Lonnie Franklin, Jr. 2/16/16, Opening Statements
Pool camera: Al Seib, LA Times
Friday, February 19, 2016
Note From Sprocket
Other cases were heard in the morning session. The Franklin trial resumed in the afternoon session. I was barely able to get these notes transcribed on Sunday. On Saturday evening, I came down with a bad flu. It smacked me flat on my back and laid me out. I would type a bit editing my notes and then go lie down for an hour or so. I don't believe I will be well enough to go to court tomorrow or all this week.
The 9th Floor
1:35 PM - Inside Dept. 109
When DDA Beth Silverman arrives she goes over to the family members in the gallery and talks to them about the defense challenging the coroner that some victims may not be the actual individual's autopsied. She informs them of the remedy she has for the defense challenging victim identity.
1:41 PM - Judge Kennedy takes the bench
On the record. Call the jurors.
During the morning court session with other cases, Dale Atherton tried to copy with his own scanner all the prosecution's exhibits. Atherton tells the court he was not able to copy all the exhibits during the morning session because there was not enough memory on his laptop. He asks if the exhibits would be released to the defense to copy. The court is not willing to release the exhibits for the defense to copy. The people state they went well and above what was required. The court tells Atherton that the defense needs to "... figure this out ..." on their own.
The last prosecution witness from yestertday retakes the stand.
#5 ANTIONO LORCA
It is taking several minutes. We are waiting for Amster because he is not ready to go. He needs to get set up and ready.
Amster nervously jokes this is the first time he's had someone not hear his voice and he laughs about that.
Do you have a personal recollection of remembering going out to the scene?
You were notified there would be a dead body for you to look at?
It was your job to go out to a place like that to look at a dead body?
Did you receive training on what to do?
Was this out of the ordinary?
This wasn’t extra ordinary. ... I had lots of cases of bodies dumped in alleys.
Police were already there, right?
How many were there?
I think there were two police officers and I think two detectives.
What about citizens?
I think there were citizens but they were blocked by police not to go near the scene of the crime.
Amster has the witness open the exhibit book at the witness stand to a particular exhibit.
Amster instructs the witness, "Wait until I ask you questions." Amster smiles, and then gives what I interpret is a nervous laugh again. Amster shows him a photo and asks the witness if that was what it was like. Mr. Lorca replies “It is exactly the same picture as to what it was like.”
Defense presents exhibits C1 and C2.
Court: Are they photographs?
SA: They are.
Another photo of the crime scene.
DDA Silverman tells the court, "Just for the record your honor, this is the same [photo] as people’s 11B."
Now going to put defense C2 up on the screen. Another photo.
Asks the witness about the white painting, the graffiti on the fence. The witness replies, "I don’t get the question."
Seymor tells the witness to wait for a question and then laughs. Again it appears to be nervous laughter. DDA Silverman tells the court, "For the record your honor, defense C2 is the same as People’s exhibit 12." Amster asks, "Your honor, may we approach?"
1:56 PM Sidebar
I note Franklin is wearing the light gray shirt again.
2:04 PM Sidebar Over
Do you see this white writing that I’m pointing to in this photograph?
Are you referring to the writing on the fence?
I did not pay any attention to that because I was focused on the body.
It was not part of your duties?
It looked like old writing. ... Yes, I saw lots of graffiti like that on the fence.
Is it an accurate photograph of what the scene looked like when you viewed the body?
When your attention was focused on what you had to do, you removed the carpet that was covering the body?
Did you remove the yellow dress that was on top of the body?
Do you remember removing a yellow dress that was on top of the body?
Yes, I did.
Do you remember if the yellow dress had blood on it?
I don’t remember.
Would it refresh your memory to review a report you prepared?
Does that document refresh your memory if you saw blood on the yellow dress?
Yes. ... I saw blood that was on clothes that was on top of the body.
Were you trained to determined if blood was fresh, or was around for a while?
The court interjects that they did not understand the question, but I believe the witness does.
The blood is no longer fresh. It had been around for awhile.
And you were trained to recognize something like that?
Did you see two holes on the body, located around the left chest?
Did you see two holes on the blouse covering the body?
After you saw the two bullet holes on the body, you did not do any other examination of the body?
I said probable bullet holes. It could have been caused by a sharp instrument.
He turned the body over to look for additional holes in the body.
And after that, your job was finished?
The witness goes into great detail as to what he did after. Collecting the body and his other duties back at the coroner’s office.
Now you caused the clothing to be returned to the coroner’s office as well?
Court: Try your question again.
The clothing was found on the body was brought into the office by you?
Yes, I did.
You did not know the exact age of the decedent before she died, and approximated her age to be 35 years of age, right?
Defense exhibit C3 on the overhead. DDA Silverman informs the court, "As before, this is a duplicate of people’s 16."
Do you see a purse in that picture?
Can you write purse on it and put an arrow to the purse? [Writes on exhibit.]
Does that picture C3 show how you first saw the purse with the head lying on it?
It’s exactly what I saw when I was there.
No further questions. Cross ends and redirect begins.
Just one question.
Mr. Lorca, was the victim transported to the forensic science center with her clothes on?
The prosecution is finished with redirect and the court asks their own question.
Court: Mr. Lorca how old are you?
The witness gives a smile and waits a moment, almost hesitant to give his age.
79 years old. I will turn 80 in the next two months.
Court: Well thank you very much for coming into court.
The people call their next witness, Detective Adrian Soler.
#6 DETECTIVE ADRIAN SOLER
DDA Beth Silverman presents the witness.
The witness is employed as a senior investigator for the Riverside County DA's office. He's been there 9 years. Prior to that, he was 25 years with the LAPD. He was a patrol officer then 19 years as a detective.
Were any of those years assigned to a homicide unit?
18 years. I worked the Rampart [Division] then later went onto Robbery Homicide in Parker Center.
What year did you retire from LAPD?
How many investigations, as primary or co-[detective]?
Approximately 200 and assisted on hundreds of other homicides, suicides and death investigations.
Let me take you back to when you were on patrol. Where were you assigned?
Did you have a partner?
Were you called to an alleyway location?
Exhibit 8. Outline diagram schematic. The witness is asked if they are familiar with that diagram.
It appears to be a schematic, crime scene drawing. It was where he was called out to.
Points out a stick figure that I can’t see, that is supposed to represent the victim with a piece of carpet on top. The witness describes what he remembers. Photo put up of the scene. Clearly identifies the scene of the alley and knows it’s a “T” shaped alley.
What was the ground area? Was it asphalt, was it dirt?
The North to South section was asphalt and the other portion of the T was dirt.
Person in the photo, and identifies the carpet. He recognizes the up close photo of the body covered by the carpet. People exhibit 12, another view of the body under the carpet. People’s exhibit 13, close up of the victim's right hand leaning up against the wood fence.
The witness points out in the photo: "This area here you can see slippage of the skin, which is a sign of decomposing bodies."
People’s 13B. Another photo of the right hand and leg. Another photo of a view of the alley. He is asked if he recognizes the people in the photo. He is certain the individuals are officers. Describes how the scene was blocked off from the public. More photos, different views of the crime scene that the witness identifies.
This particular location is this business or residential or a combination of both?
It’s a combination of both.
Close up photo of the face of the victim. Tears start to well up in my eyes. I can’t look at the photo for long.
The face was bloated. The lips swollen. The right eye was swollen.
Was there any odor?
Did you see any insect activity?
From the way that we saw here, and the fact that the victim was supine, lying on the back?
Could you tell if the female was wearing any clothing?
Yes. White ennis shoes, blue denim pants and some kind of light colored top. There appeared to be a black and white purse under her head.
He pulled the carpet back over the body. He did not look in the purse and did not see any identification in the area.
Is it standard procedure to wait for a rep from coroners office before touching the body at all?
Did not notice any weapons or bullets. Did not find any identification anywhere in the alley.
Looking back on this scene, was there any significance in respect to this scene given the location of the body?
Did it appear to you to be a location that would be considered a body dump?
Why is that?
Because it was a location where the body could be hidden. ... It was a suspicious death, where someone had placed a carpet over a body to conceal or hide the body from view.
What is a body dump? Have you heard that term over the course of your career?
Yes. ... It’s where a person was killed at one location and then moved to another from the scene of the crime.
At some point while you were at this crime scene, did other personnel come to this crime scene?
Did that include other patrol officers?
Then he left the scene and didn’t conduct anything else in the case.
He was not present when the coroner’s investigator came to the scene.
You said this was an area where an alleyway that could be hidden from view?
If some were to walk in the alley, they could view it, but generally, people would walk on the sidewalk.
Was this an alley that you felt the public would not use?
But this is an alley that law enforcement that didn’t go to? Correct?
Was this an area that you patrol ?
Why was it your unit and not another unit?
Because I was assigned to 77th.
And was this alleyway was in your [division?]
There was nothing preventing residents from using this alley?
You felt this because you knew this wasn’t regularly being patroled?
He does not know if that alley would regularly be patrolled.
So you rendered an opinion that this alley would be a good location to hide a body?
DDA Silverman interjects, "I’m going to object. And to the tone .He’s yelling at the witness."
Typically, body dumps occur in an area other than where the incident took place?
In my opinion, that is the fact that someone is trying to conceal a body there.
Give me all the reasons why you rendered that opinion. ... Why do you feel this was a good location to hide a body?
In my opinion it was out of view, general public view, and the carpet was placed on the body to hide it at that location.
Besides the carpet, was there anything else?
It was a factor. Alleys, in conjunction with the carpet made it a good location.
Why do you think [that location was better?]?
Well, it would be better than placing the body on a sidewalk.
Laughter in courtroom after that answer.
Questions about whether he regularly patrolled [that alleyway].
He doesn’t recall.
More confrontational questions about “why” this alley was a “good body dump location.”
And why he came to that conclusion.
Exhibit 12 close up of photo. Amster points to a hole in the carpet.
Do you remember looking at those holes?
I remember looking at the carpet and thinking those were bullet holes.
Do you know if the carpet was seized by the police?
I do not know.
I count 13 family members in court today. I speculate that the cross examination about the items with the body are to document that some potential evidence was never collected, and some was collected and destroyed. For whatever reason, intentional, accidental error, etc., some evidence in this case was lost or destroyed.
Defense exhibits C4 through C20.
Asks the witness about photos, identifying clothing, other items. Photo of miscellaneous papers on top of the carpet. He did not see that.
Defense exhibit C8 on the overhead screen.
Do you see a pair of keys depicted in the photo?
Doesn’t remember seeing keys at the scene.
Photo of the alleyway where the body was found.
Do you see what’s written on the walls?
Do you recognize that as gang graffiti?
Yes I do.
Another photo, where a detective is holding up the evidence. Looking over at the inner door to the court, I see Judge Marcus is here. He's dropping of his externs to observe the trial then he leaves.
More questions about the graffiti. Objection. The court asks a quesiton. The witness is not familiar with the area being related to gang activity.
C14 more photos of graffiti written on a cement wall. Photo after photo of graffiti on an area of the fence. Franklin is staring straight ahead through all these photos. One of the jurors leans her head over and rests it on her left hand. Most jurors are not taking notes.
A defense exhibit, close up of earrings. He did not note or see the two earrings that were placed on or near the body at the scene. This was an observation that he never made at the scene, that’s because when he saw it, it was never uncovered. A question about several defense exhibits presented. He was not present and he would not have made those observations when the coroner’s office came.
3:07 PM 15 minute break. Judge Kennedy tells the jurors to come back at just past 3:20.
A discussion about exhibits then the jury is brought back in.
3:29 PM On the record with jury.
At the time that you were called out to this crime scene in August of 1985, you indicated you were a patrol officer?
What was your job?
To secure the scene and canvas the area for witnesses and make the notification to roll to the scene.
So your job was not to investigate?
You said your job was to canvas the area?
And some of the ground in this area was dirt?
DDA Silverman objects that these questions are beyond the scope of rebuttal.
Did you see any footprints around the body?
I don’t recall.
Did you see any tire tracks around the body?
I don’t recall
Same for footprints?
# 7 DR. LYNNE DENISE HEROLD
DDA Beth Silverman presents the witness. I adore Dr. Herold. She’s walking with a cane now. I don’t remember that the last time I saw her at the Crime Lab for a lecture.
Dr. Herold is sworn in to tell the truth.
"Yes, I so state," she replies.
[Are you employed?]
No. I am retired from LA County in July 2014.
Where did you work prior to [retirement]?
From 1982 until retirement, I was first assigned to Coroner's Dept. from 1982 to 1989. Then in 1989 to the Sheriffs Dept., Forensic Science Center, also known as the crime lab, particularly the trace evidence department.
Herold is asked to explain trace evidence. Trace is any physical item that could be evidence in a case, other than drugs, fingerprints or firearms or DNA analysis. It could be anything such as hairs, fibers paint, cosmetic traces, polen, soil, anything that could be associated with a case. Dr. Herold also had a specialty in bloodstain pattern examination and crime scene [re]construciton.
Dr. Herold gives her Ciriculm Vitiate. She received her Bachelor's from Kent State, Ohio. She received her Ph.D. in the biological sciences from Southern. Calif. She used that for the basics for beginning in forensic sciences. She attended FBI training school for hair examination and tested for competency in that examination. And [an expert] in eleven other sub-disciplines. She has lectured and taught. Lectured at Cal State University in Forensic Science program. Lectured at UCLA in chemistry program also in a program for mystery writers, ultimately for their careers. And also for those for people deciding to move from medical school, thinking it might not be for them to the forensic sciences.
She also taught.
When I was a graduate student in the biological sciences I worked my way through school by being a teaching assistant. One of those that is relevant to this case, is histology, or the identification of animal tissue. Taught that to dental and medical students and nurses, that had trouble passing their exams.
Testified in cases throughout her career in the local level, at the Supreme Court level and and testified in homicides in Canada and Austria.
What was your job title when you were employed in 1982 at Coroner's office?
When I was first employed as a forensic science specialist. Then promoted to criminalist.
What is a forensic scientist?
Someone who is educated in one of the hard scientists, as apposed to a social sciences. Educated in hard science as a basic education then use that basic education for additional specialty training. and apply that to analyze pieces of evidence to be used in a court of law.
What does that mean that you did on a daily basis?
When I was with the coroners office my job was to retrieve cases that came in for physical evidence associated with the body or clothing attached to the body. Recognize it, collect it, preserve it and document chain of custody evidence. Collected intimate samples if there had been sexual activity.
Did you work with anyone particular who was also a criminalist?
Worked with Ron Lindhart [sp?]. Worked with Lloyd Mahaney. Ron Lindhart was the supervising criminalist who worked at Sheriffs and transferred to Coroner's Office.
Did both of those gentleman pass away?
Yes they have.
Did you work together to develop some type of a formalized program in evidence collection?
Tell us what you did.
At that time, we wrote an appropriate scientific protocol and trained others in the division to meet a standard under that correct scientific protocol, because Coroner's Office worked with different agencies. Had protocols to properly collect evidence between those agencies.
She and Lindhart wrote a manual protocol. There was already a standard sexual assault kit.
They made that kit more comprehensive. Along with other people, reviewed what was in place and then augmented with some additional collection supplies and wrote the protocol for the creation of the kit, the maintenance of the kit and the collection of the kit and chain of custody while at the Coroner’s Office.
Date April 16 1987. Did you review a case, to that particular case. 87-3919, this Bernita Sparks?
Was this a case where, it was requested that there was some type of special processing?
Yes. Special processing refers to in the coroners office that special procedures that were followed on the case. [It] required for full photography, review for physical evidence, clothing be kept and available to the medical examiner.
The Corner's office deals in may kinds of cases not just homicides. In the case like that, they may not necessarily keep clothing as an idem of evidence as to [say,] what was happened in a traffic accident or natural death.
[In the Sparks case] they handle the case as if it was a homicide, until it is known NOT to be a homicide. If you destroy clothing before the fact, it can not be [recovered]. It also required the collection of a sexual assault kit. If there was the possibility of sex assault, then that would require a sexual assault kit.
Dr. Herold explains unique coroner’s case number in great detail. Lots of objection that her response is non-responsive on her testimony.
Was this a special processing made as a request to you by an investigator at a crime scene?
Did you go out to the crime scene?
I would wait at the Science Center for the body to come in. The body was found in a dumpster.
Was she identified other than by a Jane Doe number?
the time I handled the case she was identified as Jane Doe #25.
Did at some time did your reports reflect the name of Bernita Sparks.
I only knew the case as Jane Doe #25. At some way that I don’t know, she was identified as Jane Doe.
Was this decedent photographed at the Science Center?
Exhibit 84. Photo A and B . Herold identifies items in the photo.
That is Coroner's case number 87-3919. That is the decedent, lying on transport plastic. That is how I would have received her in upon arrival. Clothing would be placed as it was found at the scene. The decedent is wrapped as is, and brought to the coroner’s office.
They secure the dead person in plastic wrapping so that lose evidence [doesn't] fall off, nor can anything else fall on them to contaminate them.
This was a clear, frosted plastic that was purchased from a company in large roles and then they were cut to different sizes. The plastic sheeting would be standard supply.
DDA Silverman asks a question several ways, as whether or not this decedent came in to the Coroner's Office, the same way she was found. Amster objects every time. Dr. Herold comments.
I did go to crime scenes. I know what the problem is with the question. [Referring to the photo of the body up on the overhead screen.] This would have been an accurate representation of how I received the case at the Coroner's Office. I was not at the scene so I can't tell you for a fact personally, how she was at the scene.
This is classic Dr. Herold!
Showing you exhibit 85.
This is a standard pose of a decedent. ... After processed for physical evidence, the clothing removed, it was the job of the investigator, to wash the body and remove blood, and they would be put [the body] in a series of standard poses to show the front back and sides, to show the wounds. This is one of the poses. [What] is under her head, is a wooden head rest. The other photo, I can tell is, what's on the edge of the gurney is fingerprint ink. So it [the photo] was taken after they were washed and fingerprints taken. If you look at the actually exhibit, you can see the ink on the fingers.
Once the body was undressed and washed is that when you would begin the collection process of the sexual assault evidence?
Collect the SAK before it was undressed?
Before even collected sexual assault kit, you would look over the body for evidence?
Yes. You would examine the body from head to toe, and look for things under lighting conditions fluorescent. Specifically, semen, also many types of fibers and biological materials and cosmetics that will fluoresce under ultraviolet light.
Also, have the body X-rayed?
At some point you do. You can when evidence of gunshot wound, when that happens depends on case situation. ... Sometimes do it first, because you want to know where [it is in] the body and if it’s a through and through.
The court explains through and through to the jury.
Did not have a through and through in this case. I personally did not X-ray the body. The photographer X-rayed the body.
What is this mid-line object, center of the chest?
I know from the review of the record.
Can you descibe what that is?
If I just had that picture, I would call it a tool mark.
Did you review documentation that led you to believe that this was a gunshot wound? ... In terms of the projectile in this case, you knew there was a projectile?
Lets talk about the collection of the sexual assault kit in this case.
I used a standard kit and used a standard form. The kit is, consists of a square cardboard box and inside that box, are a series of collection devices that were used for the purposes of collecting sexual assault evidence as well as other types of loose trace evidence. ... The kits are made by hand, and each kit had a unique number on it. And all the parts inside the kit contained that unique number outside the kit. ... Would be sealed to show that it was an unused kit.
She would have to break the seal in order to use the kit. [They are] largely pre-labeled, unique kit number as well as some of the location samples.
People's Exhibit 99.
How do you recognize this?
Because my handwriting is on the label.
4:07 PM The court calls the end of the court day.
Judge Kennedy addresses the jurors. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have survived the first week of trial.
And I commend you for following my instructions and remind you not to form an opinion about this case."
Judge Kennedy gives the jurors more language about not doing any research on the case, watch anything on the news, etc., and then ends with, "I wish you a wonderful and safe weekeend. [Return Monday morning at 9:00 am."
The court verifies that they will continue Monday with Dr. Herold and asks what other witnesses on Monday. The people mention two names, one of which I recognize, Detective Don Hrycyk. Detective Hrycyk was former LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus's partner in the Art/Theft Detail Division when she was arrested for first degree murder.
And that's it for today.