UPDATE 10/23: spelling of DDA Habib Balian's name
UPDATE 10:41 PM edited for spelling, clarity
UPDATE 5:00 PM The victim's name was said in court, but it has been changed to protect her privacy. Sprocket.
Restaurateur Joshua Woodward's preliminary hearing is expected to start in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom today. Woodward is charged with four counts of attempted murder on a fetus. You can read the charges HERE.
Woodward has been out on 4 million bail since his arrest in 2009.
I'm inside Dept. 30. Judge Torrealba has not taken the bench yet. As I entered, I saw a few of Woodward's counsel against the back wall. I do not see DDA Habib Balain in the courtroom yet. I will have an update as soon as the case is assigned a courtroom.
The case has been transferred to Dept. 51, Judge Pastor's courtroom. Judge Pastor oversaw the Conrad Murray trial and Cameron Brown's second trial. He's an excellent judge.
Habib Balian and Marguerite Rizzo are prosecuting the case. Their investigator sitting at the people's table is Detective Kimberly Fairchild.
Woodward has considerable counsel with him today. Janet Levine is the lead defense attorney. The has three other attorneys assisting her (two at the defense table and two in the well) and three to five clerk staff sitting in the gallery with note pads. The case files they brought with them were six file boxes. An elderly looking couple with gray hair entered the court room soon after the defense set up at their table. I assume these are Woodward's parents.
Jill from the LA Times was here for most of the morning session.
DDA liani presented the prosecution's first witness, LAPD Detective Supervisor, John Shafia, who led the investigation. His testimony so far has been to document his interviews with Ms. Doe, the individual who has made the claim against Woodward, that through use of a powdery substance, he caused her to abort her pregnancy.
Ms. Doe told Detective Shafia that she has known Woodward for about 10 years. Ms. Doe first met the defendant at Saddle Ranch Restaurant where she worked as a bartender. They became friends and it eventually developed into an intimate relationship. From about 2004 through 2008 they had an on and off dating relationship. She ended the relationship in July or August of 2008 because of Woodward's lack of commitment to a serious relationship.
Doe told Detective Shafia that Woodward lived on the east coast. He was a restaurant owner in an eatery called Table 8, now known as 8 oz. Burger.
The next time Ms. Doe saw Woodward was in August 2009 when he came to Los Angeles. They had sexual intercourse. Subsequently, she found out she was pregnant and informed the defendant in the 3rd or 4th week of August 2009.
Doe told Detective Shafia that when she informed Woodward, his reaction was, "... his face turned pitch red and his eyes started watering." Doe told Shafia that Woodward's first response was, "Are you going to get an abortion?" Doe told Woodward she was not going to get an abortion. She was going to have the baby. She had an abortion years ago and she wouldn't go through that again. Doe told Shafia that Woodward's response was, she "needed to have an abortion." Woodward also told Doe, "You can't do this to me." Detective Shafia testified Doe told him that Woodward's next explanation was, "Oh my God. My Dad's an alcoholic." That last statement was objected to by Ms. Levine. Judge Pastor sustained the objection and the answer was stricken.
Detective Shafia testified that Doe told him Woodward made references to his family, and if they found out he had a baby out of wedlock, they couldn't handle it. He also mentioned money problems. Doe told the detective that Woodward asked her to have an abortion several times. Woodward told Doe she could take a couple of pills; she could have kids in the future and it was real simple.
There was more testimony about Doe and Woodward's conversations about her pregnancy. She was gong to take responsibility for the baby. She didn't care what Woodward thought. It wasn't about what was easy, it was about her desire to have a child. Doe told Woodward she didn't want financial help. She had insurance and things were going well for her. Woodward asked her if she would put that in writing. Woodward wanted her to tell his friends and all her friends that she was artificially inseminated. She got upset and called him a psycho. He was stressing her and she asked him to leave.
In the middle of September she was Woodward again. His attitude had changed in text messages and in phone calls. He was more like he used to be. He was accepting of the situation. He was acting outwardly like he wanted to be part of her decision.
At one point, he met her at The Grove, a shopping mall. He bought her a Jamba Juice and she drank about half of it. Afterwards, she felt visibly sick and started to throw up. She continued to throw up for about 30 minutes. Doe told Detective Shafia the vomiting was more severe than just morning sickness.
Before October 17th, she heard from the defendant again. Woodward was going to be in Los Angeles. They had been in contact via phone and text messages. She was at work, couldn't talk. Woodward asked to see her. She said she needed to get something to eat after work and he offered to make something for her at his restaurant, a burger. He came over to her apartment in the early morning hours of the 17th. They ended up in bed and started foreplay.
Doe told Detective Shafia that at some point, while touching her around her vagina, he then reached into a backpack that was beside the bed. He then touched her in an unusual way, of touching her vagina. Doe told Detective Shafia that Woodward put his fingers inside her vagina. Doe though his actions were unusual, but at the time she thought that maybe he was struggling with erectile dysfunction, so she went along with it. Doe wasn't sure what he was doing, but thought it was something to give him a 'hard on.' He had never brought a backpack to her apartment before.
Eventually he left. He returned in the early morning hours of October 18th. They engaged in sexual activity again. In a similar fashion to the morning before, they engaged in foreplay. This time, instead of one time reaching into the backpack, it happened four times. Woodward reached into his backpack, then placed his fingers inside of her, then he went to the restroom. That cycle repeated four times.
(I will have an update as to the rest of the morning's testimony and the afternoon's testimony later tonight. Sprocket.)
I apologize. Long day. Responsibilities to Mr. Sprocket's business kept me from updating my notes this evening.
Detective Shafia's testimony was interrupted to take an out-of-town witness. Dr. Jessica Kingston was the people's second witness for the afternoon session. DDA Marguerite Rizzo presented the witness. Dr. Kingston is an expert witness who reviewed 51 pages of Ms. Doe's medical records, as well as various investigative reports and interviews by detectives with Ms. Doe.
At the end of her direct testimony, Dr. Kingston gave her expert opinion in the cause of Ms. Doe's miscarriage. Dr. Kingston's opinion ws that it was "highly unlikely" that the miscarriage was a natural event. In her opinion, Ms. Doe's miscarriage wad due to an abortification, specifically the drug misoprostol.
Due to scheduling issues with defense counsel and the witness, Dr. Kingston's cross examination will continue on November 18th, 2013, afternoon session. Two expert witnesses will be called first tomorrow, then continuing with Detective Shafia's direct testimony. It's expected that the preliminary hearing will be completed on November 18th.
Woodward's defense team is from the law firm of Crowell & Moring. Sitting with Ms. Levine at the defense table is Kelly T. Currie, who is based in New York. Currie's cross examination of Dr. Kingston was extremely thorough.
To be continued....
Mainstream Media Articles
NY Daily News - Former NY Restaurant owner Joshua Woodward, released on bail
Bail Motion Documents at LA Times
Miami.com - Woodward Signs Deal to open Asian Restaurant