Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ka Pasasouk, Preliminary Hearing Day 3, Part IV

Ka Pasasouk, in custody 
Photo credit: Daily News

Continued from Day 3, Part III.....

UPDATED 11/19: Witness name changed per request
July 31, 2013
The people call Detective Dan Myers.


Myers has been an LAPD officer for twenty-five and a half years. He's been an investigator since March of 1994.  Myers is the lead investigator on the case.  Myers went to the Devonshire crime scene. When he arrived he saw four victims shot at that location on the west side of the property.

Myers is shown a photo of the victims at the scene.  In the top of the photo, Myers identifies victim Teofilo Navales (aka Jojo Burbank), lying on his back.  The the left in the photo is a male, David Calabia.  He then corrects himself and states the victim's name is Robert Calabia.  "David" is a misprint on the exhibit. The female on the left side is Amanda Ghossein.  The fourth victim, lying on her knees, resting on her elbows was identified as Jennifer Kim.

Myers testifies that he and his partner attended the coroner's examination for every victim. The defense states they stipulate to the coroner's findings.

On December 2nd, Amanda Ghossein, Jennifer Kim, Teofilo Navales and Robert Calabia were shot and killed at 11744 Devonshire Street in the County of Los Angeles.

Deputy coroner Brian Hutchins performed a post-mortem examination (2012-07957) on Amanda Ghossein.  Ghossein died immediately of a gunshot wound to the left parietal side of her head.  The bullet traveled back to front, left to right and downward.  There was no soot or stippling. The manner of death was homicide.

Deputy coroner Yulai Wang performed  a post mortem examination on Jennifer Kim (2012-07598). She suffered two gunshot wounds. One gunshot wound entered at the side of her neck. It was back to front, left to right and upward. There was no soot or stippling.  The second gunshot wound was a through and through. It entered Ms. Kim's back, entered the scapula and exited the neck. This wound was non-fatal.

As the details of the victims wounds are read in court, a low sound starts to permeate the gallery.  Many of the victim's loved ones are sobbing.

On December 4th, 2012 deputy coroner Jason P. Tovar performed the post mortem examination on Robert Calabia (2012-07959). Calabia died immediately from a gunshot wound to the head. A second gunshot wound to the back that was life threatening. The gunshot wound to the head was a "through and through"  The second wound exited the mouth.

(I apologize. During this section of testimony, my pen ran out of ink as I was writing and I couldn't find a replacement pen in my purse fast enough. Sprocket.)

Deputy coroner Ajay Panchal performed the post mortem examination on Teofilo Navales. Navales suffered a gunshot wound to the the head. It traveled from the back of the head to the front.  There was a second gunshot wound, through and through. It entered the abdomen, traveled front to back and left to right. It exited the right side of the back.

Again, the defense stipulates to the coroner's examinations for the preliminary hearing only.

Myers testifies that shell casings were recovered from around various points on the bodies.  People's exhibit 4 is presented. There are four red dots (circles?) outlining where the shell casings were found around the bodies.  Family members of the victims are sobbing behind me.  Myers explains where shell casings were recovered around the bodies.  All four casings were 40 caliber range.  All of the casings were booked into evidence by criminalists.

Myers is asked to explain what a casing is. Myers explains, "It's part of a cartridge. ... It's what is ejected from the weapon."

DA: In attending the post-mortem did you collect the projectiles from the bodies?
DM: Yes.

Myers testifies that he observed the recovery of all the bullets (by the coroner's) and collected them from the LA County Coroner's office. He then booked them into evidence. He observed the recover of the bullets from Jennifer Kim, Amanda Ghossein and Teofilo Navales.  For Robert Calabia, the bullet that entered his skull was recovered at the scene. It was recovered from a knit cap he was wearing at the time. Myers testifies as to the items and what numbers they were booked into evidence under.

Myers states an effort was made to recover the weapon. They served search warrants at the defendant's aunt's house. They brought in an archaeological team. They were unsuccessful. They never recovered the weapon.  They recovered a weapon from underneath the front passenger seat of a black Audi in Nevada.

DDA Akemon states there is one last brief area to review.

DA: In connection with the investigation, did you interview Christina Neal? ... Was she initially reluctant to speak to you?
DM: Yes.
DA: Did she eventually speak to you?
DM: Yes.

Akemon now reads from a transcript of Christina Neal's interview with Detective Myers.

DA: Did she say, "Like when if you if it's not true Ka. ... He told me that he shot people. ... He told me that he shot JoJo and a person named Robert."  Do you remember (that conversation)?
DM: Yes I do.
DA: Do you recall Ms. Neal saying, "He, he said that ... cause (caused him?) to shoot everybody. ... But Howard's gun was supposed to do it, but he got scared.  ... But for Howard to search (through?) the people but Howard didn't want to do it." Did you get that answer from Ms. Neal?
DM: Yes.
DA: Do you recall asking Ms. Neal, "Did he say head shots? (And she responded) "He said they were all shot in the head."  Myers then said, "He said that?"  (Ms. Neal responded) "He said that. He shot five times. H said he counted." Did you hear Ms. Neal give those answers?
DM: Yes, she did.
DA: Did you ask Ms. Neal, "You said it was four?" (Ms. Neal answered) "He started mentally counting bullets. 1,2,3,4,5. He said he shot JoJo twice." (Det. Myers asks) "Did he say any particular order?" (Ms. Neal answers) "No he didn't. He just said he shot JoJo twice."

Myers affirms those statements were made to him by Ms. Neal.

In the second interview with Christina Neal, more questions were asked about the weapon Pasasouk used.  Akemon goes over more of the transcript with Myers, identifying each speaker.
Myers: Did he say what he shot them with?
Neal: Just a gun.
Myers: Was he specific what.....
Neal: He said that Howard's gun was supposed to get used but it didn't get used.
(Another question and answer, and another question.)
Neal: He said that he shot them in the head.
Judge Giss has a question for the defense.  I believe it's James Goldstein who tells the court he doesn't believe those specific questions were asked of Ms. Neal.  Goldstein states he doesn't think it's his function to call Ms. Neal back to the stand.

JG: Those statements (by Detective Myers) are inadmissible.
Judge Giss: I don't remember any specificity. ... And I don't remember any inconsistent statement.

I believe the people state they have three (theories?) of admissibility.  Ms. Neal testified to it and all statements (and Myer's testimony) comes in under Proposition 115.  If at some point, she is not available. Akemon continues that, "Because at some point she was inconsistent so we did in an abundance of  caution."

Akemon states they put these statements in the record now in an abundance of caution if she's unavailable.  Goldstein states he cannot argue under 115 solely and that his recollection of Ms. Neal's testimony differs from the prosecution as to what she testified to.

I believe it's Judge Giss who states, "If it's that critical, then ask for a transcript."  But he agrees that under 115 the testimony comes in. "If at some point she's unavailable... and (Det. Myer's testimony about what she said) is ruled inadmissible under 240, ... you could go at it. ... I can't say it's a prior inconsistency without having the transcript."

(Let me explain here for those who are not familiar with this particular law. Proposition 115 allowed certain witnesses to testify to hearsay at preliminary hearings.  The issue regarding Detective Myers's testimony about what Ms. Neal said to him has to to with whether or not her statements when she was on the stand are inconsistent with her tape recorded interview with detectives.  If her testimony under oath was inconsistent with what she said to detectives, then it would be admissible for Detective Myers to testify as to what she said, previously.  

However, at the time that Detective Myers testified, the court did not have a ready copy of the court transcript of Ms. Neal's testimony, to verify that her statements were inconsistent with her prior interview with detectives.  Nor does the court have a copy of Ms. Neal's interview with detectives. If it's proven that her testimony was inconsistent, and Ms. Neal does not testify at trial, then it's my understanding that -along with Ms. Neal's testimony at the prelim- Detective Myer's complete prelim testimony would be admissible at trial. Sprocket.)

Judge Giss: Anything further from this witness?

Detective Myers testifies about Pasasouk's prior criminal record. Pasasouk had several prior felony convictions. On May 4th, 2006, Pasasouk was convicted of second degree robbery.  On November 17th, 2005, Pasasouk was convicted of assault by means to commit great bodily injury.  The people move to admit into evidence a two page document detailing the defendant's prior convictions.  The defense have no objection.

Judge Giss goes on the record about Detective Myer's testimony about Ms. Neal's prior statements.  At the time, Judge Giss would not have known that the court would need a transcript to verify... that the statements were from the recorded interview that the court does not have a copy of and would not be privy to.

3:00 PM
The afternoon break is called.
The courtroom is very busy, with other business going on during the break.

3: 20 PM
Back on the record. Detective Myers is still on the stand.

DA: Did you interview Wanito Mendoza?
DM: (Yes.)
DA: Did you ask him about a voice he heard outside of the house?
DM: Yes, I did.

Akemon reads a section of the transcript of the interview with Mendoza to the detective, identifying each speaker.
Myers: So what did you hear?
Mendoza: Raise your, raise your hands up.
Myers: Raise your hands up? .. Who says that?
Mendoza: Ka, of course.
Myers: It was Ka?
Mendoza: Yes. I assumed because I didn't see.
Myers: Don't assume.
Mendoza: I didn't see.
Myers: Did it sound like Ka.
Mendoza: It sounded like Ka.
DA: Did you ask those questions of Mr. Mendoza?
DM: Yes, I did.

Detective Myers is finished and the prosecution calls their next witness.


Ms. Alvarado is a criminalist with the LAPD, assigned to firearms analysis.  She is someone who responds to crime scenes, collects evidence, analyzes evidence then prepares a report.  She's been a criminalist for six years.  She gives her CV: education, training and background, that qualifies her as an expert witness.  She has a bachelors in biology and a masters in criminalistics. She is currently with the firearms examination unit.  She has also taken outside training. She's completed the competencies to do the work.  She's testified about ten times and performed about 100 firearms analyses.

Alvarado also explains that a cartridge is a piece of ammunition.  She explains all the parts that go into a cartridge casing.  She then explains the physics of a fired bullet.

Alvarado examined the evidence in this case.  She examined four projectiles; four bullets.

DA: Did you form an opinion?
KA: Yes.
DA: What is your opinion?
KA: ... is that they were all fired from the same firearm.

Alvarado testifies that she did a type and caliber. The bullets are consistent with a 40 caliber, six lands and groves with a right twist.  Her opinion is, all four bullets were fired from the same firearm.

KA: They were fired from a semi-automiatic firearm.

Alvarado also examined shell casings, evidence item numbers 116, 117, 118, 119. She performed an analysis on the shell casings.

DA: What is your opinion?
KA: These four casings were fired from the same firearm.

Alvarado explains she used the fire pin and fire breach to compare. All bullets and casings came from the same firearm.  Alvarado also examined a live round cartridge.  She compared it to the shell casings that were recovered around the bodies.  Alvarado's opinion is that the live round was cycled through the same weapon.  She looked at the "ejector mark" to make the comparison.  She came to the conclusion the markings on the live round matched the spent cartridge casings.

Alvarado also examined the recovered revolver.  She compared the revolver to the other firearm evidence.  It didn't compare because of characteristics.  The revolver was a 38 special.  That revolver has eight lands and groves.

DA: So that revolver was excluded as cycling those cartridges?
KA: Correct.

Alvarado tried to determine the different types of makes and models of weapons that could have fired the bullets.  She can do that on the bullets.  She came to the conclusion that a Ruger could have been used.

Direct is finished and cross begins.

JG: Ruger is a manufacturer?
KA: Yes.
JG: What about Smith and Wesson?
KA It is also a manufacturer.
JG: You also mentioned Smith and Wesson?
KA: That's in relation to a cartridge.
JG: Did you eliminate from your analysis a Smith and Wesson as the gun in this case?
KA: Smith and Wesson is not on the list that could have fired these bullets.

Alvarado explains what caliber is. She also explains "lands and groves" which are tool marks inside the barrel of the weapon, that help to move the bulled down the barrel. Alvarado explains the FBI's firearms database. She inputs the information (lands and groves, caliber) into an FBI database and it will come back with a list of weapons that could have been used to fire the bullet.

Testimony finished.

The people move that all the people's exhibits be moved into evidence. The people rest.

Judge Giss: Does the defense wish to put on a defense?
JG: No, your honor.

Judge Giss then goes over the charges, count by count. There are 10 counts against the defendant. Judge Giss discusses counts 6 through 10. These are victims John Doe (Pseudonym per witness request. Sprocket), Dandy, Ronald, Evelyn, Wanito.

Judge Giss explains the research he did last night, that describes "...crimes against persons.  Presenting a gun at a person is a (Penal Code) 245."  Judge Giss then goes over case law that he is relying on. The court describes the case and reads from the prior ruling. "Assault is a very sophisticated, elusive matter."  Judge Giss rules there is sufficient evidence for these counts against the defendant to stand.

Then Judge Giss goes onto count 5, attempted murder against Ms. Bax.  Judge Giss mentions the act of hitting Ms. Bax with the weapon. "Defendant used the gun to hit Ms. Bax, but that, I don't think, is sufficient evidence."  He then mentions the verbal threats, and that there's nothing that follows that.  There's no conduct that follows up on that verbal intent.  Judge Giss then reads from jury instruction, CALCRIM 600.  "A direct step is one that goes beyond.... an unambiguous step to get towards...."

Judge Giss continues. "It's close. I think there's enough evidence to support it."  The court mentions that there is another charge that could be filed, solicitation of murder, 653, sub section 'D'.  Judge Giss thinks the prosecution could file another count under 653, F.

(I don't understand Judge Giss mentioning 653.d but I understand 653f, which describes solicitation for various crimes, including assault. Sprocket.)

I look up from my notepad and take a glance at the defendant. He's nervously bouncing in place.

Count 1, murder of Teofilo Navales
Count 2, murder of Robert Calabia
Count 3, murder of Amanda Ghossein
Count 4, murder of Jennifer Kim

There is sufficient evidence to hold defendant to answer.  Sufficient evidence the defendant used a firearm.

Count 5, willful, deliberate premeditated murder of Ms. Bax, a human being, 187a.

Judge Giss mentions it's charged as murder. "That's an inadvertent error." It should be attempted murder, 664a.  Judge Giss corrects the document and states, "The court has made those amendments."

Judge Giss rules there is sufficient evidence to answer for assault with a firearm, (counts 6 through 10) with (spec?) named defendant on each of the counts.  The allegation that the defendant used a hand gun, Judge Giss finds that's true.  The ex-con with a gun allegation, there's sufficient evidence to hold with that count.  Judge Giss rules there will be no bail because it's a special circumstance case. The evidence to support the case is strong.  The arraignment will be held August 14th, 2013 in Dept. N.

Judge Giss then mentions that he appreciates the civility between counsel.  Sometimes it's very unruly, and he appreciates the civility.  Goldstein leans in to speak to his client before he's taken back into custody.

And that's it for the preliminary hearing.

KPCC's Rina Palta's report:
Ka Pasasouk, Northridge man accused of killing 4, to stand trial for murder


Anonymous said...

Will the other defendents be tired or will the be given immunity for testifying against La?

Sprocket said...

The other individuals have not been charged with murder.

I do not know what happened to the charges against Christina Neal. I will see if I can find out.

Last I checked the LA Co. Sheriff's website, Harold Alcantara is still in custody and is charged with robbery.

His bail is $500,000.00; his next court date is August 8th.

He did not testify at the prelim and it is unknown if he will testify at trial.

Lourdes Pacheco was charged with a crime (I can't remember specifically). She pled no contest and was given six months in jail. She's on probation now. She admitted her crime on the stand when she testified at the prelim. I believe she testified that she was not given a deal.

I do know the driver of the black Audi, Donnamae Rabulan was charged with a crime, but I don't know the disposition of her case either. I will try to find out.

My opinion only:

At this time, it doesn't look like the prosecution made a deal with anyone to testify at the preliminary hearing. (Still unknown about Christina Neal.)

The DA's office had enough testimony from cooperating witnesses, as well as the testimony from detectives and the firearms expert to have Pasasouk bound over for trial.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your feedback are the best when covering these cases and I have donated to your cause as an independent journalist. And if you keep us informed of the other defendents and whether their cases have been settled it would interested to know! Much respect.

Sprocket said...

Thank you Anon @ 10:13 am.

I just checked the LA Co. Sheriff's web site. Donnamae Rabulan is still in custody.

The information on the LA Co. Sheriff's Inmate Locator web site states that she was sentenced on 7/18/13 to 365 days. It is unknown how many days she was in custody on the initial arrest warrant back in December, 2012.

It is unknown at this time if the prosecution or the defense will call her to testify during the actual trial.

Anonymous said...

Its been a year yesterday since the murders of mu friends Amanda Jen n Uncle jojoif I'm not mistaken ka had a courtdate today... I don't think ka understands how what he has done affected people...I hate him n hope he does get the effing death penalty