Monday, May 7, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Sentencing Poll

 Defense Attorney Mark Overland, Stephanie Lazarus,
March 8th, 2012, at the reading of the verdict

Stephanie Lazarus, 52, will be sentenced this Friday, May 11th, 2012 in Department 104 at the downtown criminal court building.  The sentence Lazarus will receive is based on the California Penal Code 187 that was in effect at the time Sherri Rasmussen was murdered.  It's my understanding that Judge Perry cannot legally step outside the law and sentence Lazarus to something different than the 27-years-to-life that she is expected to receive.  Here's how the sentence is broken down: 25 years for the murder and an additional 2 years for the gun charge.  Sources have told me Lazarus could be eligible for parole in as little as 14 or 15 years, give or take a few months.  I'm not positive, but I believe that has to do with when the crime was committed and the laws in effect governing time served by inmates.

So even though there will be no surprise at the sentence she will receive, there may be other surprises in who decides to speak at the sentencing.  Who will give victim impact statements and will we hear from any of Lazarus' friends and family or even Lazarus herself?  What are your thoughts T&T readers?  Who do you think will speak at Lazarus' sentencing?  I think it's a sure bet that someone from Rasmussen's family or their legal representative will give an impact statement but what about John Ruetten?  Do you think he will address the court? Anyone else? You can cast your vote in the poll below, or you can also leave a comment and share your thoughts.  (You can make up to four selections in the poll below.)

Special thanks to my friend Matthew McGough, who called me today to get my thoughts on this very topic. I then decided to share the question with T&T's readers.  I will share my predictions on Thursday, May 10th.


Robert said...

I cannot imagine someone like Lazarus speaking at the sentencing. She took the life of an innocent woman in a rage, then slept on it for twenty-five years. I'd say, divide the number of nights of sleep she missed by the nine thousand days that have passed since Sherri died, and those are the odds that she will speak.

As to her attorney, the odds he will speak and declare his outrage at the verdict are directly linked to whether or not he cleaned out the Lazarus' bank account the first time around. The more money to be made on appeal, the greater his outrage will be.

Obviously, both families are devastated, but I would expect Sherri's dad to say something about justice finally being served. God bless him for holding on and making sure Sherri's killer came to justice.

Poor John Ruetten. He's a broken man, and the missing pieces of his heart were buried with Sherri. If he can gather all of his will and get Lazarus to look him in the eye (doubtful) he would ask one simple question..."How could you?"

Anonymous said...

I attended two of the sentencing hearings for the defendants in the Christian-Newsom case. The parents of the victims were more than willing to speak. Neither defendant said anything.

The defense attorneys for Lemaricus Davidson dragged his hearing on for nearly three hours with motions and requests for a more lenient sentence. It was supposed to be over in around an hour.

Afterward I spoke to Chris Newsom's father Hugh, who told me, "They get paid by the hour."

As T&T readers know, the defendants in this case will be re-tried starting next month.

David In TN

Becky said...

I think there is zero chance that Stephanie will speak since she refuses to admit she did the crime and doesn't have any remorse. I think it's likely that her brother will speak on her behalf, though, since he has been so outspoken on youtube and elsewhere. I think Nels Rasmussen will definitely speak. I think it's a coin toss for John Ruetten, but I really hope that he will speak up. It's really too bad that Judge Perry is given no leeway when it comes to sentencing. In my opinion, Stephanie should never taste freedom again.

Anonymous said...

The comments above are spot on. I expect that the hearing will go long because both women will have a few family members speak and then the lawyers will have their say. . SL's brother will be passionate for his sister, but it will be Sherri's loved ones that really pull at my heart strings. God bless them. I know that this is closure for Sherri's family, in a sense, but every hearing will be like opening an old wound.

debbiescalisi said...

As always in this forum, Robert has again hit the nail on the head. I would love to see John Ruetten give a statement but looking back at the history of this whole case, he was always under the radar and only came to court because he had to. Unfortunately, I do not think he was close with Sherri's parents. This is going to be very interesting....I am waiting on pins & needles for 48 Hours to do their last-minute editing after Friday's sentencing so we can see their version. They usually do a good job.

Jayne Weiandt said...

I have no doubt Sherri's family will give their impact statements. I doubt Lazarus will have anything to say, especially if she plans to appeal. I will be very disappointed if John Reutten does not give his statement in support of his deceased wife and honor her memory. Sherri lost her life due to the connection John had with Stephanie. Although I believe he loved Sherri, I feel he could have done more after her death to try to find to enforce the LAPD to try to find her alleged murderers. Instead, it was left up to Nels to pursue it. I know John was devastated but so was her family. It makes one wonder if John was a little leary that if Stephanie was really pursued as a suspect what things may have come out about his involvement with her. By his not giving a statement it would make me wonder, why not? He was her husband and to not stand up and give his statement would be dishonoring Sherri I feel. I hope he will do the right thing and give his voice to this horrific crime to his murdered wife. Stephanie needs to hear that from him, Sherri's family needs to hear that from him, we need to hear that from him. God bless the Rasmussen family as this case comes to its close. Rest in peace Sherri, you are loved and not forgotten.
Jayne Engebretson Weiandt

Anonymous said...

In terms of the possibility of a shortened sentence of perhaps 14 to 15 years for Lazarus, wouldn't this depend on the decision of the parole board? And isn't one of their major requirements that the convicted take responsibility for the crime? In other words, won't she need to admit her guilt to be considered for an early release? Just a thought, I can't imagine them letting her out early without a full admission of guilt and remorse.
I think all of the thoughts on who will and won't speak at the sentencing hearing are on target. To think three years ago right now Lazarus was going along with her life, work, family and plans. It just goes to show that when you have committed murder, your life can change in an instant, no matter how long ago it was, you are never truly free.

Sprocket said...

In my opinion, it would be a very, very rare event for an individual convicted of first degree murder to make parole on their first appearance in front of a parole board. It would be interesting if we had information on parole board rulings in California to see what the statistics show.

I cannot fathom a situation where an individual would be granted parole without allocuting to the crime.

Anonymous said...

i doubt SL will speak. That would mean she would have to show some remorse, for which she has none. She should rot in prison until she comes out feet first. sounds harsh, i know but she has been free for 25 years..while Sherri Rasmussen has been in the ground. the rasmussens have not been able to touch or hold their SL should have the same fate. It is unfathonable that someoen can walk around for 25 years and sleep at night after brutally murdering someone. She didnt have remorse then and wont know. she will appeal and sit there with the arrogant face she has had the entire time. i truly hope she gets the toughest sentence and the rasmuseens get soem peace of mind from that.