Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Rafael Martinez, Jr., Trial - Day 8, Prosecution Testimony Continues

Exclusive T&T coverage can be found HERE.

Day 7.....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015.
I've updated yesterday's notes (Day 7) with the afternoon witnesses. Although I am behind on getting more detailed notes up, and I working on them in whatever spare time I have. Yesterday evening, I was working on getting some invoices and work proposals out for Mr. Sprocket's business.

The courtroom has been ice cold for several days now.  The building maintenance can't seem to get the system working right. I'm freezing while sitting in the gallery. Yesterday, I believe Judge Speer had a heater under her desk that was helping to warm her and her clerk. Even though I took the bus this morning and got a good work-out with the amount of walking I did, it didn't help me one bit inside Dept. V. When there is a break, I get up to move around but it doesn't help much.

Over the past seven days, I've noticed that Mr. Burns is very friendly and interacts quite a bit with his client. Quite I few times I've seen him, in a familiar or fatherly fashion, place his hand up on the defendant's back or shoulders. In conversation, I've seen them both smile in reaction to the other's words.

From what I've observed, it appears the defendant is quite engaged in helping in his defense. During some questions of a witness that might have known the victims, the defendant is leaning in to mention something to his attorney. He also appears to be helping his attorney by look for particular photographs or documents during questioning. Mr. Burns does not have a clerk or intern to help him on the case, so it appears that Martinez is filling this role.

There was some argument on the record outside the presence of the jury about an upcoming witness, Mr. Callahan. Defense wanted to cross examine him on the fact that every time the police brought to him the name of a potential suspect, he spoke negatively about them.  DDA Akemon argued and Judge Speer agreed, this was getting into 3rd party culpability evidence, which was already ruled on. Judge Speer ruled that the defense could only ask the witness that in all the prior interviews with police, he never mentioned the defendant's name.

MELISSA POPOVIC - LAPD Criminalist, forensic print specialist, latent print unit. Popovic collected evidence in the 2001 case. Collected a partial bloody palm print left on the door jam or door, of Nieves bedroom door. On Monday, 2/4, she printed the defendant's palms. She matched the bloody palm print she found on the door to the defendant.

CHRISTINE SALMAS - Friend and client of Nancy Boehm. Considered herself a recreational user and not an addict. Knew Nancy from sometime in 1996 until shortly before her death. Knew Shawn as well. Testified that after becoming a client of Nancy's they hit it off and became friends. Testified about Nancy's security procedures, the time that they spent together, and how Nancy conducted her drug business.  Testified she believed Nancy either kept her supply in the bathroom or in a compartment under the coffee table in the back bedroom.

Testified to an event where there were 8-10 people at the residence, waiting for a "runner" to deliver Nancy's supply.  Salmas remembers Nancy and the defendant, coming from the hallway, and Nancy having to tell the defendant in a raised voice, "Calm don. Be quiet. Don't talk."

Salmas is currently under cross examination when the noon lunch break was called. Defense is questioning the witness on evidence photos and what she recognizes in the back room, as well as asking questions about the names of various people, and if she knew them or not.

We are on the afternoon break.

Judge Speer allows jurors to ask questions. I've never seen this happen at the downtown courthouse, and this is the first trial I've attended where the judge allows juror questions. It is written into the new CAL CRIM jury instructions and some judges do allow it, and I've seen it in cases in other states.

We have one juror that has been asking several questions. There is some friendly chatter in the courtroom among the bailiff, the deputy and cout staff. We have a few interns from CSUN (California State University Northridge), who are interning under several of the judges in the courthouse.

I really like the female bailiff that is Judge Speer's regular bailiff. She has a nice personality. When attorneys come in that she hasn't seen for awhile, she's always so happy to see them.  The other deputies that are assistant security in the room are different every day.  There is a technical person working with the court reporter at the moment because the computer interface between her court transcript machine and the judge's computer isn't working and they haven't been able to get it fixed.

UPDATE @11:25 PM
1:45 PM
After lunch, cross examination continued with Salmas. The defense presented several photographs to the witness to see if she recognized anyone in the photographs as well as areas and items in Nancy's residence.

Mr. Burns used several photographs to cross the witness on where she, Nancy and Martinez were in the room during the "shushing" incident. Salmas admitted she didn't hear the complete conversation, but only what Nancy said to Martinez.

On redirect, Salmas was presented with a photo of the defendant with a statement underneath it that she signed.  She verified that Detective Townsend wrote out a statement from information that she told him. The statement detailed the "shushing' incident that she remembered when she was presented with a photo of the defendant. I was able to get most of the statement, as it was read in court.

"I’m almost sure this is the guy that I saw once in her house. She had to tell him to calm down and be quiet.  She shushed him. He must have been coked up and I only saw him once."

There are a few more questions from the defense on whether or not she often saw people come out of the hallway "kind of stoned."

ROBERT CALLAHAN - Close friend of Nancy Boehm; mentored Shawn Boehm. Callahan is 47 years old. Callahan is asked to describe his relationship with Nancy. "At the time I knew her, she was pretty much my best friend." Callahan states that he mentored Shawn and took him to the Special Olympics.

Around the time of the murders, he was living in Ventura County. He would visit Nancy about twice a week. He met Nancy is 1991, when he was attending a University in the area. Callahan states that in the first few years that he knew Nancy, he used to have a cocaine habit but he stopped using. He still remained friends with her.

Callahan recounts Nancy's security procedures. Nancy was strict about security. It's very similar to what other witnesses testified to. There was the front gate to the property with a buzzer that was always locked. Nancy could see the front gate from the front window. Someone came out of the house to open the front gate and lock it again. There was a screen security door that was also kept locked, then the front door.  Shawn was allowed to open the front gate, but usually not.

Callahan and Shawn were friends even though there was an age difference. They would go to carnivals together, play, watch TV sometimes. "He was a fun kid to hang around," Callahan remembers. When asked about his level of development, Callahan states, "Like a younger kid, maybe 10 or 12. ... Some things he was really smart about; some things he wasn't. ... He had a photographic memory for dates and things and places. Really good."

Callahan remembers that Nancy's stash was kept under the coffee table (in the back room), on her left hand side. When they would watch television together in the back room, Callahan never sat on the left. He always sat on the right on the futon. Callahan did observe transactions take place in the back room.

Callahan states that he knew the defendant as Junior Martinez, and that he was a neighbor friend of Nancy and Shawn's. The only place he ever saw Martinez was at Nancy's residence. Callahan believes that the last time he saw Martinez at Nancy's house was less than a year before her death. After Callahan testifies to this, Martinez leans into his attorney and whispers. Mr. Burns nods in response. Callahan also testifies that he remembers the defendant screaming at Nancy a few times and leaving the house mad. They were in the back room together; Callahan was in the front room. He doesn't know what it was about. Callahan states that Nancy could scream pretty loud, too.

Nancy would sell drugs on credit, but she didn't like to. Callahan is asked if he ever mentioned to Detective Townsend whether Nancy would sell drugs on credit to Martinez. "I think I observed it in the room once," Callahan states. When asked if he ever saw any [confrontation? conflict] between Nancy and Martinez and Martinez ability to pay for drugs, Callahan believes he did so once, but he can't recall the date.  That there was at one time, where Nancy refused to extend any more credit to Martinez.

There are many more questions about what he remembers seeing of the interaction between Nancy and Martinez and drug transactions.  There are questions about what he told Detective Townsend in 2013 about Nancy telling Martinez to "get the fuck out" and how many times he told Detective Townsend he remembers that happening. Callahan also testifies that he remembers seeing Martinez loose his temper at Nancy's house.

Under cross examination, Callahan repeats that he did business with Nancy for about the first two years that he knew her, then he cleaned up his act. Callahan at the time had a business involving security electronic equipment. Callahan testifies that Nancy, "... didn't really use much of my stuff at all. ... She didn't feel the need for it." Callahan states that he didn't have any type of weapons such as pepper spray or stun guns. It was mostly sensors. In 1997, Callahan was working in the alternative fuel technology, building electronic vehicles.

Mr. Burns confronts the witness on his memory. "... fair to say that your memory isn't all that perfect at the time? ... Before, you didn't even know who junior was."  The witness insists that he identified the defendant. Defense exhibit 1 is put up on the ELMO. The witness is firm. "They put a picture on the table and I said, that's junior. Exactly like that."

TB: Exactly like that?
RC: Yes.
TB: Didn't you first say no, when asked if you knew the guy in that picture?
RC: I don't believe so.

The witness is emphatic that he identified "junior" when he was shown Martinez' photo by detectives.  Mr. Burns asks him a second time.

TB: Didn't he ask you if you knew a junior and you said no?
RC: I don't believe so.

Mr. Burns then asks the witness about when he was first interviewed by detectives, and that the detectives asked him about people that problems. I believe this is in reference to other potential suspects that the witness spoke to detectives about in a negative way. The witness admits that when he was first interviewed, he never gave Martinez' name to detectives as someone to look at.  In his second interview with detectives, Burns confronts the witness that he mentioned another person to detectives, but he never mentioned Martinez' name at that time either. The witness states he's confused and isn't following Mr. Burns' questioning.

TB: They asked you again if you were concerned about anybody Nancy knew and you talked about a different person than junior.
RC: I don't know the person with whom you were referring to. Who were you referring to?

This is getting close to the 3rd party culpability evidence that Judge Speer has already litigated cannot come into the trial. Mr. Burns asks the court if they can approach. Judge Speer decides to take the afternoon break so this can be litigated again, outside the presence of the jury.

Burns offers to the court, that he could have the witness read the statement himself. I'm guessing it's the detective's report, and not a transcript of the interview. There is a bit of back and forth with the court and DDA Akemon. The court ultimately rules that this was already litigated and that it cannot come in and that Mr. Burns will not have the witness read the statement to himself.  Before Judge Speer leaves the bench for break, I believe she asks the parties to speak to the witness.

I note that there is a dark haired, nicely dressed woman who came in during the afternoon session. She is sitting at the end of the same row of seats I'm sitting in. I believe she is trying to get Mr. Burns' attention before she leaves the courtroom.  After the defendant is brought back into custody, it appears that Mr. Burns quickly leaves the courtroom to catch up to the woman.

The afternoon break stretches to a half hour because of the transmission problems between the court reporter and Judge Speer's computer.  Judge Speer goes back on the record but without the jury.

3:30 PM
Mr. Burns tells the court that they have talked to Mr. Callahan, showed him the defense reports and admonished him not to name names. DDA Akemon tells the court that Mr. Callahan referenced Dennis Stockton, and the drama going on with Dennis and Jessica [Stockton]. He also mentioned that Nancy knew that Jessica was on heroin.  Mr. Burns tells the court, "All I want to do is ask him about back in December, and that he gave them [detectives] information about that person and the name "Junior" never came up." DDA Akemon tells the court, "If it's asked like that I don't have a problem. That's as close to the 3rd party culpability that I'd like to get."  Burns then reads a statement that he would like to be able to read to the witness. DDA Akemon is not comfortable with that. It's too close to 3rd party culpability. Judge Speer has made her decision and asks the parties, "Do you want me to admonish him, or I think you already have?" I believe it's DDA Akemon who asks the court, "Maybe so there's no misunderstanding..." with the courts ruling on 3rd party culpability. Burns asks the court, "Can we say he said he gave negative information about another person?" DDA Akemon has a problem with that. Judge Speer rules that would be 352, 3rd party culpability. She then tells her bailiff to bring in the jurors.

3:37 PM
Cross examination resumes.

TB: We were talking about in December 1997, detectives came to you and at that time you mentioned other people but you did not say anything about Junior?
RC: That's correct.
TB: Now Mr. Callahan, you gave up drugs when you were with Nancy?... about two years before she died?
RC: No. That was long before.

Callahan explains that he gave up cocaine about two years after he met Nancy.  Mr. Burns asks the witness if his drug of choice was methamphetamine.  Callahan explains that was after Nancy died.

TB: After Nancy diet, you went on methamphetamine?
RC: Yes.
TB: [Have you] taken any medications today before you testified?
RC: No.

Mr. Burns continues to ask the witness about when he witnessed discussions about Nancy giving customers credit, if Junior was in Nancy's "inner circle," and if Martinez had a cousin or brother. Mr. Burns shows the defendant photographs of people and asks him if he recognizes them. Callahan is shown a photo of Martinez with another man. Callahan replies that it's similar to Junior but he doesn't know if it is or not. The other photo he insists he's never seen before. There are more questions as to whether or not Callahan met the defendant's father or someone named Darren.

Mr. Burns then shows the defendant his own driver's license photo, taken in 1995 and asks him if that's what he looked like in 1997? Callahan replies no, that's what he looked like in 1995. Burns then asks Callahan if the photo of Nancy in the People's large exhibit is how Nancy looked in 1997?  Callahan states the photo was taken when Nancy was younger.

Under redirect, DDA Akemon puts up another photo of Nancy which Callahan identifies is how Nancy looked in 1997.  Under recross, the defense asks the defendant about another photo and if he knew the name of another man.

The questioning of this witness is finally over and he is excused. Court resumes tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

More to come....


David In TN said...

Tennessee used to allow juror questions. At Vanessa Coleman's first trial which I attended in May 2010, juror questions were asked if approved by the judge.

The questions did give a clue as to what some jurors were thinking. Most were somewhat pro-defense.

David In TN