Monday May 16, 2016
The prosecution shifted focus this morning by calling two detectives who were involved in the death of two different victims. I
Interestingly, lead defense attorney Seymour Amster did not attend this morning proceedings, leaving all defense cross examination in the hands of co-counsel Dale Atherton.
#14 BILLY SMALLING
The first witness was retired LAPD Detective Billy Smalling. Back in 1984, he was working as a homicide detective for the Newton Station, that serviced that South Central Los Angeles area. He was off duty when on January 17th, 1984 he was called out to a crime scene at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Pico Avenue. It was an abandoned gas station. There were several structures on the property. One was the office, the other a detached restroom structure and another building that was crumbling down.
Inside the men's bathroom, the door ajar, partially covered by a carpet remnant was a woman's body. She was lying on her back, partially covered by the carpet but her head and leg were exposed. The decedent was entirely naked underneath the carpet. Inside her mouth was what looked like a terry cloth wash cloth, totally soaked in blood. She had two bullet wounds in her body. One bullet wound was in her upper arm and the other was just above her left breast.
There was trash all in the bathroom and around the victim's body. The floor was covered in oil and grease. A lighting team was brought in but no cartridge cases or identification were found. During the autopsy, oil and grease was found on her heels and buttocks.
Since she was found at an abandoned location, no expended cartridge cases, no ID, no bullets, and grease on her heels and buttocks, detectives theorized she was killed someplace else and probably dragged to the location then covered with the carpet. With no ID, she was classified as a Jane Doe.
The victim was eventually identified as Sharon Dismuke. Detective Smalling located Dismuke's mother and sister and made the death notification. He told them that Sharon was found murdered. That she was shot twice and found in an abandoned gas station.
#15 GREGORY MCKNIGHT
The next witness was LAPD Detective Gregory McKnight. He has been with the LAPD for 30 years. Back in 2000, he was assigned to Newton Station as a homicide detective. On December 28, 2000, he was called out to a crime scene on East 57th Street, between Alba and Bandera [sp?] St,, near a park. It's primarily an industrial area that's closed in the evenings and weekends.
When he arrived, he was directed to a victim on the curb that was later identified as Georgia Mae Thomas. She was lying on her back. There was a lot of trash and debris that had been dumped in that area. The victim was clothed. She was wearing a long sleeved blue thermal shirt, with two small defects in the material. They looked like bullet holes. She had on a black jacket and jeans. The top button of the jeans was buttoned but the sipper was partially unzipped. She was missing a shoe on her right foot. The sock on that foot was inside out.
After the coroner's criminalists arrived, further investigation was performed on the body at the scene. It appeared she had two bullet wounds to her upper left chest. There was no blood on the body. There was no blood around the gunshot wounds. Her bra was on, but it appeared to be positioned poorly. It was partially unhooked in the back. It was blood stained but not red. It was pink, as though it has been diluted. The victim was not wearing any underwear. The victim's other shoe was found on 55th street, a few blocks over.
Detectives did not find any expended cartridge casings, no ID or other forensic evidence at the scene. They classified the case as a body dump. Detective Smalling attended the autopsy. Two projectiles were recovered from the body.
Detective Smallings made the death notification to two of Thomas's sisters. He spoke to Vivian Williams by phone, but could not remember on the stand the name of the victim's other sister. He told Vivian Williams what happened to her sister.
#16 ALVIN REED
The next witness called is Alvin Reed. Mr. Reed is the older brother of victim Bernita Sparks. She was four years younger than him. He also has a younger brother.
When they were younger Alvin used to take his sister to the park. As her older brother he watched over her and protected her. His sister mostly did girl type things with his mother. They liked to go shopping. Alvin states his sister was kindhearted. She got along with everybody. She took care of her nieces and nephews when she was older.
She played tennis for a while, and she liked to dance. Alvin said she was a very good dancer. The family was always together for holidays. They liked to barbecue a lot. They were often at his uncle's house or going to the park. They were a very close family. They did a lot of things together.
Bernita would do a lot of shopping around the holidays. She bought gifts for everyone. She wanted to make other people happy. No matter what she had, she wanted to give away to others. Bernita was closest to her cousin, Yolanda, who was about Alvin's age.
Bernita had aspirations of being a nurse, just like her mother.
Alvin's family was notified about Bernita's death while they were giving a surprise party to an Aunt. A detective came to the house and told us what happened. He broke down. He hit the Christmas tree, he was so upset. He was lashing out because he was so upset.
Alvin's mother took Bernita's death real hard. His father had already passed. When his mother was told what happened to Bernita, she broke down and started crying. Alvin kept asking what happened and then she told him what happened. Crying, she took to her room and closed the door. No one went back there to bother her.
Alvin was about 30 years old when his sister was murdered. The family would remember Bernita around the holidays or her birthday by having a little party, or a barbecue. They felt an essential member of their family was missing.
A photo of Bernita is put up on the ELMO. She's an attractive woman with a warm smile. Alvin remembers that she was a great person. He remembers the way they got along as siblings, and the parties they had together. He misses that. He also misses that she was a lovable person. She would do anything for anyone in the family that asked. She would go here, go there, whatever they asked, she would do it.
No cross examination.
The court calls the afternoon break and orders the jury back at 1:45 pm.
More to come in Part II.....