Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Monica Sementilli & Robert Louis Baker, Pretrial Hearing 12

Fabio Sementilli

Preious post on this case can be found HERE.

NOTE: I apologize for the lateness of this post. I've been under the weather with a head cold and cough. Sprocket.

UPDATE: Corrected home security system to a neighbor's security system.
September 4, 2019
Right when I entered the security line for the Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center, I run into a gorgeous reporter that has been covering the Baker-Sementilli hearings. We say hello and introduce ourselves for the first time. Her name is Chetna and she is a producer for Dateline. We clear security and ride the elevator together.

The 9th Floor

Judge Coen’s courtroom is already open. There are two older women -probably close to my advancing age- seated in the second bench row where I usually sit. They have been here before and I believe are friends or relatives of defendant Sementill.  One woman has very short dark hair. She’s wearing a long strand of pearls. The other woman has darkish hair with blond highlights and blue framed glasses.

Some of the prosecution staff is already here. Deputy DA Melissa Opper is in the courtroom along with another Deputy DA, Paul Pzrelomiec who assisted Deputy DA Beth Silverman on the Grim Sleeper (Lonnie Franklin, Jr.) trial. Two LAPD Robbery-Homicide Detectives enter the courtroom. I recognize them immediately. One is the handsome Daryn Dupree and the other I believe is his partner, whose name escapes me at the moment.

Dupree greets Deputy DA Paul Przrelomiec. 

Blair Berk and Leonard Levine are not here. The defense attorney who stood in for them at the last hearing, Hans J Allhoff is here. The gray haired older gentleman who works with Sementilli’s defense team is in his usual spot, chatting with Judge Coen at the clerk’s counter.  Baker’s defense attorney, Michael Simmrin is not here but one of his support staff is, a youngish blond woman who signs for some documents in the well. 

I think we are waiting on Deputy DA Beth Silverman to arrive.

There is some off the record chatter. I overhear that Mr. Simmrin will not be able to make it and Sementilli’s defense attorney will stand in for him. 

Moments later Deputy DA Beth Silverman arrives. She’s wearing strapping black pumps, a red dress and a loose-fitting black jacket. Seeing the two RHD detectives and the young Deputy DA Paul Pzrelomiec, Silverman says something to the effect of, looks like a pretty good team ... a serial killer team.

The defense attorney and the prosecution team exchange a bit about putting the case over to another hearing. The date October 16th is mentioned.

Deputy DA Silverman banters, “… she said [at the] last court date she would be ready for trial.”

It’s a good guess that Silverman is referring to Ms. Berk. The defense counsel answers, “Yeah, but there was more discovery.” Silverman responds, “…there’s always more discovery. That’s just the kind of case  it is.”

Judge Coen calls another case. The defendant is brought in through the front doors. A tall, youngish man, he’s in a wheelchair.  This hearing is over pretty quickly and we are waiting for Baker and Sementilli to be brought out.

8:52 AM
Sementilli is brought out first. Her hair continues to grow out. It's longer and appears darker. She has what looks like an expanding file folder with her in a clear plastic bag. 

Semintilli turns and smiles to her supporters in the gallery. The woman with the dark hair and pearls puts her hand to her lips and gestures with her hand like she is blowing defendant Sementilli a kiss.

Right after Sementill turned to the gallery to give eye contact to her supporters, Judge Coen loudly admonished her to face the front of the courtroom and not turn around to the gallery. It's not in my notes but I believe Judge Coen called the bailiff over to monitor her to make sure she didn't turn around again.

A face I’ll never forget enters Dept. 101. It’s the lead counsel for Lonnie Franklin, Jr., Seymour Amster. The arguments between Amster and Silverman during the Franklin case were over the top bitter. Amster enters and drops his briefcase onto a chair in the well of the court. 

I believe he quickly leaves.

Defendant Baker is brought out at the same time and Judge Coen goes on the record.

Defense counsel Allhoff informs the court that he will be standing in for Mr. Simmrin today. Judge Coen clarifies for the record that he is representing Baker for this hearing only. 

Counsel and the court agree to put the court calendar at zero of 60 on October 16.  Judge Coen asks defendant Baker if he agrees. Baker agrees. He then asks Sementilli if she agrees. Sementilli agrees. 

As the bailiffs get the defendants ready to return to the custody area, Sementilli, is standing and turns to look at her family again. She smiles and mouths some words. It appears to me she is saying, Bye bye Bubbie, or maybe Mommy but that's just a guess.  The dark haired woman repeats her earlier gesture of blowing her a kiss again. 

And that’s it until October 16.

Exiting the courtroom Chetna and I follow Deputy DA Beth Silverman out. Silverman is silent regarding any questions about the prosecution or LAPD's success in locating the second assailant who was seen with defendant Baker on a neighbor's home security system. CBS 48 Hrs. has a report with images of the two assailants from the neighbor's security system.

In some of the pretrial banter between counsel it was discussed that Baker's counsel, Mr. Simmrin has communicated to the prosecution that this case will not go to trial this year. From what I heard, it appears to me that Mr. Simmrin will not be trial ready before 2020.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Michael Gargiulo Sanity Phase Verdict Reached

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, June 2008

August 22, 2019
2:05 pm KTLA is reporting that Gargiulo was found sane when he murdered two women (Ashley Ellerin, Maria Bruno) and attempted to murder a third (Michelle Murphy).

In the guilt phase of the trial, jurors will hear testimony and determine if Gargiulo will receive life without parole or the death penalty.

11:23 am
I just received notice that a verdict has been reached in the sanity phase of the Michael Gargiulo Trial. It will be read at 11:45am Pacific Time.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the reading of the verdict. As I get news I will update this post.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Michael Gargiulo Verdict Reached

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, June 2008

August 15, 2019
The Los Angeles Superior Court's Public Information Office states that a verdict has been reached in the Gargiulo trial. The verdict will be read at 11 am PT.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the reading. I will update T&T readers as soon as I hear news from the court.

August 16, 2019
Yesterday, after a little more than three days of deliberation, Gargiulo was convicted of first degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Ashley Ellerin on February 21, 2001 and Maria Bruno on December 1, 2005. Gargiulo was also convicted of premeditated attempted murder of Michelle Murphy on April 28, 2008 and attempted escape from the El Monte Jail on June 18, 2008. In the murders and attempted murders, the jury also found true the special circumstances of lying-in-wait and using a deadly weapon, a knife.

There are two more phases left in the Gargiulo case: Sanity and penalty phase.

Jurors return Tuesday, August 20, to hear evidence in the sanity phase. If jurors decide that Gargiulo was sane during these crimes, they will then hear evidence to determine Gargiulo's punishment. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.