Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Trial Day 13 Part I

Thursday, February 18, 2016
I'm on the Red Line train into downtown. There is a loud young man complaining about having to pay tickets all the time, as if getting the ticket in the first place was not his fault. He goes on and on about his fate. His continual whining is amusing and exasperating at the same time. Taking the train gives me an extra 20 minutes to write in the morning.

2/17/16 - Recap

Yesterday, the jury sat through over five hours of depressing testimony from coroners about the deaths of nine women. Of the autopsies described so far, all but one victim sustained eerily similar gunshot wounds to the left side of the chest. Each and every time, the trajectory of the bullets were described as entering the victim's bodies from left to right, downward and front to back.

With every gunshot victim, DDA Beth Silverman asked LA County Chief Coroner, Dr. Mark Farjardo a hypothetical question. Would the trajectory of the bullets support a scenario where, the victim was seated in the front passenger seat of a car when they were shot, with the killer next to her in the driver's seat. Each time, Dr. Farjardo answered, "Yes."

This hypothetical scenario is exactly what happened to the sole surviving victim, Enitera Washington on November 20, 1988.

There were barely a handful of journalists covering the coroner's testimony and about 10 to 14 family members in the gallery. I expect the level of media interest will pick back up when detectives outline for the jury how the investigation progressed, stalled then picked up again. When Prosecution star witness Enitera Washington takes the stand to recount her terrifying ordeal, it should be a packed courtroom.

2/18/16 - 8:50 AM The 9th Floor
Up on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles criminal court building, I'm the first journalist to arrive. There are a few jurors in the hallway from our case and from a trial in progress in Dept. 102.

Also here are Detective Daryn Dupree and his partner, Detective Dave Holmes. Detective Dupree is the prosecution's "IO" [investigating officer] that sits with them at the prosecution table. The prosecution's witness, Dr. Farjardo is in the hallway. I complement him on his black and white abstract tie.

8:58 AM
Defense attorney Dale Atherton arrives and enters Dept. 109. A few minutes later Amster arrives.

9:05 AM - Potential Disaster
When I get inside Dept 109, I realize I don't have my power cord to my back-up power supply, and I don't have the power cord to my laptop. My laptop will barely last the morning. LA Times reporter Ceasar has offered to loan my his power supply, but I'm going to leave now and go to CVS and pick up a notepad.

I will miss the initial cross examination of Dr. Farjardo. I will post when I get back, but save my battery for later.

9:38 AM

I went to CVS and picked up a notebook and got back inside the courtroom at 9:38 am. I'm taking limited handwritten notes.

Dr. Farjardo is under cross examination about the first victim he testified about.  KFI's Eric Leonard is in the courtroom until the afternoon break. Read Eric's report on the morning session.

10:30 AM - Morning Break
The morning break is called and the deputies call for the courtroom to be cleared. The return time is 10:45. I have 60% battery left on my laptop. I'm going to save my laptop for the afternoon session.

12:05 PM
I left the courtroom about five minutes before the noon break would be called. Around 11:45 am, Mr. Amster had just started his cross on victim Bernita Sparks.

Under cross, Dr. Farjardo stated that he did not review any of the victim's clothing or in one case, a trash bag that covered a victim, as part of his autopsy review. Two of the files did not have a written notation that the examining coroner checked the "toe tag" before performing the autopsy. In one case, it did not appear that a gag covering the victim's mouth was logged in the coroner's evidence log for that case.

Towards the end of the morning session, fewer and fewer jurors appeared to be taking notes. I only observed a couple of the alternates taking notes towards the end of the morning.  As the cross examination dragged on, several of the jurors were fidgeting some looked bored.

Not once, did Amster refer to any victims by their name. He only referred to them by their coroner case number.

Continued in Part II.....