April 25th, 2012
I arrive on the 5th floor around 8:15 AM. I'm here to hang out with my friends Matthew McGough and Thomas Broersma and find out what the status is on the Gerhard Becker case. Becker is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of career firefighter Glenn Allen. Ever since Matthew and I attended the last Becker hearing we thought it would be fabulous if Thomas could "sketch the room" (if he was able to) because of all the fascinating characters that worked in the well of the court.
I'm the first to arrive and Becker is already here. He's sitting across the hall from me and the initial image so amazes me I have to call Matthew (who's still on the freeway) and describe it to him. On Becker's frame is a nice suit and he has one leg crossed over the other. His GPS ankle monitoring bracelet is clearly visible on the crossed leg and it's got a wire coming from it where it is plugged into the only electrical outlet in the hallway. Sitting next to him is a slender, casually dressed woman with lifeless dishwater blond hair. She has on white pants, a plaid shirt and a leather-looking camel colored light-weight jacket.
I enter the courtroom when it opens at 8:30 AM and take a seat in the middle second bench row. Becker and his companion stay in the hallway. From the jail area a very loud, angry voice interrupts the low murmur of voices in the room, "I'M HERE! WHAT DO YOU WANT!!"
People with appearances line up in the left aisle in front of the sheriff's desk, where she politely asks each one, "Do you have an attorney?" 'No,' is the common response whereas the sheriff hands them a piece of paper and tells them, "Fill this out, sign and date it and an attorney will be assigned to you." I see a male sheriff pacing in the detainee cage on the right.
It's the middle of the week and a very light day for appearances. It's nothing like the hustle and bustle Matt and I experienced several weeks before.
On the right aisle, there is a line forming in front of the LAPD BOND desk. People turn their signed papers into the sheriff and take a seat in the gallery.
8:43 AM Becker and his companion are still out in the hallway. A few moments later Dept. 30's court reporter arrives along with a few other staff in the well. There are not nearly as many people seated in the well as the last time; several seats are still empty. Only one language interpreter has arrived so far and it's not one of the two women I saw last time. I make a note that Monday must be the day to come with all the arrests that must happen over the weekend.
8:46 AM I look around behind me to see if Matt has made it yet and I see Becker and his companion standing in the back of the courtroom. It's a good bet they are waiting for their counsel to arrive.
Right beside the large custody cage there is a small placard that says, "Maximum Occupancy 197".
9:05 AM Judge Shelly Torrealba takes the bench. The court reporter chats with her for a moment at the bench.
Sometime in the morning Matthew arrives and Thomas does a bit later. They both make it in time for Becker. Thomas tells us he's sketched in this courtroom before so it's not a problem. There's a bit of bustle in the well of the court. Each face a character study. Matt points out to me that Judge Torrealba always has fresh flowers at her bench.
Sean Carney is here for the people. Chad Lewin for the defense. No Frances Young. Detective Greg Stearns from Robbery Homicide is here; Stearns investigated the case. He has the same "stern" expression on his face I saw all throughout the Lazarus trial. The Becker case is up. Erwin and Carney shake hands and discuss last minute details and identify themselves for the record. Carney says something I can't believe I've heard. He tells Judge Torrealba they are "ready" or "close to" discussing a settlement. I turned to Thomas or Matt and asked them if they heard that. I'm quite surprised.
Gerhard Becker © Thomas Broersma 2012
Thomas tells me, "Becker, when hearing the word settlement, responded with a "hmph" and a kind of bounce in his whole body." Judge Torrealba, replied something to the effect, "I heard the magic word..." and that they would follow up with that at the next hearing on May 18th, 2012, where the court clock would be set at 0-45. The hearing was quickly over. Becker's 2 mil bond is still in effect. Carney and Greg Stearns walk out together. Becker leaves with his companion, and that's it.
Matt, Thomas and I linger around outside the courtroom chatting about the Lazarus case. It was such a short hearing, it was like a let down. At the next hearing, it will be interesting to see if Becker does take a plea.
© Thomas Broersma 2012 email@example.com