Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bryan Barnes & Javier Bolden Prelim, Day 1 Part II, Murder of USC Grad Students Ming Qu & Ying Wu

Continued from Prelim Day 1.....

UPDATED 10/3: recorrection of Det.  Carreon first name
UPDATED 10/2: add correct assignment of Det. Carreon
UPDATED 10/2: correct officer Carreon's first name
UPDATED 10/2: edited for spelling, clarity
8:19 AM
When I arrive on the 9th floor, there are two black women and a Latino man is lying down on one of the cement benches.  By the time I got my laptop going, several people with juror badges had shown up. I believe I see two of the black women who were here for the Barnes-Bolden hearing last Wednesday. A suited Asian man is here but I don’t see any of the Asian reporters I saw on Friday. Not yet, at least.

DDA Garret Dameron (in trial in Dept. 101)  arrives with a pretty petite suited woman. She’s either his clerk or more likely his co-counsel. They have not picked a jury yet in his case.

Two gentlemen who look like detectives arrive.  One man gets up and checks the door to Judge Marcus’ courtroom. It’s a good bet these are the detectives for the Barnes/Bolden case.

8:33 AM

More people arrive on the 9th floor with juror badges and head down towards this end of the hallway. Down at the security station I see a camera operator with equipment but he’s heading down towards the other wing. I listen to a group of jurors chat about how they know this floor is special.  One asks, “Is this going to be on TV?”  Most are concerned if their faces will be shown on TV.

A sheriff brings down what looks like clothing to Dept. 102 and as he passes, a black woman says, “Thank you.”  A woman with a juror badge asks her a question and the woman responds, “It’s for my son.” (I later come to learn that this is Javier Bolden's mother. Sprocket.)

8:43 AM

A sheriff steps out of Dept. 109, looks around at the people sitting on benches then steps back inside. There are a little over two dozen people on the floor now, which is a light day for a Monday. Marie D’Onofrio and her co-counsel Gustavo Sztraicher arrive and head into Dept. 102. An Asian woman with a rolling cart arrives and is chatting with the young suited Asian man.  They both look like they could be college students, or possibly reporters.

8:49 AM

More young Asian people arrive. A juror paces nervously in front of me. Jana Cheng and her co counsel Andrew Goldman arrive and enter Dept. 102. I decide to go in.  Sztraicher asks me who I am, since I was here on Friday. I explain that I'm an independent journalist with my own web site.

The defense attorneys chat. I overhear something about “reverse chronological order,” possibly about witnesses.

9:01 AM

DDA Deborah Brazil enters pushing a rolling cart . A pretty blond clerk is with her.  Brazil, who’s wearing all black today goes over to greet the court reporter.

Pat Kelly from the courts Public Information Office arrives and takes a seat next to Terri Keith from City News.  Another clerk arrives from the DA’s office.  Another reporter takes a seat on the other side of Pat Kelly. I don’t know who she is with, possibly the LA Times.

9:05 AM

DDA Akemon arrives. He’s wearing a black suit, white shirt and red and gold patterned tie.  The prosecution sets up their files and documents. The table is crowded with counsel. 

9:07 AM

More Asian people arrive and sit in the front row. A man with camera equipment enters. Pat Kelly tells him to take a seat since the Judge hasn’t ruled on cameras yet. Judge Marcus comes out and asks if everyone is ready. The defendants haven’t been brought out yet.

The detectives and a man who arrived with them exit the courtroom. It’s a good bet this is the first witness. One of the detectives returns and sits in short bench seats in front of the bailiff.

Judge Marcus, “Could I see lawyers at side bar for just a second.”  Terri Keith is kind enough to help me sort out which name goes with which defendant/face.  Sztraicer and D'Onofrio represent Barnes. Seng and Goldman represent Bolden.

An Asian man sitting in the gallery almost directly in front of me picks up his iPad and tries to take a photo. The other reporters who see it become alarmed and Pat Kelly springs into action telling the man he can't take photos. Sztraicher tells the judge an Asian appeared to take a phot with his iPad. He wants to make sure the photos are erased.

The man is directed to bring his iPad forward.  Brazil, D'Onofrio and two sheriffs are looking at the iPad and observe what he does to ensure that he erased the photos he took.  Interestingly, the man is allowed to stay in the courtroom.

Brazil tells the court that her first witness is a Spanish speaking witness and she would like to start with that witness.  She ordered the interpreter last week.

Judge Marcus denies camera coverage. He tells the media there is an issue about identity. A woman arrives who comes to hug Bolden’s mother.  Andrew Goldman comes back to the gallery to comfort Bolden’s mother.

We are waiting on the Spanish interpreter. Apparently the court's interpreter department messed up.  They scheduled an interpreter who doesn’t work for the court any more.

The defense counsel waiving the reading of the charge. Judge Marcus calls the case on the record and asks for all counsel to state their appearances. We're still waiting patiently for a Spanish interpreter. The person who took that order no longer works for the court.

Judge Marcus states for the record that he did tell the people from the media, in response to inquiries, "I had no problem with the media unless there was an issue by the lawyers. Defense raised an issue that identity is a key issues in the case. ... That interest (media) is over come by the fact ... if identification is an issue, having someone appearance on the television ... shown on general (tv) ... it would affect the identification issue. ... So I have disallowed the cameras from the court. ... I’ve allowed people from the print media. ... Final issue. I asked counsel if they waived the issue of the reading of the complaint and defense waive."

The wait for the Spanish interpreter is abandoned and another witness is called.  DDA Deborah Brazil presents the witness.

1. Vincent Carreon

Carreon is employed by the LAPD. He's a detective assigned to the 77 Station. (Note: Carreon specific assignemnt is with LAPD CGHD. It's a separate division that works homicides in that area. Sprocket.) He's been a sworn officer for 25 years.  On April 11th, he was dispatched to the location 2717 S. Raymond Ave. It was about 2:30 AM when he received the call.  He arrived at the location after 3:30 AM. When he first arrived, there were emergency personnel already at the scene. He was briefed by other officers on scene. He was told a male and female had been shot. The male came out of the car and had made his way up to a house.

Carreon is asked to describe the neighborhood and he replies, "It is a residential neighborhood, mostly single family homes. A lot are two story homes and some apartments."

D'Onofrio makes a motion to exclude any other witnesses that may be in the gallery. There are none.

Carreon testifies the house is about three quarters of a mile from the USC campus.  On that day at that time, it was very dark and rainy, light to medium rain.  Carreon states the LAPD "DR" number assigned to the case. (I hear the number as 120310339. Sprocket.)

Carreon states the observations he made about the vehicles on the street. There was a BMW vehicle parked facing north bound on Raymond, right across from the female victim's residence.

DB: Once at the scene, did you notice whether or not there was any apparatus or canopy over the vehicle?
VC: Yes there was.

Carreon states the canopy was put over the vehicle because it was raining and to save any evidence that was present.

DB: Did you notice anything unusual about the vehicle?

VC: Yes the drivers window had been shattered, broken out.

The vehicle was off when he was there. The emergency flashers were on.

DB: Is it the type of street where there is parallel parking on each side of the street?
VC: yes.
DB: Where was the BMW parked?
VC: It was double parked facing north bound on the east curb.
DB: Were they any inured victims still present on the scene:
VC: No. ... I was told they were transported to ... California hospital.

DB: Did you subsequently determine (the names of the victims)?
VC: Ying Wu and Ming Qu .
DB: Did you further determine their age?
VC: Yes.
DB: How old were they?
VC: 23.
DB: Did you determine they were students at USC?
VC: They were graduate student there.
DB: As part of your investigation at the scene, did you make efforts to determine if there were any personal effects missing from the two victims involved?
VC: Yes.
DB: What did you determine was missing?
VC: Their cell phones.
DB: Were any cell phones recovered?

VC: No.

The interpreter arrives and Brazil asks to interrupt the detective’s testimony so they can take the witness who needs an interpreter. The court agrees. The detective leaves the stand. His testimony is interrupted to take the Spanish speaking witness.

In the gallery, Bolden’s mother sits at the far right end of the second row bench and Barnes supporters sit at the other end. Bolden’s mother takes out a partially finished knitting project. I wonder how she got the knitting needles through security.

9:32 AM

Brazil, and the new witness enter the courtroom.

2. Eury Maldonado

I miss getting the interpreter’s name.  Ms. Brazil presents the witness.

DB: How old are you?
EM: 39

Brazil takes the witness to the early morning hours of April 11th, 2012.

DB: Were you working as a delivery driver on 4/11/12?
EM: Yes.
DB: Approximately what time did you arrive home from work on Thursday April 11th?
EM: Between 12 and 1 am.
DB: What street did you live on back in April 2012?
EM: Raymond, Raymond Avenue.
DB: Did you notice anything unusual when you arrived on your street Raymond on your way home from work on April 11th, 2012?
EM: Unusual? Nothing, just a car that was double parked.
DB: Describe the car that was double parked please.
EM: It was a BMW.

DB: Was the car double parked on Raymond?
EM: Yes.
DB: Was it parked in the 2700 block of Raymond?
EM: Yes, that’s correct.
DB: When you first saw the BMW on Raymond were you in your car?
EM: Yes.
DB: Were you driving in your car when you first saw the double parked BMW?
EM: Yes.
DB: What were you doing when you were driving and you noticed it double parked?
EM: I was looking for parking.
DB: Were you intending to park your car on Raymond Avenue?
EM: Yes.
DB: So when you saw the BMW double parked did you notice whether or not the lights or flashers were on in the BMW?
EM: Yes.
DB: Which did you see, the lights or emergency flashers?
EM: Emergency flashers.

DB: When you were looking for a parking place, did you pas by the BMW as it was parked in the street?
EM: Yes, I drove by. I was looking (for) parking ahead of it, and then I, went in reverse and that's when I saw it well.
DB: ... tell me what you saw.
EM: I saw two people inside of the car. Because I had my high beams on to find parking ahead.
That’s what I saw at the time.
DB: Did you see where the two people in the BMW were seated? In the front or back?
EM: In front, both.
DB: That would be the front seat of the BMW?
EM: That's correct.

DB: Mr. Moldanado, when the lights of your vehicle shined on the BMW  and you saw two people in the vehicle were you able to tell the race of either (person?) inside the vehicle?
EM: Not precisely.
DB: Did the person look Asian to you?

Defense: Objection! Leading.
JM: sustained.

DB: Mr. Moldanado, are you able to estimate the race of the people you saw inside the vehicle?
EM: No.

I believe there is another objection and it's sustained for vagueness.

DB: Were you able to determine or see the gender of the people inside the vehicle?
EM: I was able to see that is was a man (and?) women by the reflection of the light.

DB: As you are driving ... down the street looking for a parking place, did you see anyone in a moving vehicle?
EM: No.

DB: Did you see anyone else walking, ... looking for a parking place?
EM: No.

DB: Did you find parking for your vehicle on Raymond?
EM: Yes.
DB: What did you do after you parked on Raymond avenue?
EM: I walked towards my house.
DB: Did you enter your house?
EM: Yes.
DB: Is you house on Raymond Ave?
EM: Yes.
DB: When you were outside parking your vehicle, describe the weather please.
EM: Rain, a little, but rain.

Brazil take s moment to go over images with Akemon.

The people's first exhibit, #1, is entered into evidence. It's a photograph. It's very dark. It's a photo of the BMW under an EZ Up canopy. It's hard to see everything in the photo. Brazil works on trying to work with the ELMO (projection device) to improve the quality of the image. The witness recognizes the vehicle. It is the vehicle he saw double parked on the street.

The witness entered his residence after he parked his car.  His residence is an upstairs unit.  After he arrived home, he heard something unusual about 20 minutes later.

DB: What did you hear?
EM: First I heard like a bullet sound, like a shot. ... I didn’t pay attention to it. Then right away I don't know how much later, I heard another impact.
JM: Another gunshot?
EM: Another shot and like a car glass shattered.
DB: What were you doing when you heard the sound that you heard that sounded like two bullet sounds and glass shattering?
EM: I was at my computer.
DB: What did you do when you heard the sounds of the two bullet sounds and the glass shattering?

JM: Did you move?
EM: Yes. I walked towards the balcony.

DB: What did you do when you walked towards the balcony?
EM: I was able to see that there were two people that were close to the car.
DB: Does you balcony face onto Raymond Avenue?
EM: Yes.
DB: Is your balcony on the second story of the structure where you lived at the time?
EM: Yes, that's correct.

DB: So your on the balcony looking down on Raymond Avenue?
EM: Correct.
DB: About how much time did it take for you to get up? ...  What were you doing before you heard the sound of the glass shattering? 
EM: On my computer.
DB: What were you doing?
EM: Looking at videos.

DB: Can you estimate in minutes or seconds that it took for you to get up and look down at the (street? from the?) balcony?
EM: I would say no more than six to eight seconds. My computer is practically next to the balcony.
DB: When you looked out on Raymond Avenue, tell me what you saw.
EM: The car was there. I was (wasn't?) able to see it clearly. There was a tree that obstructed my view, but I was able to see two people were outside of the car, like arguing, and right away they left. They took off running.

JS: Objection! Descriptive.
JM: Over ruled! It stands.

The witness clarifies that the car he is referring to is the BMW and that he saw two people outside the BMW.  One was at one side of the car, the other person was at the other side of the car. Brazil asks for a laser pointer so the witness can show on the exhibit where he saw the individuals by the car. The witness indicates that one individual was by the driver's side door and the other individual was by the passenger side door.  He can't say for certain, but he believes the individuals were in line with each other.

DB: Mr. Maldonado, you told us that you heard the sound of arguing.
EM: Yes.
DB: Who was arguing?
EM: ... the people outside.
DB: The two people you described for us standing outside the BMW?
EM: Yes.

Judge Marcus asks a question of the witness.

EM: They were like yelling, one to the other. I don’t know if was to the driver, because of the distance. ... It sounded like it was coming from the car, but I don’t know if it was the people outside.
DB: You heard voices that appeared to be arguing is that (correct?)?
EM: Correct.

The witness saw the two people outside the BMW run away. They ran towards the south. He was on his balcony when he saw the people running away from the vehicle. One individual was running in the middle of the street. The other individual was running on the sidewalk. Then further away, they met in the middle of the street and ran south together.  The two individuals ran towards 29th Street, where it intersects Raymond Ave.  The witness did not see anyone else on Raymond Avenue when he was looking down from his balcony.

Because of the distance, the witness was unable to describe the physical characteristics of the individual by the driver's side who then ran in the middle of Raymond Ave. He was only able to see someone running south. He could tell that the person was wearing a sweater. The other individual on the passenger side of the car was wearing something dark, like a hoodie. That's what he was able to see. He could not tell if the person was a man or a woman.  He did not pay too much attention to the person on the passenger side of the car because he was concentrating on the individual who was on the driver's side of the car. That individual was closer to him. He was unable to hear or determine if they were saying anything to each other while they were running away. He only heard them while they were arguing by the car.
A contingent of students arrive and take seats in the gallery.

After he saw the people running away, he remained on the balcony.

EM: I supposed if they had only robbed them...
Defense: Objection! Move to strike.
Judge Marcus indicates it doesn't come in for the truth of the matter, only comes in to explain his actions.

DB: Mr. Moldanado, when you were looking down from your balcony and saw that two people had ran away, what were you thinking?
Defense: Objection! Relevance.
JM: Over ruled..

The witness doesn't answer that question directly and there is some confusion with the questioning and the witnesses understanding of the form of the question. The witness states the people ran away fast, and that he was on the balcony.  The defense objects as non-responsive and the ruling is sustained. Judge Marcus asks him to please listen to the question.

JM: What did you think happened?
EM: I stayed on the balcony and right away I saw the person on the driver's side get out of the car.

The defense objects again as non responsive. I believe it's Judge Marcus who asks that he wants to know what the witness saw when he looked on the balcony after the two people ran away.

EM: I saw the driver step out of the car, and the person was bleeding. The shirt was stained.
DB The person who got out of the driver's side was bleeding?
EM: Yes, that's correct.
DB: What did you do after you saw that man get out of the driver's side BMW?
EM: I called the police.
DB: Did you call 911?
EM: Yes.
DB: What did you do after you called 911?
EM: I went downstairs to where he was.
DB: Why did you go downstairs?
EM: To aid him.

The witness is asked to describe what he saw when the man got out of the car and to describe out he got out.

EM: Well, he just opened the door. He got out of the car and he leaned on the car.
DB: What did you see him do next?
EM: He started walking.
DB: What did you see next?
EM: Well that's when I went downstairs.

When the witness got downstairs, the man was almost arriving to the sidewalk on the other side (of the street). He was walking. Once he got to the sidewalk, he fell and started like, crawling. The witness was still on the phone with 911. When Maldonado saw the man physically crawling he was right next to him, on the sidewalk.

They both headed to the house to knock on the door. Maldonado could see the man was bleeding when he saw him crawling on the sidewalk. The man was able to get to the door and start knocking on it. However, since there was a glass in the door, he broke one of the glass panes. Maldonado banged on the wood portion on the door, louder.  A man came to the door. Maldonado asked the resident of the house at 2717 Raymond if he knew the man. The resident did not.

DB: At any time did that man (the victim) say anything to you? Did he speak?
EM: No.
DB: Did he try to speak?
EM: He tried to but he was unable because of the wound.

Defense: Objection!
JM: I'll allow it.

While he was on the front porch of 2717 Raymond, another neighbor came over to help them. That neighbor tried to lie the victim down. Maldonado told him not to because he was going to die because he would drown in his own blood. Maldonado told this to the neighbor who came to help. At this point, the bleeding man was still conscious.

Maldonado states that the BMW was parked directly in front of 2717 Raymond Avenue except that it was parked on the other side of the street.  At some point, emergency personnel and police came to the location. At some point, Maldonado approached the BMW and he was able to see that there was another person. He saw a person that was sitting inside the car, like crouching. The person was in the front passenger seat. He could see that it was a female because the light inside the car was on already.  Maldonado described the girls position as being curled up. Her knees were close to her chest. She was bent over.

The court asks the witness to demonstrate the positioning of the woman inside the vehicle. She was facing the front windshield.

So many people have arrived in the courtroom that the gallery is almost full.

It's after 1:30 AM. I'm quite tired. I will update my coverage of this day's testimony as soon as possible. Sprocket.

To be continued in Prelim Day 1, Part III....