Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Monica Sementilli & Robert Baker, Pretrial 2

Previous post on the case can be found HERE.

Fabio Sementilli 

May 9, 2018
It was a very quick hearing today.

It's 8:15 am when I arrive on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Court. There was a line of 10 people at the security station. The sheriff's deputies are trying to figure out why alarms are going of on the scanner. As we wait, the line continues to grow. A technician shows up but the problem isn't solved. The deputies start to move people through the line, manually looking through bags. That lasts a few minutes and is eventually abandoned after I hear a sheriff deputy say something about jurors and that everyone went through a scanner when they entered the building on the first floor.

Before 8:30 am, Dept. 101 it's already open. Judge Coen is out of his robe and behind his clerk's desk. Baker's defense attorney, Michael  Simmrin is in the well and chatting with the court. I take my favorite spot at the end of the second bench row.

Sitting in the well of the court is a tall bald man wearing a black suit. With him is a very young boy, around three or four years old. The little boy looks around, sees me and smiles. I smile back. He's very curious, looking around at everything. I'm wondering if there is another case that will be heard before the Baker/Sementilli case. After a moment, I hear the bald man mention the word "chocolate". He then gets up, goes to the candy jar on the edge of the clerks desk. He comes back to his seat beside the young boy and opens up his hand, offering him a piece of candy.

8:30 AM
Leonard Levine and Blair Berk arrive. They greet Judge Coen and chat with Simmrin.

8:32 AM
DDA Beth Silverman arrives. Beth is wearing an outfit I've seen before. A black dress paired with a loose, gray and white flecked jacket. The jacket has tiny frills along the seams and several flairs at the hip.  A moment later Terri Keith from City News arrives and takes a seat in the row directly behind me. We exchange hellos.

8:34 AM
It happened quickly. Judge Coen is in his robe and on the bench, but I don't think he's called the case on the record yet. The defendants have not been brought out. DDA Silverman and Simmrin are in a conversation. Simmrin is signing a document for her, probably for receipt of discovery. DDA Silverman and the defense attorneys are talking evidence. I believe DDA Silverman is telling Levine that he needs to provide her with a drive to receive the next batch of evidence. DDA Silverman answers a question from one of the defense attorneys with, "You should have received that in discovery batch number four."

I believe counsel tells the court they are ready to go. Terri Keith leaves for a moment then comes back. The bald man with the young boy instructs the boy that they are going to move from the well of the court to the gallery. They take a seat where police officers often sit, in the front row of the short aisle beside the bailiff's desk. Levine is having a conversation with his tech expert.

The bailiff brings out Monica Sementilli first. As with all defendants I've seen brought into court, the bailiff handcuffs her to the chair. She sits in the same seat as the last time. Her attorney Berk is directly to her right and Sementilli leans to speak to her. Levine is to the right of Berk. Sementilli looks no different than the last hearing, wearing a blue jumpsuit. I believe there was some misunderstanding about my description of Sementilli's hair. She does not have gray hair. She has dark brown roots. The ends of her hair are a lighter, reddish blond color. On the LASD inmate locator website, at the time of her arrest, the color of Sementilli's hair was listed as BLN (blond).


Baker is brought out next and placed in the same seat as before, at the end of the table and facing the jury box. Simmrin is to his right. The case goes on the record.

DDA Silverman informs the court that copies were made of the SUNLIFE documents and given to the defense. The originals were returned to the court. She informs the court they are working on getting all the discovery to the defense and that the defense has asked for a second type of "extraction". I believe she means on other devices that were seized in the search warrant.

Judge Coen asks the parties "What do we do now?" The parties inform the court they would like to return on June 5.  Levine tells the court that they want the court to set a "cut off date" for the prosecution to get all the discovery to the defense.

DDA Silverman informs the court, "The court is aware ... counsel has asked for a different type of extraction on several devices." DDA Silverman tells the court the defense wants this on more than "30 items".  The people are still working on their standard, recommended type of extraction that they do. The last thing that they will do will be this extra extraction request for the defense.

Levine tells the court they are almost a year out from arrest and they don't have all the discovery yet. Simmrin tells the court that he is no way ready. He's only been representing his defendant for five months. "I need time to prepare." He has a DNA analyst who is asking for more information and more time. He also has a cell phone expert.

The court asks all parties if they agree to come back on June 5 and set the case calendar on that date as zero of sixty. June 5 is set for a discovery status update.

Levine brings up to the court that there are a number of items seized that were "outside the search warrant". He would like the court to order them returned.  The court answers, "I"m not going to do this like this."  Levine states that the executor of the estate informs him that the items seized were community property. Levine is asking if the items can be released to the estate.  The court informs Levine to write it up in a motion and he will sign it.

DDA Silverman states that, like she's mentioned to the court, she has discussed the discovery issues ad nauseam through emails to defense counsel.

And that's it for the hearing.

Note from Sprocket
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