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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Christian-Newsom Torture Murder - Day 6 Eric Boyd Trial

 Eric Boyd, at his murder trial


This post will be updated throughout the day. Sprocket

August 13, 2019

8:40 PM PT
On Tuesday the jury found Eric Boyd guilty for his role in the torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated around eight hours over two days before returning the verdict of first degree murder along with guilty verdicts on 36 charges in all. 

The verdict carries a life sentence with possibility of parole after 51 years for each of the two deaths. Judge Bob McGee will determine at a sentencing hearing on September 18 whether the two life sentences will be consecutive or concurrent. Also, what extra punishment Boyd will receive for the other charges, including kidnapping and rape. 

Of the other defendants, Lemaricus Davidson is on death row. Letalvis Cobbins is serving life without parole. Vanessa Coleman is serving 35 years. 

George Thomas had been serving 127 years (not up for parole until his eighties) until he agreed to testify against Boyd in return for a 50 year sentence. With the latter, Thomas could be up for parole in his late 60's. 

Thomas' testimony in this trial was somewhat ambiguous, but he placed Boyd at the scene and told the jury Boyd murdered Chris Newsom. 

Hugh Newsom, father of Chris, said, "We said we would not stop until Eric Boyd was prosecuted. There were times we wanted to give up. He'll never be back on the streets of Knoxville to commit more crimes." 

Here is a video report of comments from the victims' parents after the verdict.

David in TN

11:10 AM PT
GUILTY! The verdicts are being read now, halfway through the 36 charges. More later tonight.

9:54 AM PT
The jury has just asked a question on aggravated robbery. It concerns whether if Channon Christian was not hurt during the carjacking but was later. That's the question according to the Knoxville ABC station. The jury has been given lunch.

Knoxville News Sentinel's Jamie Satterfield tweeted this likely meant the jury has decided the murder counts and is going down the line (of 36). 

I expect a verdict sometime today. That's been the pattern of how long deliberations lasted in previous trials.

David in TN

Christian-Newsom Torture Murder - Day 5 Eric Boyd Trial

 Christopher Newsom & Channon Christian


August 12, 2019
As Day 5 begins, the prosecution reads into the record Adrienne Mathis testimony in the 2008 federal trial of Eric Boyd.

"Mathis said Boyd, her cousin, borrowed her car (white Pontiac used by the suspects to get to the apartment complex where they carjacked the couple) on either the fifth or sixth of January."
"Mathis said she found a bag of bullets in her car."
The state rested its case. The defense moved for the case to be dismissed due to lack of evidence. Judge Bob McGee ruled it can go to the jury. 

The defendant declined to testify. The defense rested. 

ADA Phil Morton gave the closing argument to the jury. Morton emphasized Xavier Jenkins' testimony of seeing the Pontiac Sunbird which Boyd had provided for the drive to the apartment complex where the victims were kidnapped. Jenkins also saw activity at the Chipman house, Christian's car, the Pontiac Sunbird parked behind Christian's car, and four black men in Christian's car. If there were four black men, one had to be Boyd.

Morton mentioned Mathis' testimony. He points out what George Thomas saw in the Pontiac. Thomas saw Boyd bring the victims in the house, bring Newsom to the tracks. 

Morton mentions the violence inflicted on the victim's bodies, the attempt to destroy evidence with bleach, and Boyd's DNA on the gun holster. 

The state said Boyd hid Davidson after the crimes. The state said Boyd was the only one with transportation to fulfill plans to steal a car and carry out the carjacking. "How are they going to get there? It's miles away."

The state goes through all 36 charges in order and shows the evidence on every charge. The charges are 9 counts of first degree murder of Newsom, 9 counts of first degree murder of Christian, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, four counts of aggravated kidnapping and 12 counts of aggravated rape.

The state goes over the concept of criminal responsibility, which was used to convict Thomas twice. Then the timeline is reviewed. 

Morton said of Boyd, "He set the wheels in motion, literally and figuratively for all this to happen." 

Morton said the suspects were a team who had choices in their actions. They were a "team of rapists." And "it was there for just unimaginable reasons, they decided to brutalize these kids. They decided to rape these kids," Morton said. 

Morton used Thomas' account to say Boyd shot Newsom in the head. Morton explained why they were previously unable to use Thomas' statement against Boyd. 

One suspects statement to police can't be used against another suspect unless he takes the stand. Photos of the victims came on the screen when Morton finished his argument.

The defense attorney, Clinton Frazier, began by saying the acts were "disgusting" but it was Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas, and Coleman. 

Frazier pointed out none of the DNA evidence belonged to Boyd. The state proved its case against the others, but not Boyd. 

Frazier claimed Jenkins saw only silhouettes, not features. He said Thomas's loyalty is to Cobbins, and still doesn't implicate Cobbins. 

Frazier details Thomas' conflicting accounts, which "don't make sense." 

Frazier said "Don't let your anger make the decision for you." He asks the jury to hold the state to its burdens and find Boyd not guilty.

The defendants have been skillfully defended in every trial. 

Takisha Fitzgerald, who has been the lead prosecutor throughout, gave the rebuttal. 

Fitzgerald said the state had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. She reviews all the evidence and said testimony corroborates it. 

"Mr. Boyd was a part of it...We ask you to hold Mr. Boyd accountable," Fitzgerald said. She said it took 12 years because they want to get it right."

The judge read the instructions to the jury. Three men and one woman were excused. The final panel is seven women and five men. 

The jury deliberated for two and a half hours Monday and recessed for the evening. They are to resume deliberations at 9 am. 

David in TN