Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bryan Barnes & Javier Bolden Prelim Day 1, Part IV, USC Chinese Grad Students Murders Ming Qu & Ying Wu

Continued from Day 1, Part III....

UPDATE 10/9: added information on Angel Mendoza, clarity
When I last left off, the lunch break had been called.

1:30 PM
I'm inside Dept. 102.  I decide to take a seat against the back wall so I can plug in my laptop. I won't hear as well, but it's easier to take notes on my computer. I wasn't able to charge up my battery over the lunch break.  There might be an issue with the spelling of the witness Maldonado's name.  DDA Brazil states that the spelling of his name on his driver's license is Maldanado, and it could have been an issue with the interpreter. .  The PIO's official statement is what is on the court record, Maldonado.  I debate sitting a bit closer to hear, but then I wouldn't have power for my laptop.  Judge Marcus takes the bench, carrying his robes.

1:32 PM
The defendants are brought out and chained to the chairs they are sitting in.  More students come back to the courtroom.  The people call Latiana Collins.  I note that Collins is wearing bright pink, skin tight sweat pants. Counsel for both defendants have an objection to this witnesses statements. Ms. Collins is asked to leave the courtroom while they argue.

The defense state that in reading her tape recorded statement, she could be considered a co-conspirator.  The people's position is that they disagree with the defense with Latiana's culpability. She's never been charged.  Ms. Collins was Barnes' girlfriend, and she was involved in the sale of one of the decedent's cell phones. She was in temporary possession of one of the cell phones.

Defendant Barnes took from one of the victims. He sold that cell phone. It was Latiana who gave Barnes to 'Simple Mobile' to make the sale of the victim's cell phone.  She repeatedly said in her statements that she didn't know where it came from since he told her that he found it. Only after did  she find out from Barnes (that it was taken as part of a robbery). I believe Ms. Brazil argues that Ms. Collins lacks the requisite knowledge of receiving (the stolen property).

Marie D'Onofrio argues. "I believe that the evidence will show during the statements she made to police initially, she said that Barnes, he found some ... and after her arrest and ...before the phones were sold, she knew how those phones were obtained. ... That they were stolen and that someone was shot or robbed. ... That's how I interpret her interview. ... She orchestrated the sale of the phones to the "Mike." She's the one who knew him. She's the one who set up the sale of the phone."

My notes are not clear who states, "It only matters if she knew if it was stolen." Judge Marcus asks, "Do you have something in the report that shows..."  "Well, the interview," one of the defense attorney's responds. Ms. Brazil states they have a transcript of the interview that's (113?) pages long.

Andrew Goldman reads from the transcript. "Ms. Collins is speaking with the detective that Mr. Barnes told her: "I got it from someone." ... "I said, did you do something stupid? No, no, I didn't do something stupid." Goldman reads more of Ms. Collins conversation to detectives. "I think he robbed someone. He just said he robbed someone. ... It goes n and how did he tell you. He says that he shot someone."

Goldman's co-counsel, Jana Seng, tells the court, "At the time of the interview, she was in handcuffs in an interrogation room and she was going to be charged with a crime."

Ms. Brazil responds to Goldman's statement.  "What Mr. Goldman represented to the court is accurate, in response to questioning by Mr. Carreon, but it's important it be read in it's entirety, because there are timing issues, when Mr. Barnes told Ms. Collins about how he actually got the cell phone."  The people's position at the time that she facilitated to get him in touch with the cell phone guy, it's clear from her that Mr. Barnes told her he found the phone. She said she's never been in trouble. She's never been arrested. Ms. Brazil adds more explanation of Ms. Collins statement. "If I had known, I didn't know that the phone was stolen. ... she kept asking him questions. He finally told me that he shot someone and he robbed someone."  While Ms. Brazil is speaking, Barnes is shaking his head from side to side.

Goldman argues his position.  "I disagree with Ms. Brazil. I don't think it's clear that she didn't know.... And it's very early on in the interview. ... And she was not forthright with the officers. She was not truthful. Then on Page 17 they were able to get it out of her."

Judge Marcus tells counsel, "Why don't you give me a chance to read this."  Ms. Seng goes over another part of the transcript.  I see Ms. Brazil open up her laptop and I get a smile on my face. It's a Mac Air, just like mine.  After Judge Marcus reads the transcript he rules, "It's my position, after reading the transcript that she should have counsel. ... It's clear to me she suspected something. It appears she wasn't interrogating him for no reason. She had suspicions that he was involved in a crime. ... From the interviews point of view, he certainly had his suspicions. ... So they seem to think there was a possibility that she knew more than she was saying. Let's bring her in and we'll tell her. ... First, I'm going to tell her what her right are. She can proceed without counsel if it's her choice."

Ms. Collins is brought in. I see her pants clearer now. In large letters on one of the legs is AMBERCROMBIE. "Ms., are you Miss Collins?" Judge Marcus asks her.  I have a response that she was asked her age. She's 20 years old.  "I read the transcript. There's a possibility that you could be suspected of some time of criminal investigation or charges based on whether it was stolen or if you knew that it was stolen. ... You are entitled to have counsel. If you don't want to have counsel you are ... can go ahead without counsel. ... I'm not saying criminal charges will be made against you. ... Do you understand what I said?"  I miss getting her response. "Here's the bottom line here. If you tell me you want a lawyer to represent you, then I will appoint a counsel to you, and the attorney will come
free of charge. If on the other hand, you think that you don't need counsel, then we just proceed and you just testify. .... The lady in purple, are you her mom? ... If she wants to talk to you for a little bit that's okay with me. ... Once you tell me your answer, then the clerk makes a phone call, and they will bring a lawyer over here. ... I f they think there's no issue about being criminally charged. ... I'm not as clear that criminal possibilities are great here, but they exist."

Ms. Collins leaves the courtroom to go speak to her mother. Ms. D'Onofrio makes an objection. M.s Brazil states the people would be absolutely prepared to give her immunity.

Judge Marcus continues, "This criminal thing here, it doesn't appear to be very striking. I suppose the argument is going to be made is that she helped this man cell the stolen phone. The record I read is that's a muddled situation. ... If at the conclusion ... I can't force ... "

I believe it's Ms. Brazil who states, "She's basically being blindsided as a witness. ... Under no instance ... that I would be able to influence Ms. Collins."

Judge Marcus continues, "The way it works is, someone could be subject to criminal charges. She's entitled to a fifth amendment. If she knew about it, or then the possibility, she is subject to criminal charges."  Ms. Brazil asks, "Would the court like me to proceed with another witness."  I believe the court responds in the affirmative.  Ms. Brazil states, "The people call Detective Robert Lait." I will just say this. If we're going to use any transcripts, it also good to give the judge a copy of the transcripts."

Someone, I believe it's Bolden's defense team, tells Judge Marcus, Mr. Barnes' mother is in the hallway speaking with the prosecution's witness and her mother.  I believe Judge Marcus states, "She can't talk to them." Someone adds that Barnes' mother gave physical contact. The mother gave the witness a hug. Judge Marcus addresses Barnes' mother and tells her not to have any contact with the witness. The woman replies from the gallery, "I just gave her a hug." Judge Marcus responds, "Well, I consider that communication, and it could result in me excluding you from the courtroom." DDA Brazil presents the witness.


Lait is employed with the LAPD. It will be 16 years this November. He is a detective assigned to the gang unit. While the witness is testifying, we can hear whistling coming from the jail holding area. Judge Marcus comments, "We have someone singing on the Bridge of the River Kwai."  The bailiff tells the court that it's one of the defendants (in another court/case).  Many in the courtroom start to laugh. I believe the bailiff either makes a call or goes to investigate himself.  Detective Lait's testimony continues after the singing stops.

Detective Lait was still employed in that post on April 12th, 2012. He responded to a shooting incident at 2717 S. Raymond Avenue. He arrived at approximately 4:15 AM.

DB: Would you describe the scene you (encountered?)...
RL: It was a street that has single family homes and apartments. I saw that there was a car in the middle of the street and saw evidence of a shooting. There was broken glass, a trail of blood that led to a house on the north side of the street. The location was secured with crime scene tape.

Detective Lait assisted in processing the crime scene in locating and identifying witnesses.  He worked in conjunction with another fellow officer, Winston Lee (sp?).

DB: Did you observe any cartridge casings at the scene?
RL: I did. ... There were two expended cartridge cases.
DB: Do you know the millimeter?
RL: At the time I noted it but that seems correct.
DB: Would that be nine millimeter?
RL: That sounds about right.

Brazil receives a not from her clerk. She interrupts the proceedings to inform Judge Marcus that she has a note from her witness. The witness indicated she would like to speak to an attorney. The court states they already called someone and they will be up soon. Brazil continues.

She shows Lait a photo of people's exhibit 1.

RL: That is the car that I mentioned that was at the crime scene location. The lights were on; the engine was not running. The EZ-up umbrella structure was brought to the crime scene by the LAPD to protect the possibility there might be hand prints.

D'Onofrio objects. "Cumulative." Judge Marcus replies, "Over ruled." People's exhibit 11 is presented to the witness.

DB: You told us you observed shell casings at the scene. Does people's 11 tell you where they were?

Lait points to the center of the photograph, and identifies the two small yellow placards that are in the street to the left of the vehicle.  Defendant Barnes leans back in his chair. His right elbow is on the chair arm and his chin is resting in his right hand.

DB: You also interviewed potential witnesses?
RL: Yes, that's correct.

He interviewed Meling Li. (sp?)

DB: For what purpose did you interview Ms. Li?
RL: Ms. Li was the roommate of the female victim. She lives at 2717 S. Raymond.

She was the roommate to the victim, that was the female victim, Ying Wu. He interviewed her to see what she had seen or heard that night. Li was Wu's roommate at the time of the shooting. Li said that Wu was a freshman at the University of California. Ms. Li told Lait that she had seen Ms. Wu prior to the event.

RL: Ms. Wu had come home from the library late. Upon returning home, (she was) in communication with (her) boyfriend on the cell phone, and had gone downstairs to meet her boyfriend.
DB: Ms. Wu went downstairs to meet her boyfriend. Is that accurate?
RL: Yes, that's accurate.
DB: Did Ms. Li tell you Ms. Wu was communicating with her boyfriend?
RL: Ms. Li said that Ms. Wu was talking on her iPhone, her phone.
DB: Did you ask Ms. Li did she see her take her phone with her to meet her boyfriend?
RL: I searched their room.
Defense: Objection. Non-responsive.
JM: Sustained.

The question is rephrased.

RL I can't say with certainty that she told me that.
DB: Did Ms. Li tell you that she saw s. Wu speaking on her cell phone prior to going downstairs?
(I miss the answer.)
DB: Did you search Ms. Wu's bedroom and residence to .. in an attempt to locate the cell phone? ... Did Mis Li provide you with Ms. Wu's phone number?
RL: Yes, she did.
DB: Was that (number ... gives number), and she said that Ms. Wu was using her iPhone? ... So the specific description was an iPhone?
RL: Yes.
DB: Did you speak to someone who identified themselves as Jeff Wu?
RL: Yes, I did.

Lait spoke to him to find out what he may have seen or heard that evening and to establish the whereabouts of the male victim, Ming Qu.

DB: What was the relationship between Jeff and Ming?
RL: They wee friends.

On the preceding day, May 10th, they had been in each others company. Wu and Qu had gone to Chinatown that evening for dinner. They had left after having dinner. They had also been in the company of two other males, who happened to be Ming's roommates. After the four had dinner, they drove to a bar in downtown Los Angeles. They were at a bar for a brief period of time before driving back to Ming's apartment. They had driven in Mr. Qu's BMW, the BMW at the crime scene.

DB: Did you ask Mr. Wu whether or not there were any problems or incidents at the restaurant in Chinatown or the bar?
RL I asked them if they had any incident at the restaurant or on the road when driving, if there was a road rage incident. ... There had absolutely not been any such incident.
DB: Did Mr. Wu have knowledge of a girlfriend (of Mr. Qu)? ... What did Mr. Wu tell you about that?
RL: He (Mr. Qu) did have a girlfriend, and Mr. Qu had been in communication with that girlfriend when driving back.

Defense: Objection!
JM: Basis of the objection?
(I miss the ruling.)

DB: Detective Lait, did  you ask Mr. Wu whether or not the was aware of any communication between Mr. Qu and the girlfriend when in Mr. Qu's company?
RL: Yes I did.
DB: What did Mr. Wu tell you in respect of his knowledge of communication of Mr Qu with his girlfriend?

Defense: Objeciton! Foundation.
(I miss the ruling.)

DB: Did Mr Wu tell you whether or not .. or heard Mr. Qu speaking on his cell phone?
RL: Yes he did.
DB: Did Mr. Wu know of who he was speaking to on (his cell phone)?
RL: He was talking to his girlfriend.

There's another defense objection. Judge Marcus replies, "He's hearing this himself. .. .I've got to hear what he heard and then I'll decide. Over ruled for now."

RL: Mr. Wu heard Mr. Qu saying that he would drop his friends off and visit her and then go over to her house. He heard Mr. Qu make plans on the phone after dropping off his friends.

I believe it's Judge Marcus who states, "It's not being offered for the truth of the matter. I think it comes in under 115."

DB: Did you ask Mr. Wu if he saw Mr. Qu speaking on his cell phone?
RL: Yes.
DB: What did Mr. Wu say?
RL: "Yes, he did."

As part of the investigation, Detective wrote an application for a wire tap authorization.  He presented that wire tap documentation to Judge Fidler (Judge Fidler is the judge who handles all wire tap applications for Los Angeles County. Sprocket.), on May 11th, 2012.

DB: How many lines did he approve? ..
RL: (Two.)
DB: What was the (poe?) number and target for line one?

One line was for Bolden. It ended in 81. And target 2 was Barnes, and ended in 96. Detective Lait listened to the wire tap on those lines and the intercepted calls. On May 14th, Lait was involved in monitoring a call between Barnes and an unknown female around 2:41 PM.

MD: Objection! Lack of foundation.
DB: Identity is not important at this point. He's not going to identify ....

RL: I heard the male voice associated with the 96 number talking to the female voice getting ready to say he's going to sell this phone in Compton.
DB: Did the male or female give the name of the location?
RL: The female voice told the male voice go to (address) in Compton and tell the individual that "Lottie" had sent them.  ... I notified the investigating (detectives?) Carreon and Ochoa, and we began to form a plan in regards to this.
DB: Did you go to the Simple Mobile store at (address) in Compton ... after intercepting this call that you described for us? ... When you went to the location, were you by yourself or with others?
RL: I was with my partner, officer Lee, and I was in the area with other units that were assisting us.

Lait went to the Simple Mobile store on Compton Blvd.

DB: When you responded to the Simple Mobile store, did you meet with someone who identified himself as Michael Gonzales (sp?)?
RL: Yes I did.
DB: Did you speak to Mr. Gonzales at the Simple Mobile store?
RL: Yes I did.
DB: Were you face to face at the Simple Mobile store?
RL: Yes I was.

Lait asked Gonzales how long he was in business at that location. The cellular aspect of the business was approximately from at least December, so five to six months.

DB: Describe the layout of the Simple Mobile store.
RL: It was an operation providing services, a reseller I guess with used phones, and the contract to the phone lines, operated out of a store front on Compton Blvd.

The office also had a flower shop inside of it. Mr. Gonzales had some connection to the overall operation which included the flower show.

DB: Did you ask Mr. Gonzales if he knew someone by the name of "Lottie."
RL: Yes.
DB: What did he say?
RL: He did know someone. They had come into the shop a couple times prior, having a phone unlocked, that he had purchased earlier that day.
DB: Did he tell you he made a purchase shortly before you made contact with him earlier that day>
RL: Yes he did. ... He told me that he purchased a phone from a man that he only knew as "BJ." ... Had only met him through "Lottie."

DB: So Mr. Gonzales (said) that, he had unlocked this same phone that he purchased that day, when "Lottie" brought it into his store (earlier)?
RL: That is accurate.
DB: Did Mr. Gonzales convey to you, who Mr. BJ was.... ?
RL: He said that she had sent him there and that she was sending her boyfriend.
DB: He said that he had never seen BJ before?
RL: That's correct.
DB: Did Mr. Gonzales tell you whether or not BJ had one phone or more than one phone that he brought more than one phone?
RL: He actually brought two that day. ... He said that other phone was an ISO phone, and he had assisted BJ by unlocking it for him.

DB: Did Mr. Gonzales tel you if BJ left the store with the white cell phone that he had unlocked for him?
RL: He (BJ) had left with the white phone and sold the black phone for $200.00 cash.
DB: Did Mr. Gonzales provide a description?

I believe Lait testifies that Mr. Gonzales used his own height as a reference, and said that he (BJ) was 5' 6" and had brown eyes and brown hair. He was wearing a white shirt and Nike tennis shoes.  Lait states that Gonzales told him the white phone had a case attached. Gonzales also purchased a red case from BJ.

People's exhibit 20, a photo.  Judge Marcus interrupts. An attorney has entered the courtroom. Judge Marcus tells counsel, "I need a brief second. This is the lawyer. I want to talk to him before I send him out to talk to "Lottie."  Ms. Brazil adds, "Latiana."  We take a break. Now Brazil wishes to speak to the attorney. I hear the attorney's name being said, but there's no way that I'm able to write it down accurately.  Brazil tells the court, "I did not direct the defense lawyer in any way what to do. I just gave them a brief outline of the case. ... let him know that the people are offering Ms. Latiana immunity."  We then continue with Lait's testimony. People's 20.

RL: This is the store front for the wireless store Simple Mobile slash flower shop.
DB: Can you point to the specific building?
RL: It's this very center store.

The sign on the store is washed out. I can't read it from where I'm sitting.

DB: You told us that you observed the cell phone that he purchased for BJ just minutes before you spoke to him that day?
RL: We took the item.
Defense: Objection to use. The 'we.'

Brazil asks another question.

RL: I was present and directed my partner to take the phone with us.
DB: Was that item booked into evidence as item 49?
RL: It was ... item #49.

A photo of the phone and evidence envelope is put on the screen. This photo is People's 21. Lait is asked to look at the exhibit and describe the items in the photograph. There is the phone, a yellow case a specific bag to protect the phone so it cannot be remotely deleted or erased, and the evidence envelope #49.  Lait spoke to Mr. Gonzales and then spoke to a Shawn Hansen. (sp?) Hansen is a detective (grade 2) who assigned to the Criminal Gang Homicide Division. He is the unit's source for cell phone forensics. Lait spoke to Hansen in regards to his qualifications and training. Hansen received training from the FBI.

MD: Objection. I will object and ask to approach sidebar with (the court reporter). Sidebar please ... I respectfully ask to discuss at sidebar. ... ...prefer to speak at sidebar. ... It's about the sidebar testimony  ... in respect to Mr. Hansen.

2:37 PM
Judge Marcus agrees to the sidebar and all six counsel jam in together for the sidebar.

2:39 PM
Sidebar over. Judge Marcus tells the prosecution they may continue.

DB: When you spoke to Detective Sean Hansen at the Simple Mobile store, did Detective Hansen verify the IMSI number on the black iPhone that BJ sold to Michael Gonzales?
RL: Yes, but IMEI, just to clarify. IMEI.
JS: Objection. Lack of foundation. (miss ruling)
DB: That the IMEI matched one of the two stolen cell phones?
AG: Objection!
JM: Answer stands.
DB: Did Mr. Gonzales indicate to you how much time went by between (when) you arrived and BJ, the person who sold him the black iPhone?
RL: I didn't ask him. I already knew the answer to that. ... we had surveillance to that.
DB: So you did not ask M.r Gonzales any questions about when BJ left?
RL: Correct.
DB: Did you have knowledge when someone left the store shortly before you arrived?

Defense: Objection! Vague.
JM: What is the vagueness?

DB: Where you aware that Barnes was under surveillance? ... Was that individual a male, black?
RL: Yes.
DB: Did you make observations of a male, black, leaving?
RL: No, not me personally?
DB: Did someone tell you? ... What did you learn?

Defense: Objection. Lack of foundation.
JM: I got to know who he talked to.

DB: You responded to the store with your partner, correct?
RL: Correct.
DB: ... who were the other individuals?
RL: Officers from our major crime division.
DB: Did you speak to those officers on the radio?
RL: On radio. I don't know who the person was I spoke to on the radio.

There's an objection. Either Judge Marcus or Ms. Brazil states that it's not being offered for the truth of the matter. The objection is over ruled.  There is another objection about who was under surveillance. Judge Marcus rules that the answer stands.  Direct is finished.  Marie D'Onofrio crosses for defendant Bryan Barnes.  I believe it's Judge Marcus who warns that he's going to break within fifteen minutes of the allocated time today. (Court is ending at 3:15 PM because Mr. Sztraicher has an appointment on the west side at 4:00 PM. Sprocket.) Judge Marcus tells the clerk, "By the way, he still needs time."

MD: You indicated you arrived at the scene on South Raymond on the 11th at approximately 4:15 in the AM?
RL: Yes.
MD: When you arrived, was the canopy already over the vehicle?
RL: No.
MD: It was not?
RL: I don't believe the canopy was up at that point.

Lait did not put up the canopy or direct someone to do it.

MD: Did you assist in marking the casings that were near the vehicle?
RL: Yes.
MD: Do you recall what time you did that, in relation to your 4:15 arrival?
RL: It was probably within an hour. It's an estimate.
MD: The photographs that you were shown of the vehicle and the casings, did you assist in taking those photographs?
RL: The photos were taken by a police photographer.

Lait testified that his participation in taking the photographs was most likely suggestions about what shots were taken.

MD: So you don't recall being present while those two shots were taken?
RL: That's correct.
MD: With respect to the arrival, when you arrived at the crime scene, were there other officers at the scene? ... Can you give me an estimate?
RL: This would be a general estimation. At least four to five other detectives and at least six other officers. ... And that's very ballpark.
MD: With respect to those that you saw them there, where were they in relation to the vehicle?
RL: My recollection, they were not near the vehicle.  ... I do remember there was one officer who was near the porch to prevent other people from approaching the glass and blood at the scene.
MD: Back to your interview with Ms. Li. ... (You?) interviewed (her) on April 11th?
RL: Yes.
MD: Do you recall what time?
RL: It may be indicated on my notes, I don't know.
MD: Was it 9 AM?
RL: It was earlier.
MD: Was it still dark?
RL: I think so.
MD: So you may have spoken to her as early as 6:30 AM? ... Who also was present?
RL: Officer Winston Lee.
MD: Did you record that (interview)?
RL: I have notes. ... I don't remember if I recorded it or not. It would have been turned over to the lead officers and it would have been noted.

Lait verifies that Ms. Li told him she saw Ms. Wu talking on her phone.

MD: Did Ms. Li tell you if those conversations were in English or Chinese?
RL: I don't know. I interpreted it to be talking. I didn't note the language.
MD: Did you ask Ms. Li during the conversation whether or not she had heard gunshots?
RL: I'm sure I asked her. I don't recall what the answer (was)...
MD: Did she tell you she heard three shots?

Lait asks to look at his notes.

MD: I'm asking you if you remember.
RL: The answer's no.

D'Onofrio is now asking if he has independent knowledge of his interview with Jeff Wu, an if it was tape recorded. Lait again states that if he recorded it he would have turned it over. Lait states that Mr. Wu indicated that Mr. Qu dropped the other three men in the dinner party at Mr. Wu's residence. Mr. Wu stated that the distance Mr. Qu was going to drive (to the girlfriend's) was a few blocks.

MD: And so there would have been a period of time then that Mr. Wu did not observe what may have occurred from his residence to the Raymond residence. Is that correct?
RL: Yes.
DB: Objection!
JM: Over ruled.
MD: Did you conduct your interview with Mr. Wu in English? ... Did you ask him if he required the assistance of an interpreter?
RL: No.
MD: To the wire tap authorization, with respect to the line number 2 ending in 96, did the subscribers name appear on the information for the telephone company regarding who the subscriber was?
RL: I'd have to refer to my affidavit.
MD: Would it refresh your memory? ... I'm asking if you have an independent recollection?
RL: No, I do not.
MD: Did you report in your affidavit if this was one of those prepaid phones?
RL: (I don't recall.)
MD: Now, you listened to that phone call, or were you told by Detective  Hansen that number ... that the 96 number was calling? ... Do you know off the top of your head the last four digits that number was?
RL: Not off the top of my head.
MD: Did you make a determination who that number belonged to?
RL: I just can't say, because I don't have the affidavit.
MD: Did you list that number in your affidavit?
RL: No, because as we would be listening to numbers coming in, we would investigate them.

There's question after question about this phone call and then the Simple Mobile business.  There's a question about the Simple Mobile store, and the fact that there's no name on the front of the store.

MD: I noticed in the photograph, that it had no name on the front. ... When was that photograph taken?
RL: I don't know when that photo was taken, but I can state that was how it appeared when I visited that location.
MD: So when you were there, (there) was no name on that location?
RL: That's correct.
MD: You went inside this location?
RL: That's correct.
MD: Essentially, this was a flower shop?
RL: Yes. ... There was a counter, that takes up 1/10th of the layout.
MD: And did you see anything that indicated that it was a Simple Mobile location? ... Was there any sort of sign or plaque that described it as a Simple Mobile store?
RL: Yes and no. ... As a cell phone (place?) but no in terms of Simple Mobile.
MD: Was there any sign, of any sort on that counter that indicated to you that you saw, that said cell phone business.

It appears the witness is confused as to what Ms. D'Onofrio means. Signs in paper or an indication.

RL: There were indications, but there were no signs that I recall.
MD: So you saw that there were other cell phones?
RL: Ther were (cuts? pieces?) of paper with rate plans on them of some sort.
MD: When you interviewed, when you spoke to Mr. Gonzales at this location on May 14th, was that recorded?

I believe it's DDA Brazil who makes an objection.  The court clerk speaks to Judge Marcus. The court then reads back over the testimony and over rules the objection.

RL: He did not know he was being recorded.
MD: Were you the one that carried the recording device?
RL: It was either myself or Officer Lee.
MD: When you were speaking to Mr. Gonzales at the store, do you recall approximately how long you spoke to him?
RL: I would estimate 20 minutes.
MD: Did you ever in the course of your speaking to him ask him if he made any effort or whether or not he asked the seller where he got the phone from? ... I'm not asking for the words spoken...

There's an objection to this question but I miss the ruling.

MD: Did Mr. Gonzales ask the seller if the phone was stolen?
DB: Objection! Relevance.
JM: You introduced the conversation. Over ruled. You can answer that.
RL: If that indicates the black phone, no.
MD: Did Mr. Gonzales tell you during your conversation what he did with it?

Mr. Gonzales may have advertised the phone on Craig's List.  A question about how much Mr. Gonzales listed it for is objected to and sustained on 352 grounds.

MD: Did you interview Mr. Gonzales again any time after May 14th?
RL: No.

D'Onofrio is finished and Ms. Seng gets up to cross for defendant Javier Bolden.

JS: He told you that a female by the name of Lottie (who?) had him unlock the phone?
RL: He had earlier in the day, he had a text exchange with a Lottie, yes.
JS: He tried to show you those text messages he ....
RL: (He did.)
JS: And in those text messages, he was in negotiation with Lottie for the price of the phone?
RL: Yes. ... there may have been discussion about price, some back and forth. I can't recall that.
JS: Did she tell him that someone would come down to the store to sell that phone?
RL: Yes.

Lait states he doesn't know the specifics of the exchange at that point.  There's an objection that the testimony misstates the evidence. I believe Ms. Brazil states that the defense attorney is characterizing Ms. Lottie as an agent and that's not based on the (conversations?).  Apparently, Lottie identified the seller as her boyfriend.

SG: At one point he identified the individual as having wavy hair?
RL: He did.
SG: Did Mr. Gonzales suspect that the black phone was stolen?
RL: No.
SG: Did he suspect that the while phone was stolen?
RL: Yes.

The prosecution has no redirect and the witness is excused.

JM: Now we have the counsel that's been appointed for the witness. ... Let's see if we can deal with that issue. ... Can we ask her to come in?  Ms. Collins is wearing sweat pants and a sweatshirt top pullover. Her court appointed attorney is with her. He tells the court Ms. Collins is willing to testify. Judge Marcus asks if she will be asserting her fifth amendment rights. Judge Marcus apologizes that they will not be able to finish today.

JM: Are you ready Ms. Collins? ... Please raise your right hand.

Collins slowly takes the stand. To me, she appears scared, as if she doesn't know what is going to happen to her.  She states her name and spells it. Latiana Collins.


JM: The first thing I have to tell you is in order to be a good witness you have to speak into the microphone. You have to talk really loud so I can hear you. I can hardly hear anything.

Judge Marcus adopts a friendly, almost grandfatherly tone with the witness when speaking to her.

Ms. Collins is 20 years old. She graduated from King Drew High School in 2011. She also recently graduated from a CNA school, a certified nursing assistant program.  She graduated from that this year.  She's asked if she recognizes anyone in the courtroom. She identifies Bryan Barns. She then identifies Javier Bolden.  She nervously rubs her face.

DB: Ms. Collins, when did you first meet the defendant Bryan Barnes?
LC: I believe in 2011.
DB: IN April 2012, was Bryan Barnes staying at your house.
LC: Yes.
DB: Were you and Bryan Barnes involved in a romantic relationship?
LC: Yes.
DB: How long had you been involved with (Barnes)?
LC: Not long. A couple months.
DB: Would it be accurate to say you started dating Bryan in February or March of 2012? .. Would that be correct?
LC: I' not, I don't know the exact date.
JM: What would be the exact month you would put it in?
LC: Like February.
(JM?): Of 2012?
LC: Yes.

DB: You said that you first met him in 2011?
LC: Yes.
DB: Did you meet him at school or some other place?
LC: Outside of school.

Barnes nervously taps his left leg while Collins is testifying.

DB: When you were knowing, or dating Bryan Barnes, did you see him hang out with Javier Bolden?
LC: Yes.
DB: Do you know a party crew "No Respect?
LC: Yes.
DB: ... Is it a group of people that go to parties?
LC: I'm not so sure.
DB: Do you know whether Bryan Barnes was a member of the group that went to parties and called themselves No Respect?
LC: Yes.
DB: Do you know if Javier (Bolden) hung out with the party crew that called themselves No Respect?
LC: Yes.

A break is called.  Judge Marcus wants to find out something about tomorrow. Ms. Collins wants her attorney here.  Her counsel tells the judge he can move some things around.  Judge Marcus inquires about how much longer her direct testimony will be and how long will cross be. He wants to finish this first thing in the morning.  Judge Marcus would like to start at 8:30 AM but he's unable to get detainees from the sheriff's before 8:45 AM. He comments that Judge Perry is able to get defendants to his courtroom by 8:30 AM, but he doesn't know how he does it.

Judge Marcus then address the witness. He talks to her almost as if she is a child.

JM: I'm sorry, but you do have to listen to me. I'm a very nice guy. You have to come back tomorrow. It's like I give you a subpoena. ... You understand?

Ms. Collins tells the court that she gets off work at 8:30 AM in the morning.  She works at night. It's agreed that she is ordered back at 9:00 AM.  Judge Marcus adds, "Do you understand it's the court order? ... And you will come? ... Alright."

Angel Mendoza aka Pedro Juarez
After court ends in Dept. 102, I head over to Dept. 101, Judge Coen's courtroom, to see if I can hear any of DDA Garrett Dameron's opening statement in his case against Angel Mendoza, another death penalty case.  If I'm remembering correctly, Mendoza is charged in the deaths of four individuals.

When I enter Dept. 101, the courtroom is almost empty.  There's no one in the gallery and no jury. I"m wondering if they were sent home. There are a few people in the well chatting. DDA Garrett Dameron is there along with a pretty, trim, female co-counsel.  The court reporter is a face I recognize. She was the court reporter during the first Phil Spector trial in Judge Fidler's courtroom.

Up on Judge Ronald Coen's bench I see the large metal file boxes I've heard so much about.  I try to do a quick count and I think there are six or seven boxes there. DDA Dameron tells me that he just finished his opening statement.  I'm quite disappointed because I wanted to hear him present his case.  I believe Mendoza is a gang member whose moniker was "Evil." The case is on a break and they will come back for the defense opening statement.  I decide to stay to hear the defense opening. I don't know the defense counsel's name.  When I first notice the defendant, he's sitting facing forward. He's not looking at his attorney or the jury.  I can only see the side of his face.  From where I'm sitting he appears to be a teenager, but I know from the LA Co. Sheriff's Inmate Locator web site, he's 5' 10" tall and over 30 years old. Still, my impression is of a small, diminutive man.

Mendoza's defense attorney begins, "In the words of John Donne, ... every death is tragic." (I tried to find this exact quote for poet Donne on line, but I couldn't. Sprocket.) "We have four deaths. ... I will not argue the case before you.  ... You've been presented with what the prosecution believes the evidence will show.  ... What will tie all these visual images you've been shown is the testimony of witnesses." I continue to take notes, but they are meaningless because I missed the prosecution's opening.

Mendoza's defense attorney then goes over a list of witnesses, (Johnathan Van Dyke (sp?), Popeye, the defendants brother, Juan (sp?), Mikey, Ghost (sp?), Snake, and others) and what their role was in the various events of this case.  The defense attorney tells the jury that Johnathan Van Dyke was the mastermind. He also tells the jury that his client didn't have anything to do with the planning (of one of the events). That had to do with a man named Mikey, who was Angel's younger brother. Angel had been in a gang since he was very young.

"With respect to Angel, he didn't plan, he didn't premeditate. He's impulsive. ... He's got frontal lobe damage. ... I would ask you ... to make any finding ... must be made under reasonable doubt. ... Must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt."

Judge Coen reads jurors the admonition about talking about the case amongst themselves or anyone else.  He tells them the dates that court will be dark. After the jury is excused, DDA Dameron tells the court that he still has not received a report from the defense for one of their expert witnesses.  Dameron tells the court the defense mentioned these experts and reports that he has not seen.  Judge Coen voices his concern about an expert testifying without turning over a report.  The defense attorney assures the court that Mr. Dameron will get the records tomorrow.  Dameron tells the court that he still hasn't seen a report. Judge Coen tells Dameron that his request is noted.

Afterwards, Judge Coen starts to remove his file boxes off his bench.  I try to count them. I think there are eight large boxes. I've been told he locks them up every night.  I don't remember what initiated it, but from the bench, Judge Coen talks about the boxes and what they contain. He states they hold every US Supreme Court decision. He states other decisions that the files hold but I did not get it all. He was speaking so fast. I believe he also said that they also contain every California appeals and California Supreme Court decision as well.  It's my understanding that Judge Coen teaches death penalty seminars to other judges.

After Garrett Dameron and his co-counsel pack up I make my way back home.

UPDATE 10/09:
I did not get a good look at Angel Mendoza. It's my understanding he's 36 years old and weighs over 240 lbs. Mendoza is charged with four murders. Two counts are felony murder. Sprocket.

Continued in Barnes & Bolden prelim, Day 2....


Starbright said...

Fascinating. It's just amazing that they don't know that cell phones and other property can be traced. Of course if they had any sense at all they wouldn't commit these horrible crimes.