Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Monica Sementilli & Robert Baker Case, Pretrial 3

Previous post can be found HERE.

LAPD Booking Photos

June 5, 2018


I took the train into downtown LA today. Having a senior TAP card now makes a huge difference in my travel budget. 



The 9th Floor

It’s practically empty at this time. At the other end of the hall, there are five adults spread out and two children.

8:21 AM
DDA Melissa Opper arrives with the two LAPD RHD detectives.  Once they see me they back away to talk privately.

 Later, they greet Mr. Simmrin who arrived at the same time.  Mr. Simmrin says hello to me and asks, “How are you?”



DDA Silverman is not here. She may not be coming today.

DDA Melissa Opper is wearing a black skirt suit. She’s carrying a really nice over-sized black leather type bag on her left shoulder. She’s wearing a dull, cream colored heels. Melissa is an attractive petite woman. I have passing thoughts of envy on the tiny clothes petite women can wear.

8:28 AM
Semetilli’s defense team arrives. Levine, Burke and three other assistants. One of the party is a man that appears quite young. He stands back from the group. I see the phone expert and a man with gray hair. Simmrin approaches them and they meet and chat.

We are still waiting for the door to be opened. A court clerk comes out and opens the door. The defense team enters first.  DDA Opper and the detectives remain in the hallway. A moment later the prosecution team heads inside and I follow after.


Inside Dept. 101

This hearing was shorter than last week.

The detectives take seats in the well in front of the jury box. The gray haired gentleman who was with the defense team sits in the spot I usually sit in. I walk through the third bench row to get to the second row and sit beside him. 

He's wearing a blue shirt with a green tie. Defense counsel are conferring with DDA Opper in the well about their next hearing date. June 27th is suggested. After Mr. Simmrin chimes in the date is changed to June 28th for a discovery update status.



Levine asks DDA Opper, “Do you have a position on ....” I’m guessing it’s the Sementilli motion to release the estate items taken in discovery back to the estate.” All I catch of DDA Opper’s response is “She’s in trial right now.”

I don’t recognize the clerk over at the court clerk’s desk. The young man with the defense team sits in the gallery but on the opposite side of the aisle from where the older gentleman with gray hair is sitting.


Judge Coen is quick. He’s in his robe already. The court reporter is at her desk. Judge Coen asks DDA Opper if she is by herself. She replies, “... just me today.”

Levine is asking DDA Opper off the record if they want to come back next week on “...just this one issue.”  There is a short lull. We are obviously waiting for the sheriff’s to bring the defendant’s in.



Judge Coen asks DDA Opper, “Did you get their motion?” “No, I did not,” she replies. I believe it’s Simmrin who informs the court the DDA Silverman is in trial. I find out later that Beth is co-counsel with DDA Tannaz Mokayef in the Blake Leibel case at the Airport Courthouse. Jury selection started today. It’s a pretty gruesome case that you can read about in this Hollywood Reporter article.

Judge Coen wistfully asks, “Is discovery ever going to end?” Simmrin tells the court, “I still have another whole batch of DNA data...” Looking over at the jury box, the two detectives are having a conversation. DDA Opper and Levine chat. The bailiff comes out. Levine addresses the court. “Once they bring her out could we just have one minute?”

A young woman enters and sits in the row behind me. 



8:39 AM
We are still waiting on the sheriff’s to bring the defendant’s out. A bailiff gets a chair ready for Sementilli. This clues me that she will be brought out first, like before. 

Once Semetilli is brought out, her two counsel huddle around her. Levine and Berk are smiling when they greet her. Berk’s greeting sounds especially warm to her client.


Baker is brought out quickly after Sementilli. Since I was concentrating on the huddle, I did not see him walk into court. Simmrin and Baker chat. Because of how Simmrin is sitting, I cannot see Baker’s face from where I am sitting. His hair is still real short.

The court goes on the record that all parties are here except Ms. Silverman. The court indicates there is a motion by Sementilli to return property.  Ms. Silverman may have new discovery. The next hearing date is June 28 and the case calendar will be set at zero of 60 on that date, set a trial date and resolve all discovery issues.  Judge Coen mentions that Mr. Simmrin has DNA issues (which might delay all the discovery being resolved).

Then DDA Opper informs the court of all the items that they have recently turned over to the defense. I try to list all the items she talks about but I’m not fast enough. She mentions an LAPD DNA report from 5/15 of this year. The LAPD DNA file was all on CD and given to defense. There is a CD that was turned over from raw (electronic?) data; Number 2 and links to the bodycam (video?) and also provided a hard drive. (On the hard drive?) 126 folders to each counsel. 



DDA Opper continues. Folders 4-21 were raw data folders (requested?) by Sementilli counsel. There may be discovery in the folders that have already been received. Number 2 of discovery email sent to us. There is an item the defense as requested, Number 90. DDA Opper states number 90 is a computer mouse and they will not be providing that to the defense. Levine responds with something but I miss it and DDA Opper states she did not understand what counsel was talking about.



DDA Opper continues informing the court of the discovery the people have turned over. (Regarding) (evidence?) numbers 68 to 88, the extraction of those items not complete yet. The people will have an answer later this week. Item number 150 counsel (requested? provided?) on a hard drive. The people also provided every phone record ... (and I miss the rest of Melissa’s statement on this). DDA Opper tells the courts that items five and six, they may be password protected. She adds a bit more context that I did not catch.

Levine tells the court that they are “... trying to resolve as many items informally as possible.” I believe he tells the court item number 80, they are no longer seeking. Levine tells the court, “We’ve asked for extractions from Ms. Sementilli’s phone for some time now.”



Counsel go back and forth a bit more about discovery. Simmrin tells the court about (I believe) a disclaimer statement that accompanies the bodycam video, and it’s an issue that’s been litigated in other courtrooms/cases before.

And that’s it. When I get up to leave, I see 48 Hours producer Greg Fisher in the back row. He arrived late and asked me what he missed.  Ms. Berk addresses Fisher about something and I hear him say, “Sure. I’d love to.”



I wait a bit in the elevator bay for Greg so I can catch up with what he’s working on but I decide to head down to the cafeteria to write a bit and read my email. While I’m in the cafeteria, Ms. Berk, the gray haired gentleman and their phone expert sit at a table not far from me and start to chat. About a half hour later, they are gone. 



Next pretrial hearing is June 28, 2018.

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