Friday, August 31, 2012

Los Angeles Magazine, Stephanie Lazarus Case: 'In Plain Sight' by Steven Mikulan

September 2012 issue of Los Angeles Magazine

UPDATED 11/1/13
For those die hard fans that are still interested in Stephanie Lazarus, there is a new article out in Los Angeles Magazine's September 2012 issue, by my good friend Steven Mikulan.  The eight page article is now online.

Along with writing for Los Angeles Magazine, Steven is the editor of Frying Pan News, an online web site that describes itself as “a blog on the current economy” providing, “...original content on politics, business, labor, jobs, the environment, culture...”

I initially met Steven Mikulan back in December 2004, at the Robert Blake trial.  He was the first journalist that I got to know while attending a trial, and has always been most kind, supportive and encouraging of my trial coverage efforts.  Steven was instrumental in saving a space for me in the second row at Phil Spector’s first trial and it’s how I got to know the late writer Dominick Dunne.  The four of us, myself, Steven, Dominick and the Daily Journal's Ciaran McEvoy became a tight knit group during that long drawn-out trial. Ciaran, Steven and I have been friends ever since.

Steven wrote for the LA Weekly for 25 years, mostly covering the local theater scene.  It was later in his career there that he also covered the criminal beat and local politics for the weekly paper.  Steven has a style of putting words together like I’ve rarely seen another writer do so successfully.  For example, he labeled the Lazarus story “media crack.”  I know that Dominick loved reading Steven’s pieces that I printed out for him during the Spector trial.  I’ll never forget when one of Spector’s defense attorneys, Bradley Brunon came over and complimented Steven on the latest story he wrote and asking him about a German term he used in the piece, verfremdungseffekt. Steven’s striking wit is often insightful and at the same time, he has an ability to capture what's most important in a way that can pluck at your heart strings.

What I found refreshing about Steven’s reporting is, he attended some of the trial, did original research on the case and reveals information we haven’t heard about the LAPD’s secret preparations in the hours before Stephanie's arrest.  He also brings new information about Lazarus via interviews with her former partner, Detective Don Hrycyk in the Art Theft Detail Unit, as well as from Stephanie's younger brother, Steven Lazarus. In addition, Steven also scored key interviews with DDA Shannon Presby,  Sherri’s father Nels Rasmussen, and a friend of Lazarus’s who attended UCLA with her.

It’s my opinion that it’s difficult to tell the Lazarus story and do it justice in a magazine article, where others control how may words you get to write.  I thought the article was very good considering the limited amount of space Los Angeles Magazine gave Steven. I should note there are a few errors in the printed magazine version.  However, I believe Steven’s editor is in the process of making corrections to the online version.

I spoke to Steven about his article and he gave me this response:
“Reporting on a story this complex was difficult, because as a writer I know that what got published would become part of a public archive that will be consulted by people in the future. Such readers must always trust a writer to be accurate, they have little choice but to rely on his or her story to be historically true, and yet making sure every factual rivet of any story is secure is no easy task. Throughout this effort I knew that no matter how many times I played back an interview, read a transcript, studied a Thomas Guide, deciphered my trial notes or looked at weather reports from 26 years ago, some little thing could escape my attention." 
 (Note: To view the article online, click on the link in the bottom of the online excerpt that says "subscribe now" and from that page, click on the link to preview a digital copy of the magazine for free.  The article begins on page 152. Sprocket.)


LA Magazine - In Plain Sight

14 comments:

CaliGirl9 said...

There are true-life writers who understand that words matter and that the reader is trusting the author for accuracy.
Steven Mikulan is one such writer.

Anonymous said...

Good article! It contains a lot of new details about the case, and I'm always hungry for new details. According to the article, Nels still doesn't think much of John Ruetten. John has always been a big fishy question mark for me too. It's like Nels is Clint Eastwood, and John is.. well..?..hmmmm

Anonymous said...

According to this article, the Rasmussen's allege the original investigators allowed Lazarus to review the case notes, and then some of them disappeared. I've never heard of this before. What's your take on it Sprocket?

Sprocket said...

The allegations are in the civil suit filed by the Rasmussen's family attorney, John Taylor.

I have not had time yet read the complaint, so I don't know what the basis is for the allegation. (Please understand that although I am semi-retired, I do have to maintain our household and help manage Mr. Sprocket's business. I will read it asap.)

I do have a copy of the amended complaint and will be putting that up on T&T as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sprocket. I don't think I'll ever lose interest in this case!

Anonymous said...

I have also had reservations regarding John reutten. His behavi has some secretsor doesn't make sense. I think be has some secrets regarding his involvement with stephanie and sherri may have had some suspicians and thay is why she didn't tell John about her showing up are their condo. I am wondering if sherri stayed home that day to thwart them getting together at the condo when he knew she had a lecture. Ironically that may have been true and John called stephanie after he left not to come over because sherri was home. That would explain how she knew sherri wad there and put her plan into place to kill sherri. John may have turned off the answeing machine in case stephanie called at the condo. I don't think John could believe she would do that and a burglary made more sense but he was guilty of maybe cheatingy on sherri and didnt want that to come out. Having said that I believe he loved sherri but had a sexual addiction to stephanie. Any thoughts on that game anyone? Jayne weiandt .

Soapbubble said...

Wow. This case still fascinates me. Will this author write a book about this case too? I like how the author detailed the way the detectives trailed Lazarus.

Sprocket said...

I don't believe Steven has any plans to write a book. His job as editor of Frying Pan News keeps him pretty busy.

Soapbubble said...

BTW that picture of Stephanie's eyes on page 153 creeped me out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your hard reporting work.
A while back I remember reading that you were going to report on conversations that you had with people that knew Lazzarus. Are you planning on reporting on any such contacts or doing more reporting on any other facts.
Regards.

Sprocket said...

I still have plans for an entry in the future. Understand however, virtually everyone I've spoken to wishes to remain anonymous.

That does present a difficult situation in presenting what the individuals have said and still honoring their request for anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Today I went to a Barnes abd Noble and purchased a copy of the September Los Angeles Magaziner. I just finished the article on the Stephanie Lazarus Case.

As Steven Mikulan said, in the future pople will read his article to find out about this case. I have read magazine stories about the Billionaire Boys Club, the Cotton Club trial, and other cases when researching past trials.

David In TN

Barbara said...

As a new reader to your blog, I have to say "well done". However, it appears the full article is no longer posted on the site.

Sprocket said...

Here is a link to read the story.

LA Mag. In Plain Sight.