Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Monica Sementilli & Robert Louis Baker, Pretrial Hearing 6, & Sprocket News

Previous post can be found HERE.


UPDATE 10/20
edited for spelling, grammar, clarity. Sprocket
Ocober 2, 2018
Fabio Sementilli

It's after 8:00 am when I arrive on the 9th floor. Mr. Simmrin arrives around the same time I do. I politely ask Mr. Simmrin if he expects the hearing to go long today. He's kindly tells me that it should be a short hearing today.

Sementilli's defense team (Berk, Levine, gray haired gentleman and the tall thin man) arrives and Monica's sister, Anna Larson is here with them.  This is the same woman I've seen at prior court hearings. The big burly Sargent Westphal arrives with his keys to open Dept. 101, Judge Coen's court.

There are several members of Fabio's family here in the hallway. Two very pretty women and three men who all flew in from Canada. They are all wearing black shirts with "Rest in Peace Beloved Fabio" printed on the back.

I rush into Dept 101 because I want to be sure I get the aisle seat where I can hear the best.

DDA's Beth Silverman and Melissa Opper arrive. Beth is wearing a red and white dress with a matching red jacket and red leather handbag. She has something on I've rarely seen her wear. Flats. They are gray and go quite well with the dress. Usually, Beth is in heels. Melissa is wearing as usual, a dark suit.

Beth comes over to greet the family and also ask how things are going with me. (See note below.) Beth does one of the many things that she does best for the family, patiently answer their questions.

In the gallery I also answer questions for Fabio's family, pointing out who is who.

8:40 AM
Judge Coen takes the bench. A minute ago, chairs were being set up for the defendants. Defendants are put in chairs that do not have rollers on them. I point out to the family member beside me where each defendant will sit.

Mr. Simmrin comes out from the custody area. He must have been visiting with his client. Defendant Sementilli comes out first in the blue jumpsuit. Baker comes out quickly after and they are placed in the same chairs as the last few hearings.

Judge Coen goes on the record.  There are discovery items filed [by the people?]. The letter seized from Baker at the last hearing. The parties discuss the discovery issue of the seized letter. Sementilli's counsel wants to see the letter. DDA Silverman tells the court that unless Mr. Simmrin has any [discovery] issues, DDA Silverman will give a copy to Sementilli's counsel.  Mr. Simmrin states he has no issues with the letter.

Judge Coen appears a bit miffed on the bench. He asks the people why this wasn't handled informally instead of bringing this in front of him. The court tells the parties that he doesn't need to be involved in these issues. That they should be resolved between the parties and not involve the court's time.

Levine brings up to the court [possibly a motion?] that deals with any other letters in the Sheriff's possession, involving communication between defendants.

Judge Coen brings up search warrant affidavits. DDA Silverman informs the court that many of the search warrants are sealed. The people have been asking for discovery from the LAPD. By October 9, the court orders all discovery turned over.  I'm not certain, but as of today's date, I don't believe the people have received a single piece discovery from either defendant.

Levine brings up something about the hard drives that are needed for the people's discovery. He asks if the prosecution knows when there will be an end to discovery. Levine tells the court, "We want to get to trial as soon as possible." Levine wants to know the end of [discovery?] inquiry.

Judge Coen informs the parties that at this time, because his calendar is getting tight, they should put in a trial date. No other reason to block out time.  Currently, Judge Coen only has 19 days in January 2019 [for a trial]. Mr. Simmrin shakes his head about being ready to defend his client for trial in January. Regardless, it's my understanding that the case will need much more time than that. Coen states the next available time is the last week of April.

DDA Silverman informs the court that there is an ongoing investigation by the LAPD, which she does not have in her hand.

Levine tells the court they want an earlier date for trial. "We are not waiving time." The court responds, "I know, but I will make [whatever?] findings I have to make." Judge Coen adds, I've known Mr. Simmrin for years.  Judge Coen rules. He states Mr. Baker's 6th Amendment rights trumps everything, even defendant Sementilli's right to a speedy trial.

Judge Coen sets a potential start date  for Wednesday, April 24, or the next week starting on the 29th. Coen states it will be a six week trial.  DDA Silverman mentions something about the time frame or length of the trial that I miss.

Simmrin tells the court that he just received a 2 Terabyte hard drive of people discovery that he has not seen yet. Levine tells the court that they have some discovery but the latest batch does not have something. They appear to be ahead of Simmrin [in receiving their discovery?].

The trial start date is selected. April 29th for a six week trial. The court clock will be set at zero of ten on that date.  Mr. Simmrin is okay with that date.

The court asks for the next question. Levine is not agreeable to that date. They do not waive time. They would file a motion. The court asks, "Motion to sever, correct? ... Since you're not waiving time?"

Judge Coen states he knows Mr. Simmrin to be a top lawyer. "...one of the best." Judge Coen asks Levine if he thinks he [Mr. Simmrin] is slacking off.  Judge Coen then rules. As I've seen him do before, he goes to one of those long black file boxes and reads from a ruling. There is "...good cause to continue. ... do find good cause to continue Sementilli case over counsel's objection." Judge Coen continues to read from the prior case law but he's too fast for me to get it all.

Levine requests a return date of December 13, and perhaps an inquiry of Mr. Simmrin [as to his readiness]. Levine question whether they should go to another court. Judge Coen states it is not his business to question Mr Simmrin.

Mr. Simmrin tells the court, regarding an earlier trial date, "...given all the discovery, ... I highly doubt that."

And that's it. It's over quickly. Defendant Sementilli's sister in the gallery stands as Sementilli is being led out of the courtroom. As she is led back into the custody area, Sementill looks at her sister and smiles.

The friends and family of Fabio who attended the hearing are: Fabio's sister Mirella Sementilli Rota and her husband Marco; Fabio's sister Loreta, her husband, Joe, and eldest son Anthony. The family shared with me one of Fabio's sayings: "Chin up and charge that mountain." Fabio's family cannot come to every court hearing, but they tell me their souls are here if not in body. The family asks if local friends of Fabio can attend these hearings to represent Fabio since they are unable to do so.

Next pretrial hearing is December 13.

Sprocket News
A little personal, bumpy ride here. I apologize to T&T readers that my notes on this hearing are over two weeks late. I hope you will forgive me when I share the reason why.

Over the past year, my life has changed dramatically. September 29, I sold my house. Escrow closes tomorrow. My last day on the property is October 28 where I will move into temporary housing. After 17 years of marriage, I am forging ahead on a new journey as a single woman again. Please do not be sad for me. My marriage was over many years ago. It wasn't until early this year that I realized I had to give up many things I appreciated about my life, being a wife, a homeowner, my hummingbird garden and possibly my trial reporting, to start again with a new life and new journey.

I don't know what the future holds for me or where I will be in six months. I'm hopeful that I will be able to stay in the area that I love and continue T&T for the next year, possibly two. Beyond that, it is unknown if T&T will continue operating.

If you have appreciated the eleven-and-a-half years of T&T's in-depth trial coverage, a donation to my trial reporting costs would be most appreciative and helpful at this time.You can click on the link to the right that says "Donate". Your bank statement will indicate a charge to "Betsy Ross Linens" which is the bank account I use for T&T and my sewing business.

A Personal Journey
T&T has not only a US readership but an international readership as well. T&T receives hits from people all over the globe dropping in to read the stories T&T has covered over the years.

I have been a some-what public person, at least on the web for over eleven years. In addition to covering high profile trials, I've also written briefly about more personal journeys. The retaliation that Phil Spector and his trial bride wife did to me during Spector's first then second trial; negative blog feedback; becoming friends with Dominick Dunne during Spector and his passing; my sewing business; a Thanksgiving disaster; my health; the antics of my cats; special honors; longtime friends, trial friends, and new trial friends; T&T fan mail; the loss of my beloved long-time companion, Sprocket Cat; my husband's various health issues; local wild fires; and my hummingbird nesting garden. I've shared quite a bit of my life on T&T.

I have been awed by all the women who have had the courage to come forward with their "Me Too" stories. But I also understand from a recent, very painful personal experience why many women remain silent. It is a very individual choice whether to go public or not against another person about a violation or betrayal of trust when that person may be powerful or a pubic personality. So from that, I also respect and honor those who choose to remain silent. You cannot judge someone who chooses to remain silent about an event that is overwhelmingly painful and raw.

On my own personal journey, I know my path has always been one of personal growth, and forgiveness of others, even those who have deeply wronged me. My journey has never been about causing pain to others. That is the path I walk.

The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world,
is to be in reality what we would appear to be;
and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues
increase and are strengthened
by the practice and experience of them.

-Socrates (469-399 B.C.)