Saturday, June 16, 2007

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.