Friday, June 29, 2007

"There was blood spatter everywhere."

"There was blood spatter everywhere." I wish I could take credit for that line, but I can't. One of the more seasoned reporters jokingly said it in the hallway waiting for the Thursday afternoon session to begin. I immediately thought to myself, "Yeah. It was all over the witness stand."

Prosecutor Alan Jackson tore shotgun blast size holes in Dr. DiMaio's testimony and written report, and his assertion that Ms. Clarkson's manner of death was an unbiased opinion. As the cross examination by Mr. Jackson wore on, the witness at times appeared defeated, and often gave up even trying to answer Jackson's questions, adding exaggerated facial expressions, heavy sighs and lifting up his hands and saying, "Oh, never mind."

While waiting for the afternoon session to begin, Mr. Dunne told the reporters sitting around him outside the courtroom (Beth, Harriet, Michael) and myself what Rachelle Short said to him when he exited the men's room this morning. With a gleeful tone to her voice, Rachelle said to him, "Dominick! Did you wash your hands in the toilet?" It was quite bewildering.

UPDATED 7-1-07 11:45am
Finally, we get to enter the courtroom. Before things get started, Bradley Brunon, one of the defense attorneys, comes over to compliment Steven Milkuen, who is covering the trial for the LA Weekly, on the use of the word "
Verfremdungseffekt" in one of the pieces he wrote. As Steven goes on to explain the meaning of the word, several of us are scrambling to write down the correct spelling for further research. Ciaran leans in to speak to the family attorney who is sitting right in front of us. A whole group of what appear to be school kids is brought into the courtroom and are sitting right behind me, Dominick, Steven and Ciaran. Several of us wonder, because they don't look anything like the interns or "externs" that we have seen in prior days, who are dressed professionally. I finally turn around and ask why did they come to court today. One replies that they are part of a "mock trial" class at UCLA and this is a class trip. The family attorney in front of me turns and says, "That's got to be a high school class. There's no way those are college kids." I agreed. It must be a summer school class held at UCLA.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Louis, I didn't recognize you," Spector said.

It was the most surreal moment of the trial so far. That's the word Louis himself used to describe how he felt when his father, who walked right past him in the hallway to enter the courtroom with his entourage, emerged moments later, and addressed him directly. Spector reached out to shake his son's hand and said, "Louis, I didn't recognize you." Louis replied, "It must be the long hair." Dominick, Ciaran, Steven and myself were stunned when we witnessed this event.

But let me back up, not to the very beginning of my day, but to when I arrived on the 9th floor of the courthouse. I had rushed a blog entry this morning about Dr. Lee's latest communication with the press, again defending himself against allegations that he took a piece of evidence from the crime scene. I made a point to print out the article so that I could ask the real reporters in the room if they had seen (or heard) the latest interview with Dr. Lee.

Dominick, Steven, Ciaran and even Linda Deutsch, not one of them had heard about it, so my print out got passed around, and the accuracy of the article checked. (There were a couple of errors.) Everyone was really hoping that the defense would end their direct examination of this witness soon so we could see Alan Jackson tear apart the defense's paid hack, Dr. DiMaio and his manner of death conclusion of suicide.

Dominick and I were standing near the courtroom door just about ready to go inside when an adorably petite woman approached me and asked, "Are you Sprocket?" I said, "Yes!" I thought that this might be one of the Court TV forum members that has been talking to me about possibly coming down to watch the trial. An attractive man with a beard and long hair pulled into a ponytail stepped up beside the woman and said, (and, I'm hoping I'm remembering this correctly) "I'm Claudius, also known as Louis." Claudius is the member name that Spector's son, Louis uses on the Court TV Phil Spector Forum. I was so surprised, that even thought I'm sure we exchanged greetings, I can't remember a word that we said. Immediately afterwards, we all entered the courtroom. I took my usual seat to the right of Mr. Dunne, and Louis and his friend sat along the back wall near the door. Once I sat down, I immediately told Dominick that Louis was in the courtroom, and that I knew of him through postings on the Court message boards. I asked Dominick if he would like to meet him, and he said, "Yes, but let's wait until the break." I immediately got up from my seat, and went over to where Louis and his friend were sitting. I asked Louis if he would like to meet Mr. Dunne, and he replied, "Sure." I can't remember, but I believe I told Louis and his companion they could meet him during the morning break.

We then had to sit through a little more than an hour of Chris Plourd continuing his direct examination of the facially animated Dr. DiMaio. The break is finally called in the courtroom, and Dominick says he needs to go make a call. I get up to stretch my legs, and slowly make my way out to the 9th floor hallway. Outside, Louis and his companion are standing near the courtroom door, and I join them. Louis and I talk about his posts on the Court TV message board, specifically about him and his siblings being locked up in their rooms at night. The impression that I got from talking to Louis was of a man who has completely accepted the fact that, he has no meaningful relationship with his father. I finally see Dominick make his way down from the other end of the hallway towards us. Once Dominick arrived, greetings were made, and we all chat for a bit. Louis talks with us a bit about himself, his brother Gary, and how his unusual childhood shaped his life. Ciaran and Steven join the group and are also introduced. Peter Y. Hong from the Los Angeles Times politely introduces himself. Handing Louis his card, Peter mentions that he himself is estranged from his own father.

As we see Phil Spector, Rochelle, and the bodyguards approach our group , Louis indicates that Spector would ignore him. "It's what he always does," Louis says. Spector, Rachelle and the bodyguards pass by him without a hint of acknowledgement, just like Louis predicted. Louis says something to the effect that this total indifference is something he is quite familiar with. I comment to Louis that, I can't imagine how that must feel. Louis doesn't appear to be upset at all that his father walked right by him. Moments later though, the courtroom door opens, and I see Spector and Rachelle emerge with their bodyguards. It was at that moment that Spector greeted his son, and introduced Louis and his companion to his wife, Rachelle. Spector, Rachelle and the guards quickly reenter the courtroom. Louis appears as surprised as the rest of us in the group, and describes the experience as surreal. Immediately after that, one of the bodyguards returns and says something to Louis. Louis then tells us what it was. "My father would talk to me more if I didn't talk to the media." Louis, almost perplexed says, "What's the difference? He hasn't really spoken in 20 years anyway." Right before or after that (I can't remember which) Linda Kenney Baden stepped outside the courtroom and shaking Louis's hand, introduced herself to him. It's about then that Louis's companion tells Dominick that it was more exciting meeting him, and Dominick, quite tickled by the compliment, breaks out into a big smile, thanking her.

Back inside the courtroom at our favorite seats, Dominick says to me, "That was the best thing that happened in the trial." As testimony is just about to start again, the judge has to ask the jury to exit the courtroom while the Judge rules on a new issue. Dominick and I are still reeling by what we just witnessed. Dominick says, "That was so strange." And I agree. It was just amazing what we saw. Finally, DiMaio is back on the stand testifying, but I can't concentrate on a word he is saying. I was still trying to process and remember every detail that happened, when Dominick leans over to me to say, "We'll talk about it downstairs." Inside the courtroom, Dominick and the rest of us occasionally look over our shoulders at Louis. To us, sitting rows in front of him, he appears emotional, almost stunned as to what just happened.

It's about then that I get an idea. I wasn't sure if Dominick would be interested, but I take a chance and ask him if he would mind having lunch with Louis. Dominick replies that he would. As soon as the noon recess is called, I approach Louis and his companion and ask if they have plans for lunch, and would they be interested in having lunch with me and Dominick in the cafeteria. They said they had brought their lunch, today, and I immediately replied that I did too. We would meet up in the cafeteria where Mr. Dunne likes to sit.

Lunch was fabulous. For me, it was quickly evident that Louis and his companion are very down to earth people that I readily identified with. I mostly listened to the table conversation, and let Dominck, Louis and his friend talk about Spector and their experiences. One of the first things Dominick asks Louis, was, if he was crying in the courtroom after his father acknowledged him. Louis said no, and went on to explain that he was just struck by how surreal the whole event was, and at that time, he was still processing the whole experience, and how to feel about it. Dominick starts to tell us about something he experienced with Spector, but before he does, he turns to me and says, "Now this you can't write about, because it's coming out in the next issue of Vanity Fair." I chuckle and say, "Of course!" I'm sorry that I can't mention what Dominick told us. You'll just have to read his next article in the magazine. Dominick and Louis discuss what they each think might happen once the trial gets closer to a verdict. The conversation goes so well, we linger in the courthouse cafeteria, reluctant to leave and make our way back to the 9th floor.

At the afternoon break, I sit down with Louis and his friend to talk about how the case is going so far. Louis quite puzzled says, "Rachelle is so happy. Why are they all smiling, if Alan Jackson is doing such a good job?" He's quite perplexed. Beth Karas then comes up to Louis and introduces herself, and they all get a chance to talk.

After testimony ends for the day, I head out into the hallway. Louis and his friend are already there waiting, and we talk about taking the Metro trains back to the suburbs. Just then, Spector and his group emerge from the courtroom. Spector, approaches his son again, and shaking his hand says, (I believe), "Nice to see you again." And then, just as quickly, he was gone. I'm totally blown away again. Right afterwards, Dominick emerges from the courtroom and we tell him what just happened. Before we leave the hallway, we wind down saying our goodbyes. Louis says he is trying to arrange it where he and his other brothers will be present for the verdict, but since he lives over an hour away from the courtroom, it is uncertain whether or not he and his siblings will have enough notice to make it to court in time for the reading.

As I rode the Red and Orange Lines home, I couldn't stop thinking about what an exciting day this had turned out to be, and how much I enjoyed meeting Louis and his friend, and introducing them to Dominick.

Som-sings Wong! Dr. Lee: "It's a conspiracy..."

Breaking News: Even though Judge Larry Fidler has warned counsel to tell their witnesses not to talk to the press, Dr. Henry Lee has given an interview. You can hear an audio of Dr. Lee speaking, through a link at Click on "news" from their front page to get access to the audio coverage. The New Haven Register Online, has a complete report on the interview. This is not the first time that Dr. Lee has spoken regarding allegations he removed potential evidence from the crime scene. Weeks earlier, Dr. Lee re lased a statement to the press.

In this interview, Dr. Lee appears to be changing his story from what he testified to in the evidentiary hearing outside the presence of the jury. If Dr. Lee does take the stand, prosecutor Alan Jackson could use Dr. Lee's public statements to the press, to impeach his prior testimony.

My prediction: It is becoming more likely, that the defense will not call Dr. Lee to the stand, or, he will conveniently be "out of the country" and unavailable.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"SUICIDE," says the first witness for the defense

Even though the prosecution has not yet rested it's case in chief, Judge Fidler will not waste the jurors time, and the defense is directed to start their case. They started their case with a highly credentialed witness, Dr. Vincent DiMaio, former chief medical examiner for Bexar County, Texas. DiMaio, (who is board certified in three areas of pathology: anatomical, clinical and forensic) took the stand and entered into a long winded litany of his 30+ years of knowledge and experience. Plourd made sure to ask about his military career, as well as what's involved with his duties as editor of the Medical Journal of Forensic Pathology, more commonly known among professionals as "The Orange Journal." DiMaio, now retired, testified that as a hired consultant, he has the ability to pick and choose which cases he finds interesting to work on. I tried to keep my eye on the jury during the entire diatribe and I rarely saw any of the jurors take a note during most of that self serving testimony.

While Plourd continues with his questions in other areas, the jury is a mix of responses. Some appear interested, others do not. Plourd gets DiMiao to testify about the four books he's written. When Plourd gets to the title Gunshot Wounds, and if they are only available to those in the field, DiMiao responds, "It's available to anybody on Amazon dot com," the jury laughs, but few in the gallery do.

I see AJ lean back in his chair after the jury laughs. He interlaces his fingers, places his elbows on the table in front of him, and lightly rests his fingers on his chin. I write this note to Mr. Dunne: HE'S ENJOYING TALKING ABOUT HIMSELF AND HE SMILES A LOT. Dominick nods his agreement. It's now that the Judge asks the jurors if they need a break. Since no one raises their hand, the Judge would like to go on through to noon because it's a short testimony day. Drat! No break to go get some water.

All morning long, several groups of very young professionally dressed men and women with badge clips that say "EXTERN," have been ushered into the courtroom to take up the empty seats and listen to the trial. It's quite distracting. Later, I learn that an "extern" is just like an intern, but they specifically serve for a judge. Donna Clarkson is wearing a beautiful dark olive green suit. DiMaio testifies that in his career, he has performed 9,000 autopsies himself and supervised over 30,000 autopsies performed by doctors working under his supervision. Juror #6 closes his eyes.

Now DiMaio testifies to the number of suicides he's reviewed, and AJ is on top of it quickly taking notes. DiMaio was approached 16 months ago to work on the case. Now, he's talking about the cases he's testified in, several times for the prosecution. Two of the cases are located here in Los Angeles. Plourd makes a point to get Dr. DiMaio to say that he charges the same rate to the City of Alhambra and Los Angeles, as what he's charging in this case.

DiMaio testifies about experimentation that he did in Dallas, TX, with gunshot wounds. He testifies about gunshot residue, and if there's a lot of it, that's solid evidence that someone fired a gun. He goes into great detail that the type of ammunition does make a difference, as to blood spatter and how far it can travel.

DiMaio is facially expressive when he talks about there being "only one particle of GSR" on someone's hands. He almost rolls his eyes, as he leans back saying, "one particle is meaningless." More questions about the gasses exploding out of the mouth and propelling blood farther because of the type of wound and bullets. He says, "Size and velocity makes a particle go farther." Lots of talk about micro verses macro and I wonder if the jury is really following this.

It's getting close to 12 noon, and it's clear Plourd wants to get DiMaio to testify to a manner of death before he gets off the stand. And then it comes. Plourd gets his questions in. DiMaio believes Lana held the gun.

A: Suicide is the hardest case type for the pathologist because people don't want to accept it.

His facial expressions are playing to the jury. "Intra-oral GS wounds are 99% suicide," he testifies, going onto quote a statistic, "Seventy-five percent of people (suicides) don't write notes. (snip) Suicide is, many times, impulsive." Dr. DiMaio gives examples of impulsive acts where people do commit suicide in front of other people, but each example he gives is not even remotely similar to Lana's death. "And then there was the alcohol," he adds. With a voice a virtually whisper to the jury, as if he is trying to give the sad conclusion of suicide gently to them, he says, "When you take in everything, the Vicodin... (snip), it's suicide."

And testimony rests for the day.

Some of the reporters were stunned at the power DiMaio appeared to command when he delivered his conclusions. I'm holding out hope for AJ to blast some holes in that self assured exterior.

Outside the courtroom Rochelle Spector, very excitedly talking on the phone with someone, was virtually gleeful with Dr. DiMaio's testimony. The smear of Lana Clarkson, had begun.

There will be more on this day's testimony when I get around to transcribing todays detailed Trial Notes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

California Dreamin'

That's what I thought I was doing when I saw an older but still very beautiful, slender blond woman standing in the hallway at the end of the lunch break. She was wearing a sleek, shortsleeved black dress that had a matching blazer jacket. She wore a black, polished stone heart necklace that matched her dress. When Alan Jackson and Patrick Dixon were approaching the courtroom, Mr. Dunne intercepted them so he could introduce the woman to Mr. Jackson. When she entered the courtroom, she sat in the row right behind Mr. Dunne, who turned to talk to her several times before the afternoon session started.

Ciaran took a guess on who it might be and he was spot on. At the break, Mr. Dunne introduced us (Steven, Ciaran and myself) to one of the 1960's music icons: Michelle Phillips of the Mommas and the Poppas. She was delightful to meet. Mr. Dunne said she has been a friend of his for a long time. I'll leave you to guess as to why Mr. Dunne wanted to introduce her to Alan Jackson.

Michelle wanted to know what was the cross all about, and what was going to happen with that other female attorney, Ms. Caplan. Mr. Dunne asked me to explain to her the points Linda Kenney Baden was trying to make in her cross. All of the reporters speculated that Ms. Caplan was probably going to go to jail on Thursday. We also talked about Dr. Henry Lee, and that he would mostly likely be obliterated on the stand by Alan Jackson.

UPDATED 6-26-07 7:45 am
Yesterday, at the morning break I decide to go down to the fifth floor to grab a bottle of water. Lana's family were at the elevators, waiting. Donna Clarkson smiled at me and said, "Your hair is so long!" I'm so surprised because the press has been warned that the family will not speak to them. I reply, "It's left over from my hippie days." Donna then says, "It's so beautiful." "Thank you," I said.

more to come....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We will miss her dearly

At 11am, Saturday morning our beloved kitty, Katie, died suddenly from unknown causes. She was four years old this month.

We adopted Katie and her twin brother, Jumpy from kitten rescue, when they were just eight weeks old. They were from a feral litter where the mother was killed when the kittens were around three weeks old. At the time we adopted her, we were warned that eventually Katie would need to have an operation to fix a birth defect. There was a space between her abdominal sac and pericardium surrounding her heart that had not completely closed, and her intestines were pushing through and affecting her heart and lungs. When she was four months old, her weight reached four pounds and Katie was able to have the operation. She came through it with flying colors, and the very next day was up and playing like she had only skinned her knees slightly. Even after the operation, her natural breathing pattern remained short and quick.

Right after her surgery, Katie really came into her own. Her heart and lungs no longer restricted, her play increased dramatically, and we got to see her personality emerge. She and her brother were very close, and they slept, groomed and played together. Sometimes they were so rambunctious, we thought we were watching and episode of world wrestling smack down. Even though our oldest kitty Sprocket, ruled the house with his size, intelligence and orneriness, Katie (at ten pounds, she was tiny compared to everyone else) soon took over as the "owner" of the house. It was a certain look that she would get on her face, that told you she was in charge. She had to know everything that was going on. She soon became my husband's favorite fur child, whose daily ritual would be to follow him into the bathroom every morning for some special bonding and play. Once she was in the bathroom, she didn't leave until she completed her routine of checking everything out.

Katie never took to being picked up, and would shy away if you reached out to her. You could point an finger out and she would come up to sniff it just to check, but that was it. She was very quick, and often difficult to catch if we needed to brush her or take her for a checkup. Occasionally though, she would wake one of us up in the morning by sitting on our hip, until we got out of bed to get breakfast for all the kitties. When I would be working on a client in my treatment room, she would get on her hind legs, and push her front paws as high as she could reach on the door to open it. Making a circuit of the room, she had to investigate all corners to ensure that nothing was amiss. By the time she was ready to leave, the door would have almost closed, and she sometimes spent a considerable amount of time, trying to get the door open again. When she couldn't, out would come her petite, high pitched little trill.

Her favorite play toys were a mass of feathers on a long stick, and the noisily aluminum crinkle balls. Playing with the feathers, my husband was able to get her to jump three feet high. Other times, when all the other kitties were fast asleep, she would let you know she wanted to play crinkle ball, by standing on her hind legs, stretching her paws up on top of my desk, and letting out that little trill. Often times, her voice was so faint you could hardly hear it. Other times, she would play with the crinkle ball or a golf ball by herself, using her hind leg like a soccer player, getting it started. She would also let out that little trill if someone was sitting in the rattan chair by the front door, and she wanted to sit there. It was as if to say, "Your in my spot!" Katie also loved to crawl under a purple baby blanket to take a nap that I kept at the foot of our bed.

My husband was the one who first noticed her extreme distress. Soon afterward, though still breathing, that special look she would get on her face was gone, and at that point he knew she was dying. Not long after she passed, we went and purchased a special box for her casket. Several hours later, we wrapped her in that purple blanket, placed a favorite crinkle ball and some catnip in with her, and buried her near the ash tree where my husband and I were married. Today, we are engraving a river rock with her name for a marker. It will say, "Katie, owner of the house."

As soon as I can figure it out, I will put up some photos of Katie so you can see what a delightful, beautiful kitty she was.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Blogs & Crime Forums

UPDATED Sept. 16th, 2012  I misidentified PIO employee Pat Kelly, as Pat Jackson. Sprocket.
I've posted on crime forums for over four years, following several high profile cases. This is the second trial that I've actually had the opportunity to attend and write about, and the first time where I've written in a blog format. I know there have been other posters on the Court TV message boards who have attended a high profile trial in their area and posted about it, but today was the first time that I had ever heard of any negative consequences stemming from their trial coverage.

Recently, an article by Rick Malwitz came out in the Home News Tribune Online, about a Court TV poster, SummerMadness (a trial watcher just like me) who attended the Melanie McGuire murder trial, and wrote about what she observed in the courtroom, including the jury box. According to Malwitz, there is an "imaginary line" that professional journalists never cross (that supposedly SummerMadness did), and that is describing jury behavior. Evidently, the defense in that case tried to use her writings as a motion for a new trial. Judge Frederick DeVesa denied the motion. Malwitz wrote in his article that SummerMadness lacked an editor (I'm guessing to "guide her" on not crossing that "imaginary line") and didn't use a spellchecker since she misspelled the word "testosterone." For the record, SummerMadness was writing on an internet crime form, and not a "blog" as he labeled her writing in his article. Maybe this picky journalist could use a fact checker at his office, since blogs and crime forums are two totally different mediums. And regarding that "invisible line" he says exists for MSM, I didn't see anything in her posting that was any different than what the talking heads were saying on national television. I believe since SummerMadness wasn't a part of the MSM, she was an easy target for the defense in that case, and for Malwitz to criticize as well.

Another Court TV member told me that a trial watcher who was writing about the Susan Polk murder trial, was somehow identified by Susan Polk, forced to stand up in open court, and, I'm assuming, identify herself. (I don't know if the poster had to state their name for the court or not, but from what I understand it wasn't a pleasant experience for that trial watcher.)

At the Blake trial I covered, Pat Kelly, one of the court's media liaison officers took my name, and the web address of the forum I was posting on at the time. Many of the same officers I got to know at the Blake trial are in the courtroom gallery daily. In thinking about what happened to the poster at the Susan Polk trial, I can just imagine the laughter that would most definitely erupt in this courtroom if I was forced to stand up and identify myself.

Your Honor, my name really is, Betsy Ross. I don't think it could get any funnier.

Incidentally, I checked with my attorney, to see if they thought anything I was writing concerning the jurors could become a problem. They were pretty certain that everything I am saying was totally legal to do. Regardless, they did say, that they would check with their cousin, a Superior Court Judge in a neighboring county, for another opinion.

UPDATE: 6-23-07, 8:45 am.
I knew in my gut that Malwitz's "imaginary line" pretty much resided in his own imagination, and I didn't have to go far to prove it. Below is an entry posted April 25th, by the very professional Harriet Ryan, who is in the courtroom covering the trial via the Court TV blog.

Tryptophan proof
- When prosecutor Jackson resumed his opening after the lunch break, he made a joke about jurors who ate turkey sandwiches falling asleep. So far, it seems like he was worrying needlessly. The nine men and three women appear to be intensely interested in what he has to say. One panelist, Juror No. 4, is literally on the edge of his seat. He's leaning forward and staring hard at whatever Jackson puts on the screen, even enlarged photos of blood spatter, which is what Jackson’s talking about now. His jury box neighbor, Juror No. 6, is also riveted. She's the one whose estranged husband was convicted of murder. She has her eyes fixed on the prosecutor and smiles every time he cracks a joke.
Meet the jury. -- Harriet Ryan
Posted at 5:22 PM
A few things to point out. SummerMadness, in her coverage of the Melaine McGuire trial, did not write anything different about juror behavior than Ms. Ryan did. And in fact, Ms. Ryan's blog entry has the number wrong of the woman juror. It should be #5 instead of #6. And, if you check out the link in Harriet Ryan's blog, "meet the jury," you will read a weath of information about the jurors gleaned from their very detailed jury questionaires.

The truth of the matter is, regular individuals, trial watchers just like SummerMadness and myself, can and do cover high profile trials with the same ethics of keeping the identity of the jury anonymous. Whether the MSM will ever acknowledge that is another issue entirely.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"You knew this was going to happen."

At the afternoon break today, right before court was ready to resume for the last hour of excruciating cross, Alan Jackson was talking to his blood spatter expert, Dr. Lynne Herold. I didn't hear what Mr. Jackson said, but I did over hear Dr. Herold say, with a big smile on her face, "You knew this was going to happen." But let me back up a bit, and tell you a bit more about the start of my day.

I had a last minute opportunity to go to court today (normally I have clients) and it was too late to take the Orange or Red Lines like I normally do, and get to court on time. So my husband suggested that I drive. I was rushing, trying to remember everything I needed to take and when I got to the 9th floor I suddenly realized I left the house without my notebook! I had remembered to bring a book to read at lunch (Mr. Dunne had recommend Tina Brown's book on Diana, and I made a point to pick it up.), but I only had a single sheet of paper with me to write on. It was a coincidence that I even had it. The paper I brought was a print out of something I wanted to show Mr. Dunne, which he enjoyed reading. Right when I was running out of room on my paper, Mr. Dunne reached into his inside jacket pocket, and pulled out some pieces of his own personal stationary for me to write on. I was so grateful.

At the lunch recess, Mr. Dunne said he would meet me downstairs, and we had lunch together in the cafeteria again. We talked about the blood spatter evidence, and wondered how Spector's defense attorneys were going to spin it to his advantage. We just couldn't see how they were going to do it. The evidence appears pretty straight forward. Afterwards, I had just enough time to walk over to the underground city and get a notebook from the CVS Pharmacy there.

Cross examination of Dr. Herold began right after lunch. Dr. Herold took the stand and Mr. Jackson announced that he didn't have any more questions for this witness. Linda Kenney Baden took the podium, and immediately started her cross using that shrill, accusatory tone that we've all come to expect. The first few questions were an attempt to trip up Dr. Herold's responses today with her grand jury testimony several years ago. LKB tries again and again to put words in Dr. Herold's mouth about coming to a conclusion concerning blood on the gun. And each time, Dr. Herold has to correct LKB, and tell her that is not what was said, and that she never came to a firm conclusion about the smeared blood on the handle. LKB's hand gestures come out early, and she paces back and forth in front of the podium. LKB also tries to get Dr. Herold to say that, "she can't confirm that the body was not moved by paramedic or police" before the crime scene photographs were taken. Right about this time, Rosen walks up to the podium and gives LKB a note. Now, LKB is asking Dr. Herold who she talked to about the "tackling" of Spector.

A: I never spoke at length with anyone involved in the event of Spector being knocked to the ground.

And then it comes. Questioning Dr. Herold's credentials. Endless questions about how many cases involving blood spatter has she handled in her entire career, and what "percentage" of her work case load involves working with blood spatter, and how many "hours" is involved in the various things she examines. Dr. Herold testifies that her office doesn't tabulate or keep records of that type. It's all aimed at trying to show Dr. Herold is not as experienced in blood stain analysis as others in her field. LKB throws out the names of several prominent blood spatter experts and asks if Dr. Herold ever read their books or papers. She also questions Dr. Herold on a class she took in 2006 conducted by Stuart James (who was in the courtroom today), insinuating each time, that she "learned from him at that time," something specific about blood stain analysis. And each time, Dr. Herold has to correct her, and explain that she "knew that, before she took that class with Stuart James." And that's how it went the entire afternoon. Question after question that tried to put words in Dr. Herold's mouth.

When I showed my note to Dominick about what Dr. Herold said to Alan Jackson, he said to me, "You should write about that in your blog."

I will go into more detail on this days events, when I finally get around to updating my detailed Trial Notes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Thank You Note & A Matter of Spatter

When Mr. Dunne entered the courtroom, one of Spector's bodyguards handed him a white 9x11 envelope that was from Phil. "Personal to Dominick Dunn" it said on the outside of the envelope, misspelling Mr. Dunne's last name. Dominick was surprised and wondered what it could be. Dominick opened the package while Ciaran and I looked on, anticipating what was inside. As soon as Dominick opened it, he realized it was a book he had loaned Spector; a memorial on the funeral of Ahmet Enagans (sp?). The note that came with it was on very personalized stationary that had pieces of sheet music scores and notes around the border. Dominick handed it to Ciaran and myself to read. At the top it said, "From the desk of Phil Spector." One of the lines I memorized was "Can't imagine a world with Ahmet not in it." The signature was so huge and artfully done that I couldn't decipher it. Everyone said it was a very nice thing for Spector to write.

Dr. Lynne Herold, Ph. D. took the stand this afternoon to testify and educate the jury about blood stain pattern analysis. She's the state's expert. Over on the defense side, Rochelle had given up her front row seat to a new face in the courtroom. The individual immediately started to take notes as soon as Dr. Herold started her direct examination. I wondered if this was a blood spatter expert, and was he someone that might testify in place of Dr. Henry Lee. The more seasoned reporters in the room Ciaran and Matthew (otherwise known as tall lanky reporter until I learned his name last week) felt very certain that Dr. Lee "will be here to testify" to clear his name. At the break, Mr. Dunne asked Bruce Cutler who this was, and Cutler said this was one of their experts, and that Dr. Lee was still going to testify. So much for my idea. Sandi Gibbons, the District Attorney's public liaison found out his name for us: Stuart James. And as one of the Court TV forum members found out, he is a blood spatter expert. (Special thanks to Court TV poster Lynn Gweeny for that bit of info!)

It's been interesting to watch Donna Clarkson. She sits very close to the attorney who is representing the family in the civil suit against Spector. Today, I actually saw the attorney lean in and affectionately kiss Donna Clarkson on her left temple. Could there be a romantic relationship between her and her attorney?

Caplan falls on her sword; Lunch with Mr. Dunne

Monday, court started earlier than usual outside the presence of the jury. Sara Caplan, wearing a peach colored suit, waited while a few other issues were brought before the judge. The Judge decided that the contempt hearing would continue this afternoon.

At 1:30 pm, Ms. Caplan appeared before the court in a different suit, all black. She had removed virtually all her jewelry she was wearing in the morning session. Her attorney, Mr. Nassiter made one last bid to sway Judge Fidler on charging Ms. Caplan with contempt. Judge Fidler rejects all Nassiter's pleadings, citing where he has previously ruled. But Nassiter wasn't done.

Nassiter: Isn't it on dangerous legal ground; isn't the isue of calling this attorney to testify against her former client, also, a dangerous issue...

Judge: (interrupting Mr. Nassiter) Yes, and I'm satisfied that I'm on correct legal grounds with this. Of course it is. I realize that.

And with that, the Judge outlines how the court participants needed to proceed. Alan Jackson called Sara Caplan to the stand where she took the oath and answered a few questions about being a defense attorney, and that she has been in practice for over 25 years. Then Mr. Jackson asked Ms. Caplan questions about the night she was at the Alhambra residence and what she observed. After the first question. Ms. Caplan reads from a prepared statement.

A: (Heavy Sigh.) I have great respect for this court, for the constitutions of the United States and the State of California, and for my ethical obligations as criminal defense attorney in this state. It is my honor and my privilege, to uphold all of these, as I am required to do as member of the State Bar of California. In light of my obligations to assert my clients attorney-client privileges, his fifth and fourteenth amendment due process rights to fundamental fairness, and sixth amendment rights to effective assistance of counsel, I respectfully cannot answer your question.

And that's how it went for the next six of the seven questions. Ms. Caplan, became more and more emotional each time she said she could not answer even though she was directed by the Judge to answer the questions. Ms. Caplan started to break down during the last two questions and was openly crying on the stand.

The Judge stayed the contempt order to be placed in jail while Ms. Caplan pursued an appeal with the appellate court.

Prior to this hearing, I had quickly headed down to the first floor cafeteria to grab a salad and water to go with my lunch that I usually bring. Mr. Dunne, who sometimes eats in the cafetera, occasionally has lunch with Bruce Cutler from the defense team. Mr. Dunne comes up to my table and asks if he could join me. I tell him, "I would be honored." I sat in rapt attention as Mr. Dunne gave me a short synopsis of something that happened while he was covering the O.J. Simpson trial. Over one weekend, he was flown to meet Princess Diana. He was one of the journalists considered to interview her at the time, but the interview eventually went to an English journalist, Martin Bashir. Mr. Dunne expressed what a delightful and warm person Princess Diana was to meet. Princess Diana was following the trial he was covering, and during that meeting, Mr. Dunne said that Princess Diana correctly predicted that the jury would acquit Simpson.

I will write more on this days courtroom events when I get caught up to writing my Trial Notes coverage.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trial Notes, 6-04-07

I get to the Orange Line Sepulveda Station at 7:59 am, hoping I will make the next earliest trian. Trying to keep my bag a bit lighter, I don't bring a book today. I'm also only going to spend half a day at court, so no lunch container either. The bus is half full. As soon as I get on I notice that this driver is not nearly as smooth as some of the others and I can barely write as the bus jerks along. I'm flabergasted by how he's speeding up and breaking hard. Looking through my bag I realize that I've left some questions I was going to try to ask Dr. Sptiz at home. I was hoping to ask him at the morning break some questions on the JonBenet Ramsey case, because he got a look at the complete autopsy report.

A man on the bus notices me writng and tries to talk to me. But he's speaking in another language. I think it's spanish, but I can't understand a word. The only spanish I know is how to count to ten and say "How are you?" I smile and say, "English only."

I miss the 8:20 am train by about 30 seconds. My phone says 8:19 am, and I'm wondering if the train left earlier than usual.

I've been talking about the trial to one of my bodywork clients. I'll call her Mary. (Not her real name.) Mary, an entertainment attorney, has a cousin who is a senior superior court judge out in a neighboring county. I've been trying to convince her to clear a day and come down to the court with me and watch some trial. She's considering it. A bit of trivia here. My client was actually on the state's rebuttal witness list for the Michael Jackson trial. Seriously. Once her name appeared on the witness list, the defense did not call Diana Ross to testify.

My train car is virtually empty. I was hoping there would be some interesting people to observe. Maybe it will fill up at the Universal Station. Just like most days, someone gets on the train with a bicycle and today I'm not disappointed. There's a strange character this time. He appears to be a middle aged man with a shaved head but a long ponytail, a safety helmet on top of that, and an overly stuffed backpack who gets on the train with his bike. Usually what I see are very young kids with a "MX" type bike. I'm so tired, I almost nod off to sleep on the train for a moment. I didn't get much sleep last night. I stayed up late to work on my trial notes and get a load of laundry done for my husband.

Waiting in the hallway, I ask Dominick and Ciaran (it's pronounced Keer'-an) if they thought Dr. Henry Lee's directed letter to the press would be considered a violation of the Judge's order to counsel, to have their witnesses stop talking to the media. Ciaran thinks I have a point. Dominick says he heard the Judge was really upset about something this morning. Maybe it's about Dr. Lee's statement to the press. But when we get into the courtroom, the first issue up is the document on Lana's computer that the defense has been calling a "diary" and the prosecution has been calling a "story." It appears this is the item the Judge was not happy about.

Spector and the entourage enter the courtroom. Spector is wearing a black pinstripe suit with a red shirt. Dominick asks me, "Do you think he's heavily medicated? I reply, "I believe he's medicated." At 9:15 am Dominick, Ciaran and I get into the courtroom. There are a bunch of new people in the courtroom, and most of them appear to be interns for the District Attorney's office. They are all very young guys who look like they are barely out of high school. They all have these badges with the DA's business card in them pinned to their lapels or shirt pockets.

The black female baliff yells out: "No cell phones! No gum chewing!" I see Rosen and Dixon come out of the Judge's chambers. Dominick and I talk about the trial length. I tell Dominick I think it's going to go until September. "September!!!! I have a life!" Dominick responds. Dominick said that someone in San Francisco wanted him to do a blog. "What do you think about that?" he asks me. I tell him, "Yes!" Blog are really big.

It's 9:33 am. The clerk asks, "Counselors, ready for the Judge?" And Judge Fidler takes the bench. The jury is not present. The Judge is going over the admissability of the emails on Ms. Clarkson's computer, and the "diary" or "story" depending on whos' version you believe.

Judge: (To Mr. Plourd) I couldn't find what you were alluding to in the document. It's not a diary. It's a story, prepared afterwards. The last entry, is just about making a movie, Barbarian Queen II. How is that current?

Plourd: She was working on it just as late as 2001.

Judge: (With a bit of irritation in his voice) The last event she wrote about was in 1989. Where is there anything as to current s to death?

Plourd: She was working on the document in 2001.

Judge: What in the narative, what event takes place after 1989? That's fourteen years before her death. You said that, I would find a familarity with weapons.

Plourd: She was a teenager. Something with her father.

The Judge is challenging the defense on their conclusion of the "story." Plourd goes into a section where Lana talks about her apartment being the location of a suicide. The Judge reads over that section again. Dominick Dunne says, "This is pathetic." I agree. Plourd's explaination is lame.

Judge: Nothing in this document is relevant. I find nothing of this document is...

Plourd: It documents he drug abuse.

Judge: Totally remote! You can't bring it in via cross of Dr. Pena!

Hooray! The defense can't bring this in using this witness. The jury is called to enter the courtroom. Dr. Pena is back on the stand for cross, and it's more meaningless cross. Plourd is going to present all these emails to Dr. Pena. Dr. Pena reads an email to himself, and the jury waits, watching the attorneys.

Juror #11 crosses him arms. Alternate #3 is leaning back. Juror #12 rubs his face. Juror #5 takes a note. Juror #4 might be writing too; I can't see his hands. Juror #6 looks and reaches down to his valise. Alternate #4 picks at his nails. Alternate #6 takes a note. Juror #9 rubs his neck. Juror #5 takes more notes. Juror #4 rubs his nose. Rochelle looks back at the gallery.

Earlier, before court Dominick tells me about how Donna Clarkson was very upset about an article he wrote four years ago. Supposedly, the tall black haired attorney put his fist through a wall because of the article.

Juror #6 scratches his head vigorously. Juror #11 still has his arms crossed. Juror #6 is leaning back but appears bored. Juror #11 now takes a note.

Another email is presented about Lana's frustration, despondency about her financial situation that Dr. Pena hadn't seen. Plourd reads from the email. "I'm on the verge of losing it all, hanging by a thread." Plourd also mentions that she was 30-40-50 thousand dollars in debt.

Juror #11 has crossed his arms again. Juror #12 also has their arms crossed. Juror #9 is leaning forward on his elbows, hand on his chin.

Another email. Dr. Pena reads them to himself; the jury wait. Then Plourd crosses Dr. Pena on the email. 10:05 am, Rosen gives a post it note to Plourd. Rosen reads an email. This one is about playing the Marilyn Monroe role, and "chucking it" in the email.

Q: After reading that, does this change your opinion about MOD?

A: Absolutely not.

Another letter is read. This one from Ms. Clarkson to her doctor. It's from the neurologist's files. "Plagued by pain and migraine headaches every day. (snip) Wondering if my TMJ is related and I'm wearing a guard. (snip) I am at the end of my rope."

Another document off the computer is read. Rosen reads portions of this letter out loud. It's a letter addressed to someone named Heather. And, another note is passed to Plourd.

Alternate #5 leans in to try to hear better. I'm not seeing many of the jurors taking a note.

Q: She went to somebody to get her subconscious repatterned. (Did you know about that?)

A: No.

Q: Is that something you would want to know about?

A: No.

Now, several more documents are presented by the defense and logged into evidence. SSS, TTT, UUU, VVV, WWW, XXX, YYY. Some type of "diary," not the one the defense tried to get in, but something else, and Rosen reads from it. Another document, ZZZ. "First sober day on August 21st, 2002. Now something from her hospital records, when she broke her wrists around Christmas, 2001.

I take a yawn. Mosty because I only had five hours of sleep. Alternate #2 yawns too. Now Plourd is presenting a draft of a proposed loan agreement. Rosen reads from it. "The struggle is wearing me down." Alternate #4 looks out at the gallery. Rosen continues reading from the document and something strikes me as strange. "Will you be giving private showings of the penis puppet show? He, he!" I write this note to Steven---> PENIS PUPPET SHOW? And Steven writes back: An Australian show that played here a few years ago.

There are more questions for Dr. Pena about her bills More statements to Dr. Pena about Lana's difficulties, and her statements about hurting herself.

Q: Would that make any difference to you, as to MOD?

A: No.

The jury really is restless now. Now Plourd is really stretching it. He's asking about people engaging in "risky behavior." Calling "drinking" risky behavior. Juror #6 is leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, his chin resting on his hand. More jury fidgeting. Maybe Plourd is wrapping it up? Could it be? Now he's trying to get Dr. Pena to concede that there are some circumstances where there is risky behavior, but Dr. Pena says, "You have to look at it on a case by case basis." The defense is now on document BBBB. Another report from the autopsy file. He's asking him to look at page two of a report in Dr. Pena's own handwriting. Dr. Pena says he has to see the first page to put the report in context. Part of the document has to do with accidental discharge of a weapon.

Jackson: Object on! Witness hasn't fully answered.

Judge: Have you?

A: No.

Judge: You man continue.

A: This (report) is a meeting based on the autopsy alone.

Q: You could not rule (on MOD)?

A: At that time.

Q: And your opinion hasn't changed?

A: Not correct. That report was based on information at the time.

Q: Did you know she was receiving narcotics from other sources?

A: I didn't know that. (snip)

Now Dr. Pena is talking about some data that he made a note to search for, but he never did. It's statistical information on women who kill themselves with a gun. Dr. Pena states, "Women in our county are less likely to use a weapon." So now Plourd is really attacking with his questions because he never got the statistical information. Picky, picky! Dr. Pena says he just ran out of time. The jury is restless. I thought he was going to wrap it up, but he's still going. The Judge finally calls a recess.

11:05 am. The break is over. Back to this boring cross. Now Plourd is asking about narcotics. Rochelle is totally focused on her blackberry, typing away. The attorneys approach the bench for a sidebar. And the gallery and jury wait. Spector and Cutler talk. LKB is intently staring at her computer monitor. And then I notice it. What does Rochelle have wrapped around her? Is it an Afghan? It looks bright green and black. I just can't see from here. Maybe it's part of her outfit? No. Can't be. She is too meticulous about her appearance in court. Maybe it a coat. LKB actually looks good today. Her hair is pulled back with a clasp. She's wearing a black dress with a gray suit jacket over it. Steven takes off at break. He has to go to his office and work on some other projects I believe. Some jurors are looking down. Others are watching the Judge and the attorneys. Most appear bored and restless.

11:20 am. We're back on cross. Another document for Pena to look at. Plourd asks him to just read it to himself, then Plourd's going to ask him about it and then the Judge will also have some questions. I was surprised that nothing was mentioned in court about Dr. Lee's letter to the press. This is a LONG document.

Judge: After reading this document, is there anything in there that would cause you to change your opinion?

Pena: No.

Brunon speaks to Plourd. The Judge calls the attorneys to approach. ANOTHER sidebar! Maybe it's a poncho coat Rochelle has wrapped around her. Plourd takes a moment to confer with his legal team. Maybe we are down to the end. Plourd receives another post-it note from Rosen.

Q: From the medical evidence, could Lana Clarkson have accidentally shot herself?

A: Very unusual area, the mouth for an accidental discharge of a gun.

Now the defense is asking about a white spot on her shoes in one of the photographs. Dr. Pena says he can't recall. He says he may not have seen her body (at the examiner's office) with her clothes on. And that's it! Cross is finished. Unbelievable.

Alan Jackson steps up to redirect Dr. Pena. "No such luck that I'm not going to ask nay questions. Jackson asks for a moment since their assistant is having trouble locating some of the images he wants to use. The assistant is struggling to find the right exhibit.

Q: Dr. Pena, did you have a good weekend?

A: Yes!

There's a bit of laughter in the courtroom. Jackson then clears up the question about the white thing on Lana's shoe. It's a band-aid. Lana had just bought new shoes, and I wouldn't be surprised if she put band-aids on her heels while they break in.

Q: Do you think it's important to put into context, what people are saying?

A: That's correct.

Jackson is making the point that the defense did not put the letters and emails into context. Jackson proceeds to put the items the defense brought up into context by reading the entire documents, showing their full intent. That all those depressed statements were actually referring to her acting career and not suicide. He does this by reading them in a much different tone than Rosen did. Jackson's readings are upbeat. Positive. Rosen's readings were very sad in tone.

The lunch recess is called.

In the elevator, we talk about how the attorneys read the letters so differently. Dominick totally agrees that just the way they were read made them come across in two different ways.

Court is over for me now, and I head back home to try to get caught up on several neglected projects.

Trial Notes, 5-30-07

I didn't take any notes on my trip into downtown. If I'm remembering correctly, I might have tried to nap a bit. On the 9th floor, I finally ask Ciaran his name, and who he writes for. (All this time, I didn't know.) He says he writes for City News. I also get an up close look at Mr. Dunne's valise. It's made by Louis Vitton. I would have never guessed with the "V Party" stickers all along the front. It's also this day, that I finally ask the name of the two gentlemen who have been attending a good portion of the trial. Later in the morning, I find out their names. Dominick and I talk about Alan Jackson. Mr. Dunne wants to write an article about him. In this conversation, Mr. Dunne chides me for calling him Mr. Dunne. It's very hard for me, because I am still quite star struck, from being able to sit near him and exchange notes.

9:33 am. Dr. Pena is back on cross by Chris Plourd. Plourd is asking Dr. Pena about a 2004 meeting. The minutes of the meeting are up on the overhead screen, and Plourd is going over them in detail. This is all about the tooth fragments collected at the scene. At the death scene, there were three vials. Back at the laboratory, one of the three vials, the oradontist was trying to reconstruct the fragments. He accidentally broke a vial, and tooth fragments flew around the room. One (?) tooth fragment was lost. The orodontist didn't inform Dr. Pena until months later. The orodontist panicked that he had lost a piece of tooth. He repackaged and resealed the vials inside the envelope and didn't tell Dr. Pena.

Q: Where were the teeth located?

A: On the red carpet in front of her. Some were located on the stairs.

Q: The teeth went flying?

(I missed writing down the answer to the last question.) A copy of the entry log to the crime scene is put up on the overhead screen. Plourd is asking Dr. Pena to explain how he checks into a death scene. The Judge leans back in his chair and makes a face at the time of this question. It's still morning, and the jury appears alert. All of them have their notebooks out. The procedures Dr. Pena followed for going in and out of the crime scene and how it's documented on a log are gone over in detail. Lana's mother is not here. Dr. Pena states that psuedostipplng caused the cuts on her face. Alternate #6 is watching Dr. Pena very carefully. Dr. Pena gives long, detailed answers, and explains what he did looking for Ms. Clarkson's teeth.

Now with the latest questions, Dr. Pena reveals that the vials with the teeth had other material in them also. "Pieces of wood," Dr. Pena says.

Q: And there were other little pieces of material?

A: I don't know that.

Now Plourd is going over the position of the purse. Plourd got Pena to agree that it's possible that the purse stayed on (her shoulder) with a self inflected gun shot wound. But Dr. Pena adds, "But at that time, I couldn't make a determination." Pena is now explaining what purge is. (I could have sworn that he described this during direct.)

A: Purge is blood that has pooled and then during movement of the body, after death, it comes out. Vomit would also be purge material.

Now, they are talking about Dr. DiMiao and slides he prepared. Plourd is asking whether or not he considered Dr. DiMiao's slides or report for the manner of death. If I'm remembering correctly, (it's not in my notes) Dr. Pena answered that he did not. The jury is looking at the exhibits up on the screen. It's a medical examiner's official document with sketch drawings of the face and skull. Now Plourd is going over the tongue diagram again. Dr. Pena says the tongue is all muscle. It's hard to bruise. Now they're discussing a specific bruise. Dr. Pena doesn't admit to how far the barrel of the gun went into Ms. Clarkson's mouth. Juror #6 is leaning back against the wall and closing his eyes.

Plourd is now asking Dr. Pena questions that only the ballistics expert can answer. I write a note on my pad to Dominick. #6 KEEPS CLOSING HIS EYES. Dominick writes back, THE GREEN SHIRT? I nod to him, yes. Juror #9 fidgets. Juror #2 crosses his arms and stops taking notes. Alternate #4 isn't taking notes and fidgets. Juror #5 is watching Plourd and taking notes. Juror #2 takes a note again, so does Juror #3. So, from what I'm seeing, the jurors for the most part are alternatingly taking notes, listening, watching the exhibits to watching the witness. At least for now.

Dr. Pena is now explaining what abrasions are to the jury. Juror #3 picks at his teeth and scratches his neck. Alternate #4 has his arms crossed. I note that there are a lot of public trial watchers that have drifted in today to watch the proceedings. Jurors #6 and #7 lean forward. Leaning forward, Juror #6 is resting his face in his hand, trying to stay awake. Dr. Pena explains about a bruising test. Now at this time, very few jurors are taking notes. Plourd is trying to hammer home the point that you can't age bruises. An image of Lana's hand with the broken acrylic thumbnail is put up on the Elmo again.

Q: Could you tell when it was broken?

A: No.

Q: Could you tell from the break where her hand was? What position?

A: No.

It's here in my notebook that from my memory of the Robert Blake Trial, I write down a note for myself. It's the components of gunshot residue. Barium, Antimony, Lead. Plourd goes over the point that there wasn't any bullet residue on her thumbnail, or her hand.

The morning recess is called at 10:40 am, and I can finally get up to stretch my legs. A man comes into court and talks to Mr. Dunne and shakes his hand. Dr. Pena and Alan Jackson whisper. Some more people come up to Mr. Dunne to chat, "Pleasure to meet you," one of them says. I see Spector yawning, standing next to one of the huge bodyguards, still inside the courtroom.

It's now that I turn around to talk to the two gentlemen behind me, and finally ask them their names. They are Richard and Ron, and they take the train all the way in from the city of Riverside. That's a long haul! Richard and Ron are trial watchers from way back. They've watched hundreds of trials out in Riverside. They attended some of the O.J. Simpson trial. The tall man who just came into court a minute ago is a judge, and the woman was his wife, who is an attorney. Mr. Dunne tells me they want him to work on a case. He can read all about it on a website called WhoPoisonedLinda.Com.

11 am and the jury files back into the courtroom. Dr. Pena is back on the stand. Plourd is going over Dr. DiMiao's book, and books by other experts. Dr. Pena makes it clear that those books are good, but, "I'm also relying on my own experience. We get a lot of cases. About 10,000 a year." Plourd puts up on the overhead screen, an image of a gun being discharged, where you can see all the gasses coming out from the gun. As I write this, I can't remember if this is the same image LKB used in her OS, but it probably is. It's an image of a type of gun that in no way resembles the murder weapon. Plourd is asking Dr. Pena about the exploding gasses that escape from the cylinder gap. Now, there are photos of a .38 caliber Colt Cobra. The jurors watch the exhibit. Most are watching the screen; a few take notes.

Now up on the screen is a blown up image of the gun site, and you can see that there is white material embedded in the gun site. The cross of Dr. Pena grows very tedious. Detail after detail about the teeth and "bullet wipe." Another document is put up on the screen and it's discussed. Then Plourd moves onto another document. It's a three page report but they don't put it up on the screen. Dr. Pena is asked to go over it to himself on the stand. And the jury waits, and waits while he refamilarizes himself with it. It's a criminalist's document #13, and Plourd asks a few questions about it. Juror #6 is still leaning against the back wall, eyes closing occasionally. There are now more questions about gunshot residue (GSR), which is not Dr. Pena's area of expertise. It's 11:30 am, and the jury is really starting to look bored. I look over at the front gallery row (which is shorter than my row) to where Sandi Gibbons is sitting at the very end. She's doodling, sketching on her yellow legal pad. It's a small face that's she's drawing. Sandi appears to now be sketching another face. Then she stops and scratches through it all with her pen. But wait! She starts again, sketching something else. It appears to be a sketch of a person leaning forward in a chair. I can't determine if she's actually trying to copy a live person, or if it's just doodling.

Plourd is now going over the bullet path through Ms. Clarkson's body, and the direction of the bullet from where it first strikes tissue. Juror #9 crosses his arms and leans forward. Juror #7 takes a note. Juror #10 has his left hand holding his face and he's taking a note. Juror #4 rubs his neck. Plourd is trying to pin Dr. Pena down on the angle of the bullet, and that the angle of travel is "much more sharp, than what's depicted?" I'm having a hard time staying with this testimony.

The lunch recess is called.

Before court resumes, Dominick and I and the two others discuss strategies of the defense. All the attorneys appear to be pretty "clubby" except for the New York lawyers. Beth Karas comes over with some papers for Dominick, and Dominick asks Beth about Alan Jackson. He wants to write a story on him. Beth says that she can email Mr. Jackson, and tells Mr. Dunne some things that she already knows about him. He's single; possibly in his late 30's or around 41-42 years old. He flies planes and he used to race cars. He's considered one of the best in the District Attorney's office. He really is sharp on his case law, and what is allowed into evidence. Beth says that, "And this is no disrespect to the other attorney's in the office, Alan Jackson thinks and strategizes differently than other attorneys."

Dominick and Beth and I look over this motion that was filed back on February 14, 2004, (I'm not sure if the date is the 14th or the 17th; I have both dates in my notes.) when the case was still in the Alhambra court district. Beth said, they had a hard time tracking this motion down. Speaking of strategy, I ask Beth why Jackson didn't bring out the nail issue with Dr. Pena. Beth replies, "He will bring it out in his case in chief. The defense opened the door to that. They will call Robert Shapiro; they will call Stan White. They have it there in the original prosecution's motion, when the case was still in Alhambra. Robert Shapiro mentions, in that document that, "We found something at the scene that you missed." When they first heard from Stan White at that party (the BBQ), they were kind of questioning it. They were not sure. But when they got this statement from Shapiro, they (the prosecution) started immediately requesting this evidence."

Beth and Dominick talk about Dr. Henry Lee, and that Plourd said Dr. Lee will testify. Mr. Dunne asks us, "Did you see how he got real 'testy' on the stand? He's gotten too cocky." I can't remember who says this, but someone says, "He thinks that with his reputation, everyone is just going to believe him." Beth talks about Patrick Dixon, who is actually senior to Alan Jackson in the office. He's an amateur boxer, and he's got a match coming up that Beth talks about possibly going to go see. Beth also tells us that Patrick Dixon is banned from the parking lot behind the court. He punched out a reporter there! It's now that Mr. Dunne asks me what organization I'm with, and I tell him a little bit about myself. I'm just a public person, who has the opportunity to watch this trial, and I'm posting about my experiences on the internet.

At 1:35 pm, the jury files back into the courtroom.

Plourd asks Dr. Pena if the "path of the bullet is roughly center" (in Ms. Clarkson's body)? He then asks Dr. Pena a hypothetical question about holding the gun and shooting one's self. Plourd's going over cause verses observations.

Q: You couldn't determine COD from the scene and the autopsy? (I know I wrote in my notes "COD here, but I believe it should be MOD.)

A: That's correct. I could not.

Q: (That) Doesn't change as you sit here today?

A: Correct.

Now, a new form is up on the Elmo, form #82 from the ME's office. Right beside the form number, is an area which outlines the various options for MOD. Plourd is now asking Dr. Pena about his discussions with the prosecutors, and what they talked about regarding MOD. Jackson keeps saying Objection! Work Product! And the objection is sustained. Richard and Ron tell me in all their trial watching, they've never seen a ME say so much on the stand. Dr. Pena just keeps going and going! Ah, what Plourd is trying to get into is the "questionable" questions area the Judge ruled on earlier.

Q: Your opinion is independent of any agency, correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: You didn't give the bruise any significance until Mr. Jackson asked, is that correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: Other medical examiner's could come to a different conclusion about the bruise, is that correct?

A: Yes.

Plourd puts another question out there that the bruise on the left could be from gun gasses. Jackson objects, and the question is withdrawn. Another photo of Lana is put up on the screen. It's a much better close up of the purse, and you can see now, how the strap of her purse is held by a part of the arm of the chair, and that the purse is twisted half around, so that the straps are crossed. The defense asks for an exhibit number from the curt.

Judge: The next is "YY," A question I often ask myself.

There's a bit of laughter in the court when the Judge says this.

Plourd: Because....

The Judge doesn't answer Plourd back. His question just hangs there. More images are now up on the Elmo. There was a skirt rolled up in her purse. Now there are two photos of Lana on the gurney at the ME's office. They were taken before the purge occurred. I'm wondering, is all this supposed to make the ME's office look bad? Plourd is now going over her clothing items. The purse was the only thing that was significant to Dr. Pena. The mere presence and the location of the purse. Regarding suicide, Dr. Pena says that most women take their purse off their shoulder. Now Plourd is going over the information he's testifying about today that's not in his detail reports and autopsy.

Q: (Did the prosecutors ask you about) The significance of the purse?

A: I mentioned it to the attorneys. They did not bring it up to me.

Two other investigators had mentioned the detail of the purse in their reports. Now Plourd is back on the nail again, and what his thought process of the significance of the nail tip (being broken). Dr. Pena first had the opinion that she was shot with the gun outside of the mouth. Uh oh. Supposedly, Pena opened the door to a possible Spector self serving statement coming into the trial, by answering the question of his first opinion as to what happened. The jury appears to be very restless and a few of them pass an altoid tin around. Plourd is now in front of the Judge, making an argument. The Judge appears skeptical. The gallery gets noisy while this sidebar is going on and the bailiff yells out "Shush!" The jury really is fidgeting now because this is taking so long, and I see a few whisper to each other. Now Brunon is trying to argue a point to the Judge. Now Alan Jackson is making an argument. The jury is watching, just like we are, this whole whispering drama going on at the bench. Finally they are done and we are back on cross.

A few more questions are asked about different theories about the gun. I see that the jury fidgets some more. The afternoon recess is called until 3 pm.

Dominick asks Beth what she's looking at. Beth, who is sitting right beside the camera operator's console, explains to Dominick that she is able to see all three camera images at the same time, and invites him to come sit there and take a look. She says that Spector just had a mean expression on his face! Beth then demonstrates for us what the expression looked like. At the break, Dominick changes seats and takes Beth's seat by the camera operator's console. Plourd, Cutler, Jackson and Dixon all cut it up together at the podium. It must have been something really funny. Dominick's opinion of an "ol' boys club" is right. Rosen and Dixon are chatting by the jury box. Today, for the first time, I actually starting to feel comfortable in the room with all the professional reporters. I watch Alan Jackson and Plourd joke. Dr. DiMiao sort of paces off by himself in the first row behind the defense area. At lunch, one of the reporters said that one of the huge bodyguards is living with Spector. I see Rochelle is constantly on her blackberry again. At 3:05 pm the jury is brought back in.

Plourd starts in again about the missing piece of nail.

Q: The blood on the pockets of Mr. Spector, was that was one of the things that helped you determine MOD?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you make any note of it in the autopsy report?

A: That's correct. It's mentioned in report #42. (snip) Dr. Herald gave him the information about the blood in the pants pockets.

Now Plourd is talking about the different statements about Spector putting his hands in his pockets from the Alhambra Police reports. The cloth at death scene report.

Q: There are reports that you reviewed, that did not get in your file?

A: Yes.

Dr. Pena explains how they review reports for one day, and then they go back to their origin. Juror #6 is still closing his eyes, and leaning his head against the wall. Plourd is now asking about a rag found in the bathroom.

Q: (Did you make an assumption) that someone wiped her face?

A: Well, why don't you explain.

Q: Well, lets say Spector wiped her face and then he put his hands in his pockets. Is that a reasonable possibility?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you suggest that blood can only travel three feet?

A: No, I did not.

Now Plourd is giving suppositions about blood spatter and how far blood can travel.

Q: Based on your experience, would you qualify as a crime scene reconstructionist?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever indicate to anyone that she could have been standing?

A: In my grand jury testimony, I was asked if she could be ruled out of standing.

Q: And what was your answer?

A: I could not.

Q: You don't exclude that possibility that she could be standing?

A: That's correct.

Q: There is no evidence that excludes that?

A: Actually, there is evidence from the autopsy. I just thought of this. The gravity of blood in her lungs, shows that she had to have been seated.

Plourd now asks about her height and weight in if she was in good physical condition. There was a fingerprint found on the bottom of her shoe. Dr. Pena says that he was never asked or told about the fingerprint on her shoe. Plourd asks Dr. Pena about the number of breaths she could have taken. Dr. Pena is pretty certain that it could have been no more than one or two breaths.

Q: What is it in the literature that tells you this?

A: Spinal shock.

Q: How did you determine one or two breaths. What report?

A: I depended on the neuropathologist.

Q: You don't have any independent opinion?

A: That's correct.

Now Plourd moves onto some tiny bruises on Lana's legs. The Judge looks a bit tired. Pena is now asking Dr. Pena where he noted in his report about Ms. Clarkson's pantyhose. I'm floored. The detail he's asking for, going over every minute thing, is so anal!

A: Normally, I would say if there was something out of the ordinary, and I would note it. But I don't note it if there's nothing wrong. (snip) Normally, I would write 'unremarkable' but I didn't in this case. I apologize for that.

Plourd now asks for a 402 hearing on statements. Spector turns and watches Plourd. Plourd is told to slow his rant down, regarding some reports. The Judge then says he wants to see Rosen and Dixon in chambers.

The court is finally over for the day. As I'm walking in the hallway towards the elevators, the tall, black haired attorney for the family says to Ed (imitating Chris Plourd), "So tomorrow Ed. Let's go over where we left off before."

And that's the end of my court day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Trial Notes, 5-29-07

I get out of the house way late, and decide to drive to the North Hollywood Red Line station to catch the train. I make great driving time, however, I can't find a parking spot in the lot. The only spaces that are available are for permit parking. Thankfully, a woman stopped me from parking in one of these spaces or I'd have gotten a ticket. I take a chance and park on the street. I make the train I normally would have made to reach downtown by 9:05 am.

I forgot to grab the extra large tote I had packed with a cushion for court. I at least remembered to put a new book in my bag, since I finished my last book on surviving dangerous situations. I will have something to read to pass the time.

9:10 am. I see Dominick and Ciaran sitting together. Two trial watching men (Richard and Ron) who have been attending quite a bit of the trial, say hello to Dominick. Finally, I get into the courtroom at 9:30 am. Lana's family hasn't arrived, and I don't think they will. Dr. Pena, the medical examiner is expected to testify today. I see that Alan Jackson has a whole stack of photos in his hand. Steven says, "it will be Kenney Baden's day today. This is where she earns her air fare."

The bailiff comes over to talk to the Court TV camera operators to tell then, "Fox 11 is on the phone. Fox is not getting a picture." One of the men replies, "It's an optical issue and we have someone working on it." 9:35 am. No judge, no jury. Ah! Now they're called. The defense informs the judge that, "Dr. Spitz and Dr. DiMaio will be here assisting us." Rosen brings up a point about Greg Diamond. A lengthy motion was filed by the defense this morning. Alan Jackson hasn't had a chance to review it. It has to do with two huge notebooks sent to him by Alan Jackson that supposedly he (the medical examiner?) hasn't looked at. The huge binders are about the psychological aspects of the victim. Alan Jackson andRosen temporarily resolve the issue.

Dr. Pena enters the courtroom. Dr's Spitz and DiMiao sit over on right, behind the defense area of the courtroom. Dr. Pena takes the oath. Alan Jackson conducts the direct examination. Louis Pena, forensic pathologist. Dr. Pena goes over what a forensic pathologist does. They determine "Cause of Death" and "Manner of Death." Dr. Pena has a medical degree in pathology. He did his residency inLos Angeles and in West Los Angeles. He testifies that he's board certified in pathology. He's performed over 3,300 autopsies. He's testified approximately 260 times in court.

Q: Is there a difference between "Cause of Death" and "Manner of Death?" (These are often abbreviated as COD and MOD.)

A: Cause of Death is the specific injury. (Dr. Pena gives examples.) If the Manner of Death can not be determined through the autopsy, then I need input. I will investigate from information provided. It's a team effort, putting the information together. Hopefully, from that I can then decide if the death is from natural causes, an accident, a homicide or a suicide.

Dr. Pena testifies that Ms. Clarkson's death is assigned a case number by the medical examiner's office. Coroner's case #2003-00937. Dr. Pena describes how cases are assigned a unique number, and no two cases have the same number. Since the decedent was not known, Dr. Pena went to the death scene around 5:00 pm on Monday afternoon. Dr. Pena explains that when he does go to a death scene, he does tend to remember the circumstances much better. Looking at the body, at the scene, helped him to come to a conclusion about the case.

Dr. Pena discussed with with Jamie Linetmoot, how to best preserve the clothing from purging from Ms. Clarkson's mouth and nose. Dr. Pena states that Ms. Clarkson's head is wrapped in a sheet/towel for transport. When Ms. Clarkson was placed on the examination table, she purged onto the table. Blood and tissue contaminated the right side of Ms. Clarkson's jacket.

Dr. Pena testifies to all the individuals who observed the autopsy. Tomlin, Forneya, Dr. Baden, Barlian Nelson, Jamie Lintemoot, another gentleman and Dr. Sherry. (sp? on the names) Dr. Pena states that it was a courtesy to Dr. Baden for him to be there.

Q: Is it normal for investigators to be there at autopsy?
A: At a homicide, yes, it is.

More photos, close ups of Lana's head are put on the overhead screen. There are three photos. A: As she arrived at the medical examiner's office. B: Photo of Ms. Clarkson after she had been washed off. C: After autopsy. The dentist came down and examined the two fractured upper front teeth. (The look like they are totally gone in the photo.)

Q: Did you have any findings regarding any wounds?
A: Do you want me to start with the head wound?

Dr. Pena states the bullet nicked the top part of the tongue. The bullet hit C1 & C2 and tore apart the spinal cord. The spinal cord was completely severed. Pena shows the jury on himself the trajectory of the bullet. The bullet fractured the base of the skull, hit the dura and ruptured the dura. The bullet lodged into the occiput bone of the skull. (This bone is at the base of the skull.) Dr Pena says, "A gun shot (GS) wound to the head and neck that cause her to die immediately." Up on the screen is an ME's office form with a diagram of the head; it's a side view, showing the trajectory of the bullet. The bullet ended up at the back of the head, still inside the skull. When hitting any hard bone, bullets can change direction. Dr. Pena states that the bullet could have changed direction. The bullet first grazed the top of the tongue. He goes onto to describe a specific type of injury to the very back of the tongue, but I can't read my note to get the correct word. Dr. Pena describes it. "Think of it, like a star burst. It sort of splits the flesh." Dr. Pena goes over more of the descriptions on the ME documentation form #24, where all the tongue injuries are described in detail.

(As I transcribe my notes here, I search my Webster's Medical Dictionary for this word that I can't tell exactly how it's spelled. I think I've found it. Sulcate (sul'kat). Grooved; furrowed; marked by a sulcus or sulci.)

Dr. Pena testifies that sulcate appears in the middle of the tongue. There are bruises by the back of the tongue. These are superficial. There is a bruise on the left side of the tongue. Dr. Pena says that the back of the tongue bruises could be from the bullet hitting the spinal column.

Q: What may have caused the bruise on the left?
A: I sought out opinions from my colleagues, and asked them to review the file.

In Dr. Pena's opinion, the bruise is consistent with a blunt force trauma. That bruise on the left side of the tongue did not occur from the bullet. It is his opinion that it occurred prior to Ms.Clarkson's death. He can't state when it occurred, only that it is recent, and premortem.

The jurors appear transfixed. Some lean in to listen to Dr. Pena. Dr. Pena then goes into explaining "sooting" and "stippling," and that it is burned and unburned powder hitting the skin. The difference is in how far away the end of the gun is from skin/tissue. Dr. Pena identified "psudostippling inside the oral mucosa. The weapon recoiled and hit her two teeth. The inter oral marks are due to those porcelain crowns breaking and shattering."

Q: Is it common for a bullet to shed or split when it hits bone?
A: Yes.

It's now that Alan Jackson goes through the demonstration on the screen, showing that, although the trajectory of the bullet appears to be upwards and toward the back of her skull, this does not tell us what position Ms. Clarkson's neck could have been in. It could have been tilted back. It's very clear from his demonstration up on the screen, that even though the bullet trajectory is fixed from where it exited the gun to where the bullet lodged, there is no way to know what position her head and body were in. The bullet trajectory is slightly upward, towards the back of the skull. But that does not mean that Ms. Clarkson's head was in the upright position when she was killed.

Dr. Pena testifies that Ms. Clarkson's death was immediate. She would have been immediately unconscious. Her body would have gone limp immediately. Dr. Pena now moves on to other injuries he found on Ms.Clarkson's body. There are bruises on the edge of the hand/wrists. There are bruises on either side of the left hand/wrist area, and and another bruise high up on the left forearm.

The court takes it's morning recess, and I get up to stretch my legs and back out.

Back on the record, Beth Karas enters the courtroom. Looking over at the jury, Jurors #8 and #9 joke. I see Jurors # 5 and #6 whisper. Alan Jackson is going over the wrist bruising again with Dr. Pena, who states he looked at these bruises under a microscope. Dr. Pena states that these bruises appeared to be about the same age . In Dr. Pena's opinion, they were recent to her time of death. There was no evidence of inflammation in these bruises. Dr. Pena states that based on the location of the wrist bruises and their age, they are consistent with someone grabbing Ms. Clarkson's wrists. Dr. Pena states he looked at Ms. Clarkson's bruises at the death scene. New images are put up on the overhead screen. These same images are handed to the jurors to look at. They are of Lana's hands at the scene.

Dr. Pena testifies that Steve Dowell did a GSR test for the top of the tongue and from the oral mucosa area, just inside the mouth. He also tested the hands and forearms for GSR. Dr. Pena states that he took blood from Ms. Clarkson's heart and from her femoral artery. (The femoral artery is located in the thigh.) He also took a vial of blood for DNA studies. The blood would be for toxicology studies and for blood alcohol content (BAC) analysis. The draw from the femoral artery is considered more accurate for BAC. The femoral BAC was .12. The heart BAC was .14. Normally, they do a screen that covers illegal drugs, and Dr. Pena also did a screen for "bases," which cover psychological drugs.

There was an over the counter medication in her system: Aleve. There was Vicodin. Both of these were in the low therapeutic ranges of .03-.07. There was no indication of higher levels (above .07) .

Q: Were you able to make a "Cause of Death" determination?
A: Yes. Gun shot wound to head and neck.
Q: Could you make a determination as to "manner of death" just by the autopsy?

A: No, I could not. (snip) The manner of death is homicide. (snip) It was not a typical scene for a suicide. Especially when it was (in the home of ) someone they had never met before. There are some exceptions to that, for example, suicide by cop. I've never had a case where someone just met someone and goes to their home and never been there before and just shoots themselves.

How would she have known that the gun was there in that drawer? I factored in the purse still on the shoulder. ...  There was no evidence to substantiate depression. No diagnosis from a psychotherapist in her medical records. She was taking Paxil and Elavil but these were prescribed by a neurologist for a chronic problem with headaches. The Elavil she tried for a month. The Paxil works in the brain chemistry to help affect the blood vessels and work on headaches. (snip) She had no history of prior idealation or suicide attempts. She had all the medication in the world to commit suicide but she used them as prescribed. (snip) She did not possess or own a firearm.

Q: Based on everything, taking everything into consideration, based on the totality of the circumstances, what is the manner of death?
A: This is a homicide.

And direct examination ends. There is a bit of a hearing now, outside the jury's presence. Wow! It's not Linda Kenney Baden. It's going to be Chris Plourd who does the cross. The Judge and the attorneys banter back and forth a bit here, using "farm analogies," and the phrase, "cow out of the barn" is used. The Judge asks, "Didn't anyone grow up in the city?" Everyone laughs. The arguments continue as to what Plourd can cross Pena on. The Judge finally says that it will be on a "question by question basis, as to what they can ask. They cannot refer directly to inadmissible evidence. They cannot state precisely what might have been said." This is all referring to Spector's self serving statements that Dr. Pena was told, and used to come to his conclusion as to MOD.

Plourd begins his cross of Dr. Pena. He asks Dr. Pena what his specialty is in pathology. Dr. Pena says it's the heart. He's written some articles on it. Plourd holds up a textbook by Spitz and another one by someone else. Dr. Pena says that yes, he has referred to these books, but he also takes into account his experience of those 3,300 autopsies, and what he's seen in the field.

The lunch recess is called, and cross stops for now. Down in the first floor cafeteria, I call home and find out my husband is not feeling well. He injured his ribs on a job a few weeks ago, and they are still bothering him. I take off from court and go home in the hopes that I can work on him and make him feel a bit more comfortable.

One of the things I just remembered from this day. When Plourd asks Dr. Pena about Dr. Spitz's book and Dr. DiMaio, Dr. Pena smiled and waved to them from the witness stand.

Don't Try This At Home...

A special thanks to BudP on the Court TV Spector Forum for permission to copy one of his posts, here. Sprocket.

Ever since firearm expert James Carroll testified the gun would require four pounds of pull to fire, and eleven pounds of pull in double action mode, there has been quite a bit of speculation as to whether or not Lana Clarkson actually had the strength to pull the trigger on the gun herself. Her hands were weak from having broken many bones in her hands and wrists near Christmas, 2001. Most of 2002 was spent recovering from those injuries. Lana had told her new employer, The House of Blues, that she couldn't carry trays.

BudP originally posted on the Court TV Spector Forum, an experiment he tried at home. I'd also like to add that BudP tells me,

...Do not think I am totally 'NUTS'. I've been handling firearms for a half century doing all kinds of testing and think more of myself than to blow my face off. I am just chagrined at the lack of gun-knowledge that people are giving as factual info. Uninformed speculation is dangerous."

Here is the context of his post. (I just corrected some spelling errors the editor found.)

Hey Folks,

I need to repeat myself here.......The only way Lana could have shot herself; in the mouth, gun upright and centered and bullet path centered from center of tongue to center of skull/top of spinal column, is if she held the gun with fingers on the butt, thumbs in the trigger guard. She would have to have an extra joint in her arm to hold the gun conventionally, gun upright and centered......I don't even want to think about twisting it about with previously injured wrists. Now.....

This extremely light-weight revolver would have had tremendous felt-recoil with extra pressure +P rounds. +P means extra or faster burning powder=maximum loads. Had she held the gun, in the ONLY way possible, given the trajectory and centering (broke front, upper teeth in extreme recoil), the backs of her thumbs (at least one) would have a bruise or laceration.

I tested this today(an hour ago) with a .38 Spec. Ruger SP 101. This revolver weighs eight ounces more than a Cobra and has (calculated) LESS recoil than a Cobra. I also used Max hand- loads equal to a S&W +P.)

The test; I set up two six-foot saw horses and placed a 4"x6" piece of 5/8" plywood over the top, outboard edges nailed to the horses. I layed on the plywood with my arms and shoulders hanging somewhat below the plywood. My wife placed my Ruger in my hands, pointing backward, fingers across butt and thumbs in trigger guard. She held the gun down aiming approx. 6" below the plywood and cocked the hammer for me. She had run a strap through the guard and held this down before cocking the revolver. This was to ensure the barrel was not pointed at me.

When she said everything was lined up right, I turned my head away and squeezed the trigger with both thumbs. Do not do this at home.....or anywhere else.

Both of us were wearing shooting glasses and heavy-duty ear protection. She was wearing gloves, hat and had tied a bandanna over the lower part of her face. I, on the other hand, only had eye and ear protection. Be advised that HOT GSR will....WILL singe a beard. Also.....and I held the gun in exactly the manner Lana would have had to, I now have a large bruise on my right thumb at the back-center. It is almost an abrasion/cut.

My wife is extremely pissed, at what she calls, 'stubborn stupidity'. Someone else gets to test the next one.

Stubborn Bud

The prosecution case, as outlined in their opening statement, is really starting to come together.