Michael Gargiulo, date unknown
UPDATE: changed number of arson fires from 100 to 49; added that number of charges are about 100.
November 28th, 2012
It’s raining on my trip into downtown and traffic is a mess. After a frustrating time on surface streets and the freeway, I tell Mr. Sprocket that there’s no way I’m going to make it in time if I take the train. He will have to drive me into downtown. An argument begins and I have to explain several times that dropping me off one train stop closer will not help. I’m going to be late.
In an earlier life, Mr. Sprocket drove limo’s in the New Jersey, New York tri-city area and he goes into overdrive applying those skills . He was able to drop me off on the Temple Street plaza in time to get to the 9th floor outside Dept. 108. I’m relieved. I know Judge Ohta usually takes the bench not long after 8:30 AM.
The 9th floor hallway is pretty empty and I take a seat to wait. Across the hall from me, I see defense investigator Christian Filipiak. He’s wearing a perfectly tailored suit and deep in conversation on the phone.
As I wait for Judge Ohta courtroom to open, DDA Sean Carney, who is assigned to the Gerhard Becker case comes out of Dept. 107 for a moment. (My friend Matthew and I have been attending the Gerhard Becker preliminary hearing in Dept. 42 on the 3rd floor and it’s been an interesting experience.) I’m pleasantly surprised to see him, but my guess is the hearing he’s in Dept. 107 for is the Harry Burkhart case, a German man facing 100 charges relating to 49 arson fires in Hollywood.
When Carney sees me, he comes over to say hello and ask what case I’m following on 9th. I tell him it’s Michael Gargiulo, the “Chiller Killer.” I outline the alleged victims, the fact that the defendant has chosen pro per and the DDA who’s on the case, Daniel Akemon.
8:30 AM I get inside Dept. 108. There are two women in the gallery. There’s obviously a case currently in trial. There are two DDA’s at the prosecution table, one older with white and gray hair and black framed glasses. The other DDA is much younger.
8:34 AM Filipiak enters Dept. 108. He takes a seat in the well in the chairs set up against the back wall. When Filipiak sees me he smiles, waves and comes over to ask me about my “trifecta” over Thanksgiving. I tell him we celebrated by seeing three films over three days: Argo, Flight and Lincoln.
The older DDA at the prosecution table is working on getting their PowerPoint presentation on the overhead screen in focus. The text reads: People v. Karawia & Allan Terrill Bailey.
8:42 AM DDA Daniel Akemon arrives and checks in with the court clerk. He then places a stack of paper at the end of the defense table. He’s wearing a dark suit, white shirt and a burgundy patterned tie.
Akemon and Filipiak greet each other, smile and shake hands. They go over papers that will be handed directly to the defendant. It looks like Akemon then adds more papers to the stack on the defense table.
When the defense attorney for the current case in front of Judge Ohta arrives, two ladies sitting to my right in the gallery greet him and give him hugs.
Akemon and Filipiak continue to chat. I can overhear snatches of what they are discussing, the imaging and duplication of a hard drive. I believe it’s Filipiak who then says, “...we will have what you have. ... Then I’ll have my guy talk to (your guy?) and they can talk tech to each other.”
I then lose the ability to listen in on their conversation because the voices of the two women and the current case defense attorney in front of me are drowning out Akemon and Filipiak's voices.
8:46 AM Judge Ohta comes out from the back chamber area. He’s wearing a dark blue and white stripe shirt with a green and dark blue diagonal tie. It’s an eye-popping contrast.
I believe Judge Ohta addresses Akemon and Filipiak, “Should I bring out Mr. Gargiulo?” “Yes, your honor,” is the response.
The court reporter takes her seat and Ohta’s clerk also comes out from the back area. Judge Ohta is now in his robes and takes the bench. Judge Ohta starts a conversation with one of the defense attorneys in his current case about one of counsel’s cases. Akemon greets the younger prosecutor on the current case and they chat. Judge Ohta greets Filipiak.
When Gargiulo is brought out he looks quite different. His hair is slightly longer from the last hearing and he has grown his mustache out. It’s quite full and drops down beyond the line of his lips. Judge Ohta makes a comment directed at Gargiulo. “You look different every time I see you.”
We go on the record in Gargiulo. Judge Ohta asks Gargiulo if he needs a moment to confer with Filipiak. Gargiulo and Filipiak go over the the stack of papers in front of him at the defense table.
The case number SA068002 is called. Judge Ohta indicates the parties who are here for the record. Judge Ohta continues, “We are zero of 90 today.” Judge Ohta mentions coming back in January of next year and asks Gargiulo what day he would like to return. Gargiulo tells the court, “I don’t have a particular day...” Judge Ohta offers Monday, January 28th, 2013. Gargiulo responds, “That date is fine.”
Judge Ohta then brings up a motion filed by the defense some time ago but never addressed. “My clerk tells me you filed a motion to have one hand free in the attorney room.” (This is a room at the Men’s Central Jail facility where I believe both hands are shackled.) Gargiulo tells Judge Ohta, “The issue is when I have to bring out discovery for the investigator ... It has to do when ...” Gargiulo explains about handling a large stack of papers, and if he accidentally drops a paper and the difficulties involved with picking those papers up. Judge Ohta then mentions something about the visual effect of that image of him struggling with those papers. I believe Gargiulo then tells the court that if he has a court order to have one hand unshackled while in the room, then the jail will comply with that order.
Judge Ohta grants the defendant’s motion.
Then Gargiulo asks the court for an exparte medical order which I believe Judge Ohta grants.
DDA Akemon then informs the court that he has turned over to the defense a fourth set of discovery and a receipt for this fourth set. There was a fifth set of discovery he provided to Filipiak and that also was provided to the defendant. “I also gave Mr. Gargiulo page numbers 20,302 to 20,373. ... That receipt is also logged.”
And that’s it. Gargiulo is taken back into the jail holding area.
As I’m leaving the courtroom, Akemon greets me and mentions that he’s sorry I came down for such a short hearing. I tell him it’s fine, that I’ve been attending the preliminary hearing in the Gerhard Becker case. I give a brief outline of the case, the name of the prosecutors and that it’s being held in Judge Tynan’s courtroom. Akemon mentions that Sean Carney and Francis Young are both great attorneys.
When the hearing is over, I head down to Judge Tynan's courtroom to wait for the last day of the Becker preliminary hearing. I'll be putting my notes up on the Becker prelim as soon as possible.