Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., Trial, Day 12, Part II

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., 2/16/16 Opening Statements
Photo Credit: Pool Camera: Al Seib, LA Times

Continued from Part I,
1:32 PM Inside Dept. 109
The LA Times reporter is here along with family members.  A minute later, the prosecution team enters. There’s a bit of jovial laughter between the gallery ladies, female bailiff and the sketch artist, Bill Robles.

The courtroom is a bit too cold today. Unfortunately, the sweater I brought is too thick for me to be comfortable for too long.

The LA County coroner is back on the stand, waiting to start.

1:36 PM
The defendant is brought back out. I s he wearing the same blue shirt and tie as yesterday? It looks like it.

Judge Kennedy comes out, court is in session. On the record.

Atherton brings up an objection he filed in the morning about the witness testifying about the original conclusions by the original coroner. He talks about that there is no case law on the issue. In one of the prior autopsies, Alterton states he did not make an objection. Judge Kennedy states that he needs to make an objection at the time of the testimony. She’s not going to go back in time with an objection.

1:40 PM
On the record. All jurors and parties present. Continuing with the witness.


Now going back to the ballistics evidence recovered in Henrietta Wright, and that they were copper jacketed.

Did you come to an independent determination as to cause of death?
Gunshot wound to the chest.
Did you look at the toxicology to see if there was anything relevant?

States the numbers of the byproduct that was present for cocaine.

The victim, after shot, would be at the most, still conscious for about two minutes before succumbing to her injuries.

Now another Coroner Evidence Log, for Henrietta Wright, and the bullets being recovered and transferred to LE custody, and the taking of a blood sample.

Victim Barbara Ware
He also reviewed a coroner’s protocol, coroner's case number 88-00385. Autopsy preformed by a Dr. Sherry, on a Jane Doe #2, subsequently identified as Barbara Ware.

Age, weight and height?
22, 120 lbs 64 inches in length or 5 ft 4.
Autopsy photo, taken at the coroner’s office and the coroner’s placards in the photo. She’s partially clothed.

Now photos of the body, after the victim was washed.
Do you notice anything noteworthy?
Yes, she also sustained a gunshot wound, right in the center of the chest.

Now, a close up photo of the gunshot wound, directly between her breasts.

Like the other victims, now going over the diagram 20 page, showing the documentation of the gunshot wound, it’s location and dimensions.

Were you able to determine the trajectory?
Left to right, downward, front to back.
Would that be consistent with the same hypothetical I gave earlier, with the victim being in the passenger seat, the shooter in the driver’s seat?


Just like the previous cases, this bullet goes through the heart. There was stippling on the clothing. There are no defensive wounds. He did not see any evidence of liver mortis or rigor mortis.

Toxicology report 0.580 mg of cocaine and also a metabolite of cocaine in the blood. From blood samples taken at time of autopsy.

Cause of death was gunshot wound perforating the heart. The toxicology had nothing to do with the cause of death. Would have taken her about two minutes to expire after being shot. There was a projectile removed from the body at the time of autopsy.

 Exhibit 66, A photo of several envelopes, and close up, showing the bullet. Documenting what is written on the coin envelope that contained the bullet that was removed from the body by Dr. Sherry.

Exhibit 68 Coroner’s Evidence Log, specific to Barbara Ware. The document indicates a bullet logged and blood sample taken from the decedent.

DDA Silverman now takes out the envelope that contains the several inner envelopes that eventually contain the coin envelope with the projectile. The witness opens the envelope, and tells the jury what he’s doing every step of the way. Tells the jury what the writing is on the outside of the coin envelope. Unseals the coin envelope. A projectile. It’s a medium caliber partially copper jacketed and mildly deformed. Now returning the item to the envelope and the envelopes inside of envelopes.

How long would it have taken this particular victim to expire?
Two minutes.
Same as the others?

Victim Bernita Sparks
87-3919 Originally brought in as a Jane Doe, autopsy performed by Dr. Golden.

Age, weight, height?
26 165 70 inches or 5’ 10

Photos of the decedent at the coroner’s. She’s lying on her back. She has pants on, but her shirt is open in the front, exposing her breasts. Now a photo of the decedent after the clothing removed. There’s a gunshot wound, almost right in the center of the chest. Next photos, a closer up view of the gunshot wound right between her breasts.

Exhibit 87, a photo of the victim’s face. Trying to illustrate, there are injuries to the neck, and we can see what appears to be a ligature mark. The second photo, the ligature mark appears better. Those are linear abrasions, and other stigmata, supporting evidence, that strangulation was involved. Cause of death gunshot wound to the chest. Supporting conditions, a ligature involved.

The gunshot track was left to right, slightly downward and front to back. The trajectory would support the hypothetical as presented before in the other cases.

As to the strangulation, were there any other medical findings that were significant to you besides the marks to the neck?
She had petechiae in the eyes.

Explains head pressure, and how it often pops the small capillaries. She has internal injuries that correspond to the external injuries. She had bleeding into the muscles in her neck, which would comport with ligature strangulation.

New photos, documenting the petechiae in the eyes. Both eyes have it. The right eye also has a large, reddish discoloration. To him, these injuries would be classic signs of strangulation when you put it together with the other evidence in this case.

Going over Dr. Golden’s diagram drawings documenting the wounds.

Now with this victim, going over the evidence envelopes, and the Coroner’s Evidence Log for this victim where the bullet was logged as well as a blood sample.

Now opening the evidence item envelope and verifying the documentation on the outside of the coin envelope. Opening the envelope. It is a projectile, medium size, partially copper jacketed and slightly dented.

In terms of cause of death in this case, the bullet lodged in the right plural cavity, how long would she have survived?

With the injury to the heart, about two minutes.
Did the bullet go through the heart sac?
The heart itself.
Regarding to the clothing, referring you back to exhibit, anything that was relevant?

Not that I could see.

The victim had on a black jacket/blouse. Would it have blocked stippling?
If it was normally positioned, yes.
Now talking about cause of death.

Did the strangulation occur while the victim was alive?
Yes. She had to be alive, during the time those injuries were inflicted.

Was there any other injury on this body beside the gunshot wound and the evidence of strangulation?
There was injury to the head, blunt force trauma, with sub-dural hemorrhage. Nothing too obvious on the outside of the body, but once the brain was removed it could be seen.
Did this injury occur when the victim was still alive?
Yes. ... Any blow to the head that leaves damage underneath, could have caused a concussion.  

There were at least three separate blows to the head. None of them caused death and they all occurred pre-mortem.

How rapidly would you have expected the victim to expire?
With that gunshot to the heart, we’re talking two minutes at the most.
Did you also consider the toxicology in this case?
Yes. ...The toxicology screen did not contribute to the cause of death. ... It showed cocaine and the metabolite of cocaine.
That was the result of the blood samples taken by Dr. Golden in 1987?

A question about the injuries. All they can tell is that she had blood pressure to sustain the injuries she had, so they were pre-mortem.

More discussion testimony about strangulation and if constant pressure would be needed the full 2 minutes before the individual expired from strangulation.

Victim Mary Lowe
Reviewed a coroner’s protocol by Dr. Sarah [Reddy? Redding?], now deceased on victim Mary Lowe. Reviewed diagrams and photographs to render his opinion. 87-10489 coroner’s case number. Now photos of the victim right after she was brought into the coroner’s office, and then a facial shot, after the body had been undressed and washed.

Photo of a gunshot wound to the left breast.

What is unique about this one?here are red dots, on the skin around the entrance wound, which gives us an idea of range of fire. Rule of thumb is about two feet. Beyond that, you don’t see it.

Could have been closer since the decedent was dressed in a shirt and jacket.

Going over the diagrams from the autopsy report.

He did autopsies involving gunshot wounds, around 300. Trajectory in this case, left to right, downward and front to back. Consistent with Debra Jackson’s case, and the same hypothetical as before.

Age, height, weight of decedent?
26, 115, 64 inches or 5 foot 4.

Now going through the evidence envelopes of the bullet.

Now going over the coin envelope, the bullet recovered by Dr. Redding (Reddy?).

Opening the smaller envelope. It’s a projectile.
How would you characterize it?
Your honor, may I use my flashlight again?
The reason I’m hesitating, it is a full metal jacket, medium caliber, that is moderately deformed.

Same as with the other victims, it would have taken up to two minutes for the victim to succumb. She had alcohol and cocaine and metabolites of cocaine in her system. This was from blood evidence take at the time the body entered the coroner’s department.

She had multiple abrasions on the abdomen and back, from one two two inches. The all occurred before death. They could have been sustained from being dragged; that is a possibility.

Based on his review of the evidence, what was the cause of death?
Cause of death was gunshot wound to chest.
Which punctured the heart?

2:53 PM Call the afternoon break
The female, two stripe bailiff is making everyone exit the courtroom. That's unusual. The reason given is, the staff needs a break also.

3:10 PM Break is over
The court goes back on the record.

3:13 PM

Victim Lachrica Jefferson
Did you review a coroner’s case file number 88-1185 performed by Dr. Selser, subsequently identified at Lachrica Jefferson. 


Age, height and weight?
25, 64 inches, 5 feet 4, 99lbs.

Photo of the decedent. The clothing, in the documentation, although that she had this wrap, she didn’t have any underwear? I don’t recall that.

He looked at the diagrams related to this particular case number. Now photo of the body cleaned and washed. Two gunshot wounds. One is to the left breast, the second is to a lower area. This trajectory, the second, goes not just across, goes sharply downward.

The first follows the same trajectory as all the others. They were all front to back, left to right and one more downward than the other?

Confirms the same hypothetical, that the trajectory of the bullets would fit if she was seated in the passenger seat of a car and the shooter was in the driver's seat.

Each bullet would have been fatal. No sooting or stipling on the skin itself that would give information as to range of fire.

She had on a green dress, the clothing would potentially, a probability, block the sooting from being deposited. Now going over the coroner’s diagram, documenting the injuries and the trajectory.

Next is the evidence envelopes and the Coroner’s Evidence Log, documenting the bullets that were recovered and the blood collected for testing and forwarding to LE.  These evidence envelopes are from the LA County Sheriff’s. There are two projectile envelopes inside the larger envelope.

What’s inside?

It is paper wadding of some type, that contains a projectile.
How would you describe it?

This is like the previous, full metal jacket. medium caliber and mildly deformed. It’s a little dented up.

The second projectile is medium in size and only minimally deformed.

Cause of death?
Multiple gunshot wounds.
Did they go through the heart?
Both did. One also went through the liver.
How long would she have survived?

Upwards of 2 minutes at most.
Did you review the toxicology screen in this case?
She also had alcohol. Some of the percentage of alcohol,could have been due to decomposition, but not all of it. She also had cocaine and cocaine metabolite. 
The toxicology screen isn’t able to determine the “type” of cocaine, only that it’s in the body.

The coroner did not notice any documentation of needle tracks. He did not see any bullet wounds in the clothing. [He may not have looked at the clothing; it’s not clear from the question.]

Victim Alecia Alexander
The witness reviewed coroner’s case number 88-9057, autopsy performed by a Dr. Riley. The victim came in as a Jane Doe and subsequently identified as Alecia Alexander.

Age, height, weight?
17, 64 inches, 5 feet 4, 108 lbs.

New exhibit. Photo of her body. How sad. She appears to be in very advanced state of decomposition. There is a greenish discoloration. Her scalp hair is has slogged off. There is insect activity. Dark green to brown discoloration of the skin. The eyes are no longer existent. The gunshot does display a muzzle imprint. Even with the degree of decomposition, there is that contact wound pattern.

In this photo, anything significant to you?
Dr. Riley did document a ligature mark around the neck, but no vital reaction. Meaning there was a mark on the skin, but no vital reaction. It’s possible that it occured post-mortem but could be decompositon.
The body did come in with a ligature around the neck?

There were maggots feeding on the body. Through the diagram, the witness details the gunshot wound and trajectory. Details a circumference ligature mark around the neck.

There could be obscuring decomposition change, so it can be hard to read through that.
Because of the level of decomposition of the body?

The trajectory of the path of the bullet?
Downward, left to right, front to back. This one involves the liver.
What do you mean?
The liver is the largest organ and it clips the edge of the liver.
[The trajectory] consistent with that same hypothetical?
Any other items damaged?
This bullet goes through the aorta.
How about the diaphragm?

Now going over exhibit photos of  evidence envelopes and the information written on the envelopes. Also going over the Coroner’s Evidence Log for this case and where the bullet was logged into evidence as well as the blood sample. After viewing the photos of the envelop exhibits, now switching to the actual items. Witness opens the envelope. Going over the writing and what’s inside. Inside is a coroner’s projectile envelope that contains this unique case number.  There is a projectile inside that envelope.

This is a partially copper jacketed, medium caliber, partially deformed. In his opinion, a medium caliber would be consistent with 25 caliber. Items now returned to the envelope and the envelopes back inside the other envelopes.

3:50 PM
Were you able to determine cause of death in this case?
Gunshot wound to the chest.
How long would it taken this particular decedent to succumb, given that gunshot wound to the chest?
Given, about two minutes. ...There was damage to the abdomen, as opposed to the heart, but involving the aorta. So it’s not as bad as the heart, but almost.

Toxicology showed alcohol, more than would be just from decomposition and cocaine.

In addition to gunshot wound to the chest that perforated the aorta, what about the ligature to the neck?
Without being able to determine if it happened when she had a heartbeat, cannot determine if it was part of the cause of death.

Victim Valerie McCorvey
The witness reviewed coroner's case number 03-5199, autopsy performed by Dr. McGarvey, whom he knew personally.

The witness explains that, "This is different than all the cases we talked about today. This is a strangulation. The strangulation, ligature mark, goes almost completely around the neck."

Petechaie present. Right underneath her chin, is a wide, abrasion. There’s almost somewhat of a scalloped appearance to the abrasion, to the bottom part of the ligature mark. Shoulder abrasion and other injuries.

 The ligature mark goes all the way to the back. There is a small area where it almost terminates. In this case, the ligature is almost complete horizontal appearance.

Exhibit 200 [photo] scattered abrasions throughout. Also other neck abrasions. Don’t see fingernail scratches, but the areas of scalloping, that may be what occurred.

There scalloping on the left side of the neck could be, finger scratching trying to remove the ligature.

I can see in the photo, an injury to the left shoulder.

Now going over the drawing documentation of the injuries. The original coroner looked underneath the skin and documented the injuries underneath. There were several injuries to the muscles and cartilage, and strap muscles. 

And that would be classic for strangulation correct?

Question about the "Pucca" shell necklace and if it could have caused the ligature. 
Pucca shells are fragile, these may not be true shells, but we do see scalloping in the necklace.
We don’t know if it’s the true Pucca shells, [that were used as the ligature] or whether it’s wire or string or something else that caused the ligature strangulation?

Now presenting the Coroner’s Evidence Log, and the documentation that blood was booked along with other items of evidence.

Age, weight, height?
35, 134 lbs 58 inches or, 5 ft 8.
Cause of death?
How long would it take for this decedent to succumb?
We’ve talked about this before. Some would say up to a minute, some would say two.
And that would be with constant pressure?

They look for the internal injuries under the skin to support the conclusion of manual strangulation.

Did she have injuries to her tongue, such as tongue biting?
There is a 3/8’ diameter protrusion of the tongue.
Is that something that you see commonly with this type of injury?
Toxicology similar to others. She has alcohol, cocaine, cocaine metabolite. She had both when she died.
Was there recent use of cocaine, prior to death?
We can say within a few hours, prior to death.

Now does a summary on all the victims, and did there appear to be a pattern or a significant similarities between all the victims.

Particularly with the gunshot, they all involved the heart, the aorta, downward, left to right front to back.

The victims were all African American; [the same neighborhood?] the weight of the bullets.

4:08 PM
Direct is finished for this witness.

The court addresses the jurors.
I want to talk to the jurors, compliment them on paying close attention to the evidence. I know it’s difficult to listen to. Friday morning I have other cases.

 One case that involves 15 defendants, and each defendant has two lawyers, so on Friday, we will not start until 1:30 PM.

If it’s raining tomorrow morning, people do not drive well in the rain, it will take you twice as long to get here. If it’s raining, leave early.

The court reminds the jurors of the admonition not to express opinions about the case, not to talk to anyone, etc.

And that's it for the second day of testimony. Court resumes at 9:00 am tomorrow.