Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Trial, Day 13 - Part II

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. left; Atty Kristen Gozawa, center back;
Lead Defense Atty Seymour Amster, center front.
Pool Photo: Al Seib, LA Times.

Continued from Part I....UPDATE Note: To accommodate her calendar of other cases, Judge Kennedy will be reserving Friday mornings for pretrial motions in other cases. The Franklin trial resumes at 1:30 pm Friday, 2/19. Sprocket.
UPDATE 2/19 5:30 AM edited for spelling, clarity, grammar
UPDATE 10:50 PM added some afternoon testimony

12:58 PM
I apologize to T&T readers. I have less that 15% battery left and no power chargers. My next update on the afternoon session will be later tonight.

1:30 PM
When the morning session ended, defense attorney Seymour Amster was starting to question LA County Chief Coroner about the fourth case he reviewed. At that rate, I guessed that the Chief Medical Examiner would be on the stand under cross for the rest of the afternoon.

Since my laptop was dead and I would have to take hand notes, I decided to cover the arraignment of the two LAPD officers who have been charged with "...repeatedly assaulting four women often while the pair were on duty." You can see an initial copy of the counts [I understand there will be more] HERE. It takes about an hour and a half for the court to call the case and the defendants to plead not guilty. Both defendants are being held on bail totaling almost 4 million dollars each.

I will try to have a post up about the arraignment over the weekend.

3:20 PM -The 9th Floor
When I get on the 9th floor, the Franklin case is on the afternoon break. People Magazine's Christine Pelesik is here for the afternoon session along with LA Times journalist Stephen Ceasar. Stephen has been covering the trial every day for the LA Times.

I learn that the examination of the coroner is farther along than I expected. The initial cross is finished and DDA Beth Silverman is almost finished with her initial redirect.

3:35 PM - Inside Dept. 109

#4 Dr. Mark Fajardo 

There are questions about Alecia Alexander, the seventh victim's autopsy review.  There are questions about the ligature around her neck and the gunshot wounds to her chest.

It's likely the two things were related?
It's a possibility, you bet.

Was unmetabolized cocaine also found in her system?

DDA Silverman switches to victim Valerie McCorvey, the last autopsy the coroner reviewed.

Regarding an injury to the victim's knee:

Could it have been that, she could have been trying to get away and banging her knee against the car door?

REDIRECT ENDS and recross begins.

There are questions about cocaine metabolizing in the body. Then Mr. Amster wants to switch back to the very first case, Debra Jackson. The people object that this is beyond rebuttal. The court asks Amster if he would like to reopen cross examination. He replies that he does. The court obliges.

The defense puts up a coroner's diagram and asks about the "degree angle" of the bullets trajectory. The coroner doesn't know the degree of angle, but in generalities can say that the bullet track was left to right, downward and from front to back. The coroner agrees there are other scenarios that would fit that pattern including the one that Amster proposed [earlier].  The coroner cannot give a number of cases, for any particular year ['85, '86, '87], that had the same track/path, or a different track/path.

The defense then puts up on the overhead, one of the coroner's diagrams from Jackson's autopsy as defense exhibit A. He asks the coroner to mark on the body in the diagram where the 11th vertebrae is. [The 11th vertebrae is where one or more of the bullets ended up.] The coroner stated that he can't do this. The drawings are just diagrams. They are not to scale. Bodies are different. The defense then asks the witness to mark on the diagram the general area with a circle.

RECROSS ENDS and there is no redirect.

Before Dr. Fajardo leaves the stand, Judge Kennedy jokingly addresses him, "Dr. Fajardo, I suggest you make a clean get away while you can." The jury has a good laugh at that. Smiling, Dr. Farjardo responds, "Your Honor, It's been a pleasure."

3:50 PM 
The people call their next witness.

DDA Marguerite Rizzo presents the witness. When the witness takes the stand, he informs the court and DDA Rizzo that he is hard of hearing. The court asks if he would like the assistance of a listening device. He says no. We soon find out that he's really hard of hearing. DDA Rizzo has to raise her voice quite loud to communicate with the witness.

The witness has been retired 18 years. Prior to that, he was a coroner's investigator for 28 years. He retired in March 1997.  He briefly describes his duties as a coroner's investigator.

His duties included being dispatched to the scene of a deceased body. He would speak to the officer in charge to be apprised of the situation. He would take photos of the scene and of the body. He would search bodies for identification and personal effects. He would take custody of the body. He attached the toe tag. He would measure and weigh the body and document that information along with the eye color. He would try to get an identification of the body. He would write a report with all the information he obtained and submit that report to the medical examiner before the autopsy.

Some duties were done at the scene?
And some done at the Forensic Science Center?
Yes. ... In this case, I ... no ID was found on the body or other ID.
If there is no ID on the body, how is it you make and ID?
If there is no ID, I call the coroner's and ask for a Jane Doe or John Doe number.

How many crime scenes did you respond to in your years as an investigator?
Criminal cases, probably around a thousand.
Saturday, August 10, 1985 around 10:00 am, did you respond to [address]?
Court: Let the jury know which one this is.
DDA: Victim number 1, Debra Jackson.

Photos of the scene are put on the overhead. These are new photos.

Now the witness states he needs his reading glasses, to read the image on the overhead screen. The court offers a set of reading glasses and a couple members of the jury also offer reading glasses. It's a bit comical. Even DDA Rizzo offers her own reading glasses saying, "Here's some, they're blue and will match perfectly with your suit."

The witness verifies he went to the scene depicted on the overhead screen. He identifies how the body was found, covered by a red carpet when he arrived. 

Please describe what you saw when you arrived.
I could see the right hand and right leg protruding out from under the carpet.

The next photo shows the victim with the rug removed. She's on her back, her limbs askew. The investigator testifies that he removed the carpet.

Does [the photo] reflect how the body looked once he removed the carpet?

Another photo, this time a different angle. It's a side view of the victim.

Could you describe the condition of the body?
It was badly decomposed. ... There was discoloration. It smelled. I noted swelling, [distention?] on the upper part of her body. ... There were fluids near her body.

More photos of the body and the fluids on the ground around her. The witness identifies the decomposition fluids surrounding the victim in the photo. The witness describes what the victim was wearing. A blouse, blue pants and white tennis shoes. The victim had draped over her body a tunic type shirt that she wasn't wearing.

More photos, including a close up of the victim's face and then photos of the shirt the victim was wearing. The investigator noticed two holes in the left, upper part of the shirt. It wasn't until he pulled up the victim's shirt that he saw the holes in her body. Then he had an opinion the holes were gunshot wounds.

Did you notice any loose skin-slip on the body?
Yes I did.
What is that?
It's part of decomposition. The skin starts to slip.

The investigator did find a purse and papers inside the purse, but nothing on them to indicate the decedent's name. The victim was assigned Jane Doe number 59. Later he learned her name was Debra Jackson.

DIRECT EXAMINATION ends, and the court calls the end of the court day. The witness is ordered back for the afternoon session tomorrow.

The jury is ordered back at 1:30 pm tomorrow. And that's it.

Besides the cross examination of this witness, the prosecution listed three additional potential witnesses. One is Dr. Lynne Herold. Long-time T&T readers know I've been a fan of Dr. Herold ever since I saw her testify in the first Spector trial.