Monday, September 30, 2013

Bryan Barnes & Javier Bolden Prelim - USC Chinese Grad Student Murders (Ming Qu and Ying Wu)

September 30th 2013
The preliminary hearing for Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden is expected to start today in Dept. 102, Judge Marcus' courtroom, in the downtown Criminal Justice Center.  DDA Daniel Akemon and DDA Deborah Brazil are representing the people. Barnes and Bolden are charged with 187 felony murder in the deaths of two Chinese graduate students, Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23. The shootings occurred in the early morning hours of April 11th, 2013 about a mile from the USC campus.

During the last hearing, I was able to use my laptop in Judge Marcus' courtroom. I hope that will be the same today. It's my understanding the preliminary hearing is expected to last two days.  Court will end at 3:15 PM today since one of the defense attorneys has a commitment at 4:00 PM.

This FOX news story from May 18th, 2012 has images of the two students who were murdered that were shown at a memorial service in the Shrine Auditorium.

UPDATE 10/1:
This is a brief synopsis until I can get my detailed notes transcribed. Sprocket. 

Four witness were called yesterday.  Initially, the court was going to start with a witness who needed a Spanish interpreter, but the court's language interpreter department inadvertently scheduled someone who no longer works for the court. That witness was put on hold, and the first witness called was Detective Vincent Carreon, an officer with the LAPD for over 25 years.   Carreon is a detective with the LAPD's 77th Station. (This is Sal LaBarbera's unit.)

Carreon arrived at the scene around 3:30 AM.  By that time, the victims had already been removed by emergency services personnel. He was briefed by officers at the scene who informed him that a male and female had been shot, Ying Wu, and Ming Qu. Carreon testifies about the neighborhood, where the vehicle was found, and introduces several evidence photos.  He testifies that two shell casings were recovered.

The next witness that was called was Eury Maldonado. (At the lunch break, DDA Brazil informs the press that there is a discrepancy in how the interpreter spelled the witnesses last name. She indicates  "Maldanado." is how it appears on the driver's license. Sprocket.)  Maldonado was driving home from work some time between 12:30 AM and 1 AM.  He drove past the double parked BMW, did not see available parking ahead of him, which was closer to his home. He went back, passing the BMW again and found a spot.  He entered his upstairs apartment and was on his computer watching videos when he heard what he thought was a gunshot.  About 20 to 30 seconds later, another gunshot and what sounded like breaking glass.  He stepped out onto his balcony and saw two individuals, one on each side of the car.  It sounded like arguing. He then observed the individuals run south, away from the vehicle.

Maldonado saw the driver of the BMW get out of the vehicle. He could see that the individual was bleeding. He called 911.  He then went downstairs to give assistance to the man. The man headed towards 2717 S. Raymond. He fell at the sidewalk and crawled toward the residence. He made it to the front door. He pounded on the front door so hard he broke the glass in the front door.  The injured man tried to speak, but because of his injuries he could not.

Detective Carreon retook the stand to continue his testimony. He presented the work of an LAPD criminalist who compared the bullet casings and found a match with casings recovered from two other incidents.  Carreon also presented the work of the coroner's who performed the autopsies on the two victims.

After lunch, the people attempt to call Latiana Collins, a former girlfriend of Barnes. The defense object that she could be charged as a co-conspirator.  Quite a bit of time is taken up dealing with this issue. Judge Marcus takes the time to read the first 18-20 pages of her taped recorded interview with detectives and agrees. Collins decides she would like an attorney and the court takes the steps to provide one for her. The prosecution states they will offer her immunity to testify.

The next witness is LAPD Detective Robert Lait, who is currently assigned to a gang unit.  He obtained a wire tap. He was involved in the investigation. He visited the crime scene. He wrote the warrants to obtain wire taps on Barnes and Bolden's cell phones.

After his testimony, Latiana Collins took the stand for about ten minutes.

Continued in Day 1, Part II....

Mainstream Media Stories on Barnes & Bolden Case
04/11/12 NBC Two Grad Students Shot Dead

04/11/12 LAT Slaying of Two Grad Students Stuns USC
05/02/12 LAT Arrests Made in Grad Student's Deaths 
05/19/12 LAT Two Held in Grad Student Slayings
05/22/12 LA Weekly Barnes & Bolden Possibly Catch Death Penalty
05/22/12 LAT Slaying Suspects Portrayed Themselves as Party Boys
02/15/13 LAT Lawsuit Against USC Dismissed

Facebook Photo Page of No RespectInc

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, Pretrial Hearing 12

  Michael Thomas Gargiulo, date unknown

Michael Thomas Gargiulo Case QUICK LINKS 

Gargiulo Pretrial Hearing 11.... 

Friday, September 27th, 2013
8:24 AM
I’m finally on the 9th floor of the Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. I'm down at the very end of the left wing, waiting for Dept. 108, Judge Ohta's courtroom to open.

The center of the hallway has several people waiting around for those courtrooms to open. Looking down the hallway, I see DDA Garrett Dameron clear security and head towards the other end. If I recall correctly, he’s starting a trial in Dept. 101, Judge Ronald S. Coen's courtroom.

Although I've never been in Judge Coen's courtroom it's my understanding he is considered a brilliant legal mind. I've heard that Judge Coen has an infamous index file on his desk that contain his hand written notes on legal rulings that he uses when making decisions.  Judge Coen is a former DDA who unsuccessfully prosecuted John Holmes (Wonderland Murders).

If I'm remembering correctly from what Garrett told me a few months ago, the case is a death penalty case and the defendant is alleged to be the shooter in four murders. I believe the defendant had accomplices, who either pled out or have already gone to trial. If Gargiulo doesn't go too long, I'll try to drop in on Dameron's case later.

Two defense attorneys are on a nearby bench chatting about the hearings they have this morning.

8:30 AM
DDA Akemon clears security and heads this way. Not long after, Dept. 108 opens and we head inside.  The attorneys who were just outside on the bench next to me also head into Judge Ohta's courtroom.

It's an interesting wait watching the defense attorneys interact with each other. There's some jovial chatter about the case they've all been assigned, (I believe it's a gang related, food truck extortion charge. Sprocket.) and they inform each other which of the defendants they represent.  A third attorney joins the group and there's more laughter, guffaws as one attorney indicates "we don't have to do anything" since this last counsel arrived.

A few Latino looking people enter and sit in the gallery.  Eventually, there are about half a dozen people who show up for (I believe) the other hearing.

8:50 AM
Gargiulo's investigator, Christian Filipiak arrives.  DDA Akemon gets up from his seat to greet him and chat privately in the well.  A fourth, slender attorney with salt and pepper hair arrives and checks in with Judge Ohta's clerk.  Akemon passes two large massive stacks of paper to Filipiak and leaves a copy on the defense table for Gargiulo.

8:55 AM
I don't know how I missed it when I entered, but on the short benches to my right, is a video camera and a tripod. The cameraman is nowhere to be seen. I didn't see who brought them in and I can't see a station logo on the equipment.  I don't believe the camera is here for Gargiulo, but could be for another case.

The bailiff notifies one of the attorneys that his client is in the holding area. "Great," he replies.  Soon after, he goes back to the holding area to confer with his client. The last attorney who arrived starts speaking in Spanish to a few people in the gallery.

The cameraman shows up but just as he enters, his phone goes off and he quickly leaves.

Filipiak informs the bailiff that the three large stacks of printouts on the defense table are for Gargiulo.

A man with an officer's badge hanging from his neck enters with a small stack of papers.  He sits in the gallery for a moment, going over the pages.

9:10 AM
Judge Ohta's court reporter starts to set up her equipment.  Judge Ohta's clerk tells Akemon and Filipiak that they are just waiting on the bailiff, who left a few minutes ago.  The officer hands the papers he brought with him to the clerk.

Another sheriff arrives with a backpack.  I believe I hear knocking at the jail holding door, coming from the inside.  The bailiff returns and unlocks the holding area door so the attorney can come back into the well.

The officer who came with the papers now goes over to one of the attorneys in the well and hands him the papers.  Another attorney stands up and asks, "Anyone here for Edwin Quintanilla?" A young Latino woman steps forward and they go to the back of the courtroom to chat.

9:14 AM
The clerk addresses a balding defense attorney in the gallery, telling him that everyone is here and the DDA is on his way.  The regular bailiff steps out of the courtroom again.

DDA Akemon and Filipiak continue to chat. It appears they are talking about another case, not Gargiulo.  Several people in the gallery whisper privately. The bailiff returns.

9:19 AM
Gargiulo is brought out.  His short hair appears just slightly longer. He still has the mustache. I notice there are two big X's on the back of his orange jumpsuit.  He's also wearing the white long-john type shirt underneath.

9:20 AM
Judge Ohta takes the bench. The bailiff is having difficulty with handcuffing Gargiulo to his chair.  The cameraman moves his equipment off the gallery bench to the back of the courtroom.  Gargiulo and Filipiak go over the papers that Akemon placed on the table.

9:21 AM
Judge Ohta goes over the documents before him. There is a single page document filed by the people. It's a listing of discovery materials provided to Gargiulo and signed by Mr. Filipiak today.

Judge Ohta: Mr. Gargiulo, do you have that document?

I don't have who it is who explained to Judge Ohta, that those documents were provided to Gargiulo, all except the CD ROM, (a copy given to Filipiak) which he isn't allowed to have.

DDA Akemon: The people filed on September 23rd, a Motion in Limine to admit the "Perkins Operation."

[Note: Perkin's Operation. After Gargiulo had been arrested and arraigned on the Santa Monica case (the attack on Michelle Murphy), Gargiulo was taken to an El Monte police station (Maria Bruno was murdered in El Monte) and placed in custody there. In the holding area with Gargiulo were several undercover detectives. It's my understanding that Gargiulo was tape recorded during that time. The US Supreme Court has ruled that placing an undercover officer in with Gargiulo in this type of situation is completely within the law. Sprocket.]

Judge Ohta: (Does the) defendant have copies?
Unknown: Yes, your honor.

Judge Ohta states this motion is "...not yet ripe to be handled until trial."  He then asks the defendant, "Mr. Gargiulo, ... come back on...?"  I believe the month of November is offered. He then addresses DDA Akemon. "With respect to discovery, are we almost there?"

DDA Akemon: I think so.

Akemon explains that he is waiting for a report from an expert. He won't have the report until November at the earliest, possibly December.  Then the people will have turned over all discovery to the defendant.  That's their last documentation to turn over then they will push for trial.

If I'm remembering correctly, I believe Judge Ohta asks if this is an expert where Gargiulo may have his own expert to counter the people's expert. I believe Akemon answers "Yes."

Judge Ohta asks if Thursday, November 22nd is okay.  Gargiulo asks for Friday, November 22nd. DDA Akemon agrees.  I think the hearing is over and I'm about to get up but Gargiulo speaks up and states he has some issues.

Gargiulo quickly reads off something from what he calls the "rules of the court" regarding legal material and legal responsibility, regarding his materials in his cell only allowed to be searched while he has legal counsel present. I believe that's the gist of what he said.

Gargiulo then goes on to inform the court that on June 24th, "...the sheriff's deliberately raided my cell and took my notes ... my whole defense strategy."  He tells Judge Ohta that they came in with video cameras and video taped.  Gargiulo is asking for the video footage to prove that the sheriff's searched his cell. Gargiulo is also asking for his notes back on his defense strategy.

Judge Ohta tells Gargiulo. "If that happened to you, I'm sorry it happened. I can't take it as fact that happened."

Gargiulo tells the court that the video would be discovery.  Judge Ohta responds, "I'm not going to legally determine whether that's discoverable or not discoverable." I believe Judge Ohta asks Filipiak if he knows about this.

DDA Akemon informs the court that whatever search happened, internal or not, it did not happen at the request of the DA's office. Akemon states this would be a 1054 issue. The DA's office doesn't want to get in between Gargiulo and the sheriff's. He would not be asking the sheriff's for this video tape. I believe Akemon responds, "If he needs something, he needs to go through a different process."

Judge Ohta tells Gargiulo, "I'm not in a position to determine if the sheriff's office searched (the? your?) cell. ... I don't know if it was at the bequest of the DA's office or not."

Judge Ohta then reviews the issue again with Gargiulo, asking more questions. Judge Ohta continues, "My job isn't to assume anything happened, because I can't do that. ... He's made an informal discovery request... " (of the DA).  Gargiulo states he figured he would do that first, before doing a subpoena.

Gargiulo then goes on to say what one of the jail deputies said to him. I try to write it down, but it's a bit rambling. "The sargent told me, 'We don't need to listen to you. We can make up our own rules.' And they waited for me to leave.  ... They took my paperwork. ... They said they videotaped my cell."

Judge Ohta asks, "Why do you need the videotape?"  Gargiulo answers, "That would show what they took."

Gargiulo appears to think that the sheriff's are not allowed to do this.  Judge Ohta states, "I'm not sure. ... I think they have the right."  Judge Ohta then continues on with what might be the issue here. "Your theory, the prosecution somehow has your notes and knows your defense strategy?"  I believe Gargiulo responds affirmatively.  Judge Ohta states, "I'm not sure how unusual that is .... to go into an inmate's cell when the inmate is not there. ... I see your concern, but I don't know it's true. ... But I can't simply take that as true. I have to remain impartial. ... You're not under oath. You're just talking to me. ... If your position is to challenge the sheriff about their policy ... I don't think the sheriff's will accede and that this happened ... " (as you say).

I believe Judge Ohta tells Gargiulo that the DA's office is not obligated under 1054 to look into it for him.  Akemon tells the court that, as an officer of the court, "I have no idea what they did. ... I will not comply if Gargiulo asks for an informal discovery request." I believe he also adds that if he had anything, he would be obligated to turn it over to the court.

Gargiulo states he wants this on the record to get the videotape. Judge Ohta asks again, "Why do you need the videotape? Why can't you just get the notes?"  I don't know if I have to his answer exact, but I believe he responded with, Because they tried to make it appear as if a weapon was made out of it.

(I have a bit of a 'Huh?' go through my brain when I hear that. Sprocket.)

Gargiulo continues that he made a complaint against the sheriff's. He describes the conversation with the sheriff's staff. "It just so happens all my paperwork was tossed over my bed and all my notes off my desk are missing. ... That's why I wanted to get video to see exactly what they did." I believe he tells Judge Ohta that the sheriff's also took a motion he had written.  All this was done right before he had a court appearance.  (Gargiulo did have a court appearance on June 28th, four days later. Sprocket.)

Judge Ohta then goes over what he thinks he heard. "You're saying the sheriff's tossed your cell and the only thing missing was your defense strategy and one motion? ... And then you said they said you were trying to make a weapon?"

Gargiulo explains that he was able to rewrite the motion before he went to court. He further explains to the court about the "weapon" issue but I'm totally lost trying to follow what he's saying. The "weapon" issue might be referring to some other event, that happened prior to this event.

Gargiulo tells the court, "It's very serious to me. ... It may seem like a joke to other individuals."  Judge Ohta responds in a serious tone to Gargiulo. "I don't think that anyone takes it as a joke."  Gargiulo goes on again about his right to be present when the sheriff's enter his cell.  Judge Ohta states for the record, "Nothing has changed subsequent to my original inquiry."

Gargiulo then tells the court that he has an issue with his investigator.  This investigator is a woman. This is the first time that I was aware that Gargiulo has a second investigator, besides Filipiak. Gargiulo tells the court he has witnesses that are in Costa Rica that need to be interviewed. He needs his investigator to also go interview witnesses in Chicago. "She's not able to do that. ... She just got back from Russia. ... She has finals."

Judge Ohta questions the fact that his investigator went to Russia for him to do interviews. Gargiulo explains that she was on vacation in Russia. She didn't got to Russia for him.  Judge Ohta tells him that this issue has to be handled in Dept. 123.  With this new issue, Judge Ohta asks if he still wishes to return on November 22nd.  Gargiulo does.

And that's it for this hearing.  I head down to the other end of the hallway to see if I can get a seat in Dameron's case.  When I open the door to the courtroom, I see that the gallery is packed with extra seating for potential jurors. There's even someone on a chair right in front of the inner set of doors. Since I wasn't able to get a seat, I make my way back home.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., & Pretrial Hearings in New Cases

 Lonnie Franklin, Jr., at an earlier court proceeding.
Photo credit and date unknown.

UPDATE 9/26: punctuation, clarity, accuracy
UPDATE 9/26: links added at bottom of story
Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
I'm on the 9th floor of the Shortride-Foltz Criminal Justice Center.  Although it’s 8:20 AM, I’m not sure which cases I’m going to cover this morning.

When I checked the DA's calendar for this week, I saw that one of my favorite deputy DA's, Daniel Akemon, (prosecuting Michael Thomas Gargiulo and Ka Pasasouk) had a preliminary hearing that was scheduled in Dept. 102 on the same day as a pretrial hearing in Dept. 109 for the Alberd Tersargyan case.  Additionally, Lonnie Franklin, Jr. was also scheduled for a hearing in Dept. 109 this morning. I had not dropped in on the Franklin case for some time, so I thought I would see where it stood.

I had attended a couple pretrial hearings in the Tersargyan case back when former DDA Alan Jackson was assigned to it. Now that DDA Akemon had taken over the case, I'm considering adding it to the list of cases I'm tracking.

The preliminary hearing in Dept. 102, Judge Stephan A. Marcus’ courtroom, is for Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden who are charged with 187 felony murder in the shooting deaths in April 2012, of two USC graduate students from China. Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23, were gunned down in their vehicle just a mile from the USC campus. Eighteen months later and the defendants still have not had their preliminary hearing yet.  In contrast, Stephanie Lazarus’ preliminary hearing occurred six months after she was arrested.

I’m hoping I can get a word with DDA Akemon before the courtrooms open to find out how long the preliminary hearing is expected to last. If it’s only a few days then Mr. Sprocket will be able to spare me from helping him on that year overdue nightmare project he’s been working on.

For those of you reading for the first time, Trials & Tribulations is an advertizing free, 100% reader supported web site. If you enjoy the one-of-a-kind, detailed reporting that T&T provides, please consider making a donation to cover my parking and court costs.

Already in the hallway, I see two Asian individuals waiting for Dept. 102 Judge Stephen A. Marcus’ courtroom to open.  Now, a third Asian man has arrived, and a fourth pretty woman, possibly a reporter.

 There are a group of three black ladies and a black gentleman (standing) who were here when I arrived on the 9th floor.  The elevator lobby was unusually empty today and the line to get through security very short.

 Now I see that the two young Asian peope might be from a news agency.  The woman has a rolling card and a lanyard around her neck. Another suited Asian woman arrives and checks the door to Judge Marcus’ courtroom.

 More people arrive looking to see if the courtrooms at this end of the hall have opened. An older gray haired gentleman with a court employee badge hanging from his neck checks the door to Dept. 109.

When DDA Akemon arrives I jokingly tell him I’m stalking him. He tells me that the prelim will be delayed until Monday or Tuesday of next week.

8:28 AM 
Mary Hearns from the Superior Court’s Public Information Office (PIO) arrives on the 9th floor.  I ask, but she doesn’t know how many days the prelim will go.  More Asian reporters come up to her and ask her questions.  I see another reporter with a tripod and camera, but they are going into Dept. 101, not Dept. 102. Another Asian man arrives. 

A fast walking suited man carrying a DA case file comes down the hall and quickly enters Dept. 101. I ask Mary if Judge Marcus allows reporters to use their computers for note taking.  She indicated she would find out.

8:35 AM
Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden

I step inside Dept. 102 for the first time since the Anand Jon Alexander trial back in 2008. Back then, it was Judge David Wesley’s courtroom. Great news. Judge Marcus allows laptops for reporters. The seats in the second and third rows are almost full so I ask the bailiff if I can sit in the front row.  Most courtrooms on the 9th floor, the judges don’t allow seating in the front row for pretrial hearings but
Judge Marcus appears to be an exception.

8:36 AM

In the well, I see DDA Akemon’s co-counsel, the lovely DDA Debrah Brazil. Brazil is in conference with two defense attorneys. She’s wearing a black pantsuit, white blouse and disheveled pixie haircut. I envy the leopard print pumps on her feet. I haven’t been able to wear high heels ever since a 1991 mishap with a child on a moped knocked me to the ground and broke my left ankle in four places.

Along with her co-counsel David Walgren, Brazil successfully prosecuted Conrad Murray on involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of legendary music icon, Michael Jackson. Last year, Brazil and Walgren were honored for their work on the Murray case. Searching the web, I learned that Brazil is an adjunct associate professor at Southwestern Law School, her Alma mater. You can read an interview she gave here.

I did not attend the trial, but I was fortunate to attend Murray’s preliminary hearing.  Or rather, I watched the prelim on live feed from an adjoining courtroom with other journalists.  I admired Brazil’s work in the courtroom and was hoping a case would come up where I could experience her legal skills again.

DDA Akemon is over at the clerks desk. He’s receiving a slew documents that were most likely under subpoena.  There are two stuffed FedEx boxes and many bulging manila envelopes.

There is the standard black and brown name plate in the front of Judge Marcus’ bench but he also has a beautiful, dark green marble looking name plate on his bench.

 Akemon is going though the stacks of paper that were in the FedEx boxes. I hear friendly banter between Brazil and the two defense attorneys.  Over by the clerk’s desk there is a stuffed animal sitting on top of the covered over water fountain. (All the the water fountains in the building have been covered with plastic from around the time of the first Spector trial. Sprocket.) It’s green. Is it a lizard? A frog? I can’t tell.  Around the bailiff’s desk, there is a Plexiglas separation, but it’s not nearly as high as what I’ve seen in the other 9th floor courtrooms.

Judge Marcus comes out and takes the bench. He has a kind, welcoming face. He talks informally with counsel about calling them and rescheduling the preliminary hearing. Dept. 102 is still in trial so this will not kick off today. Prelim is expected to take 2 days. Judge Marcus asks counsel what they are hoping for in regards to a start time for the prelim.  Both defense attorney’s present indicate that Monday is not a good day for them Judge Marcus replies, “No, I got to do this on Monday.”

One defense attorney indicates there is a scheduling issue with her co-counsel, and the other defense attorney is explaining that her co-counsel is unavailable that day. .

Judge Marcus is adamant. “We’re staring this.” One of the defense attorneys ask if they can approach. Judge Marcus replies, “We’ll do all this on the record.” 

There are scheduling conflicts with co-counsel for the defense.

Marcus asks DDA Brazil about phone records in (it appears) another case she has before him.
We are waiting for the two defendants to be brought out. Marcus explains that the lawyer in his current case got sick, or they could have started today. Smiling, he tells counsel about the current trial, “We’ll be done by Friday, even though I lost two days, I drove them.”

 There’s more friendly banter from Judge Marcus with counsel.

A male defense attorney shows up. Akemon leaves the courtroom.

 One defendant, a young black man is brought out wearing jail blues. More gallery people arrive. The second defendant is brought out who is also in jail blues. The second black man, looks much younger than the first, although later I find out there is only a three month age difference between the defendants. They are both twenty-one years old. When the second defendant was brought out he looked into the gallery and smiled. I'm familiar with one of the female defense attorneys but I don't know her name. I saw her sitting in the gallery during several days of the James Fayed case. I believe she is with the public defender's office. 

Judge Marcus goes on the record with People v. Barnes and Bolden.  The court asks the parties to state their appearances for the record.  Marcus explains the delay, that he lost two days due to an attorney being ill in the case currently in trial.  Judge Marcus states the prelim will start on Monday, September 30th. “That is still my plan although I could start on Friday,” he tells counsel.

 The defense counsel explain their difficulties with starting the trial on Monday. The male defense attorney states he has a preplanned commitment on Monday afternoon at 4 PM (I believe he said on the west side).  Marcus offers that they will stop the proceedings at 3:30 PM so he could make that commitment.  The man counters that they stop at 3:00 PM. I believe Judge Marcus tells counsel that he will split the difference with him: 3:15 PM.

The other female defense counsel explains to Judge Marcus that she rearranged her personal matters for Monday. In addition, her co-counsel, Mr. Goldman is also unavailable on Monday. He will be in charge of their office on Monday and is involved in (I don’t quite catch this) some sort of training.

 Judge Marcus is firm. He tells counsel, “I’m afraid I’m going to start Monday.”  If Judge Marcus starts later, (Tuesday) that will upset the rest of his schedule for other matters. He adds, “I’ll shut down at 3:15 PM. ... want to get this going. ... With all do respect, I have cases after your case. I lost those two days myself.”

Judge Markus asks Brazil about DDA Akemon, and she tells him that Mr. Akemon will be here for the prelim. Brazil then tells the court that the prosecution has another matter. The people issued SDT’s in this case (I take the initials to mean subpoena duces tecum). They are medical records that will be related to the penalty phase. The defense has no objection that the people can take possession of the documents, Bates Stamp them and prepare copies for the defense.  Brazil adds that although the documents are relevant, they will not be presented at the prelim, so there will not be any surprises for the defense. Judge Marcus has no problem with that. 

And that’s it for this hearing.

Judge Marcus appologizes to all the people in the gallery that he wasn’t able to notify them that the prelim would not start today. After the hearing I step outside to get the names of the defense attorneys who appeared today: Marie D’Onofrio and Gustavo Sztraicher are with the Public Defender’s Office.  Counsel for the other defendant was Jena Seng. Her co-counsel is Andrew Goldman who was not present today. Unfortunately, although I can match the attorneys to the defendant’s I saw in court, I could not tell for certain which name went with which defendant. I apologize.

There are links to relevant stories about the grad student’s murders at the bottom of this entry. Sprocket.

Lonnie Franklin, Jr.

9:01 AM

I cross the hall and step inside Dept. 109, Judge Kennedy’s courtroom. I take a seat in the third bench row. There are people already here in the gallery, who I believe are family members of the victims in this case. There’s a new sheriff at the bailiff’s desk. It’s an older gentleman with a large mustache. Judge Kennedy’s clerk is at her desk and the court reporter is just starting to set up her equipment.

I have a feeling the Franklin case will be heard first and the Tersargyan case second.

 There are two gentlemen sitting on the left side of the aisle beside the bailiff’s enclosure.  This is where detectives usually sit, but their suits are more interesting than what detectives usually wear. I guess they are defense counsel, even though they are not sitting in the well.

DDA Beth Silverman entered a few moments ago. She stops to greet the family members in the gallery in the row in front of me before taking a seat in the well. A clerk brings Silverman a file then takes a seat in the gallery.

Defense counsel Seymour Amster and Louisa Pensanti were in the well of the court when I arrived.

 I note that the left side of Judge Kennedy’s bench is still covered in figurines and the painting that I noticed hanging behind her bench during the Kelly Soo Park trial is still there. Judge Kennedy comes out to speak to her clerk. She looks thinner to me each time I see her.  She’s wearing a black and white blouse with ruffles around the v-neckline.

 DDA Marguerite Rizzo, co-counsel to Beth Silverman arrives 9:06 AM. She’s wearing a sharp black and white check jacket . Silverman motions to her clerk in the gallery to speak to her.

9:07 AM
Franklin is brought out from the jail holding area. Judge Kennedy takes the bench and says “Good morning,” to counsel. She asks them to state their appearances. Then 

DDA Rizzo addresses the court. She is speaking pretty fast and I did not completely catch was she was saying. This is what I typed, but I'm not sure it's exactly what she said: We submitted a final order to squash. We are working on a review of orders for uncharged victims. Inez Warren, ... informed evidence in her case has been destroyed.  She then mentions two other individuals that I don’t quite catch but I believe she’s talking about Sharon Dismuke and Georgia Mae Thomas, who are all mentioned in this LA Weekly story from November 2011.

I’m not certain if it’s Ms. Rizzo or Judge Kennedy who suggests they come back in two weeks. Judge Kennedy tells counsel that jury selection in the Rizzo case (City of Bell, public corruption scandal) will start on October 7th.  There is a bit of discussion as to what time the jurors will arrive on that date, but that’s when they will come back. As of today, the case calendar is set at zero of 90. Judge Kennedy doesn’t take a waiver. The case will be at 12 of 90 on the 7th.

And that’s it. Silverman asks the family members in the gallery to head out into the hallway so she can update them. I stop Marguerite Rizzo to tell her what I thought about the DA’s Forensics Science Forum, that was held two weeks ago. Marguerite was the one who organized this year’s conference. This was the first year that the conference was under the direction of new District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

I told Marguerite that I didn’t get a chance to speak to her at the DA's Science Forum, but I wanted to tell her that I thought she did a fantastic job on organizing the conference. Like Matthew McGough mentioned last week to Judge Perry, during the Gerhard Becker hearing, I told her I thought all the presentations were excellent. The food was also a big improvement over last year.  I was also impressed that the cost was $10.00.  It was a packed room and an a great event. I hope to find time to write about it, soon. 

And that’s it for the Franklin hearing.

Albert Tersargyan
The older gentleman with the court employee badge I first saw in the hallway is in the gallery. Apparently he’s an interpreter, but he speaks Arabic, instead of what Tersargyan speaks, which is Armenian. Tersargyan is not yet on the 9th floor yet. He's in a different holding location.

The gentlemen in the gallery and the Arabic interpreter are now talking to Judge Kennedy. The two men must be Tersargyan's court appointed counsel. The interpreter is asked, "Can you speak Armenian?" No, only Arabic. They were sent the wrong interpreter. Judge Kennedy tells the man, "Well, we don’t need you. We need an Armenian interpreter. ... We’ve had an  Armenian interpreter every time. ...  I don’t understand."  

It will take some time to get the right interpreter here. The off the record discussion is to set the hearing over to October 11th, 2013.  The court clerk is not sure if they can "trail" the hearing because this is a death penalty case. One of the gentlemen gets up to speak to Judge Kennedy's clerk privately.

Judge Kennedy takes the bench. "In the matter of People v. Mr. Haroonian (sp?) ... Mr. Haroonian might be in the building now. The interpreter's office sent an Arabic interpreter for reasons I know not." Judge Kennedy states they are 0 of 90 today. On Oct 11th, they will be 16 of 90. And that's it.  The hearing is over and Tersargyan will not be brought to the courtroom.  And that's it for this hearing.  In the hallway, I ask the two gentlemen representing Tersargyan for the correct spelling of their names. They are Gregory Apt and Pete Waimrin from the Alternate Public Defender's Office.

After I got over my puzzlement of Judge Kennedy calling the defendant by a different name, I have a memory of a conversation with former Deputy DA Alan Jackson. Back in 2011, I believe Jackson told me there was an issue as to whether or not Tersargyan was the defendant's correct last name as well as the possibility that his age was about 15-20 years younger. So although Tersargyan is how the defendant is listed in the LA Co. Sheriff's inmate look-up web site, this is not the name that is being used in court.

Mainstream Media Stories on Barnes & Bolden Case
04/11/12 NBC Two Grad Students Shot Dead

04/11/12 LAT Slaying of Two Grad Students Stuns USC
05/02/12 LAT Arrests Made in Grad Student's Deaths 
05/22/12 LA Weekly Barnes & Bolden Possibly Catch Death Penalty
05/22/12 LAT Slaying Suspects Portrayed Themselves as Party Boys
02/15/13 LAT Lawsuit Against USC Dismissed

Facebook Photo Page of No RespectInc

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gerhard Becker Pretrial Hearing 8

 Gerhard Becker, at a prior court proceeding.

UPDATE 9/23: correction on street corner; thank you Karen
UPDATE 9/22: spelling, clarity
Thursday, September 19th, 2013
There is pretrial hearing in the Gerhard Becker case today.  A few months back, Becker's case was transferred to Dept. 104, Judge Perry's courtroom.

I was waiting on the northwest corner of Temple and Broadway for the light to change when I recognize Deputy Head of Major Crimes, Gary Hearnsberger standing beside me. DH Hearnsberger sat in the gallery during several pretrial rulings in the Kelly Soo Park trial.

It's still relatively early, just before 8:00 AM and the ground floor lobby of the Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center is eerily empty.

8:07 AM

Up on the ninth floor, Becker is already here and it looks like his hair is even shorter than what I last remembered.  I almost didn't recognize him at first, but a quick look at his crossed legs and I saw the ankle monitor.

Two camera operators are clearing security. I have no idea which case they are covering.  It’s a team I’ve never seen before. They head down toward the left wing and take a seat.  So it could be Dept. 105 through 108; any one of those courtrooms.

Down at the other end of the hall sitting on a bench I believe I see Mark Kassabian, one of Kelly Soo Park’s defense attorneys. Kassabian and his partner George Buehler, successfully defended Park against first degree murder charges.

8:19 AM

Judge Perry’s courtroom opens.   Judge Perry's bailiff peeks his head outside of Dept. 104, unlocks the door  and gives a thumbs up to one of the deputy sheriff's manning the security station.

Becker's defense attorney Donald Re arrives. Becker gets up off his bench seat and greets his counsel.  DDA Carney hasn't arrived yet. Re and Becker move to another bench. Re appears to be looking over some papers. A few moments later, Re smiles and pats Becker’s back.

Down at the end of the left wing of the hallway, it appears that two casually dressed female reporters are chatting with the two male camera operators.

In preparation before entering Judge Perry's courtroom, I put my phone on silent. Judge Perry has zero tolerance for any electronics inside his courtroom. In the hallway, I see a few familiar defense attorneys, but not a one that I could put a name to.

8:22 AM 

DDA Sean Carney arrives in the elevator bay.  After he clears security, I smile and say hello. At the same time, I notice DDA Garrett Dameron (who is co-counsel with DDA Daniel Akemon on the Michael Thomas Gargiulo case) almost directly in front of me in the hallway. Unfortunately,  I miss catching his eye as he and another gentleman head down towards the right hallway wing.

Sue, a producer for CBS 48 Hours (who I met last year cover Kelly Soo Park) stops by to say hello on her way towards Dept. 107. I tell her I'm covering Gerhard Becker. She's here for a post sentencing hearing in the Christian Gerhartstreiter (aka fake Rockefeller) case.  It's 8:29 AM. I can't hang out in the hallway people watching any longer. I pack up my laptop and head into Dept. 104.

Judge Perry takes the bench right after I sit down in the front row. Although Perry is on the bench, they are not on the record yet. Judge Perry tells counsel, "Thank you for being here so early. ... You get a gold star. ... Have you figured out Mr. Carney, when you might be able to respond?"

It's a good guess that Judge Perry is talking about the prosecution's formal response to a motion filed by the defense.  Carney replies, "By next Friday."   After that, Re will have the opportunity to file a response to the prosecution's response.

The next order of business is trying to set the case for trial.  I believe it's the court that states they want to "Get this thing going."  Re states that he has a trial scheduled for October 10th and another trial scheduled for October 28th.   Judge Perry asks Re when his trial on the 28th will finish. That case is a two week trial.  Perry responds that he has a hearing on a specific date, but offers up a trial start date of November or December, on the 15th.  I believe Re responds, "The fifteenth of December." (December 15th is a Sunday. Sprocket.)

Judge Perry's court reporter Beth, takes her seat and Judge Perry goes on the record. He states the appearances for the record.  Re then asks the court for a moment to confer with his client privately.  The court has no objection and Re and Becker exit the courtroom.

DDA Carney takes the time for a bit of small talk with Judge Perry. "How have you been, your honor?"  Judge Perry responds and then asks Carney a question of his own. He asks him something to the effect of where is he currently assigned.  Carney replies that he's still with the arson unit and replies, "It's a fascinating field."  Then Carney and Judge Perry have an interesting conversation about arson cases.  They discuss a former DDA (I believe with another county) whose name I don't quite catch.  Judge Perry mentions that he was known as an arson expert and a "super guy."

Becker and Re return to the courtroom. They first set November 15th as the next court appearance date with the case calendar set at zero of 45. Judge Perry then asks, "This won't require testimony will it?"  I'm not sure who it is who informs Perry, "It's a Franks hearing." Judge Perry realizes that there might be testimony.  Carney assures Judge Perry that they can issue subpoenas for witnesses to be on call. Judge Perry then changes his mind. The next court hearing will be on November 14th.  He tells counsel he realizes they are waiting for him to make a decision on the motion(s?) that (will be?) filed.

Judge Perry states, if there is testimony, it can continue on the fifteenth of November, and he'll clear his calendar. Judge Perry then muses, "I thought it was a 995..." Re jokingly tells the court, "If you'd like to rule on that your honor..." Everyone has a chuckle at that and Judge Perry replies, "We aim to please."

Judge Perry slowly and patiently explains to Becker his right to a speedy trial, and asks for his waiver.  Re then mentions that he has another motion and I believe the court indicates they will handle that motion on the 14th also.

In closing, Judge Perry tells counsel, "Thank you for being here so promptly."  Carney and Re chat in the well for a few moments. Judge Perry and his court reporter then begin a conversation.

Just then, Matthew McGough steps into the courtroom.  Judge Perry looked surprised and happy to see Matthew.  Judge Perry then addresses Matthew. "Ive got to talk to you!  Where's our book?" (I took that to mean, Matthew has probably promised Judge Perry a copy when it's published. Sprocket.)

I think Judge Perry then added smiling, something to the effect of, "Where have you been? I feared you were sitting under a freeway overpass, taking donations." Matthew responds, "It hasn't come to that yet." Judge Perry then makes a "Puffft!" sound and adds, "Where's the book? I want Christmas gifts for people."

Matthew and Carney then greet each other. Matthew and I both compliment Carney on the presentation he gave at the 2013 District Attorney's Forensics Science Forum last week.  All the presentations were excellent, but for myself, I especially enjoyed Carney's presentation.  Carney appreciated the feedback. His objective wasn't to debate the case, but to add context.

Judge Perry interrupts and asks what we are discussing.  DDA Carney explains that he gave a presentation at the conference on a famous arson, the Cameron Todd Willingham case.

Carney tells Judge Perry that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for investigating fires (921) was published a few months after this case occurred and most likely was not widely known until a few years later.  The big question in the case, was the fire an accident or was it intentionally set. Matthew tells Judge Perry that Carney's excellent presentation had a journalistic tone and neutral point of view.

Judge Perry brings up a well known arson trial he presided over, the John Leonard Orr case.  And for the next few minutes, Judge Perry gives a fascinating review of some of the highlights of this case.

Four people died. Two employees of the business as well as a grandmother and a child. One month later, there was another attempted arson.  There was a civil suit and money awarded against the business.  A few months later, fingerprint analysis (AFIS?) goes online and a fingerprint is matched.

Joseph Wambaugh wrote a book about the case, Fire Lover.  There had been 75 fires in Oakland grocery stores.  They had a name for the arsonist, "potato chip pyro," because he set the incinerary device in a rack of potato chips. It would go off like a bomb (because of the amount of oil in the bag).  (Yes, you can start a fire with potato chips. Kids, don't try this at home. Sprocket.) At trial there was a witness, a CIA agent, whose job was to go to Russia and identify faces.  He saw Orr's photo and identified him.  Orr's incriminating novel is mentioned and that he wrote a new book on the travesty of his case. Orr sent a flyer of the new book to Judge Perry.

After Perry's interesting discussion about the Orr case, Judge Perry invites Matthew back to talk with him in chambers.  While I wait for Matthew, I get the opportunity to talk to Judge Perry's new (to me) bailiff and his clerk, Melody.  I tell Melody I'm always amazed at all the work that clerks accomplish.  I tell her, "I don't know how court clerks do it."

Although the court reporter creates a transcript of the court proceedings, those documents are not part of the official case file. Court clerks have to type up a synopsis of the minutes of each case's hearing as well as the judge's rulings. Those minutes then must get into the appropriate case file. Clerks also field phone calls and log all motions that are filed each day for every case assigned to the court. When a case is in trial, there's more to do. They are the liaison with the jurors and their needs. They also have to keep track of the trial exhibits and take custody of them.  I'm sure there's more behind the scenes, but that's at least the tip of the iceberg that I've observed when I've been in court.

When Matthew and Judge Perry finished their talk, Matthew came back into the courtroom and said jokingly over his shoulder to Judge Perry, "Thanks for the kick in the pants."  Melody laughed.  Matthew promised Judge Perry's staff that he would keep them posted.  He promised them copies of the book when its published.

I asked Matthew about the status of his Stephanie Lazarus book. Matthew said, "It's coming along well."  Apparently, he's still hard at work. 

Cameron Brown 3rd Trial, Pretrial Hearing 11

 Arial view of Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

In the above photo of Inspiration Point, at the far right point at the top of the cliff is where the prosecution alleges Cameron Brown threw his 4-year-old daughter, Lauren Sarene Key, to her death. Sprocket.

Friday, September 20th, 2013
I'm back downtown at the Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center for a pretrial hearing in the Cameron Brown case.  I was here yesterday for a pretrial hearing in the Gerhard Becker case, but I don't have that report finished yet.  Hopefully, later tonight or tomorrow.

I arrive on the 9th floor a few minutes before 8:30 AM.  DDA Craig Hum is here along with a younger colleague. We are all waiting for Judge Lomeli's courtroom to open. Brown's wife Patty, is sitting on a bench at the end of the hallway with Brown's attorney, Aron Laub.  Laub is reading over several pages of a document. Patty leaves the bench and walks towards the center of the long hallway to make a phone call.

8:35 AM
The same bailiff who was here last time opens the courtroom and everyone files inside.  Before taking a seat, Patty Brown stops to speak to the bailiff about paying for a transcript with the court reporter.  The first two rows of gallery seating are still roped off and numbers are attached to the seat backs. Judge Lomeli's dual jury trial is still in progress.

Laub takes a seat at the defense table. Hum paces for a bit in the well while his associate takes a seat in one of the chairs against the well wall. Hum is wearing a grayish suit, baby blue shirt and light green tie. His hair looks a bit different to me today and I wonder if he's had a new cut.

I hear the bailiff on the phone asking for a "video escort."  Since Brown has made numerous complaints against the LA County Sheriff's for alleged mistreatment, anytime he is moved from one location to another, it's my understanding he must be video taped.

Hum walks over to where Laub is sitting. I'm not positive, but I believe I hear him ask Laub something to the effect of, what are they going to do today.  I don't hear Laub's reply.  Hum then goes over to Judge Lomeli's clerk and asks about the dual jury case.

8:50 AM
Two deputies bring Brown out of the holding area.  Although his hair has been trimmed short, he still has the "ZZ Top" looking beard.  I was checking my phone so I didn't see at what time Laub and Hum went back to Judge Lomeli's chambers.

Brown looks around the courtroom, and a few moments later asks the bailiff, "Where's my attorney?"  The bailiff responds, "He's in chambers with the judge."

8:55 AM
Counsel emerge from chambers.  Laub confers with his client and Hum updates the pretty, younger female associate.  I watch Brown, but I cannot hear what he and his attorney are saying.  Now Laub and Brown both look into the gallery towards Patty.  There's something about "documents."  I'm not positive, but I believe Patty answers something to the effect that she doesn't have or forgot the documents.  Smiling, Brown then tells Laub, "Story of my life. ... Have you ever talked to someone and every time they say they forgot?"

8:57 AM
Judge Lomeli takes the bench and asks counsel to state their appearances. Judge Lomeli states that he did receive a fax from Dr. Knapke that he went to the jail to interview Mr. Brown and Mr. Brown refused to meet with him. Because the defendant refused to meet with him, he could not provide the court with an evaluation.

Judge Lomeli addresses Brown. "As long as you fail to cooperate ... you will remain 1368. ... So your cooperation is crucial in this matter. ... Mr. Knapke interviewed you in the past. ... If you don't believe that happened, we can provide you with a copy ... (of his report) ... a (court?) stamped copy .... we can do that."

Judge Lomeli states it's important for Brown to cooperate with Dr. Knapke, and then addresses Brown again. "But as long as you fail to cooperate, you remain in limbo."  Judge Lomeli adds that Dr. Knapke, "... found you competent in the past." 

Judge Lomeli tells the defendant that the court will provide him with a court stamped copy of Aron Laub's declaration to the court. This is what Brown was asking for at the last hearing, but was denied. Now he's going to get the document he's asked for.  He will also be provided with a copy of Dr. Knapke's report from the first time he was evaluated. He will get a copy of those documents today.

Judge Lomeli rules that the case is still suspended until the 1368 issue is resolved.  Judge Lomeli tells Brown that it takes about 30 days for a Dr. to do an evaluation, so the case is continued until October 25th.  This is a Friday, which Laub asked for. Judge Lomeli asks the parties to get here early because he has additional hearings on that date.

Before Judge Lomeli leaves the bench Brown speaks up and asks for an order to see the doctor.  Judge Lomeli tells Brown to have his attorney fill out the proper paperwork and he will sign it.

 The bailiff informs counsel that they are unable to keep Brown on this floor.  They have to move him back to another area.  I believe it's agreed they will not transport him back to the jail until Brown gets the copies of the documents from the court.

Before Judge Lomeli leaves the bench, he has an off the record conversation with DDA Hum about Hum's other case in his courtroom, the Patrick Harran case.

While I was waiting in the elevator bay waiting to go home, an elevator going up stopped on the ninth floor. Inside I saw Cameron Brown's attorney from his first trial, Mark Geragos.

What Will Happen - Opinion
I'm sure many of you are wondering what's going to happen in this case.  For Brown to represent himself, (he's indicated to the court, that he wants to go pro per status) he has to get around the hurdle that his attorney has put in front of him, and that is, he needs an evaluation to prove his competency to stand trial to even make this decision.  Remember, Laub is trying to block his client from going pro per. Why would Laub do this? My best guess is, Laub cares about his client and feels it is in Brown's best interest to be represented by counsel when facing first degree murder charges.

Being competent to stand trial does not automatically mean an individual is competent to represent himself in a criminal proceeding, especially first degree murder charges.  It's my understanding that there isn't that high of a standard for an individual to be ruled competent to stand trial.  They must be able to understand who everyone is in the courtroom and assist in their defense.  Here is and excerpt of what the California Evidence Code (1367-1376) specifically states:
The examining psychiatrists or licensed psychologists shall evaluate the nature of the defendant's mental disorder, if any, the defendant's ability or inability to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings or assist counsel in the conduct of a defense in a rational manner as a result of a mental disorder and, if within the scope of their licenses and appropriate to their opinions, whether or not treatment with antipsychotic medication is medically appropriate for the defendant and whether antipsychotic medication is likely to restore the defendant to mental competence.
 Since Judge Lomeli stated the court would provide Brown with a copy of Laub's declaration as well as a copy of Dr. Knapke's prior report (from several years ago), maybe Brown will then agree to be interviewed by Dr. Knapke.  We'll have to wait and see what happens at the next hearing.

If Brown is ruled competent to stand trial, the next step would be for Judge Lomeli to determine is Brown is capable of representing himself.  It's my understanding there are certain conditions Judge Lomeli would have to determine before he would let Brown go pro per. It's possible that Judge Lomeli could rule Brown competent to stand trial, yet deny his request to go pro per.

To be continued on October 25th.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Joshua Woodward Trial: Pretrial 1

UPDATE 10/23: spelling DDA Habib Balian's name

September 11th, 2013
There was a pretrial hearing in the Joshua Woodward case today in Dept. 30 at the downtown Criminal Justice Center.  Woodward has been charged with four counts of attempted murder of his girlfriend's fetus.  He's currently out on 4 million bond.

As I was in the security line on the main floor about 8:15 AM, only one of the two scanners was open to clear the general public.  At the other scanner, there were four individuals that appeared to be with a film crew.  They had several cases and bags with them and I didn't see any network logos on any of the equipment.  After they were through, one of the senior deputies I've seen before told the security crew to "take them up in the freight elevator."  That was unusual because the elevator bay was virtually empty.

8:35 AM
I'm in the hallway on the 5th floor. I don't see DDA Habib Balian, who is prosecuting the case. I don't know who is representing Woodward at the moment.

8:45 AM
Dept. 30 finally opens.  Judge Torrealba is still on the bench of arraignment court.  After I take a seat in the center section, second row, I wait for an opportune time to catch one of the two bailiff's attention to ask about the case.  The attractive Latino deputy I first saw at the Lazarus case is checking in defendants who are scheduled today. The other female deputy tells me that the Woodward case is on the morning calendar and not the afternoon.  I'm relieved. If the case does not go to prelim today, I did not want to be stuck downtown for the next several hours.

8:57 AM
The well of the court is a bustle with various counsel checking in with the court clerk.  I finally spot DDA Balian and DDA Marguerite Rizzo checking in.  I didn't know that Ms. Rizzo was working this case.  She's co-counsel with Beth Silverman on the Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper" case.

9:05 AM
There's a very pretty court reporter at the desk directly in front of Judge Torrealba's bench. I've never seen her before.  She has jet black hair and perfect make-up.  To my left, I see a cameraman from local Channel 5, and I ask him what he's here for.  He shows me his paper and it's where I learn that four Irwindale public officials will be arraigned again today.

9:10 AM
Judge Torrealba takes the bench.  The large computer screen on the wall to my left has a defendant at the jail. The defendant agrees to have his arraignment by remote verses the courthouse.  The defendant waives his right to fight extradition to Arizona. After Judge Torrealba gets his statements on the record she says, "Good luck to you sir." There is a second defendant being arraigned from the jail who is wanted in Nevada.  He also waives his right to fight extradition.

City News reporter Terri Keith arrives and she takes a seat beside me. I'm always happy to see Terri because she knows so much about how the court system works and often manages about 40 cases at a time.   Terri is here to cover Woodward and the Irwindale public officials cases.  I mention the film crew to Terri but she couldn't think of any high profile case that was in trial at the moment.  This is just a guess, but the film crew could be here to interview someone from the district attorney's office.

Terri tells me that Woodward is represented by Janet Levine. (This looks like her, but I'm not positive. Sprocket.) I see Levine in the well talking to Balian. She's wearing a conservative gray suit with a black scoop neck blouse.  She has short brownish hair and glasses.

9:45 AM 
Judge Torrealba is still on the bench, there's quite a bit of activity in the well but no cases are being heard.  Balian and Rizzo are in the gallery, first bench row on the left. They are sitting with another young woman.

Finally the Woodward case is called and the parties step forward.  I see Woodward walk up to the well from the very back of the courtroom.  He's an attractive, sharply dressed man that looks older than the images I've seen of him on news stories.

The parties tell Judge Torrealba that they want to  resolve one outstanding issue and come back in two weeks on Sept. 23rd to set the prelim at zero of 30.  However, I believe that date doesn't work well for Judge Torrealba's calendar. The defense states they would like to see what is in the last big piece of documents they've received from the prosecution before they schedule the prelim.

Judge Torrealba throws out a date of Friday, Sept 27th, and I groan internally.  That date is the next hearing in the Michael Thomas Gargiulo case, which I don't want to miss.  The defense attorney tells Judge Torrealba that she will not be here on that date.  Judge Torrealba asks all parties to approach.

While counsel are at the bench I observe Woodward as he's standing in the well. His arms are crossed over his chest. He's wearing a light gray suit with a faint hint of color in the threads. In the florescent lighting, his hair appears jet black with a touch of gray.  Here is how Woodward appeared at a prior hearing, while in custody.

Joshua Woodward, at a prior court hearing.

Back on the record. Judge Torrealba states there is a preliminary "go date" reserved for October 21st. It's set as 8 of 10.  There will be a status hearing on October 2nd.  That date can be a non-appearance date for the defendant if everything is set to go forward.  However, if there are any outstanding issues, then Woodward would have to appear on Oct. 2nd.

DDA Balian tells the court that they have a subpoena out for medical records. It's a small amount of documents. Judge Torrealba states that they are probably in a stack somewhere and as soon as they are located the court will contact him.

And that's it.  I make my way back home.  It's my understanding that the prelim could take anywhere from one to three days.

9/11 2013 Never Forget

UPDATE 9/14: clarity, accuracy
Today I'm at the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center to see if the Joshua Woodward case will be transferred from Dept. 30 to a courtroom today.  I had heard a report that the case would be in Dept. 41 for prelim today, but the court's public information office tells me the case is still in Dept. 30 for pretrial possible prelim setting.

Woodward, a restaurateur who has in the past, opened locations in Miami, New York and Los Angeles is charged with four counts of attempted murder of his girlfriend's fetus.  Woodward was charged in October last year and is currently out on bond.

NY Daily News - Woodward Out on Bond

LA Times - Woodward Denies Poisoning Girlfriend