George Buehler, Mark Kassabian, Kelly Soo Park, July 2012
I have reviewed all my notes to try to determine how many hours the jury has been deliberating. I cannot come up with an exact figure, because this jury has not "buzzed" each time they have started and stopped. All times are as close as I can possibly come.
May 22nd, 2013 (Day 7 of trial)
Recap: On this day we had two defense witnesses and all of closing arguments. While Judge Kennedy was reading jury instructions, a sound on my computer went off. I quickly left the courtroom with my laptop. I did not re-enter the courtroom until Judge Kennedy had left the bench. I read one news report of that day that indicated the jurors had deliberated 20 minutes before going home. So, on the day of closings, we have 20 minutes.
Total: 20 minutes
May 23rd, 2013 (Day 8 of trial)
From my notes, these are the approximate times I have for deliberations. Since all these times are approximate, I will round them to the closest 5 minute increment.
9:00 AM to 10:46 AM = 1 HR, 45 minutes
11:00 AM to 12 Noon = 1 HR
1:30 PM to 3:55 PM = 2 HRs, 25 minutes
Total: 5 HRs, 10 minutes
May 24th, 2013 (Day 9 of trial)
Approximate times from my notes. Testimony was read back from 9:00 AM to 9:40 AM.
9:40 AM to 10:20 AM = 40 minutes
10:35 AM to 12 Noon = 1 HR, 25 minutes
1:30 PM to 4 PM = 2 HRs, 30 minutes
Total: 4 HRs, 25 minutes
May 28th, 2013 (Day 10 of trial)
Approximate times from my notes. A juror had a funeral to go to in the morning. They were ordered back at 1:30 PM. Testimony was read back from 1:40 PM to 3:15 PM
3:15 PM to 4 PM = 45 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
May 29th, 2013 (Day 11 of trial)
All times are as close as I can come from my detailed notes.
9:00 AM to 10:15 AM = 1 HR, 15 minutes
10:30 AM to 12 Noon = 1 HR, 30 minutes
1:30 PM to 3:55 PM = 2 HRs, 25 minutes
Total: 5 HRs, 10 minutes
May 30th, 2013 (Day 12 of trial)
Al ltimes are as close as I can come from my detailed notes.
9:00 AM to 10:45 AM = 1 HR, 45 minutes
11:00 AM to 12 Noon = 1 HR
1:30 PM to 3:50 PM = 2 HRs, 20 minutes
Total: 5 HRs, 5 minutes
Running total: 20 HRs, 55 minutes
This information is now on a JURY CLOCK page that will be updated at the end of each day.
I will update when I reach the 9th floor.
I cannot verify if Ronnie Case has or has not attended any prior court proceeding. Ronnie Case has not attended the trial.
I'm inside the courtroom. There Redding family is here. Park and Chronister are here along with their family. The camera crew is setting up, getting ready to record the verdict when it is reached.
I've asked the court clerk if she has kept a tally of deliberation time. She has. She will provide me with a copy of her calculations when she has time. The clerks calculations of jury deliberations would be the official time.
A few jurors file into the jury room.
The bailiff announces to the room that there will be a bench trial in the courtroom today. He's reminding the gallery how much Judge Kennedy loves cell phones, and to make sure they are turned off. He also tells the gallery "Please, please...." not to pass into the well of the court area unless he is present. The camera crew continues to set up.
A group of jurors file in. One of the alternates comes in and the bailiff goes into the ante chamber to talk to her privately.
DDA Okun-Wiese and Detective Thompson enter with a clerk and greet the Redding family.
I hear what sounds like a bit of loud voices, laughter coming from the jury room. Someone in the gallery asks the bailiff when the bench trial starts. Standing in front of the counsel tables he replies "Supposedly in a minute." Stretching his arms out he continues, "But as you can see..." referencing the empty tables in front of him.
A defense attorney for the bench trial enters with a rolling card. That trial should start momentarily, as soon as the prosecution arrives.
A female prosecutor enters with her files. She and the defense attorney chat.
Counsel for the bench trial are chatting with the court clerk.
Lonce LaMon of Adjuster.com arrives and takes a seat beside me. She usually sits on the other side of the gallery but has stopped by me to say hello and finish her coffee.
The bail bondsman is not here today. He does not come to court every day. My guess would be, he's busy handling other clients and running his business.
The wire-waisted, model-tall dark-haired woman (I believe she's a reporter, but I'm not positive) enters and sits in the first row of the short benches in front of the bailiff's desk. She's wearing black patent leather open toed heels, skin tight white jeans and a clinging knit top.
Another pretty reporter with NBC enters and sits in the back row near the camera crew.
Judge Kennedy takes the bench in the bench trial. I will have to step out of the courtroom to update when Judge Kennedy is on the bench.
There is a short hearing to reschedule a different case. Over. The bailiff is on the phone. Judge Kennedy, smiling looks over at her bailiff and says, "You're shaking your head..." She then tells her staff, "I'll come back out when you're ready." Judge Kennedy leaves the bench.
The tall dark-haired beauty is in the well, speaking to the court reporter. She entered empty handed but now has some binders of paper in her hands that I'm guessing are court transcripts. It's a good bet she's buying transcripts of the proceedings.
Luz from Dateline enters and takes a seat in the last bench row.
Just wanted to say thank you to all of T&T's readers who have donated.
I can't thank you enough. Every dollar of your donations mean so much to me and my husband. Your donations help to pay for my expenses of covering these trials like certain reports that I can't get for free, parking, and travel, etc. Thank you so much.
A lovely blonde woman who is a friend of the Redding family enters and sits inbetween Greg Redding and Juliana's brother.
DDA Okun-Wiese leaves the courtroom with another gentleman, probably from the DA's staff.
There are not a large number of reporters from the networks inside the courtroom. No more than what have been here on other days.
People come and go. There is an ebb and flow to the sounds inside Dept. 109. The prosecutor in the bench case is chatting with the court reporter at the clerks desk. The defendant is brought out. He is wearing a shirt and pants. The bailiff tells the courtroom to put away all newspapers and cell phones.
Judge Kennedy takes the bench in a bench trial.
The prosecutor makes an opening statement.
James Thomas, defendant. January 11th, 2012. A homeless man was siting on a bench about to take a hit off a crack pipe, and the next thing he remembers, is this defendant was on top of him, stabbing him with a knife. Another individual was in the area, yelling at the defendant to stop. Mr. Yamiana. The damage to the victim's arm was so severe, a vein from his leg had to be used to repair the damage to his arm, or he could have lost his arm.
Defense opening statement. Mr. Thomas has a history of psychotic psychosis. Evidence will show that Mr. Thomas wasn't intentionally trying to kill him. Mentions the injuries. Certainly, the biceps injury was the serious one. Victim was in the hospital four or five days. He returned to the hospital a month later for three or four more days. I don't think the evidence will show that Mr. Thomas was trying to kill the man. He was under the influence of delusions.
A witness takes the stand. Ben Miyayama (sp?)
Terri Keith of City News stops by to check on the case then leaves. Terri is one busy reporter. Her work load can easily be checking in on 40 cases a day. My friends in the press who know how hard she works have told me it would take two or three people to replace her. Can you tell I admire the work she does?
The witness is the individual who was attacked. He identifies the defendant as the one who attacked him.
Kelly Soo Park bail.
Understand that there are cases where an individual is charged with murder and they are able make bail. When a defendant makes bail, those cases can take longer to reach trial. Phil Spector is an example. Lana Clarkson was murdered on February 3rd, 2003. Spector was taken into custody that same morning. Within 24 hours, his attorney Robert Shapiro was able to get Spector released on 1 million bail. At the time, he was not placed under GPS ankle monitoring. Spector's case finally went to trial April 2007, over four years later. He was convicted in his second trial on April 13th, 2009. From his initial arrest on February 3rd 2003 until April 13th, 2009, Spector was free to come and go as he pleased.
Stephanie Lazarus had a bail amount of 10 million placed on her. She was unable to make bail and remained in LA County Jail custody from June 5th, 2009 until her conviction on March 8th, 2012. Less than a month later, Lazarus was transferred to prison.
Park was in custody a relatively short time. She was arrested June 17th, 2010. She made bail sometime in October 2010. There is a GPS monitoring device attached to Park's leg.
Buzz! Buzz! The bailiff goes to investigate. He hands a paper to the judge. Judge calls her clerk over to her desk. "We need to get all the attorney's."
This is not a verdict. If a verdict is reached, the jurors will buzz three times. They will not send out a note like they just did.
DDA Okun-Wiese, Detective Thompson and the DDA's clerk leave the courtroom.
CORRECTION. The model-tall beauty is not a reporter. She's an intern with the DA's office. She's studying to be a prosecutor. (Good for her.) I apologize for my incorrect guess that she is a reporter. She probably was picking up transcripts from the court reporter for the DA's office. My mistake. I should probably ask people who they are first, before guessing.
Jurors do not send out a note when they reach a verdict. The jurors have been instructed to buzz three times when they reach a verdict.
Park and Chronister exit the courtroom for a break.
The bench trial.
The witness who was allegedly attacked by the defendant is under cross by the defense attorney. The witness is answering some of the defense attorney's counsel in an angry, hostile tone. When the attorney moves from the podium, he tells the attorney, "Don't come near me bro!"
Before you were attacked that night, did you know Mr. Thomas's name? "No." You were homeless at the time? "Yes." His two friends were homeless, too. The witness had some prior contact with him. The witness bought cigarettes from the defendant but there were no altercations, or arguments prior to the attack.
Can you think of anything that would have provoked him? Objection! Over ruled. "No."
Friends of Juliana in the courtroom. Today, there is one attractive woman with blonde hair who has been there most every day that sits with the family. I don't know if she is a girlfriend or a blood relative.
Two reporters, one I recognize, one I don't enter Dept. 109.
Park and Chronister reenter the courtroom.
In the bench trial, the witness is finally excused.
Judge Kennedy stands at the bench. The prosecution and defense have witnesses coming in for the afternoon session. The prosecutor reenters the courtroom and counsel have a sidebar conference with the judge.
Defendants out on bond.
Park was ruled eligible for bond. That was her right. I don't know how difficult it has been for the Redding family to have Park out on bond. I have not approached them to ask questions. I usually don't try to invade the privacy of the victim or the defendant's family.
The bench trial defendant has been taken back into custody.
Park's sister Kim arrives and greets members of Park's supporters. Judge Kennedy goes back into chambers.
More Park supporters enter. The AP reporter enters the courtroom. Terri Keith enters Dept. 109.
10:55 AM. DDA Okun-Wiese is here, defense counsel arrived a few moments ago.
The bailiff reenters the courtroom and addresses the clerk saying, "One, two and four." Maybe some jurors went on break? I'm not positive. The court clerk makes a call. It sounds like to the alternates.
Judge Kennedy takes the bench. We received a communication from the jury.
The jury requests the judge read back page 11 521 of the jury instructions.
So lets bring the jury in.
Bailiff: Please be sure all cell phones be turned completely off!
On the record. 11:04 AM
I am in receipt of your request that I read back instruction 521 on Page 11
The defendant is guilty of first degree murder, if the people prove she acted deliberately and willfully.
I'll try to find the actual instruction on the web. CALCRIM 521
There is an added paragraph that Judge Kennedy reads that's not on that web page about 2nd degree murder. As the jury leaves, she jokingly addresses the alternates, telling them they probably could have finished "War and Peace
JK: The jury has left the courtroom.
JK: My speculation is that the jury is having difficult between first and second degree murder. The question is whether the prosecution may want to take first degree murder off the table away from them and leaving second degree. That is something that you may want to think about.
I stepped outside for a moment.
The courtroom has emptied out quite a bit. Reporters have left. The Redding family has left with the prosecution.
Never try to predict a jury. I do not know if Judge Kennedy's comment to the people about is something that happens often or not. I will try to ask sources for that information.
I do not know if DDA Okun-Wiese has the authority to make the decision to take first degree off the table or not. She may, she may not. I'm sure that the DA's office would at least listen to the family and get their thoughts on that issue.
I was not able to see Park's face when Judge Kennedy spoke.
Reducing the degree of the charge is not a plea bargain. Second degree has a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life. It's reducing the number of options the jury has in deciding on a verdict.
There is a low hum of conversation in the courtroom. The bench trial prosecutor is at the people's table chatting with a coworker and going over documents. Okun-Wiese and Detective Thompson and another gentleman are in the well in the seats directly behind the prosecution table.
Greg and Patricia Redding along with their son have not returned to the courtroom. Cher Brooks, who was the girlfriend who spent the night at Juliana's apartment on March 14th, is in the courtroom. Another one of Juliana's girlfriends along with Cher, arrived with the Redding family before the instruction was read to the jurors.
Brooks and the other girlfriend exit the courtroom.
Judge Kennedy is at the clerk's desk, signing something. She's wearing a sleeveless black dress with a V neckline. The court clerk is busy working at her desk. The bailiff is leaning on the clerk's counter, talking to Judge Kennedy. It looks like Judge Kennedy has a soda can in her right hand.
Buzz! Buzz! The jurors are probably going to lunch.
Answering a question. The jurors went back to deliberations at 11:10 AM.
I do not know if that is unusual for the judge to address the prosecution and ask them if they want to consider taking first degree off the table. I would have to ask someone who has attended many more trials than I have.
Y'all are really making me work today with these questions. (Just kidding.) So no questions about what I had for lunch? (A salad over at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles on Temple St., just so I could walk a few steps and get out of the building.)
Courtrooms are closed to the public from 12 noon to 1:30 pm. That's the lunch hour for all courtrooms in the building.
The sentence is set by law. It's in the Penal Code under 190.a. A defendant who is found guilty of first degree murder is sentenced to 25 years to life. Second degree murder is 15 years to life. The judge cannot change that sentence.
The jurors looked no different to me than how they have dressed for the past 12 days.
Jurors get to go where ever they like for lunch. They can eat in the cafeteria or go to a local restaurant. They are not required to eat together. I have often sat at a table in the cafeteria with someone who is here for jury duty, if I can't find an empty table. I just make sure the individual is not one of the jurors on this case.
I do not know if the detectives found any evidence in Park's vehicles. If they did, it was not used at trial.
The court does not provide lunch for the jurors. The court provided lunch for the Spector 1 jury, and ensured that they were kept away from the media/public. That was because the trial was live streamed and there was quite a bit of media interest in that trial. I can't even remember if they did that for Spector 2.
All that has happened is Judge Kennedy spoke on the record, addressing the prosecution, indicating that the people might want to consider taking 1st degree off the table. Like I said, this has not happened yet. The judge just addressed the people with her thoughts. I do not know what the procedure is for that to actually happen. So, at this point, 1st degree is not off the table for the jury to decide on.
25 years to life OR 15 years to life. Since the crime occurred in 2008, Park is under the sentencing guidelines that were in effect at the time of the crime, and not when she was arrested or convicted. That's how it works. The good time served credits accumulate at the rates that were in effect in 2008. That's my understanding.
Now, IF I'm remembering correctly, Park will need to serve 85% of her sentence before she is eligible for her first parole hearing. That's what I believe at this time to be true. If there are legal eagles out there that know different, please chime in or email me with the correct figures/percentages. With that true, Park would serve 85% of her sentence before she is eligible for her first parole hearing.
The short time she was in custody will go towards her sentence. I do not know anything about the odds of her being released at her first parole hearing. However, I've heard from other reporters that defendants convicted of first degree virtually "never" get released on their first parole hearing. Like I said, this is what I've heard. I do not have statistics from the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation on this issue.
I'm on the 9th floor. There are two big huddles of people. One by the courtroom full of Redding family and friends. The other is further down the hall and full of Park supporters. I see several more of Juliana's girlfriends are here.
I'm inside the courtroom. BUZZ! The jurors are back deliberating.
Ronnie Case was not called as a witness. Park's phone records from the night of March 14th and 15th were not presented into evidence. The information about the phone records can be read in the Charging Document & Statement of Probable Cause. This document is a LE document and I've never seen one entered into evidence before.
The defendant in the bench trial has been brought out. The defense would like to call a witness out of order. I think this witness relates to the mental health issue of the defendant.
We hear a cell phone in the gallery. The bailiff reminds the gallery, "Please be sure all cell phones are turned off."
The courtroom is full. There are many people here for both sides of the Park case. I have not had the opportunity to observe Park, so I cannot give an opinion as to her mood, or what her expression at any moment in time might reveal.
The bench case continues. The private investigator for the defense, Linda Larsen is here. She is working on a crossword puzzle.
I have no idea if the jury will reach a verdict today or not. I can only say that I've heard many times from other reporters that in LA County, more verdicts are reached on a Friday than any other day.
I stepped outside the courtroom to publish. In the ante chamber, I passed Tom Chronister and the bail bondsman, Josh Herman who were having a private conversation.
I glance over at Park for a moment. Her large, leather weave gold handbag is on her lap, her arms are resting on her lap and her eyes are closed.
Verdicts are reached on Fridays. No matter when a verdict is reached, they are read in open court that same day. The reading of verdicts are not held over until the next day. That never happens.
Chronister is back inside the courtroom, whispering into Park's ear. From where I'm sitting, it appears her head is resting on his right shoulder. His right arm is around her back.
Evidence. Before evidence can be admitted in a trial, it must reach a certain standard. There are very strict rules regarding 1101b evidence (evidence of similar uncharged crimes) or 3rd Party Culpability evidence. These rules have been tested over time via appellate rulings, and how the law continues to be interpreted. Sometimes evidence isn't presented because counsel for one side or another may decide on a specific trial strategy and not introduce it.
The defense tried several times to get behavior/conduct alleged to have been committed by John Gilmore presented to the jury. Each and every time, Judge Kennedy ruled that evidence did not meet the standard.
A cell phone goes off in the gallery. The bailiff warns, "Please turn your cell phones off." Judge Kennedy looks into the gallery. She is not happy hearing this cell phone.
The testimony of the defense investigator is HEARSAY. Rarely, is hearsay testimony admitted into evidence in a murder trial. There are very few exceptions to the hearsay rule.
Bench trial case. Cross examination of the mental health nurse continues by the prosecutor.
Answering a question. You are correct. The OJ Simpson verdict was held over. That was 1996. This is 2013. It does not happen anymore. It's my understanding, from past conversations with court staff from the Public Information Office, that every effort is made to read a verdict in open court as soon as possible, after a jury reaches a verdict.
The bailiff tries to stifle a yawn. Reporters are engaged with their smart phones or laptops. Other people are discretely reading books. Greg Redding, who is sitting on the end of the first seating row, is leaning slightly forward, his elbows are resting on his thighs. He just rubbed his face. Patricia Redding is sitting to her husband's right. She's sitting up straight, her back against the bench and her eyes appear to be looking down at her lap. Two rows back, Park's husband is also sitting on the end of the bench row, with Park to his right. Her left hand is resting Chronister's right thigh.
Chronister has his right ankle resting on his left knee. With his right ankle exposed, there appears to be some sort of strap device around this ankle. It could be an ankle brace or something else.
I thought I explained this, but I will try again. The jury must reach a unanimous verdict. All 12 jurors must agree on the verdict. We don't know what the jurors are struggling with. Judge Kennedy shared her thoughts on the record as to what she thought the jurors were struggling with.
HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION HERE. (Do y'all know what hypothetical means?)
Let's say you are on a jury and you can't agree on first or second degree murder. Let's say you and several jurors firmly believe the evidence proved first degree, but there are other jurors who firmly believe the evidence proves second degree. Would you stand by your vote, or change it just to go home? What would you do? Would you continue to deliberate? It's not about "just changing a vote." It's about coming to an agreement with the other jurors as to what the evidence proves.
Bench case trial.
A woman is brought out who is in custody, wearing handcuffs. She's wearing the new pastel green jumpsuit. This woman is a friend of the victim. She witnessed the event.
The phone records information is in the Charging Document & Statement of Probable Cause. I recommend people read it. This is a document that is prepared by a LE individual that is presented to a judge. The individual swears in this document, that the information in the document is true. That there is documentation to support the sworn statements.
I stepped outside to publish the last update and while I was in the hallway Judge Kennedy called for a break in the bench case. Many people filed out to take a walk and stretch their legs. Out in the hallway was Terri Keith and LA Times reporter Jack Leonard. HERE are some LA Times stories by Leonard.
"I" did not make the arguments for first degree. I repeated DDA Okun-Wiese's closing arguments for first degree. I said that Okun-Wiese explained the laws definition of premeditation correctly.
Buzz! Buzz! The bailiff goes to investigate. The bailiff comes out. He does not have a paper in his hand but he goes directly to Judge Kennedy's chambers.
The bailiff heads back to the jury room.
The bailiff comes out from the jury room and heads back to Judge Kennedy's chambers. Now, he goes back to the jury room.
The bailiff comes out from the jury room and leans over the clerks counter to speak to her privately.
The bailiff goes into the holding area to bring the bench case defendant back into the courtroom.
The bench case is back on. Another prosecution witness, a female officer.
All of Juliana's family and supporters enter in mass. I see Brian Van Holt and a few new faces. The courtroom is full. The front seating row is packed with 12-13 people, all crammed together. The second row has about nine people, a mix of Park supporters, Juliana's supporters and press. The back row is a mix of Park supporters and press. The chairs against the back wall by the door are all filled with media and journalists.
The bench trial will continue on Monday.
If y'all have a question, I'm happy to answer it.
Counsel for the bench case pack up. The court reporter takes her equipment with her to the back office areas. The bailiff emerges from the custody holding area.
Now the bailiff leaves the courtroom quickly.
DDA Okun-Wiese reenters the courtroom. She's sitting with Detective Thompson and their clerk on the left side of the courtroom behind the bailiff's desk.
There was no note from the jury. I don't know what that was about.
The judge cannot raise or lower the length of sentence. The sentence is written into the Penal Code. The judge cannot go outside the written law.
It's a good guess that several local channels will have the verdict on TV or their web sites once one is reached. The camera is connected to a media room on the 12th floor. It's my understanding that there are reporters on the 12th floor, waiting on the verdict.
The gallery is now eerily quiet. The clock ticks loudly on the wall above my head.
Park gets up to whisper into the ear of the defense investigator. She sits back down beside her husband.
Judge Kennedy, who is at the clerk's desk, asks her bailiff if the jurors are going home. I don't hear his reply.
Buzz! Buzz! The bailiff investigates.
The jurors start to exit.
Judge Kennedy orders Park back Monday at 9:00 AM.
The courtroom packs up.
I'll have a Q&A available for the weekend.
I just got home and set my bags down. I will answer one more question before I take a break and enjoy Mr. Sprocket's company for a bit and then get into tackling my chores.
A defense investigator, investigates. They find witnesses and interview them. They try to interview prosecution witnesses if they are willing to talk. By law, a prosecution witness is not required to speak to defense attorneys or investigators, before trial. I hope that answers that question.
If you have any questions about court procedure or the evidence presented at trial, please leave a comment or email me at: sprocket.trials AT gmail.com. All requests for confidentiality will be honored.