonymous said...

Does anyone know about the Rasmussen's civil case against the LAPD? How is this going to work? Also, Sprocket mentioned working on Cameron Brown's third trial. It's been awhile since I heard his name. Is he in or out of custody at this time and what charges are they looking at?

debbiescalisi said...

I cannot wait to watch Date Line tonight even though, thanks to Sprocket, I am going to know a lot more about what went on behind the scenes.

anonymous said...

If Stephanie's husband truly believes in her innocence he has a heartbreaking dilemma. His employer has erroneously (in his opinion) sentenced his. wife to a lifetime in jail. I would think working there would become unbearable under the circumstances. No matter what he believes about the crime he is going to be working in a tense environment where everybody has to avoid talking about the taboo subject of his wife. This is just so sad.

NancyB said...


All of your many comments during the last month have brought so many of us a sense of being understood and as if you were our voice. Great thanks for that. I extend my deepest sorrow to now learn of your own dearest sister’s unsolved murder. There is no easy way to part from a beloved family member no matter the circumstances but I imagine that murder has to be among the cruelest. You are a devoted brother and hopefully you will take some comfort in the knowledge that you were and are a devoted brother.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn:
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut:
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceburg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

and therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and sisterhood,
and I look upon time as not more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
If I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
Or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world. –Mary Oliver

Jayne Weiandt said...

DATELINE NBC is to cover this story tonight 3/9/12 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, may be different for other time zones.


Becky said...


Here are my questions for the Q&A segment:

1) Were you ever able to clear up whether or not the marriage certificate was stolen?

2) Will Stephanie remain in jail until sentencing, or be shipped out to prison now?

3) Just a comment--did you see that a former CHP officer was sentenced by Judge Perry today for murdering her husband? He gave her 50 years to life in prison. It made me realize how lucky Stephanie is to 1- have been free for the past 26 years and 2- that Perry has to follow the 1986 sentencing guidelines.

DeeDee said...

Hello! I just found this site today. I just watched the complete interrogation...whoa! Pretty intense, I almost couldn't breathe while watching it. I have a question....will this trial be aired at any point? Was it recorded? Thank you for all of your hard work on this!!

NancyB said...

"Because the jury found her guilty of first-degree murder, state law requires that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry sentence Lazarus to life in prison with the possibility of parole in about 14 years, a state corrections official said.",0,3121506.story

I just wish that this was not accurate but I strongly suspect that these two journalists have the correct info. Just 14 yrs until eligible for parole does not seem to be a fair sentence for this brutal murder. But then again she would have to admit her guilt and show remorse so it's probably a moot point.

debbiescalisi said...

Sprocket, hope you had a great day at the outlet shopping. They say that "true life is stranger than fiction" and honestly in this murder trial who would have ever guessed that 26 years later Sherri's murder would be solved with the person who committed it literally across the hall from the detectives. Kudos to them for sticking in there. This was not an easy endurement for anyone involved from the parents to the spouses. I do not think Scott Young will stay with the LAPD, there is no way he can have a normal life with his daughter in LA; they will have to move on out of the area and he will divorce her. Yikes, marriage is hard enough under the best of circumstances and he is going to feel betrayed for living under this illusion since his 1996 marriage to SL. Again, good work Sprocket and hope you have a great weekend and can fill us in with some good juicey notes when you are up to it about the last few days and your observations.

Anonymous said...

Here is something to think about!

LAPD was under pressure to clean up their act and while looking onto cold cases they see a familiar name " Stephanie Lazarus" Knowing she has a desk a few cubbies over from the cold case homicide unit, they think " How easy would it be to close this cold case and get the Rasmussen Family closure. Although we have all read they followed SL for a week to get a DNA sample that was just part of the plan. They could have got the sample off a water bottle or a coke can left at her desk! They plant the swab inside the original tube containing a sample of the bite, which by the way only contained the victims DNA because it was a self inflicted bite during the struggle thinking she was biting the attacker. In fact, I think I read somewhere the original forensic dentist Dr. Valle made a note in the coroner’s file “he couldn’t rule out the bite mark wasn’t self inflicted”. Stephanie Lazarus was a pawn, the LAPD was willing to sacrifice one of their own at any cost! Wonder what the jury would think if they found out the defense wasn’t allowed to bring several people to testify to information that would have shown that within a few weeks of this murder another homeowner down the street came home and was confronted by two Hispanic men during a burglary, there was stacked stereo equipment and one of the burglars pointed a gun to the women’s head and she was able to run back out her condo and get away!

Wonder what the jury would have thought of that!

Anonymous said...

This jury was a bunch of morons! The integrity of the envelope containing the DNA was clearly tampered with. The rest of the case was a built on a theory! NO Blood, NO fingerprints, NO other evidence found at the scene or in the car. Although the jury instructions clearly states” while reviewing circumstantial evidence if you tell yourself this could be valid and you can also tell yourself that it May Not be valid. You Must go with NOT Valid. They also missed the instructions from the judge telling them the Defense DOES NOT NEED to Prove her innocence. The People need to Prove her Guilt! The Jury had no idea how many times Mr. Overland was kept from addressing many issues in this case. The jury had over 600 pieces of items entered into evidence between the prosecution and defense. There is NO WAY they reviewed those items and finished the deliberation in less than 7 hours. Not to mention the jury wasn’t clever enough to pick up on the fact all the witnesses’ for the prosecution were coached and answered the questions with confidence and clarity BUT ironically time after time when cross examined by Mr. Overland they used the phrase “I can’t recall”

Anonymous said...

Sprocket What do you think about this comment I read at the LA Times.

Here is a copy of a comment left after the LA Times ran a ad several weeks ago! Makes You Think!

MJDavis747 at 1:28 PM February 16, 2012

The DNA evidence will be ruled inadmissible due to contamination and chain of continuity. Judge Perry should have ruled the evidence inadmissible in response to the defense motion to suppress. However, Perry didn't have the courage to make the right decision because he didn't want to be the one who "let Lazarus go." Now the immanent conviction by the lower court will be overturned at the appellate level because Perry kicked the proverbial can down the road. Perry knows the law as well as the justices at the appellate level. Ruling the DNA evidence is inadmissible is not a technically, it's the law. Lazarus might be guilty but she is still afforded the same rights as every other defendant in the U.S. The problem with the DNA evidence is the state cannot prove the evidence was not tampered with. The state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lazarus's DNA was substituted for the original swab used to collect the DNA. As farfetched as this might sound it is the law. The rules of evidence require a specific procedure for collecting and preserving evidence. The torn evidence envelope and the lack of a seal on the glass tube containing the swab does not comply with the rules of evidence. It is a tough situation for a trial court judge in light of the circumstances of this case but that is what being a judge is all about.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the Judge, Procecutors, and Chief Beck are all in bed together!

Judge Perry's head must be ready to explode! Today he had the pleasure of sentencing a former CHP officer who was found guily of murdering her husband to 50yrs to life!

She claimed it was in self defence. Battered wife syndrome...

Shannon from Seattle said...

I just saw Dateline. I think they did a good job. I was happy to see Detective Nuttall featured so prominently in the program. I enjoyed seeing the man who brought a killer to justice being interviewed.

Good cops don't often get the recognition they deserve.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Lazarus creeps me out!!!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I see a lot of narcissistic behaviors in Lazarus. I mean her life was on the line and from your reporting and media reports, she sat in court stoically, and never showed any emotions. I don't know if her cop training played a significant role in her behavior. Some how her behavior reminds me of Julia Turner, the "Anti-freeze" killer, who murdered a husband and live in boyfriend for financial gain. During her trial, she showed no emotion, even as two lengthy sentences were imposed on her. While serving out her sentences, she committed suicide on "Propranolol" a blood pressure medication. Prison time is "slow time" and most narcissists don't see what they've done. I wouldn't be surprised if after a few years behind bars, Lazarus takes her own life. Sometimes, most people that don't show emotion are vulnerable on the inside too.

Anonymous said...

To all the Anonymous posters who don't like the verdict and wanted the DNA evidence thrown out, read Sprocket's Verdict Watch Day 3.

The DNA wasn't tampered with. There was no frameup. Lazarus is guilty of this horrendous crime and was justly convicted.

I do feel some compassion for Lazarus, a broken heart takes a long time to heal. But friends with benefits is a very poor choice to make.

It is very sad and tragic for everyone involved.

Shannon from Seattle said...

I am not going to diagnose Lazarus as a narcissist; however, anonymous makes some good points about her behavior when the jury came back with the verdict. She shot them a look of anger that was piercing. There was no sense of responsibility for resignation for her crimes.

I am amused by those who continue to write in about conspiracy theories and planting evidence. The brain is fascinating in how it is able to live in denial as a means of protecting itself. It's the main reason why you see the wives of pedofiles stick around.

The fog won't clear for a long time for Lazarus' family. Eventually some of them might see the light, but they probably won't. I deeply respect her husband and his life at LAPD will be very difficult. I doubt seriously that he'll pick up his bag and leave. He has many years on the job and the retirement improves with each passing year. He's going to stick it out, I believe.

I hope his colleagues will treat him with respect and remain professional and recognize that he is a victim too.

If the police had videotape of the crime, the Lazarus family would not believe it. The brain and it's ability to protect us from pain is fascinating and amazing.

Anonymous said...

Lots of coulda shoula woulda going on here. If SL was honestly innocent she would have given them a DNA sample when asked to prove her innocence. She also would have taken the stand. It was SO OBVIOUS that SL was guilty from the get go. I would LOVE to see a lie detector test given to her. Those graphs would be going WILD with her denial. Oh well... if it help her family or friends with the grieving process to post here while coming to grips with SL's conviction... then so be it and as for the appeals process... I'm just glad that SL is spending time locked up thinking about what she did.

NancyB said...

I love that Presby used Occam's Razor in his closing. A preference for the simplest theory that adequately accounts for the data. Of two equivalent theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred.

The principle of Occam’s Razor has inspired numerous expressions including: “parsimony of postulates”, the “principle of simplicity”, the “KISS principle” (keep it simple, stupid). In medicine we have a similar dictum “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”.

In the Dateline program they showed a split second frame of a side view of Steph looking at the jurors when the verdict was read. It was just a flash but she looked very angry and scary in that split second view.

Anonymous said...

How ABSURD!!! If this really was just a case of cops pinning it on somebody they would have just pinned it on 2 hispanic gang member's. Why would they go through the embarrassment of pinning it on one of their own? They would have gotten two males that had aged approximately 25 years from the photo's of the original accused burglars who are gang member's, collected their DNA & offered that up. How ridiculous for them to incriminate one of their own detectives just for the status of cold case "cleanup".

TS said...

A couple things kept nagging at me about how the crime took place...

Why SL would bring her own gun to the condo, how she knew SR was home, and I think it was mentioned in court that the front door had 3 locks. I can't imagine SL standing on the front porch in daylight picking those locks. And if home owners have 3 locks on a door, it also doesn't seem like they would be left unlocked when someone is home (as JR mentioned). So with all that said....I really appreciated reading a couple alternate blog theories about SL possibly entering the condo as she had before (perhaps through the door between the garage and condo?) or entering (forced her way in?) after SL opened the door. Either way of entry, an altercation then might have happened. This seems more plausible to me, but then we'll never know for sure. The crime and trial will be haunting me for a long while....

TS said...

I think it was mentioned in court that at one time SL worked in Internal Affairs, where cops investigate other cops. The possible "framing theory" probably results from that - a person, or persons, in the LAPD who had a grudge against SL.

ritanita said...

Anonymous at 7:37 AM, ITA!

Sprocket, thanks for the excellent coverage. I just got to watch the Dateline episode and was pleased to see the peope you wrote about speak about the case.

For those who doubt the veracity of the DNA envelope and sample, I suggest they take a swab of their DNA, put it in a sealed test tube and small manila envelope. Then, put it in their freezer for more than 20 years and subject it to moving it back and forth as they add more manila envelopes. See how it deteriorates.

Plese post the results in 20 years. If, bysome miracle I am still alive, I will be interested in seeing the results.

Anonymous said...

Betsy...I feel as though I know you as a friend and silly as it sounds, I will miss you. I know you've said you are shy but for all your T & T friends, please, publish a picture. You've come to mean so much to so many. Let us put a face to your "written voice."
Further...I hope all your T & T followers will find the PayPal link and give what they can. I just received my PayPal confirmation this morning. My donation was small payment for all the hours I spent with you. Thank you so much. You helped to bring Justice for Sherri. BJ in Simi Valley

Anonymous said...

I just checked the Inmate Locater & Lazarus has been booked back in to Century Detention Center. I guess they are keeping her in the County lockup until she gets sentenced till they move her to a State permanent facility.

debbiescalisi said...

Sprocket, I enjoyed Dateline and wish it could have been longer (like the 2 hour specials they sometimes do) and also it was good to put some names with the faces such as Det. Nuttell. I have also though that SL would possibly commit suicide, as Anonymous on 3/9at 11:58pm refers to in the Julia Turner case. We can speculate about lots of things until the-cows-come-home but the DNA was so overwhelming because of the bite and the broken nails. SL would have been wiser to get up on the stand and tell her convaluted story and roll the dice for a lesser charge of manslaughter. I think MO did an "all or nothing" gamble on this one. The profile of the DNA on Sherri's body was way too true. I think we are going to be reading about this on & off for a very long time.

Avery21 said...

The Dateline show last night said that SR's purse was taken, then discarded. When found, the only thing missing was the marriage cert. Is that accurate? I found the pics & old videos of SL fascinating, especially her wedding video.

Anonymous said...

Lazarus is Guilty, the jury reviewed the evidence and came to the correct verdict.

Thank you Sprocket for your amazing coverage.

To the Rasmussen Family, I'm sorry it took so long for Justice.

To the conspiracy theorists, STOP. There is ZERO evidence of that. This was a brutal and vicious Murder committed by Stephanie Lazarus.

I'm sorry for Scott Young and the baby. This is obviously a life altering and difficult situation for them.

To Sherri, Please rest in peace.

Grainne Dhu said...

I suddenly realised something. Or, rather, it suddenly became clear to me.

These days, adoptive parents are counselled to bond with their child, grow that bond, maintain that bond. A child's bond with their adoptive parents is considered crucial to the success of the relationship.

No way would any reputable adoption counsellor suggest that a 2 year old not have regular visits with their mother in jail. Yes, the circumstances are not ideal but that bond is so vitally important to that child's future, a reputable counsellor would tell the parents to do the equivalent of crawling over broken glass through fire to keep it intact.

And yet... I keep reading reports that Stephanie Lazarus hasn't seen their daughter in 3 years. That's a long, long time in the life of a child. I doubt that little girl has any independent memories of her mother, just prompted/assisted ones.

I couldn't figure out how that made any sense at all. What kind of loving father would cooperate with that?

And then it hit me. No matter what he says, his actions say he knew from shortly after she was arrested that she was guilty. He's doing what is best for their daughter; allowing that bond to be broken so that the child can grieve and then get on with her life.

Poor guy, he knew.

What a hell he must be going through.

Shannon from Seattle said...

The gun Lazarus used always disturbed me because it was basically traceable back to her, or the bullet type. I think if this murder had been truly premeditated, she would have collected a gun that was not registered to use it.

I think her plan (we'll never know because she is not talking) was to spy on John and Sherri. According to Dr. Rasmussen, Lazarus popped up at the condo within a few weeks of the murder.

My guess is that she showed up in uniform, armed, and gained entry possible to snoop around. Sherri was home with a back injury, so how would Lazarus have known she was there?

I think for the second time Lazarus gained entry, Sherri may have had enough and indicated she would report her. I think Lazarus' decision to kill Sherri was a split second decision since she risked so much if Sherri were to report the break in.

This is the only way I can explain why Lazarus would have used her own weapon in the commission of this crime.

Of course, no evidence was presented to support this theory. Maybe the legal experts can weigh in, but if this scenario were true, wouldn't it be a different murder standard if it wasn't premeditated?

NancyB said...

Shannon - I do not have a legal background but as I understand it premeditation can occur "in the blink of an eye" according to the law in most all states. I am fully confident that this was correctly charged as murder in the 1st and that this jury agreed with the evidence at trial that proved it was 1st degree murder. You make several interesting points that I tend to agree with. I definitely think that she was there to snoop again. Sherri's father told the scary scenario of Sherri coming home to find SL there inside her home! Can you imagine? 100% creepy. I also agree with you that she wore her uniform and that it gave her more "cover" if she needed to use her lock picking kit. Who would attach any suspicion or pay much attention to a cop in that condo complex? Who knows how many other times SL had let herself in to Sherri & John's home? Maybe that is why she knew exactly where to locate the marriage certificate.

I was very surprised when testimony in the trial revealed that Sherri had not told her husband that SL was continuing to stalk her. She told him about the 1st very inappropriate confrontation at the hospital but none of the others. That poor decision ending up costing her her life. She totally misjudged SL's true character. I still find it heartbreaking. She was such a very fine young woman.

I also find it heartbreaking what SL's evil did to JR,who was someone that she supposedly loved very much. In the beginning of the 48 hr program you hear John telling Lorreta how deeply sorry he is that he brought SL into Sherri's life and that it was his fault that the murder happened. That was so sad to think of the depth of the guilt he has felt responsible for all these years. All of these family and close friends lives were inextricably changed forever in very painful and negative ways.

The following (partial) comment was left on this blog at the beginning of the case.

"Anonymous said...

This cop allegedly stalked the victim in the days before the killing, once allegedly showing up in the victim's hospital office to confront the victim about the victim's husband. The cop allegedly wore nothing but lingerie (which she flashed) under a trench coat during this confrontation."

Does this comment possibly refer to the 2nd confrontation at the hospital by SL that could not be testified to at trial as the colleague/friend nthat witnessed this died? We know that SL's 1st confrontation at the hospital she wore her uniform.

Anonymous said...

It is really ironic that Judge Perry had two cases in his courtroom regarding female law enforcement officers found guilty of murder within a couple of days. Sprocket, do you have any idea how cases are assigned to judges?


Anonymous said...

What Shannon from Seattle said is probably what truly happened.
SL panicked, probably after SR told her that she would call in to LAPD and report the break in. SL panicked and thus the horrendous murder. The rest is SL's attempt to cover up, etc. SL wanted to show SR that she could break into her house whenever she wanted. What made SL crazy is that she had lost control over her perfect dream life (marry JR) The ultimate act of control was to murder SR.
SL has always been a disturbed individual. She hid it well (at times) while in the LAPD. Remember, she was known as Spazarous for her quick temper and reactions when raddled.