Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Closing Arguments Day One, Part III, Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper" Trial

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., during closing arguments, 5/2/16
Photo Credit: Pool Camera, Mark Boster, LA Times

Continued from Day One, Part II, HERE.
T&T case coverage and media links HERE.
Monday May 2, 2016
Defense attorney Seymour Amster steps up to the podium and addresses the jury. 

Your honor, ladies, members of the jury, ladies and gentlemen.

Amster stops and asks the court, "Is it okay if I walk in the well?? Judge Kennedy replies, "Sure."

I want to start off in this manner, I want to thank each and every one of you for the commitment you have given to this case ... and it's not been easy.

I'd like to apologize on behalf of myself and the defense team, and behalf of myself, for any drama or improper things you witnessed.

It's been our job to get evidence we thought was necessary to get before you. Now it's your job to review evidence as you see fit. And each of the parties in this case have a role. Your Honor to the law and the government their side of the case. Many believe that it's the defense job, to get the client off. It's our job to ... [and their's?] prosecution bad guys. It's our job to question the evidence. We have chosen as a country to have two sides. As long as a community ... it's up to us, defense attorneys to do our job.

It's our job, to challenge the government, to make sure the government proves their case so that you [can] make a determination. It's your interpretation of the evidence. It's yours, nobody else. No one likes to be criticized, but it's our system of government.

Now you've heard the government as to how the evidence should be interpreted. But it doesn't really matter what their interpretation is. Because this is a circumstantial evidence case. [I'll] now explain what we mean by circumstantial evidence.

Amster starts to read from the jury instructions. Judge Kennedy interrupts and suggest, "Why don't you tell them what page it is, or the instruction number?"

I believe Amster is starting with instruction [2.0?] and read through. There's some problem and Amster appears nervous to me. He tells the jury [regarding the ELMO?] there are "... technical difficulties, that we need help with."  He's smiling, almost laughing. From what I've observed of Amster in the past two weeks, he laughs when he's nervous.

Amster states he really wants to talk about the second or third paradigm. He reads from this jury instruction, "... when you've got somebody who saw something and tells you what they saw. ... You have a direct person who saw the crime because you have a witness. ... Other than Enietra Washington, you have circumstantial evidence."

Amster now reads the instruction on circumstantial evidence.

[Note: I can tell by the numbering of the instructions that Judge Kennedy has chosen CALJIC instructions over the newer CALCRIM instructions. I believe the court chose CALJIC instructions in the James Fayed case, also a death penalty case. Here is a link to see the different wording between the two, as well as a comparison evaluation. Sprocket.]

"One of the examples .. you are in a courtroom and all of a sudden you see people come in with umbrellas and their umbrellas are wet. Wet umbrellas, that's pretty good indication that it's raining."

Amster gives the jury more on wet umbrellas. "One piece of evidence that leas to a conclusion about another piece of evidence. ... A finding of guilt of any crime may not be based on circumstantial evidence unless ... consistent with and cannot be explained by an other rational conclusion."

Amster goes over each paragraph of the instructions and then asks the jury, "Is this Lonnie Franklin's DNA must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt? Is this Lonnie Franklin's gun must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt."

Now more of the jury instructions are read. Amster then asks, "What about all this unknown DNA? Does that mean that they could have done it? ... You must find that all the unknown DNA is unreasonable for them to be the actual killer to find Lonnie Franklin guilty. That's our law."

Amster reads the last section of the instruction and then interprets for the jury, "As long as you find an interpretation of the evidence that find the defendant is not [culpable?] any reasonable interpretation that find the defendant not being culpable, ... must be followed by your for the law."

In my opinion, Amster appears to be stumbling on explaining this instruction to the jury. My fingers are are also stumbling trying to get Amster's statements correct.

"So let us look and see, what we would like to point out to you as the defense. Not that we say you must accept; not that we say you have to do. No. Not us. It's just us to point things out to you that you must consider during your deliberations. That's all we ask of you."

"This is a case where [the government?] wants to see patterns over a long period of time ... that this body was found in an alley or that body was found in an alley. .. There is one thing that the government and defense can quickly agree on. ... Every single one of the victims' life matters. That we would never say to you that their [lives don't matter]. ... It makes no difference why they were on those streets or not. It makes no difference as to why they were on those streets or not. Their life matters. ... the terrible conditions that cause them to be on the streets. ... We are not trying to diminish their lives in any way. ... Their lives mattered each and every one."

But the government want to see patterns here, over a long period of time. This body found in this alley or that body found in an alley .They're trying to find patterns. Let's make sure all of the patterns exist. This was not a pristine time. There were a lot of bodies. But we are looking at an isolated situation.

Amster pauses, then launches into a story.

"There's a story of a rancher who wanted all this neighbors to feel that he was a great marksman, so he went to his barn and took out his gun and he fired several bullets against the barn. So there were bullet holes on several places on his barn. Then he went, with his bullet holes on his barn, to draw bulls-eyes around the bullet holes. Maybe he was a good marksman, but the bullet holes were there first. And he went out an told his neighbors, 'Look at this!' Maybe he's a good marksman, maybe he isn't."

Up on the ELMO, is an image of 11 bulls-eyes, and written across the center of each bulls-eye, is the name of one of Franklin's victims.

"Maybe he was a good marksman, but the bullet holes were there first. And he went out and told his neighbors, 'Look at this!' Maybe he's a good marksman, maybe he isn't. ... And that's a problem with a pattern. ... You don't know, is it a pattern or is it an illusion? Is the people's case a true pattern or it it an illusion? Is there something that is a deception ... that isn't the science that it should be?"

"This is the inquiry and those are the questions that we would like you to do. Don't be like one of those rancher's neighbors and just because you see a bulls-eye ... ask the question. Are those truly bulls-eyes? ... Because just ask a simple question."

"Lonnie is a sanitation engineer. He works with a garbage truck, therefore, he knows were all the garbage dumpsters are. ... And he leaves the bodies in the alleys. You can't say you have a pattern, and leave out parts of the pattern. Well, if you're a sanitation [worker?] and leave it for the truck to come by and take it in the truck. ... Is it an illusion? Did he do it? It doesn't mean he did it. ... All it tells us is the crime occurred someplace else. It could have occurred someplace else. ... Well, how many body dumps did they [law enforcement] have during each of those times? ... And there were so many differences between the bodies. It could be culpability or lack of culpability."

"And a body dump really doesn't matter. ... The government has chosen to try this case.  That the defendant is the actual killer. So to find him culpable, that he is the actual killer. Not aided and abetted, that he was the actual killer. This is the theory that they chose, they chose, actual killer. ... So you must [abide?] by your decision, if you find that he's the actual killer."

This pattern of the defendant's DNA being on those victims over a period of time, it's an illusion. What other women did he have his DNA on? Amster mentions the video. [A] video of Franklin obsessed with sex. Unfortunately, there were a lot of women out there, giving him the opportunity to have sex. We're not the morality [judge?] here. Don't know what's going on between him and his wife. Not having any judgement there. We see this sex video. Did we see violence? Did she seem to be smiling. It's an illusion. There may be more women with his DNA on them, we'll never know.

What does that tell us? What does that give us? It's an illusion that's a pattern. /What did Ray Davis tell us? Nothing. He said he saw Lonnie with lots of girls. [He never saw?] Lonnie trying to murder these girls so why would he be open and it and try to murder these girls?  Why didn't Davis call the police? He never saw any evidence. He never saw anything wrong. Why didn't they call the police? Because they never saw anything wrong.

Right or wrong, these were Lonnie's girls. Ray Davis said that Lonnie was giving clothes to girls. Doesn't that get us to DNA? Where is the vast majority of DNA found in this case? On the nipples ...

Amster argues that Lonnie gave these women clothes. [Lonnie's] DNA transferred on the bra back to the nipples onto the victims. And that's how DNA [got there]. Is it reasonable? [If it's reasonable] and the law says, you have to accept it.

The surveillance team. They were watching him. He did nothing wrong. What would they expect him to have done with two women on the street that they saw with him? They're not even sure that he talked to them. They came up with nothing.

Does it mean he did it? No. It means absolutely nothing. It's an illusion, of trying to paint something as bad. It's an absence of evidence. Just because it, doesn't mean ... It's subject to another interpretation.

"You are asked to make one of the critical decisions of your life based on inexact science. This is a case where science is trying to be one thing and it's trying to be used for another. None of us would use the science based in this case, to put a product out in the market place, whatsoever." [I believe Amster is talking about the toolmark examinations using a 2D microscope verses the 3D.] Nature is not exact. It's random. But trying to use the science that something is true in the randomness of nature, ... to raise the reasonable doubt, and we'll go into that with the DNA.

Amster mentions something about the DNA of related people that are in our house, that are related to [a large number of others?].

"Let us talk about the critical aspects of this case, murder. That's the vast majority of the counts the defendant is charged with. In order to convict, you must find that he's the slayer. You must find that he's the one that's killed."

Amster then moves onto another jury instruction [8.10] about malice. And this is a rereading of what the prosecution gave the jury on malice.

"The government gave the example of firing a gun into a crowd. That's implied and that only gets you to second degree. Let's talk about expressed. ... an intention to unlawfully kill a human being. ... How are we ever going to tell who the actor was or what was in his mind at the time he pulled the trigger in this case? You have to do it by circumstantial evidence. Enietra Washington was not a murder in this case, but you can use Enietra as an [?] in this case."

My fingers are starting to cramp up and it's not yet 4 pm.

"We can do the same act, time and time again and do it for different reasons." Amster gives an example, I think of preparing a meal.  "I prepare it differently. It's not exactly the same or I drive a car, or things like that. ... We don't know what emotions or what factors have occurred because we're talking about a mental state when we are talking about malice. And mental state is also subject to circumstantial evidence. One, because you believe the mental state is present or evidence to conclude that the mental state is not present. ... "

"The government has to show, ... is the reasonable interpretation of the mental state is the deliberation occurred before the act. ... That it was considered, and that's a question mark here, when you don't have an eye witness.  How do you prove that malice a forethought when you don't even have an eye witness? And you don't even know who was present or where it happened? You have to determine, no one else, that you have to determine that the defendant is culpable. Those are the questions you will ask in your determination."

Amster now asks the jurors to look at jury instruction [8.20] in their list of instructions. After reading that, he asks them to go back to the circumstantial evidence instruction on the fourth page of their jury instructions.

"We see in this instruction, several times that the defendant's guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt."

Amster then reads over the reasonable doubt instruction. He tells the jurors, "[It's a] hard concept there, I know. People come in here and they say, 'Why's he there?' He's been arrested. This is not easy, but this is what our law says."

Amster talks about the presumption of innocence inside a court of law, and that this is our country's template, until the contrary is proved. "Only when the evidence has a reasonable culpability of [?], only then ... until that reasonable is..."

I'm lost trying to follow Amster's argument.  He continues.

"As long as there's a reasonable interpretation of the evidence point to the lack of doing the act ... that is our law. That is the template you've been presented with following."

I'm so tired, I'm starting to fall asleep.

"Those are the rules we operate under. We [the defense] are under no burden. The government must show this. ... The government must show there are no unreasonable interpretations toward innocence. ... All this unknown DNA, could not be the individual who is the actual killer, because they are saying to you, the defendant Lonnie Franklin is the actual killer. They're not saying he's involved in it, ... the body dump. ... They're not even saying that he might know who did it. They are saying he is the actual slayer to be found guilty. Therefore to follow the law that's what you must find in each and every count."

I'm surprised this is Amster's defense argument.

Amster now tells the jury about reasonable doubt.

"This has been a case where we've heard a lot about subjective and objective. ... That's a subjective opinion, reasonable doubt, but it's in your objective analysis of what that means. And you are not one you are twelve and through the objective opinions ... the citizens are comfortable with. ... I've sat in too many rooms with too many lawyers who argue what that means and the truth is, it's what you interpret it to mean. ... Reading that and understanding that, and coming together to discussing that and coming to a unanimous decision to find him guilty. ... And that's the beauty of our system to coming together as a team and making a decision."

"The main thing though is the last phrase, an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge. What that means is, that you will feel not just today, tomorrow and the days after, that this was the correct decision. ... Different attorneys can discuss that in different ways. I myself have related that when I made a decision for one of my loved ones. I made a decision that I can live with, if when something goes wrong. Because I made a decision looking at all the factors that I could get my hands on and analyze it so that I can live with myself if I'm wrong. ..."

3:55 PM
Judge Kennedy calls for the end of the court day. She tells jurors they will resume at 9:00 am. Like the end of every other court day, Judge Kennedy instructs the jurors about avoiding media stories on the news, television and the internet.

"... the only person's opinion that's going to matter is your opinion. We want you to decide the case exclusively on the evidence and not on what anyone might say on the news or the Internet. .. I'm so proud of you with your adherence to the rules of this case, but know you will continue to do so and not listen to any accounts of this case. ... See you tomorrow at 9:00 am."

And that's it for day one of closing arguments.

Continued in Day Two, Part I.....