Monday, July 22, 2013

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, Pretrial Hearing 11

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, Arrested June 6th, 2008

Previous Hearing 6/28/13

UPDATE: clarity, spelling
Friday, July 19th 2013
8:20 AM
I'm on the 9th floor. I see Michael Gargiulo's court appointed private investigator, Christian Filipiak at the other end of the hallway. A group of attorneys are sitting on a bench across the hall from me chatting away.

There is another case I'm interested in that has a hearing this morning in Dept. 103. Douglas Gordon Bradford (I believe out on bond), is charged in the 30 year old cold case stabbing murder of Lynne Knight.  Deputy District Attorney John Lewin is prosecuting the case.  I was interested in the case for two reasons. First, it's a cold case and second, John Lewin is prosecuting. LAPD Cold Case Detective Rick Jackson has spoken quite highly of Lewin. I had planned on attending the Bradford hearing until Gargiulo's next hearing was scheduled on the same date. I'm only one person. I can't physically sit in two courtrooms at the same time.  I believe I saw Bradford sitting on a hallway bench right beside Dept. 103 but I can't be positive it was him.

I haven’t seen DDA’s Daniel Akemon or Garrett Dameron yet.  Maybe our hearing will start a bit later. Two defense attorneys pass by me heading towards Judge Ohta's courtroom.  I overhear one say to the other, "There's a big pro per case in here this morning."

8:30 AM

I see quite a bit of activity going into Dept. 104, Judge Perry’s courtroom.   Down at this end of the hallway, Judge Lomeli opens the door to his courtroom, Dept. 107, and a few attorney’s go inside. Coming out of Dept. 104 and then going into Dept. 103, I see defense attorney Anthony Brooklier, who is the husband of my reporter friend Pat LaLama. I met Pat covering the Stephanie Lazarus case. DDA Lewin arrives on the 9th floor and quickly enters Dept. 103.  Soon after, Filipiak heads down towards Dept. 108 and I decide I better close my laptop and get inside Judge Ohta's courtroom.

I take a seat in my usual place inside Dept. 108; second bench row, close to the aisle.  I know there is another hearing on Judge Ohta's calendar this morning with two defendants, but there are probably more hearings today.  There's no notice as to which hearing will come first.  It will depend on which counsel for both sides is ready first.

There are several defense attorneys here already. Filipiak is chatting with one while two others are sitting in the well chairs directly in front of the jury box.

8:35 AM
DDA's Dameron and Akemon enter Dept. 108 along with their clerk intern I met about a month ago.  Dameron is in a dark suit and white shirt.  Akemon is wearing a light gray suit with a faint, lighter stripe. He's matched it with a white shirt and what looks like a gray and brown patterned tie.  One defense attorney adjusts the suit collar of another at the nape of the man's neck. Akemon and Filipiak exchange papers. Friendly conversation abounds in the well.  There are several women and children in the gallery.  The children are too young to possibly be victim Maria Bruno's four children.  It's more likely they are here for a hearing in another case.

More counsel check in with Judge Ohta's staff.  One woman is very slender and I envy her tiny waistline. I get the sense she's not a defense attorney but a deputy district attorney. She's wearing slacks, a nicely tailored short sleeve shirt with decorative cuffs and her blonde hair is pulled back in a ponytail, accentuating the sleek angular lines of her face.

I note that Filipiak has a three to four inch stack of papers that he hands to the bailiff.  I'm guessing these papers will end up with Gargiulo.  It's looking a bit crowded in the well. Just as I think there are as many counsel here as there are spectators, two more attorneys arrive and the well gets even more lively.

8:45 AM
Judge Ohta's clerk arrives and counsel start to check in with her.  There are now almost a dozen attorney's in the well.  There are several conversations going on at once.  Although I'm trying to strain my ears to hear what Akemon, Dameron and Filipiak are talking about, I can't hear a word because they are speaking too quietly and the other voices are loud.

The bailiff starts to set up the proper chairs around the defense table.  There are two chairs together at the table end, and then four more set in two rows facing forward.  Akemon and Filipiak are checking their smart phones.

8:53 AM
We are still waiting for Judge Ohta to take the bench.  Filipiak is now chatting with one of the defense attorneys and a woman in the gallery sitting right beside the bailiff's desk. I'm making a wild guess that this woman is another investigator, just like Filipiak.  Two more older Latino women arrive and sit in the gallery. Several other deputies have entered the courtroom. It's possible they are here to have more deputies on hand when several defendants are brought out at once.

Judge Ohta comes out from the back rooms.  He has on a crisp white shirt and he's not yet in his robes. He drops off a thick court file on his bench.  He then quickly puts on his robe and zips it up.  He then calls for two of the attorneys in the well to the bench for an off the record conversation.  I note Akemon is sipping on a cup of coffee.  Looking over at the clerk's tall counter, I see the large, full container of Red Vines is still there next to the wall.

Four defendants in blue jumpsuits are brought out.  Two sit in the chairs on the end, and the other two sit in the pair of chairs behind the chairs at the defense table.  But not all the defendant's counsel are here.  The blond prosecutor is sitting alone at the people's table. A few of the four defendants turn and look towards the gallery.  They exchange smiles and small waves to their supporters. Two more district attorney clerk interns enter and sit with the other intern in the front row.  It's a busy, bustling courtroom this morning.

The bench conference with the two counsel is over.  Judge Ohta gets another thick file placed on the bench.  From what I'm overhearing, it appears counsel for one of the four defendant's will stand in for some of the others, but he isn't here at the moment. Judge Ohta is told that attorney is currently in Dept. 102 on another matter.  Dept. 102 is at the other end of the hallway.  Terri Keith from City News enters and sits in the back row.

The missing attorney enters the courtroom.  This counsel, in conversation with Judge Ohta, tells Judge Ohta what another absent defendant's attorney told him.  That the absent attorney told Judge Ohta his schedule. Judge Ohta responds, "He may have told me, just like you told me your schedule, but that doesn't mean I remember it. I don't remember my own schedule."  Smiles quickly pass over a few faces in the well.

Judge Ohta calls the case to order.  They are setting a date for a 402 motion in limine for admittance of one defendant's statements to potentially be used against his co defendants.  Mr. Chaney (sp?) is here and Mr. Brand (sp?) is standing in for two other defense counsel. The case is set over for a new date and that's it for this case.  All the people in the gallery file out after the hearing is over and the defendants are taken back into the holding area.

Judge Ohta tells Mr. Dameron they will call the Gargiulo case now.  I then see a new face who entered the courtroom a few minutes ago. It's LA County Sheriff's Detective Mark Lillienfeld.  He's wearing a tan suit, light blue shirt and red tie. He takes a seat in the jury box.  Another thick case file is put on Judge Ohta's bench.  The judge leaves the bench for a moment, and brings back with him another thick case file.  He then looks over something on his computer screen for a moment.  We are waiting for Gargiulo to be brought out.

9:24 AM
The bailiff brings out Gargiulo. He's completely shaved off his Snidely Whiplash sized mustache. Gargiulo quickly goes over some papers with Filipiak.  Judge Ohta is reading something at the bench.  Akemon and Lillienfeld go over a document. Lillienfeld takes out a pen and with his left hand, and (I believe) notes something on the paper. Filipiak now chats with Akemon for a second.

9:29 AM
On the record in the Gargiulo matter.  For the record, Judge Ohta goes over what has transpired in the last several hearings. Judge Ohta talks about the Rodriguez (sp?) issue, and the people's position of not disclosing this information to the defense.  Previously, the parties were close to stipulating to aspects of the information.  The prosecution stated they would not use the material in this case.  Mr. Gargiulo didn't like the language so he filed an ex parte motion to have the prosecution turn over the information. Further discussion appeared to work for both sides.  There was potential discussion about a mistrial.  Judge Ohta states he doesn't know how the issue has been resolved.

Filipiak tells the court that Gargiulo signed the stipulation this morning. Judge Ohta asks Akemon to read the new stipulation into the record. Akemon begins, "The people offer to stipulate as follows."  He then goes onto to give a short synopsis of the Maria Rodriguez murder that happened in Downey. Maria was stabbed to death in her bedroom in November of 2003. "Mr. Gargiulo is a suspect in that homicide. ... Although another person has (been? identified from?) an eye witness, and there is DNA other that Mr. Gargiulo... the investigation is ongoing. ... There is no connection between that case and Mr. Gargiulo's case. ... Confidentiality out weights the defendant's need to see (the file?)."

On May 24th 2013, the defendant offered to stipulate to not to compel discovery, if the Downey case is not used in this case. The defendant waives any and all appellate rights as long the prosecution doesn't present any information on the Downey case in the penalty phase. The prosecution is not barred from charging the defendant in the future.  (In my notes, I have this statement but I may have heard it wrong. 'The stipulation does not prevent the Rodrigues murder in pretrial argument before the court in this case.' Sprocket.) The stipulation is binding only in the first trial, this case.  It doesn't bar the prosecution from further prosecution or in a retrial (if this case hangs).  Akemon tells the court he's signed the stipulation.

Judge Ohta asks Gargiulo if he's signed it as well.  "Yes, your honor."  Judge Ohta then asks the parties, "Now where are we?"  Akemon tells the court they turned over to Gargiulo written discovery pages numbered 26,981 to 27,661." The report is logged and signed by Mr. Filipiak. Akemon continues, "Now starting to shift gears and file motions in limine and file other (motions) ..."

July 13th, the people filed a prosecution notice of factors and aggravating (circumstances). Akemon continues, "A copy was emailed to Mr. Filipiak and a copy presented to Gargiulo and a copy mailed to Gargiulo (at the jail)."  July 15th, (the people) filed a motion in limine to admit prior convictions and other uncharged acts. Judge Ohta tells Akemon he doesn't want to argue those motions at this time. He wants to have those motions argued closer to trial.

Akemon tells the court they have turned over about 95% of their discovery. They are waiting on two more expert reports.  The people are still continuing to audit their file to ensure that everything is turned over to the defense.  There are a couple of items coming, but he feels they are at 95%.

The court asks Gargiulo where he stands.  Gargiulo states that he is filing a motion for a Frank's hearing (also known as a motion to quash and traverse). Gargiulo tells the court that detectives deliberately lied and gave inaccurate information (in the search warrants). He tells the court that there was doubt created that prejudiced the defendant (him).  So his motion for a Frank's hearing is to squash the search warrants.

Judge Ohta asks the defendant, "When will you have that filed?"  Gargiulo starts to give a long explanation of his problems at the jail.  Judge Ohta interrupts him, telling him he doesn't need to hear about that.  He just wants to know how long Gargiulo needs. Gargiulo replies, "Within the next few months. I'm working on an investigation."  I believe it's Judge Ohta who mentions 1538.5 motions. Gargiulo continues to tell Judge Ohta, " (It's) hard to get together with my investigator."  Judge Ohta tells counsel, "Sounds like there nothing to do for the next couple of months. ... I only want to bring him back if there's something to litigate."  Akemon replies, "I agree. I don't think there's anything to work on now."

Akemon tells the court they are going to work on a specific motion.  Judge Ohta responds, "...1101b, I'd like to hear that closer to trial... if trial is still one year away or more." (There. Judge Ohta said it. The case is at least a year away from trial. Sprocket.) Judge Ohta tells the parties he will keep a file of the in limine motions and those will be argued closer to trial.  Judge Ohta tells the parties it's always possible he could get transferred out (of Dept. 108).  So, if they argued those motions now, and the case gets a new judge, then those motions would have to be litigated again.  Gargiulo speaks up and tells the court he hopes he will stay on the case.  Judge Ohta responds, "I plan on being here, but one never knows."  The next hearing date is set for September 27th. The case calendar is set on that date at zero of 90.  And that's it.

Next Pretrial Hearing September 27, 2013