Monday, February 28, 2011

Doing My Casey Anthony Homework: Part 1

2/28/11 10:15 am

The State has just filed the following motion listing motions to be heard Wednesday and their witnesses. I do believe the defense has the same obligation. Let's see!

We have two big days of hearings this week, March 2 and March 3. Both days, the hearings will begin at 9 AM. The hearing on the 2nd will end at 3:30 and the hearing on the 3rd is scheduled to last 8 hours. There is also a status hearing set for Friday, March 4 at 1:30 PM. Let's hope that between the first two days, the Court can manage to squeeze in the status hearing.

As usual, I've been doing my homework and have been reviewing the motions to be heard. Originally, these hearing were to include all motions in limine which do not involve Frye Hearings. Unfortunately, the situation has changed and we will be treated to two motions filed by the State against the defense. In addition, due to the fact that the defense is being recalcitrant in filing paperwork, there is no clear demarcation between motions in limine and motions in limine in regards to the Fry Hearings.

Are you confused? I certainly am!

There are two motions which Judge Perry has scheduled specifically to be heard on Wednesday, March 2.

The first is Linda Drane Burdick's Motion to Strike Defendant's Supplemental Witness List. I have a discussion of the motion HERE.

I just have a few additional thoughts to offer. In his Order, Perry indicates that:

However, the defense has not alleged that the individuals listed in the Supplemental Witness List filed February 14, 2001 were not previously known, nor have they set forth the date of the witnesses became known or any reason for the late disclosure.

If you look at Baez' Motion To Strike The Motion To Strike, he does make an attempt at giving good cause, but lists no dates when the witnesses became known to the defense. He does, however attempt to plead his case in general, which does not meet the criteria of the motion.

He also whines (again) about the fact that the State continues to release discovery. Last week, I watched the presser in which the indictment against Elisa Baker in the murder of Zahra Baker was announced. Among the comments made by the prosecutor was that they "would continue the investigation up to the day the trial begins." (Paraphrased) Jose Baez needs to learn that the investigation isn't over until the trial begins. In fact, it could possibly continue during the trial.

The next motion has garnered a great deal of publicity. Jeff Ashton has filed a Motion to Show Cause. Dated February 20, Ashton asks the court to hold Jose Baez in contempt of court for missing the February 17 deadline to "submit to the court in writing, the specific issues that will be objected to in accordance with Frye, including byt not limited to, those objections previously addressed in the motions."

Ashton kindly attached an e-mail from Baez which said that he was "confused" as to the language and thought that he only had to respond if he had any ADDITIONAL issues. He even said that Cheney Mason was even more confused than he was!

The interesting point is that Baez' deadline was the 17th. Ashton called him the 18th to ask (Baez always tells him to give him a call) about it. It then that Baez contacted Judge Perry's judicial assistant with his puzzling e-mail. The order was issued on February 7, and in the 10 intervening days, Baez NEVER telegraphed his "confusion" to the court to understand what he was to do.

On February 25, Judge Perry issued his Order and set the motion to be heard on the 2nd. I don't think the judge was very happy with Mr. Baez based on what he wrote. First, he copied the language from his February 7 order, providing the emphasis on the questioned language.

5. Frye Hearings: The motions addressing Frye issues pertaining to scientific evidence shall be held on March 23, 24, and 25, 2011. The Court will provide a schedule to counsel as to the order in which each motion will be heard. By February 17, 2011, at 4:00 pm., defense counsel shall submit to the Court and State in writing, the specific issues that will be objected to in accordance with Frye, including but not limited to, those objections previously addressed in the motions. (Emphasis supplied).

The part about "including but not limited to" seems to be the issue here. Do you understand that phrase? I certainly do! I have a feeling that Perry included this part because in his motions labeled "Frye", Baez did not state why they needed a Frye Hearing. At the February 4 status hearing, Jeff Ashton had told the judge that the motions were too general for him to know exactly what science was NOT generally accepted by the scientific community. That's what Frye is all about. Even I, a mere layperson who watches trials understands that. It was this information the judge was asking the defense to produce.

After the judge quoted his order, he wrote:

However, the Defense has not yet complied with this direction. Indeed, despite the clarity of language utilized in the Order, the Defense claims to be confused as to its meaning. Therefore, the Defense shall be given an opportunity to show good cause as required by Florida Rule 3.220 and this Court's general discovery order. (bold mine)

Whether or not the judge finds Baez in contempt of court, the arguments concerning the motion should be quite "interesting" to say the least. How will Jose Baez explain his confusion? Will he allow Cheney Mason again attempt to fight his battle? Will Mason, a distinguished attorney with 40 years of experience admit to Judge Perry that the Order confused him even more than Mr. Baez?

During Monday's hearing, there was a discussion about when the motions for which Jeff Ashton filed motions to strike should be heard. Baez wanted them heard during the hearings scheduled for the Frye motions. Jeff Ashton wanted them heard at the hearings this week. Jeff Ashton pointed out that he needed to have the motions heard sooner because he was essentially challenging that there was insufficient information in the defense motions to support the need for a Frye Hearing. Indeed, if they are not subject to Frye, the defense has the burden to prove the evidence should be excluded from the trial. If they are subject to Frye, the burden of proof goes to the State to prove the evidence should be included in the trial. Obviously, if the State needs to know which position they need to take to be prepared to argue the motion.

Baez doesn't want the State to have time to prepare for anything. The continual delays they have caused by missing deadlines has greatly shortened the time line for the State to do their preparation. My personal "aha" moment came at this point (and I guess I'm a bit slow on the uptake here). Trying to shoe-horn all the science into the "not generally accepted in the scientific community" has turned into a method to push off the burden of proof to the State.

Judge Perry wisely allowed that the two motions will be heard this week. The first motion of a scientific nature is the Motion to Exclude Unreliable Evidence (Plant or root growth evidence).

After listing nearly two pages of detailed discussion of what evidence is subject to Frye (which proves the defense knows the rules), the Baez states that:

1. Dr. Hall is listed as a prosecution witness. He is an alleged botany expert who claims t have the ability to calculate the period of time in which the remains of the victim had been in the particular location in which they were ultimately found based upon certain plant growth/plant root growth. (bold mine)

Baez went on, at great lengths to show that Dr. Hall was basing his opinion on his personal experience since the age of 10 (and Dr. Hall is now 70 years old). There were then many examples of how this testimony could not be acceptable to the scientific community and was subject to Frye.

In his Motion To Strike, Ashton replied, challenging the portion of the defense motion which makes it subject to Frye. The heart of his argument is indicated here (leaving out a lot of the legal details).

The application of the Frye test is limited to scientific testimony based upon novel scientific tests or principles. While the Defendant's motion acknowledges that Frye does not apply to pure opinion testimony, its limited quotation, taken out of context, is misleading....

In resolving the issue, the court focused on the difference between opinions based upon new or novel scientific research and those based simply in the training and experience of the expert.

In essence, both sides in a trial can place well-respected experts on the stand and let the jury decide, based on the evidence provided, which, if any, expert to believe.

The defense Motion To Exclude Unreliable Evidence Pursuant To Frye, Or In The Alternative, Motion In Limine To Exclude (Chloroform) is the second scientific motion mentioned on the Court Calendar to be heard this week. Not being the best in science, I will allow you to try and decipher this motion for yourself. Essentially, Baez attacks Dr. Arpad Vass and the Oak Ridge Labs. Personally, reading the motion made me dizzy, twice! It was interesting to note, however, that Baez included a slew of exhibits, all articles from the media concerning the release of information about high levels of chloroform in the car. They consider this to be "...ABSOLUTELY 100% FALSE, and constitute a fraud on the American public and potential jury pool of Miss Anthony."

Instead, I will refer you to Ashton's Motion To Strike to help you understand the hearings this week. In three short paragraphs, he clearly lays out his case.

1. The test instruments used in the detection of chloroform in this case is the gas chromatograph/mas spectrometer (GC/MS).

2. These techniques have been routinely accepted as evidence in courts throughout the State of Florida...

3. The motion contains only conclusory statements of counsel and no authorities suggesting that the procedure is not generally accepted.

There it all is, plain and simple. the State may have a Frye issue when it comes to using the same equipment to test for the elements of human decomposition, but not with the much simpler use for testing for chloroform.

For the motions, I am relying on Judge Perry's court calendar.
Motion: Mot. to Suppress Statements; Mot. in Limine to Suppress Video Footage; Def. Mot. in Limine to Exclude Evid. to Canine Searches & Alerts; Not. to Suppress Statements of LEO; States Mot. in Limine; States Mot. to Strike Def. Supp. Wit. List
ALSO TO BE HEARD: Rule to Show Cause; Mot. to Strike Def. Mot. to Exclude Unreliable Evidence (Plant or Root Growth) Mot. to Strike Def. Mot. to Exclude Unreliable Evidence Pursuant to Fyre (Chloroform)

We do know that the motion concerning canine searches has been moved to the end of the month.

Update: This motion will not be heard on Wednesday.

There is also another (non-Frye) motion which has not been mentioned in the Court Calendar. It is the defense Motion To Exclude Irrelevant Evidence Of Stain In Trunk Of Car and Jeff Ashton's Reply. I will mention it today because there is a scientific argument involved and it could be heard this week.

Baez doesn't want the stain admitted into evidence because "On August 7th, 2008, tests were conducted by the FBI laboratory which concluded that the stain was NOT biological material..." In addition, he states that "...Intelligence Analyst Karen Cowan with the FBI submitted a photo to a forensic photo analyst claiming that she possibly saw what 'appears to be the outline or silhouette of a child in the fetal position.'" Baez also writes that "A photographic technologist supervisor at the FBI laboratory responded by saying 'we do not report conclusions about what may or may not have left any marks or impression in cases like this.'...'IT IS TOO SPECULATIVE.."

Ashton's relatively brief reply indicated that the State challenged the accuracy of the initial statement that the stain was not biological material. He agreed that the results of the FBI testing showed that the stain was not of serological (i.e. blood, saliva or semen). He points out that:

What the defendant has neglected to include in her statement of facts is that the stain was examined instrumentally by the Oakridge National Laboratory which detected the presence of volatile fatty acids consistent with the byproducts of decomposition.

One little piece of science I've learned from this case is that these fatty acids do not contain DNA.

Ashton also says that Witnesses will testify as to the size and shape of the stain and the jury will be able to view photographs of the stain with alternative light sources.

According to Ashton, this is something for the jury to decide and as far as being overly prejudicial to the defendant, he says, "Is the Defendant is seriously concerned about a bias against sloppy car owners?

Well, I'm back to doing my homework for the case. Tomorrow I will deal with the motions that have nothing to do with science.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Casey Anthony's Defense Gets More Money

Today's hearing was not immediately televised as it was held in a conference room. There was, however, a pool video and I DVR'd the InSession coverage. Since the hearing began prior to InSession going on the air, they saved it for later on and aired it in its entirety. As I was writing this article, WFTV finally posted the video which shows some pre-hearing banter.

As the hearing was called to order and the attorneys started to introduce themselves for the record, it was noted that Jose Baez wasn't there yet. Cheney Mason mentioned he had just flown in from Chicago. Jeff Ashton asked when his plane came in and Mason said, "last night". Jeff Ashton was in a hurry to get going because he had a trial at 9:30 AM. Judge Perry asked if Baez had an Orange County Bar card to get in the back door. Mason said he had no problem getting in. There wasn't a line at the back door, either.

Then, Brad Bischoff phoned in as we awaited Mr. Baez. There was more chit-chat about cell phones, Jeff Ashton mentioned "bat phones"!

About 4:10 into the hearing, Baez arrived with Michelle Medina.

The hearing opened with Baez Law Firm attorney Michelle Medina speaking to the two motions filed.

Judge Perry quickly settled the first, the The Motion to approve Hourly Rate and or Costs For Video Conferencing.

After considering the difference in the cost between flying experts from such places as Canada and Nebraska and all the costs of lodging and other transportation to sit around for a long time just to "flap their gums" as Judge Perry phrased it, it was decided the prices cited in the defense motion would be acceptable.

The only issues brought up by Jeff Ashton were if there was a motion to allow video testimony at the hearings and if there would be a way to show documents and photographs to the witnesses.

Medina replied that the defense had been urged to do as much as possible through video to save money concerning the witnesses.

Judge Perry stated that he had long ago advised that video-conferencing be used to save money and all parties were in agreement that this was the way to do this testimony.

Ms. Medina then spoke to defense attorney Ann Finnell's Motion for Additional Costs Related to the Engagement of a Confidential Mental Health Expert to Assist in Exploring Mitigating Factors.

She stated that there was an issue with the "mental health expert in the mitigating factors in the penalty phase." They want approval of "more costs" for "more collateral interviews done with the family as well as an evaluation and a couple of more visits that need to be made and we're about to..."

I started to get a bit confused here because the motion is about the Engagement of a Confidential Mental Health Expert. Where did the interviews come into this?

Judge Perry also seemed confused because he interrupted Ms. Medina to ask, "is this with the confidential expert or the mitigation specialist?" Medina said it was in regards to the confidential expert and they were about to hit the $2500 cap the Court had set.

Perry then asked about the number of hours they needed. Ms. Medina simply replied that the defense needed another $4500.

The judge then asked again about the hours. He did cut her a break by pointing out that Finnell had drafted the motion, not her.

Not to be unkind to a young, new attorney, but she needs to stop taking her public speaking lessons from Jose Baez. Her response was:

I do not have that information with me just because, I know there would be travels involved, visiting family members, immediate family members, as well as family members through(out)? the Anthony home and so I don't have that readily available, but I can supplement that.

Judge Perry said, "I'm a little confused, and maybe you can clear it up for me."

He explained that he thought that the confidential expert was to do an evaluation to see if there were mental issues or other issues (such as brain damage, childhood trauma, incompetence) to be dealt with in the penalty phase, should it become necessary.

He indicated that he was confused because mental health experts usually hone in on the individual and that it seemed as though they were using this person as a second mitigation person.

Medina said that before this expert could do his second evaluation, these interviews needed to be done. She said she could get more information.

At that point, Perry suddenly changed gears and said that he would grant the motion, because "we gotta get this thing movin' , the clock is tickin."

I think poor Judge Perry is so tired of the delays that he felt this one wasn't worth arguing over!

Mr. Bischoff reminded the judge he had filed a reply but at this point, he took no position. They now have $4500 subject to JAC rules.

Bischoff also indicated he had received motions for expedited transcripts. Perry said he'd already taken them out as he doesn't "do" expedited rates!

With that, the hearing turned to other matters.

Baez stated that he wanted to move the motion for K-9 alerts because two of the essential witnesses are unavailable. One is CSI Vincent, who witnessed one of the "alleged alerts" and one of his experts who will be in town the week of the 23rd. He wanted that motion moved to then, along with the other "forensic" motions.

Psst! Baez really wants those puppies to be a Frye issue.

Linda Drane Burdick answered that they could possibly stipulate to testimony from CSI Vincent. She also said that Dr. Furton, who was mentioned in an e-mail the previous day, had not been listed to deal with K-9 issues. In addition, in his deposition last Saturday, he had told them that he hadn't been asked to deal with any of that. In addition, the report that they had received pursuant to court order, did not mention this information either. If he were to testify, he would have to submit a supplemental report. Needless to say, Ms. Drane Burdick was surprised by this recent (since Chicago) turn of events! In fact, at his deposition, she had asked him questions about the K-9's, stating that he hadn't been retained for those purposes. In the end, she indicated her witnesses for that motion would be available the end of March and she would have no objection to the change of date.

Perry asked Baez for a reply. Baez said that in response they filed referred to the fact that he would testify to the K-9 alerts. Apparently, Linda Drane nodded and Baez pointed out that since she was nodding shes NOT surprised!

Let's think about this. Somewhere in January, the State received the "discovery" from the defense which was found wanting in detail according to the State and the judge. Then, just last Saturday, Furton denies any role in the K-9 alert issue. Wouldn't YOU be surprised?

Baez then adds that based on questions from Ashton at Dr. Fairgrieve's deposition, they decided to include Furton. I'm more confused than ever! He even offered to have Dr. Furton write a report on the cadaver dog issue. Perry's first response to this was, "He may not be testifying to the cadaver dog issue."
Perry then said that he was going to look at every expert's deposition and summarize them. He then said he would go through the reports. He told both sides that he hoped that they had filed all the documents with the court. He will likely strike any testimony that is brand-new, that's never been heard before. He alluded to the Federal Courts, where there can be surprises and said that it wasn't so in his court. It was a shortened version of his famous poker-playing analogy where each side sees the other's hand. Apparently, a tardy report from Dr. Furton is not welcome to the game.

Baez' next issues were the two motions that Jeff Ashton wanted heard on the 2nd and the 3rd (cholorform and root growth). Ashton replied to Baez that he only wanted his motions to strike Baez' motions to be heard. (There's a bit of a difference there!) Baez responded that it would be better in terms of judicial economy to hear them at the later hearings (I'm interpreting here.) Baez wants these both to be subject to Frye and Ashton has stated they aren't. There is an issue that experts will be needed to testify for these motions to be heard, whether or not they are Frye issues. There was a bit of tossing out legal references as to Frye vs. opinion testimony.

Judge Perry decided he would hear Ashton's motions next week.

Mason then speaks up about the lack of cooperation of the FBI without approval of the US Attorney. In the end, Perry asks Ashton to as for help with Nick Savage and Scott Bolin who will testify in the motions to exclude statements. Ashton indicated that the problem could be that they were only served subpoenas the week before.

Judge Perry then gives the countdown to the trial. "May 9 will be here before we know it." He tells the State they will have to help them as much as WE can.

Baez then told the judge that he was having a problem roping in witness Sylvia Hernandez, known for aiding in the passing of letters between Casey and Robyn Adams. Apparently, she's a police officer now and when the defense investigator went to interview her, he was told to leave town. She also didn't bother to show up for her deposition! Mason finally did admit she may not have been served in a timely manner.

Mason said he sent the Sheriff a letter and Judge Perry kindly offered to make another phone call to help out the defense team corral her!

There was some mention that she might be a crucial witness in the motion about "state's agent". Linda Drane indicated the defense investigator had contact with her at her home. Apparently it wasn't a pleasant experience on either side!

Finally, Judge Perry suggested she could be served when she appears in court as she takes the stand!

With that and a bit more chit-chat, the hearing ended.

Baez got the money he was asking for. Baez seems to be out a witness for the K-9 issue.

This hearing turned out to be quite pleasant, perhaps due to the close space and informality of the situation. But it did not convince Judge Perry to accept a late report!

Judge Perry's Order on the hearing today, financial issues.
Judge Perry's Order Setting Hearing On State's Motion For Rule to Show Cause

Watch the hearing:

Part 1
Part 2

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Set Your Alarms: Casey Anthony Hearing Early Tomorrow!

Update: 5:12 PM

WESH has just confirmed that these two motions will be discussed at tomorrow morning's hearing.

I just read on the WESH FaceBook page that there will be a hearing at 8:45 tomorrow morning.

From what I understand, there are two new motions which have been filed.

The first is from Ann Finnell and does not necessarily need to be heard tomorrow.

Motion for Additional Costs Related to the Engagement of a Confidential Mental Health Expert to Assist in Exploring Mitigating Factors

According to Finnell,

4. The confidential mental health expert has already performed some forensic testing and submitted approximately $2000 to the JAC, which has been reviewed and approved.

5. Based on the confidential mental health expert's background, training, expertise and experience he/she must continue to explore important mitigating factors in response to the State's pursuant of the death penalty in this case.

The defense had originally asked for a $7500 cap on these expenses, but only received a cap of $2500.

The Motion to approve Hourly Rate and or Costs For Video Conferencing
seems to have been filed by Michelle Medina.

Apparently, there are witnesses the defense needs for hearings on the 2nd, 3rd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th of March. It seems that the defense wants to use teleconferencing for the hearings and somehow the system in the courthouse cannot be used for this purpose. There are also no JAC rates in the 9th District for such expenses and the defense needs this by next week, for starters.

This is most likely what will be heard tomorrow, but, at this point, I'm guessing!

So, it would seem we have to be up early in the morning tomorrow, especially on the Left Coast if we want to find out what's going on!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stephanie Lazarus: Preliminary Hearing Recap 1

Update July 17th, 2011: Continued from Preliminary Hearing, Day 1, Part II....
Witnesses have now been numbered for this day. Sprocket.

I have reviewed a loaned copy of the preliminary hearing transcript dated December 8th, 2009. At this time, I do not have access to the prior days of the preliminary hearing or the days after this day, where there have been more witnesses, as well as possibly opening statements and closing arguments presented. The witnesses are not numbered since I do not have all days transcripts yet.

Below is a synopsis of the transcript I reviewed. One of the things that I found interesting was Judge Perry asking witnesses many questions throughout their testimony. This may be normal for Judge Perry and how he conducts a preliminary hearing.

Robert J. Perry, 9th Floor, Dept. 104
Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center
Downtown Los Angeles, CA


Shannon Presby, DDA
Shelly Torrealba, DDA

Mark Overland
Julio Vergara

DECEMBER 8th 2009

Los Angeles Co. Deputy Coroner for 25 years. Performed the autopsy on Sherri Rae Rasmussen. In 1986, she had been working at the coroner's officer for a little over a year. She did a review of the autopsies she performed up until the date of Rasmussen's, and came up with a total of approximately 100 autopsies, 60 of those were gunshot wounds.

Rasmussen was shot three times at close range. One gunshot wound is described as "contact" wound with most likely, clothing between the barrel of the gun and the skin. The other two were described as "indeterminate" in range.

Selser testifies about an injury to Rasmussen's left arm that "appeared" to her to be a bite mark. There were notes/requests in the autopsy file dated 2/25/1986, from two consulting forensic odontologists (that apparently saw the body the day before the autopsy) to "excise" the area for examination, which she did.

Selser testifies about abrasion injuries on the right wrist and left elbow that she could "not exclude" being caused by a rope. She could not collect heart blood. There was none left inside the heart. She had to collect it from the "right pleural space." (This is the probably the sack/area that surrounds the heart.)

In cross examination, Selser could not say for certain "when" the injury that appears to be a bite mark occurred. Selser testifies, "The hemorrhage seems to indicate that the decedent was alive at the time the injury was sustained." Selser testifies to the various injuries on Rasmussen's hands.

LAPD Detective grade II, retired, July 1998. Served 20 years. In 1986, Hooks was a detective grade I assigned to Van Nuys, Burglary Investigations. He was called out to the location on Balboa Blvd., which he identifies as a townhome, condominium. He describes the general layout of the townhome. Ground floor was the garage level, then steps up to the general living area, most steps up to a kitchen area, then another flight up to a bedroom area.

Hooks describes several evidence photos of the residence outside and inside the townhome. He goes over his 14 pages of hand written notes and identifies items in photos. Documented in his notes and in photos items near the front door that appear to be "ligature type items" further described as "white rope" and "speaker wire." The "white rope" items appeared to have blood on them. The next items identified in his notes were a metal object and two fingernails on the entryway floor. The next items noted in his report and identified in photographs were two "video components" located a little further north inside the townhome, on the floor one stacked on top of the other. Also noted was a bloody fingerprint on the top video equipment component.

Hooks testifies to his notes and photographs that document a brown phone near the video components and a brown chair containing a multi-colored blanket. Next, is a drawer partially pulled (out?) and the contents partially on the floor. The items on the floor in front of the credenza (with the pulled out drawer) are identified in Hook's notes as "documents." Another chair with a quilted blue blanket on it is presented in photographs and the detective's notes. Photos of Rasmussen's body and how she was clothed are presented and documented in the detective's notes. Other items about the living room are described. The detective describes a type of shelving unit with a television and stereo equipment on top of collapsed shelves.

The lunch recess is called early so the Judge can take a verdict in another case. The preliminary hearing goes back on the record at 1:35 pm. Retired Detective Hooks is still on the stand. Hooks is asked to verify a group of photographs at once showing Rasmussen on the living room floor and the surrounding area. A broken vase is on the floor close to the Rasmussen's body. Injuries Hooks detailed in his notes and were photographed are verified: a head wound, the bullet holes through the victim's robe, her broken fingernails. After verifying the photographs, the detective describes other areas of the townhome and how nothing appeared out of order.

Photos are presented of the sliding glass door and curtain covering it. There were two bullet holes in the curtain and the sliding glass door was shattered. Upon closer inspection the door was still locked. The glass remaining in the door frame appeared to be blown outward towards the balcony. The upper floors of the residence were inspected. The bathroom, bedrooms and a study area room did not appear to be disturbed. They looked orderly and no drawers were pulled out. A visible jewelry box in the master bedroom did not appear to have been disturbed.

Hooks stayed at the scene until the coroner arrived. Photographs detail the body being moved by the coroner and a bullet underneath her back being collected by a coroner investigator. The alleged bite mark on Rasmussen is identified by the detective.

During cross examination Hook testifies that he arrived at the location at 7:48 pm and left at approximately 4:00 am. Hook testifies that to the best of his recollection, his partner was with him through the "note taking" portion of their examination of the scene as well as what the coroner and the coroner's investigators did at the scene. Hook does recall a Dr. Vale doing a cast of the bite mark but he cannot recall if that was done at the scene or later at the coroner's office.

The condition of the front door and the three locks (door knob lock and 2 deadbolts). In the detective's opinion, there did appear to be a few pry marks, scratches on the door jam but the locks themselves did not appear to be significantly tampered with. There appeared to be two bullet holes in the robe Rasmussen was wearing in the upper left chest area. There was a bloody palm print on a closet door right next to the front entrance door. This was approximately 15 to 20 feet from the body. Hooks does not recall if he directed any criminalist to take a swab of the blood on the closet door palm print.

The defense stipulates that documents identified as "crime scene log" is the log for this crime scene. On redirect, the prosecution tries to get the detective to identify Dr. Vale's name on the crime scene log. The there are objections back and forth and questions by Judge Perry. Hooks states that he had attended many autopsies and up until that time, he had never seen a cast being taken of a bite mark so that is why he remembers that a cast was taken. He had never seen it before so it was an unusual event for him.

In redirect, Hooks states that he is not an expert in lock picking and he would not be able to determine if a lock was picked by someone trained, and/or if tell-tale signs would be left behind and visible. There were knots visible in photographs of the ligature items. The rope and speaker wire were not tied together.

He attended UCLA and lived in Dykstra Hall, a residence hall of the campus. He met John Ruetten in 1978 at a front desk area where Ruetten worked. The witness testifies that later in the same year, he also worked at the front desk of Dykstra Hall. Neuman and Ruetten were roommates at Dykstra Hall in the winter of 1979 to summer, 1980. He describes his relationship to Mr. Ruetten as "a good friend." Neuman also met the defendant around the same time and described her as a friend (at that time) also.

Neuman testifies about a trip all three of them took to San Francisco. He verifies photos taken at the Golden Gate Bridge during the trip. Based on his observations of Ruetten and Lazarus, Neuman believes Lazarus was romantically interested in Ruetten. He also sensed that Ruetten was not interested in returning the defendant's affections. He did not recall Ruetten having a serious dating relationship while attending UCLA.

Stipulations are made between prosecution and defense as to anticipated testimony by Richard Heath. That when Richard Heath signed the envelope depicted in People's six (6) for identification on February 25th, 1986, that the envelope was in it's original condition and that the case number, the evidence description, evidence location, and by whom or which criminalist the information was completed was on the envelope and was legible and the envelope was not torn in any way at that time.

The second stipulation is to the identity of the victim. That the same individual identified in People's 20 is the same as the victim.

There is a disagreement as to a potential witness, Jayme Weaver, an officer who worked with Lazarus at Devonshire Division. While at the division, Lazarus showed her a black tool kit which Lazarus identified to her as a lock-pick set and that Lazarus stated she had taken a class in lock-picking. The defense wants this testimony ruled inadmissible. The objection is relevancy. Overland is contending that there is no evidence Rasmussen's door locks were picked and that one witness, Ms. Goldberg will testify that Rasmussen often left her front door unlocked. Judge Perry counters that it shows an ability to gain entrance. Overland states that the prejudicial aspect outweighs the possible probative value. Judge Perry disagrees. He doesn't know how prejudicial it is to the defendant, but he allows the testimony because it sounds like it will be very brief, and just part of the people's possible theory of entrance.

Currently employed as regional director of Andrews International, a privately held security firm. Before that he was an LAPD officer for 25 years. He retired in 2006 with a rank of Sergeant I. Witness testifies he knew Lazarus and identifies her for the court. Hargrieves states he believes he first met the defendant in 1982 or 1983 at Hollywood Division where they were both assigned. Hargrieves and the defendant became work friends. They occasionally socialized together between 1983 and 1985. In late 1984 or early 1985, he moved into Stephanie's Million Hills 2 bedroom townhome as a roommate. It was a platonic relationship; they were never romantically involved. Although a few times Hargrieves tried to pursue a romantic relationship, Lazarus did nor reciprocate those feelings.

Hargrieves testifies that during the time he lived with Lazarus, Lazarus spoke of dating John Ruetten throughout college and that she was still dating him at that time. He moved out of Lazarus's condo on February 14th, 1986. Hargrieves testifies to Lazarus's level of fitness and ability during those years. He and the defendant both participated in track and field events for LAPD at the L.A.P.R.A.C., competing in the police Olympics. In 1985, the event was held in San Jose. They trained years prior to that as well. They would train together at Cal State Northridge, using their track to run intervals for their sport. Hargrieves testifies that Lazarus's level of fitness for a woman officer in 1985 was "well above average" and "strong, very strong."

Her event that she trained with was either the 400 or 800 meter run. Hargrieves states she was a "prolific runner. " The witness states he never met John, but does remember about that Stephanie mentioned him about "half a dozen" times while they were roommates. He was not aware of any other dating relationships at this time. He does not remember any specific conversations where Lazarus poured her heart out to him, but she made statements to the effect that John was her idea of a "perfect guy."

Hargrieves recounts an event in the fall of 1985, late in the year that he remembers. Stephanie woke him up around 1 or 2 am upset and crying. Stephanie told him that she had been out with John. He was breaking up with her, ending their relationship; he planned to marry someone else. The conversation lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. She wanted to calm down and suggested they do "buddy sit ups." Buddy sit ups are where you face each other, interlace your shins and use the resistance to do situps.

The witness is not clear as to how he remembers that Lazarus was at one time, talking about John and "this other girl at a hospital." The witness has a vague memory of possibly other incidents where the defendant was crying. After he moved out of Lazarus's home, they remained friends and worked together in the D.A.R.E. program. He remembers a specific conversation around that time, 1987, where he asked Lazarus about her dating situation. Hargrieves remembers one conversation where Lazarus responded that she hadn't met anyone that met "her criteria." The individual had to be tall, handsome, athletic, "like John." Lazarus specifically mentioned "John."

The witness testifies that he has met Lazarus's husband. He believes the defendant met her husband when she was with the D.A.R.E. program, traveling with other officers to other states to teach the D.A.R.E. program. "She met Scott on one of those trips." Hargrieves was not aware of any other dating relationships the defendant had from the time of the 2 am wake up until she met her current husband.

The witness testifies that he trained with the defendant on the shooting range and qualified with her on one occasion. Hargrieves states as far as Lazarus's proficiency with a firearm, she qualified as an "expert."

Hargrieves testified as to what officers carry as to weapons in his own experience and what was standard during his 25 years on the force. Officers have a primary firearm that is their duty firearm and they can also have a "backup firearm." The witness states he had a backup firearm and Lazarus did as well during the time they were roommates. Lazarus's backup firearm was a five shot, short barrel .38 revolver. He does not remember the model. Hargrieves is not certain in his memory of how he knew (either through Lazarus or some other source) about John's girlfriend working at a hospital or how he knew Ruetten worked as an E.M.T. or employed at the hospital in some way.

Retired LAPD officer of 20 years. She went through academy training in 1983 along with the defendant. Weaver and the defendant were friends. At one time they were both assigned to the Devonshire Division. Weaver was at Devonshire between 1985 to 1987. While at Devonshire, on one occasion the defendant showed her a set of tools that Lazarus identified as lock picking tools. She remembers two tools as being long and silver with something on the ends of them. The witness is not certain where Lazarus showed her the tools, either at Lazarus's home but Weaver believes it was in the locker area at Devonshire. The witness is not certain, but she believes that Lazarus told her she either read a book or took a course in "lock picking." The witness does remember Lazarus talking about a boyfriend she had in college, John Ruetten during the time they both worked at Devonshire. She does vaguely remember one incident where Lazarus said to her, something to the effect of, 'Remember by ex-boyfriend, his wife was killed.'

Under cross examination, Overland asks Weaver about being suspended for a time (unspecified) from Devonshire Division for lying. She's asked if she remembers a "Brady letter" supposedly stating she could not testify in court for a while, but Weaver does not.

He is a retail operations manager at the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, also known as L.A.P.R.A.C. He's been in that position for 2-and-a-half years. Prior to that he worked as a gun manager. He's been in the field of gun management for 13 years. THE L.A.P.R.A.C. is a non-profit organization set up to support the LAPD. It's located at the Police Academy. They deal strictly with officers and not the general public. They provide weapons, guns to officers. When weapons are sold, there are certain documents, procedures that need to be followed. The state, the city and the federal government all have specific forms that need to be completed.

The witness outlines the procedures for keeping these documents and for how long. The federal form, 4473, must be maintained on the premises or place of business for at a minimum 20 years. On this particular form, the purchaser fills out the first half and the seller fills out the last half. An envelope and two documents inside are entered into evidence, both 4473 forms. One 4473 form is dated February 29th, 1984. The other 4473 form is dated March 19th, 1986. These forms were filed chronologically at the L.A.P.R.A.C. location and were retrieved at the request of Detective Jaramillo.

Judge Perry appears not to understand the purpose of the documents and asks questions to that effect. The 4473 forms document the purchase of firearms (by officers). The form dated February 29th, 1984 indicates the defendant purchased a Smith & Wesson revolver, model 49, caliber .38 special. A photograph of this model weapon is entered into evidence and the witness identifies it and the specific characteristics of this model weapon. The second 4473 document dated March 19th, 1986 indicates Lazarus bought another Smith & Wesson .38 caliber special, model number 649.

LAPD Detective assigned to Robbery/Homicide Division, Homicide Special Division. He's been employed by LAPD for 15 years. He was assigned to the Rasmussen case in May, 2009. A search warrant was conducted on the defendant's residence June 5th, 2009, the same day the defendant was arrested. Detective Stearns was the affiant for the search warrant and Judge William Ponders was the signing judge. The search warrant was signed on June 4th, 2009. The witness states that at this time, the search warrant is still under seal. He spoke to another officer, Detective Keven Baker regarding the search of the defendant's home.

A journal was recovered from the defendant's home. It was found inside a locked in an office. It was underneath other items. It was a 3 ring binder and the time covered was 1984 to 1987. The journal was booked into evidence and the entire journal digitally scanned. Physical copies were also made of the journal. The journal is broken up into sections of the time period it covers in a type of pattern. There is an abbreviation for different divisions within the LAPD. There are unit assignments that would be consistent with patrol unit assignments or other assignments at patrol division and there are last names listed in some of the journal entries, as well as dates.

Witness explains that D.F.A.R. is an acronym for daily field activity report. DFAR's are reports completed by officers of the department, generally uniformed or field officers to document their activities during their work period or shift. They are restricted to a particular date or officer's or group of partnering officers. "Daily Worksheets" are described. Stearns compared the DFAR's and Daily Worksheets" with specific dates in Lazarus's journal. The dates compared were: April 18th 1985, May 10th, 1985, June 4th, 1985, June 16th, 1985, June 18th, 1985 and December 12th, 1985. The witness states those journal dates corresponded with the DFAR's and Daily Worksheets.

Below are the following paragraph's that were found in Lazarus's journal and read in court.

April 18th, 1985.
"After lunch I was leaving - - I was leaving the lot and I saw John Ruetten's car. Just my luck. I put a note on it and watched the car for one half hour and checked up on it a few times. Well, I found out from him later that he had gotten into Fudruckers at about 12:10 just about five minutes before I left."

May 10th, 1985.
"I really can't remember anything else work wise. I did visit John Ruetten, but his girlfriend was over."

June 4th, 1985.
"We really didn't do much. I really don't feel like working. I found out that John is getting married. I was very depressed, very sad. My concentration was negative 10."

June 16th, 1985.
I really didn't feel like working. Too stressed out about John. I've had a real hard time concentrating these days, so I called up and said I didn't feel well and could I have - - could I have a T.O. They gave it to me."

The witness explains that a T.O. is nomenclature in the LAPD for "time off."

(It's not clear from the transcript what date the following entry was made.)
I got a card from Mrs. Ruetten. This made me very, very, very sad."

The witness explains that in this entry, the words "Mrs. Rutten" are underlined and there is an explanation point after the name.

The daily worksheets were checked for the defendant for February 24th, 1986. The defendant was not on duty from February 21st through February 24th, 1986.

In cross examination, the detective is asked if he checked Lazarus's work sheets for the week before the murder and the week after. He testifies that he might have, but doesn't have a recollection at this time if he did. Stearns reviewed the complete journal and did not see any references to John after December 12th, 1985. No references to Ruetten were found in the journal in the months of January 1986 or February 1986.

In redirect the witness states there are no references in her journal to her firearm being stolen.

The prosecution finishes with this witness early and there are no more witnesses. Overland asks the court if they could use the extra time to discuss another matter. This is in regard to Detective Jaramillo, and the questioning of the defendant before she was arrested.

Search warrants were being executed at more than one location while an attempt was made to interview the defendant. Overland asks that Detective Jaramillo be excused, since the objection the defense wants to make goes directly to his testimony. How the defendant was led to the jail area is explained to the judge, and that before questioning the defendant, (where she was video and audio recorded) she was not read her Miranda rights.

Overland has two objections. The first is that the questioning of Lazarus was done without Miranda. The second is based on a peace officer's bill of rights, government code 3300. Judge Perry indicates that he's not very familiar with that and Overland presents him with the argument. Overland explains, "Basically, the argument is police officers who are questioned by supervisors, which this is what Mr. Jaramillo falls under, are given immunity with respect to the statements in subsequent criminal prosecution. The reason for that is they are subject to administrative punishment for not answering questions. And therefore, those statements are compelled. That's kind of codified in Government code 3300 and following." Judge Perry asks Overland to cite cases and he will look at them. Overland cites several case law's to support his objection to entering into evidence the video and audio recording of Lazarus.

DDA Presby tells Perry that the state doesn't have to call Detectie Jaramillo next. They can litigate the issue at a time convenient for the court so it doesn't interrupt the flow of the prelim. The court does not wish to hear the prosecution's arguments at this time until he's had a chance to review the cited cases. Court is adjourned and everyone ordered back at 8:45 am the following day.

To be continued.....

Stephanie Lazarus Case Coverage Quick Links

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jose Baez Runs Off The Rails

February 18, 2010

Yesterday, Judge Belvin Perry issued an Order Seting Hearing on State's Motion To Strike Defendant's Supplemental Witness List. The motion will be heard on March 2, 2010 along with the motions in limine remaining.

Notice that the judge did not respond to Baez' second motion which was the topic of the original post below.

I suppose the judge considered it as off the rails as I did.

Instead, the judge cited the law and a previous ruling for "regular witnesses".

Once a witness becomes known to the Defendant, she shall decide within 5 working days whether the witness will be listed pursuant to F.R.C.P.3.220(d)(1)(A). In no event shall any witness be listed or deposed, by either party, outside the time limits provided in this order. In the absence of a stipulation, it will be the burden of the listing or deposing party to show good cause for any delay to this Court.

Baez & Co. will have a chance to give their "good cause". Good luck.

I've been following the latest drama of the WITNESS LIST WARS between Jose Baez and Linda Drane Burdick.

On February 14, the defense filed an Supplemental Witness List (1, 2) with the following names:

Robyn Adams, Kathleen Belich, Maya Derkovic, Kenneth Drupiewski. Kasper Jordan, Anne Pham, and Marvin Schecter.

If you go to the links with the motion, you will notice that the names are scattered over the page, for no apparent reason. That's all the document contains.

On February 15, Linda Drane Burdick filed a Motion to Strike The Defendant's Supplemental Witness List Filed February 14, 2011 with attachments which contain every late supplemental witness list she has filed as to demonstrate how such lists should be filed. She cited the orders of Judge Stan Strickland and Judge Perry. She then added the following:

3. Witness lists filed by the State of Florida subsequent to the August 31, 2010 deadline contain a Statement of Good Cause for the delay in disclosure of the witness(es). SEE ATTACHED COMPOSITE EXHIBIT "D"

4. The Defendant's Supplemental Witness List, dated February 11, 2011, but filed February 14, 2010 contains seven (7) names including fur (4) previously listed by the State of Florida, one (1) previously contained on the Defendant's Initial Penalty Phase Discovery Response, and two new witnesses: Kathleen Belich, a reporter for a local news station, and Marvin Schecter, a lawyer from New York City. The Supplemental Witness List makes no attempt to show good cause to this Court for the delay in disclosure of these witnesses to the State of Florida.

As a remedy, Drane Burdick asks the Court to either "strike the motion or order the Defendant to establish good cause for the delay in disclosure."

Today, Jose Baez filed HIS Motion To Strike The State's Motion To Strike Defense Supplemental Witness List. (Make you dizzy?)

This latest Baez motion is one of his more nasty ones. He starts by saying that since he and Drane Burdick are in daily contact, she should have just ASKED him about it. It seems Mr. Baez still doesn't understand that phone calls and e-mails cannot take the place of written communication. He tried this with Jeff Ashton and the expert reports and was slapped down by Judge Perry. If anyone needs to be kept in the loop as to what is going on behind the scenes, it is certainly the judge!

Nevertheless, Baez goes on in his second paragraph to tell Ms. Drane Burdick:

Had counsel taken the time to inquire she would have been advised of the following:

a. Marvin Schecter has been withdrawn from the Defense witness list.

Well, that's the shortest amount of time to be on a capital murder case witness list!

b. Kathleen Belich also known as Kathleen Gallagher (rude, rude, rude) was listed to rebut witnesses just listed by the State involving an investigation launched against Laura Buchanan. (Huh?) She is also a witness involving State witness Maya Derkovich. (While the State has recently informed the defense that they have not (sic) intention to call Maya Derkovich as a witness, the defense has not ruled out calling her)

Ms. Belich's inclusion on the list has raised a great deal of controversy as she is a journalist.

Richard Hornsby has already written about her inclusion in his latest blog entry, The Rule of Sequestration . According to Hornsby, the defense would have some high legal hurdles to jump to ever get her on the stand. If you haven't read it already, be sure to do so.

Hal Boedeker wrote an article about the situation as well. He wrote:

What does news director Bob Jordan have to say to that? "The station will resist any attempt to get Kathi Belich to testify for anyone, the prosecution or defense," Jordan told me this afternoon. "She is a reporter. She has worked independently as a journalist. I'm wondering if the real motive is to keep her out of the courtroom. It's pretty transparent."

Baez attempts to justify the inclusion of Kenneth Drupiewski because he is mentioned in the "hidden writing" in the infamous "03" or is it "04" diary. Even here, Baez spits out some more venom.

Despite the obvious date of 2003 on the diary the State has at tax payers (sic) expense, pared no expense in utilizing both the FBI and Secret Service to date this diary to fit their timeline. Despite their inability to do so, this does not appear to deter the State in presenting this evidence. (Gee, the diary wasn't even made until 2004, doesn't that count?)

I don't think this nastiness will impress Judge Perry, he is the consummate gentleman.

The final entry lumps the rest of the witnesses in the category of having been on the previous State witness list.

Baez then goes into whining mode.

3. This Court should be made aware that the State of Florida has filed multiple witness lists past the deadline, and it is not until the Defense files one that they seem to wish to have the deadline enforced albeit selectively.

No, I say, the rules are that they need to be witnesses added due to new reports, recent investigations, and as rebuttal to such situations as that of Laura Buchanan. These lists are allowed as long as there is GOOD CAUSE, as Ms. Drane Burdick so politely pointed out.

Perhaps my favorite part of the motion is the following.

4. Both the undersigned counsel and the other members of the defense have made it known to this honorable Court that the State of Florida continues to file discovery at will with no regard for ANY deadlines set by this Court. This includes multiple violations where the State of Florida had this in it's possession for over two years. One only has to look as far as the State's own motion to strike and find yet another supplemental witness list.

Fact is, there isn't another list. Ms. Drane Burdick was thoughtful enough to attach as exhibits all the rulings on deadlines and the manner in which Good Cause must be made known. She also included examples of her previous Amended Witness Lists to show Mr. Baez how it it properly done.

As for late discovery, I don't think this is a topic Mr. Baez has a right to touch as he seems to have problems getting any discovery out after multiple deadlines are set for him. As Ms. Drane Burdick pointed out at the last hearing, "if the question is, are we going to continue to do our job, the answer is yes." Judge Perry didn't seem to mind that at all!

Stephanie Lazarus: Pretrial Hearing 1

Stephanie Lazarus at a previous court hearing. Photo by Nick Ut, Associated Press

UPDATED August 28th, 2012 for accuracy
(The preliminary hearing transcripts and various newspaper reports --LA Times, etc., and TV shows-- were used for the background information, case investigation and arrest portion of this entry. Sprocket.)

The Stephanie Lazarus case will have a jury seated some time late spring or early summer of this year. This is a case I've kept my eye on as to when it would come to trial because I wanted to cover it in depth. The case was recently featured on NBC's DATELINE and in May, 2010 on CBS's 48 Hours Mystery. When the case broke back in 2009, true-crime writer Steve Huff wrote "...sounds like something out of detective fiction."

Stephanie Lazarus, a 25-year veteran detective of the LAPD with a stellar career has been charged with the 1986 cold-case murder of Sherri Rae Rasmussen, a critical care nurse at Glendale Adventist Hospital and the recent bride of Lazarus's ex-boyfriend, John Ruetten. Rasmussen was beaten and shot at her Van Nuys town house. Video equipment was stacked up on the living room floor near Rasmussen's body and her car and wedding certificate were missing. Cash, jewelry and valuable items were left behind. Detectives at the time thought it was an interrupted robbery-gone-bad due to another robbery in the area a few weeks later. Despite repeated attempts by Rasmussen's father that Sherri was being harassed by a female LAPD officer, the "botched robbery" investigation went nowhere and the case quickly went cold. The case was solved by DNA technology and a thorough reinvestigation by LAPD's cold-case squad. Lazarus was arrested after a four-month investigation in June, 2009.

Sherri Rae Rasmussen Ruetten

Case Background

On the evening of February 24th, 1986, John Ruetten** came home to find his wife of three months on the living room floor, severely beaten, marks on her wrists as if she'd been tied up and shot three times in the chest with a 38-caliber weapon. A few months later, another woman was robbed at gunpoint in the same neighborhood and LAPD detectives thought the two cases were linked.

During the preliminary hearing in December 2009, many facts came to light that indicate this case could have been solved in 1986 if the initial investigating detectives had been willing to look closer at one of their own.

Lazarus and Ruetten were childhood friends.  While students at UCLA they had a romantic relationship. The relationship ended when Ruetten started dating the victim.  (Lazarus and Ruetten met in college.  They started a romantic relationship after Ruetten graduated from college. Sprocket)

From his initial interview with police, Sherri's father, Nel Rasmussen repeatedly told detectives about several stalking and threatening incidents Sherri experienced involving an ex-girlfriend of Ruetten's, who was also an LAPD officer. Nel never knew Lazarus's name and detectives continually rebuffed his theories and at one time saying he "...watched too much TV."

In one instance, Rasmussen came home to find Lazarus, in full uniform, standing inside the home she shared with her husband.

In another incident Nel recounted, Lazarus showed up at Glendale Adventist Hospital in uniform and gave Rasmussen a threatening warning about Reutten, "If I can't have John, nobody can."

One of Sherri's coworkers at Glendale Adventist Hosptial, Sylvia Nielsen witnessed a confrontation between her and an 'unknown person' at the time. Detectives were informed about the confrontation in 1988. Nielsen died in 2000.

Days before she died, Rasmussen told her father she believed the same female officer had been following her on the street.

A former roommate of Lazarus, LAPD officer Michael Hargrieves testified about a night in the fall of 1985 where she woke him up, upset and crying that Reutten had broken up with her. Another Lazarus coworker testified that Lazarus was "boning up" on how to use a set of lock picking tools that Lazarus had shown her she recently acquired.

Excerpts from a journal Lazarus kept at the time that were read in court and showed Lazarus said she was "...very depressed, very sad." over her breakup with Ruetten. One entry detailed how after spotting Reuten's car in a restaurant parking lot she waited outside for 30 minutes for him to emerge.

Weeks after the murder, Lazarus reported her vehicle had been broken into and her 38-caliber weapon was stolen from the vehicle to the Santa Monica Police Department. However, that information was never connected to the murder until the investigation was reopened in 2009. If Lazarus had been questioned back in 1986 they would have learned about the reported theft.

Solving The Case
In 2003 the case was transferred to a newly formed "cold case" unit. This case held promise for solving because blood and saliva samples were collected at the scene and off the victim's body. But first, detectives had to "find" the saliva sample collected from a small bite mark left on Rasmussen's left arm. A month later it was discovered in a refrigeration unit at the Coroner's office. The evidence envelope was crumpled and the evidence number partially torn off.

Because of a large case backlog test results were not obtained until 2005. The DNA came back belonging to a woman. At the time, detectives failed to notice that the results disproved the robbery-gone-bad by male assailants, so the case languished and eventually was sent back to Van Nuys. In early 2009, the case came under a standard review process where a detective was assigned to re-examine the case file.

With the DNA results and new interviews with Rasmussen's parents and Ruetten, detectives set about obtaining DNA from every female associated with the case and Lazarus became a potential suspect.

Lazarus was tailed for about a week by detectives until they were able to secretly recover a DNA sample from her. It matched the saliva collected from the bite mark back in 1986. The odds that the DNA belongs to someone other than Stephanie Lazarus are one in 400 quadrillion.

Detectives used a ruse to get Lazarus in a situation where she would not have her weapon and they could ask her questions, all the while video taping the interview. Early in the morning of June 5th, 2009, two detectives Lazarus did not know from the Robbery/Homicide division approached her at her desk and told her there was a suspect in the basement jail that had information on one of her cases. Stolen art was detective Lazarus' specialty but when she reached the interview room, she quickly realized there was no suspect to interview. She was the one being asked the questions.

After about an hour of intense questioning Lazarus realizes what's going down and asks, "You're accusing me of this? Is that what you're--is that what you're saying?" Detectives has just implied that evidence linked her to the killing. Lazarus went on, "Am I on 'Candid Camera' or something? This is insane. This is absolutely crazy. This is insane." Lazarus informs detectives that if this is the way things are going, she needs to consult with someone and gets up to leave. As soon as she steps outside she's arrested and placed in handcuffs. The arrest sent shock waves through the LAPD because Lazarus wasn't a rogue cop; she was a highly respected and honored detective; a "cops cop."

The Case Moves Forward
Lazarus pled not guilty at her initial arraignment. The preliminary hearing concluded in December, 2009 where Judge Robert J. Perry rules there was sufficient evidence presented for Lazarus to be held over for trial. Lazarus is being held on 10-million bail. The unusually high amount was more than double what prosecutors had requested but Perry defended his ruling saying it was a "near certainty" that Lazarus would flee if the amount were lowered.

In July of 2010, Nel and Loretta Rasmussen, Sherri's parents filed a wrongful death suit in L.A. County Superior Court against Lazarus and the LAPD. The suit accuses the LAPD officers and supervisors investigating their daughter's murder of deliberately ignoring clues that pointed to Lazarus. The law firm of Taylor & Ring is representing the family in the civil suit. Taylor & Ring are also representing Donna Clarkson in her wrongful death suit against Phil Spector.

Since then, there have been various pretrial hearings as the case moves closer to trial. I attended my first hearing in the case on Monday, February 14th, 2011.

Pretrial Hearing February 14th, 2011
I knew about a month ago I was going to attend this hearing, but I almost didn't make it. I'm still getting over catching my husband's (Mr. Sprocket) flu. I didn't take the train because I knew I would only be in downtown for about an hour, if that, so I drove. But as things usually go in the morning at the Sprocket house, I got behind and didn't get inside Judge Perry's courtroom until about a minute after the hearing started. I grabbed a seat on the back row wood bench and started scribbling. It was going to be a chore getting back into writing hand notes and I was grateful that these benches had cushions.

I quickly identified Nel and Loretta Rasmussen in the front row because I'd seen them in the 48 Hours and Dateline episodes covering the case. There were several other people in the gallery, but I didn't see the two LA Times reporters, Joel Rubin and Andrew Blankstein who've extensively covered the case when it first broke.

I later determined that Lazarus's family was sitting in the row in front of me.

The major players identify themselves and I miss a few names.

Lazarus is at the defense table with her back to me. She's in an orange jumpsuit. To her left is Mark Overland, her lead counsel. On her right is a dark haired, very attractive woman in a black suit.

There's a Mr. Gross sitting at the prosecution table next to a female Sheriff who is identified as Stacey Lee (spelling unknown) from the LA County women's detention facility. Another gentleman is sitting next to Gross and a Latino looking man in a nice suit is standing, leaning against the wall of the jury box. There are not enough seats for him at the prosecution table. Gross looks familiar to me and as I'm trying to take notes I remember where I first saw him. It was back in 2008 at one of the first pretrial hearings in the Cameron Brown case. Mr. Gross is counsel for the L.A. County Sheriff's Office.

Judge Perry states for the record that the case is 0/60. Overland tells Perry that it looks like April 1st will be the earliest he will be released for his part in a big (litigation?) trial currently ongoing. It appears the hearing was called regarding prior procedures that were put in place regarding the computer laptop that Lazarus had access to in preparing for her defense.

From what I'm barely gathering, it appears that previously, the Judge ruled that Lazarus could have a computer or access to a computer at the jail and guidelines were put in place for the use of this computer. It appears the defense violated part of the court order and downloaded (programs?) onto this laptop.

There is some discussion regarding what is and isn't allowed by defendants in the County Jail system, and apparently a computer violates a section of the penal code.

Overland tells the judge that they would like to provide their client with a "stand alone" computer and have on the computer all the appropriate audio and video files for Lazarus to view.

Apparently, the computer was agreed to by the judge so she could review some audio and video/photo files to help prepare for her defense. Lazarus is in a high-security area of the jail.

I believe it's Mr. Gross who interjects that having anyone bring a computer laptop is a "security access concern." I'm not sure which side says it, but the issue of only having access to the computer in "attorney rooms" is discussed.

As both sides are educating Perry on the procedures in place for the computer, I see John Taylor enter the courtroom and take a seat in the second row. I got to speak to Taylor several times during the second Spector trial.

The attorneys are discussing how the computer is kept in a safe area until the defendant has access to it and the procedures in place to ensure safety.

Overland tells Perry, "There comes a time when enough is enough and I've reached that point in this case. I hope the court has reached that point also."

"Every time we go there, the people there (jail staff) interpret things differently (the Judge's order). Every time we talk to someone the rules changed."

I'm not sure if I have this right, but apparently either counsel is supposed to have four hours of access to their client every day from 7 until 11, or, the defendant is supposed to have access to her computer from 7 until 11. My notes are a scrawled mess.

Mr. Gross interjects that if they have CD's or DVD's the defendant can play them on the computer. Overland starts talking about "pages on CD." I'm not sure if it's Overland or Gross who goes onto say, "anything that can be printed should be printed, so that it's limited what she can utilize the computer for." It appears the defense would like Lazarus to be able to take notes on the laptop the defense provides to "save time."

Perry appears confused. "To me, it's a straight forward case."

At this time the man sitting to Mr. Gross's left stands up and explains to Judge Perry about the "many pages on CD." It's about the early investigation, 351 page "murder book." That was all scanned and placed on a CD. Now with the digital age, a physical and digital copy was given to the defense. (Now this is starting to make sense.)

All this time Lazarus has had her back to me. She's wearing a white, long sleeved knit shirt underneath her orange jumpsuit.

Perry states, "I don't understand this note business."

Overland: You switch over to word. She would bring down her laptop and create her notes.

Then the notes could be transferred to the defense investigator's computer to save time.

It's then that Mr. Gross informs the court the danger of what the defense is asking. "Anytime you transfer data between computers you run the risk of information getting onto the computer (that the defendant is using). There's all kinds of stuff that can be transferred between computers.

There's further discussion about how the Sheriff's have to determine each and every time that the Internet access has been completely disabled when it enters the jail facility.

Perry interjects, "They could print out her notes on the laptop...." But it appears he's still not understanding the problem fully as the Sheriff's Office sees it.

As I listen to more of the conversation back and forth, it appears that the computer was originally provided so that Lazarus could easily listen to audio interviews from the initial 1986 investigation as well as some video files and photographs. It's around this time that Lazarus turns around in her seat and looks toward the back of the room. At first, I think she is looking directly at me, but it quickly dawns on me she is staring at the three people in the third row in front of me. She smiles at them. Her face looks gaunt to me, different. She no longer has the wide puffy cheeks she had in the first photos taken at the time of her arrest and I wonder if she's lost weight.*

Mr. Nunez (the sharply dressed, slender young Latino looking man) speaks up.

Nunez: This was not supposed to be her 'home office' where she could work and print out (documents).

JP: That was the impression I had (when he first signed the order); (it was not) for her to take notes. This is something new. I understand the Sheriff's Office concern. (This is) a special case and they could then have other defendants ask for the same thing. It's a real concern.

Apparently, the Sheriff's Office wants to be the one to provide the computer for the defendant. They don't want any material loaded onto the computer. It will be given to her during the times she's allowed to use it. She won't be able to have it in her cell, but given access to it at certain times during the day.

The man sitting next to Mr. Gross tells Perry, "There are over 100 computer discs that are primarily witness interviews. Many of them are totally irrelevant to their case. .... They are mostly audio interviews. Three dozen of them, maybe, have something to say (relevant to the case), those have already been transcribed."

Mr. Nunez position is this (the computer) was "a way to view these things," the interviews. It was a reasonable accommodation to provide that.

Overland's concern is that the CD's could be lost and/or viewed by the Sheriff's Office and possibly shared with the media.

Perry agrees that the risk (of the CD's) to (the) media is "ever present," but he's willing to take the risk of the CD's being lost because they can be copied and replaced.

Overland still wants his client to be able to use the computer during their 'face to face' meetings at the jail. Perry asks, "If she's using the computer to just view witness interviews and photographs, what would be the need to bring the computer to the 'face to face' visits? ... She can discuss what she had seen without the need to have the computer present."

Perry rules the information will be kept on the CD's and not loaded onto the computer. She will not be able to use word to take notes. She will have access to the computer from 7 to 9 every day. (I don't hear if that's 7am or 7pm.) I think it's Perry who states in his ruling that it's burdensome on the Sheriff's to have her get 2 hours everyday (on the computer). He doesn't think it's necessary for her to bring the computer to the 'face to face' meetings.

Overland still thinks it's an issue of "time" and will create more delays for the defense to prepare. Perry states that he will issue a new order today, but to ensure there is no confusion between the parties, he will circulate it for comment before he signs it. He recommends that the defense ensure they have a copy of the order each time they go to the jail to show the detention center staff. The Sheriff's office will provide the computer. Nothing will be downloaded onto it. The defendant will have access to the CD's. The CD's will be secured with the watch commander. She will not have access to the computer during her 'face to face' meetings. I'm not positive but I think it's Perry who states he doesn't see a problem with written notes.

Mr. Gross then brings up another issue, and that's "where" in the jail these 'face to face' meetings will take place. Apparently, they've been in a room that's not the norm for most defendants. He would like the visits to take place in 'an attorney room' and not an "investigator room." In an 'investigator room' stuff can get passed to a defendant easily. These 'contact rooms' were designed for defendant evaluations (by a health care professional). I'm starting to see there is a difference between a "contact room" and an "attorney room."

Overland is now upset because this is a reversal of a situation that they've been enjoying so far with their client. Up to now, they could meet with their client 'face to face.' Their investigator could bring in their laptop without having to go through the regular area.

Overland explains to the judge that in the "lawyer rooms" the defendant is behind glass. They will have to hold a document up to the glass for their client to see it. It will now take even more time to consult with his client, point certain things out on documents, making it more difficult to prepare her defense. Overland wants to still be able to visit her without her being behind a glass partition. In exasperation he says, "If we're going to be regulated to 'attorney room' visits, this case won't go to trial for two, two-and-a-half years!" The three people sitting in the row in front of me appear to be visibly upset by Overland's statement to the Judge.

Mr. Gross states the defendant can bring material from her cell.

Overland interjects, "This is not a case with three to four documents!

Perry states he is going to object to the present use of the 'contact room.'

Mr. Gross interjects that this (the attorney rooms) is how all defendants meet their counsel in the jail.

Overland tells the judge that they are not the "only" attorneys who get 'face to face' meetings with their client. With the 'attorney rooms' they will have to talk to their client through microphones. That's why they were using the booking room. They are not the only attorneys. There have been times where they've had to wait because other counsel were using the room to meet with their clients.

Mr. Gross still asks Perry to shift the defendant's meeting with their attorney's to the designated 'attorney rooms.' They have plenty of these rooms.

Perry tells the defense, "I'm not convinced that you need face to face meetings."

Overland still tries to plead with Perry about this issue. "We've talked about this before, that it's inadequate for preparation for this case." He goes onto explain that at 11 they're meetings with their client are ended. They are not going beyond a certain time.

Perry counters that the Sheriff's Office tells him that they will let you stay beyond 11:30. (I still don't know if this is am or pm.) "It's the best we can do at this point."

I don't have in my notes who makes the request, but it's asked that the members of the defense team (who are allowed to stay past the regular jail cut-off time) are named in the order. Overland is asked to name the members of his legal team who will be visiting his client at the women's detention center. Overland, not sounding too happy at this change of events, mentions some names and I'm not positive I get them correct.

Mark Overland
Mr. Later (spelling?)
Courtney Overland (my notes say "Overton;" I'm not sure which is correct.)
Mr. Bert Luper (spelling?)

Perry puts the case calendar at 0/60 as of today. He states for the record that Overland is engaged in a trial in Federal court. Overtland states for the record that he would like to come back in one month to talk about conditions at the jail again. A calendar date of Monday, March 14th is set for all parties to return. Perry indicates to Mr. Gross that he will not have to appear unless there are issues at the jail again. March 14th would put the calendar at 28 of 60.

My notes have something about Nunez asking to be heard on an issue but it goes by me so quickly. I have in my notes that Lazarus doesn't agree to that, but I'm lost as to what that could be. Maybe it's another matter for the Judge in chambers?

As Lazarus gets up to be taken back to the court holding cell, she turns to her family, gives them a big smile and winks. Her family stands while she is taken out of the courtroom.

As we all slowly filter out of the courtroom, I wait in the hallway to speak to John Taylor. In the hallway, Stephanie's family is waiting also, and I'm guessing it's to speak to her attorney. I make a guess that the older looking woman with almost white hair is her mother. A tall, slender man looks similar to the photos of her husband at their wedding in the Dateline episode.

As soon as Taylor is free, he introduces me to Sherri's parents, Nel and Loretta Rasmussen who have traveled from their home in Arizona for the hearing. With them is Peggy, who tells me she was a colleague of Sherri's at Glendale Adventist Hospital. Taylor is kind enough to tell me the names of the current prosecutors on the case, Shannon Presby (the silver haired man sitting next to Mr. Gross) and Paul Nunez, (the young man standing during the hearing). The previous DDA assigned to the case, Shelly Torrealba, was appointed to the bench by the former governor in December, 2010.

* (It's later, while I'm researching this case, that I read an LA Times news report from March, 2010. Although almost a year old, it's possible Lazarus is ill.

** I'm not certain the type of work Ruetten did. Newspaper reports say he was an engineer. Former Lazarus roommate Hargrieves, during the preliminary hearing thought Ruetten worked at the hospital with Sherri, possibly as an E.M.T. or other position.
Steven Lazarus also said his sister has not been receiving adequate treatment in jail for cancer that requires testing and adjustments to medicine every few months. He declined to specify the type of cancer or whether her condition has deteriorated in custody.

Stephanie Lazarus Case Quick Links

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Witness List

Prosecution Case-In-Chief

Day 1
1. TERESA LANE (Younger sister of Sherri Rae Rasmussen; spent part of the prior day, Sunday with Rasmussen.)
2. GREGORY TELIAN (Retired LAFD, firefighter-paramedic; responded to the scene. Pronounced Rasmussen dead.)
3. RODNEY FORREST (Retired LAPD, first uniformed officer on the scene; secured the scene.)
4. ANASTASIA VOLANAITAS (Neighbor of Rasmussens; went for morning walk with husband and noticed Rasmussen's garage door open; gardner's brought to her Rasmussen's purse.)
5. STEVE HOOKS (Retired LAPD, partner to lead detective Lyle Mayer who investigated in 1986.)

Day 2

Day 3
7. JOE A. MURILLO (Retired Coroner's office, property room employee; duties were to intake, log, store and release evidence; also collected and stored clothing from drying room.)
8.LLOYD MAHANEY (Coroner's investigator/criminalist who collected the bite mark swab, deceased; preliminary hearing testimony read into the record by DDA James Garrison.)
9. JANE RODRIGUEZ (LAPD, Questions Document Examiner; determines authinticity, source of questioned documents; examined the bite mark swab original envelope and the swab tube under special equipment and ultraviolet lights to read faded ink/writing on these items.)
10. RICHARD JAMES HEATH (Coroner's Office property room employee; collected, stored and released evidence in this case.)
11. CARLOS CELAYA (LA Co. Deputy Sheriff; in 1986 Deputy Coroner, employed at coroner's office as a photographer; photographed Rasmussen's body at coroner's office clothed and unclothed; recovered a bullet in clothing before autopsy.)
12. DR. SUSAN SELSER (LA Co. Deputy Coroner; performed Rasmussen autopsy.)

Day 4 Day 4, Part II #13 WILLIAM MOORE (LAPD criminalist who collected evidence from the stolen BMW)
#14 LEONA THOMAS (Retired LAPD traffic officer who located and recovered Sherri Rasmussen's BMW)
#15 ALICIA RAMIREZ (Coroner's Office evidence room custodian in December 2004, who found the bite mark swab envelope after searching two days)
#16 JACKIE GARCIA PARTIDA (Coroner's Office evidence room custodian, worked in the property/evidence room in December 2004 with Alicia Ramirez)
#17 DAN ANDERSON (LA County Deputy Coroner, supervising criminalist who requested the evidence/property department do a search for the bite mark swab and when it was found, repackaged the envelope for delivery to LAPD)
#18 ROBERTO MORALES (LAPD Detective, in 2009 worked Internal Affairs Dept., on undercover investigations, collected the cup Lazarus discarded and another in the trash and placed them in a manila envelope)
#19 DANTE PALACIO (LAPD Internal Affairs Dept., on undercover investigations, provided the envelope for the two cups that Morales collected; took possession of the envelope and closed it with the metal clasp)
#20 SARGENT JIM HENSELY (LAPD Internal Affairs surveillance officer, took possession of the envelope from Palacio and delivered it to a supervisor at the LAPD crime lab, Mr. Yamaguchi)
#21 JENNIFER FRANCIS (LAPD SID Serology Lab DNA analyst who performed DNA analysis tests on several blood sample items at the scene and the bite mark swab; did the initial DNA testing to get a profile from the bite mark swab; made the comparison between the bite mark swab and DNA collected from Lazarus in June 2009)

Day 5 Day 5, Part II
#21 JENNIVER FRANCIS (testimony continues)
#22 MARIA TOMES (LAPD Robbery-Homicide, present in interview room when DNA swab was taken from Lazarus after her arrest in June 2009.)
#23 NAND HART NBBRIG (LAPD criminalist, SID Division, obtained DNA swab from Lazarus as well as head hair samples after her arrest in June 2009.)
#24 MICHAEL MASTROCOVO (LAPD SID DNA Analyst who compared the DNA from the bite mark swab collected in 1986 to the DNA surreptitiously collected from Lazarus in 2009.)

Day 6
#25 CATHY LAW, DDS (Consulting Forensic Dentist to LA Co. Coroner's Office who reviewed the plaster casts made of the bite mark on Rasmussen's arm; unable to make a comparison to Lazarus dental cast taken of her teeth.)
#26 MILENA SRBOVA (LAPD SID, Serology Unit employee who picked up the bite mark swab from LA Co. Coroner's Office and booked it into evidence in the LAPD Serology Dept.)
#27 STACY VANDERSCHAAF (LAPD SID DNA Analyst who packaged various evidence items for shipment to an outside lab, SERI for analysis and comparison.)

Day 7 and Day 7 Part II and Day 7 Part III
#28 MIKE HARGREAVES (Retired LAPD Detective, was a roommate of Lazarus for two years; remembers an event where Lazarus became emotional when she learned Ruetten was getting married; testified that Lazarus told him she lost her back-up weapon in her fanny pack a few days prior, and asked what she should do)
#29 GAIL LOPES (Older sister of John Ruetten, found a letter from Lazarus to her late mother in her mother's belongings; in the letter Lazarus stated she did not "understand John's decision" to marry someone else)
#30 JOHN RUETTEN (Husband to victim Rasmussen; found her murdered in their town home; had a sexual relationship with Lazarus before he started dating Rasmussen; slept with Lazarus once while engaged to Rasmussen; contacted Lazarus years after the murder and met up with her in Hawaii in 1989 where he informed Lazarus he gave her name to police; had sex with with Lazarus two more times after the Hawaii meeting.)

Day8 and Day 8, Part II
#31 DAVE NEUMAN (Met Lazarus and Ruetten at UCLA; lived in Dykstra Hall; was Ruetten's roommate for one year at Dykstra and one year off campus; remained friends with Ruetten after college; defendant told him her feelings for Ruetten at UCLA; attended Ruetten's marriage and saw they were happy newlyweds; did not know of Ruetten's sexual relationship with Lazarus.)
#32 MIKE GORDER (Friend of Ruetten, met him in 7th grade and was a classmate from there throughout college; they played basketball together; both engineering majors at UCLA; observed relationship of Ruetten and Lazarus through college; played a role in Ruetten and Rasmussen meeting; attended Ruetten's wedding and observed them to be a happy, loving couple; saw the couple on Feb 15th, nine days before the murder at his sister's wedding; knew Lazarus was friendly with Ruetten's family; did not know of the sexual relationship between Lazarus and Ruetten.)
#33 KEVIN BECKER (LAPD officer who participated in the search of Lazarus' home and found a foot locker in an office closet; found the "journal" and photo of Lazarus with Ruetten.)
#34 DETECTIVE GREGORY STEARNS (LAPD Robbery/Homicide Detective, Homicide Special Division; received the case on May 29, 2009 and worked the case with his partner JARAMILLO; interviewed Lazarus at the Parker Center Jail on June 5th, 2009; initiated the search of Lazarus' residence and office locker; testified about the entries in Lazarus' journal, a daily planner, her work record and what days she had off; testified about photos, weapons and ammunition recovered in the search of her home and locker.)
#35 JAYNE WEAVER (Retired LAPD officer who met defendant in CPS program before LAPD academy and remained friends after; both assigned to Devonshire Division; defendant showed her tools she identified as a lock-picking kit in the women's locker room and that she knew how to use the tools (time frame unknown); reviewed work records of Lazarus and herself days after the murder; stated she cares about Lazarus.)

Day 9
#36 GEORGE HERRARA (LAPD criminalist and latent fingerprint analyst for 38 years; explains difference between a latent print and patent print and how they are collected and documented on records; explains how prints are analyzed and comparisons are made; analyzed prints collected at the crime scene.)
#37 DONALD BARONA (Former sales manager for LAPRAC (Los Angels Police Revolver & Athletic Club) in 2009 where the club operated a gun store; the store only sold weapons to officers; testifies about required ATF records that document Lazarus' purchase of firearms; Lazarus purchased a Smith & Wesson Model 49, 38 caliber on February 29th, 1984.)
#38 ELAINE SENA BROWN (Retired Community Service Officer for the Santa Monica Police; took a stolen property from a vehicle report from a Stephanie Ilene Lazarus on March 9th, 1986, 13 days after the murder and two days after the vehicle was found; Lazarus reported the door lock was "punched", a gym bag, clothing, cassettes and money was stolen, as well as her S&W Model 49 from the glove compartment.)
#39 STEVEN RODGERS (Product Services Representative for Federal Cartridge, an ammunition manufacturer; testified about a bullet assembly machine #21, that has been in use since World War II; testified the bullets recovered from Rasmussen's body, evidence items 42A and 42B, the "jacket crimp" exhibited an exact match to bullets manufactured by Federal, the 38J Plus P 125g (gram) bullet; these bullets were at one time exclusively sold to LAPD but it is unknown when they became available to the general public.)
#40 WONKEUN CHOI (LAPD forensic computer examiner, who examined several computers seized at the Lazarus residence on June 5th, 2009; located several Internet searches for John Ruetten on the computers in 1998 and 1999.)
#41 DETECTIVE DAN JARAMILLO (LAPD Robbery/Homicide Detective; Homicide Special Division; assigned the case in May 29th, 2009 with his partner, STEARNS; testified about the distances from Lazarus home and work to the crime scene and Rasmussen's office; obtained a certified copy of Rasmussen's marriage certificate; introduces the video taped interview of Lazarus; he was wired with a recording device and there was a video recording in the interview room in the Parker Center jail area)

DAY 10
#42 BRIAN MCCARTEN* (LAPD officer who went through the LAPD academy with Lazarus; explained the rigorous training such as "combat wrestling" and "gun retention drills" which involves trying to take a weapon away from one's opponent; testified Lazarus was "the strongest, most aggressive, most persistent woman in all the class"; testified that he trained with all the women in the class and still considers Lazarus a friend.) *Potential witness list has spelling as McCarten; I have it as McCartin in my notes.)
#43 THOMAS FEDOR (Independent labratory, SERI DNA Analyst who performed additional, more sophisticated testing using "MiniFiler" on many pieces of evidence collected at the crime scene. Testified that the bite mark swab was a 1 in 1.7 sextillion match to Lazarus' DNA; one torn fingernail collected by LAPD criminalists had a 1 in 9,000 match and the other torn fingernail had a 1 in 26,000 match to Lazarus' DNA.)

Day 11
(Retired LAPD SID firearms examiner and explosives expert criminalist; verifies the LAPD documentation procedures and protocols for firearms issued to field officers in 1986 as well as the type of ammunition that was required officers carry; testifies about the barrel length of a S&W Model 49 and the similarities to a S&W Model 38; performed the trajectory analysis at the scene in 1986; cut out the carpeting and padding in Unit 205 under where Rasmussen's body was found looking for the third bullet; unable to find it; testifies about the barrel cylinder gap GSR, the various bullet holes and stippling found on the robe/blanket garment.)
#45 GILBERT AGUILAR (LAPD SID latent fingerprint criminalist; collected latent prints at the scene and performed analysis on several of the recovered latent prints;

DAY 12
#46 MICHAEL AMES (LAPD SID latent fingerprint criminalist; collected latent prints at the scene on February 25th, 1986 and performed the "ninhydren" (sp?) test on wall surfaces; collected prints off the recovered BMW; performed analysis on several recovered prints.)
#47 CHERYLE MASSARO (sp?) (Custodian of Records at California Depart of Firearms; verified when Lazarus purchased the S&W Model 49 and when it was reported stolen by Santa Monica Police Dept and not LAPD; verified that the weapon had not been reported recovered in all 50 states since Feb. 18th, 2012.)
#48 DR. CONNIE WESTHOFF (Former Red Cross blood bank director; identified Rasmussen's blood as having a rare Type O variant of O01/O09; initiated the test series to run a genetic analysis of Rasmussen's blood, compared it to her parents and interpreted the results.)
#49 MOSES SCHANFIELD (Professor of Forensic Science and Anthropology at Columbian College Arts & Sciences; testified that Rasmussen's Type O variant blood would give ambiguous results under the ABO type testing; it could easily test as Type O, weak Type A or a combination of Type O and Type A.)
#50 WENDY HALL (LAPD SID latent print criminalist; analyzed prints collected at the scene; input two unidentified prints into AFIS; no prints matched the defendant.)
#51 DANIEL RUBIN (LAPD SID firearms expert criminalist; testified the "jacket crimp" on the 42A and 42B bullets recovered by the coroner were a match to the jacket crimp on Federal 38J Plus P 125.grains cartridges; traveled with STEARNS and DDA Presby to the Federal plant to inspect machine that makes the jacket crimp on Federal cartridges; performed a new trajectory analysis of the shots fired through the curtain at the scene.)

DAY 13 and DAY 13, PART II
#52 MARK SAFARIK (Executive Director of Forensic Behavioral Services; reviewed the 1986 case file and 2009 investigation; reviewed new testing done in 2010 and visited the crime scene; came to a conclusion and gave an opinion that the scene was staged to look like an interrupted burglary; testified about the possible sequence of events reflected in the evidence regarding Rasmussen’s fight for her life with her attacker and ultimate death.)
#53 STEVEN DOWELL (Retired LA County Coroner’s tool marks examiner; performed analysis on the pattern mark injuries on Rasmussen’s face and head comparing them to a S&W Model 49 and the broken vase; a wound to the right side and above Rasmussen’s right eye could easily have been from the muzzle end of the Model 49; that wound and other wounds on Rasmussen’s face and head could also have been caused by the various contours of the broken vase; Dowell could not say definitively what object caused the pattern mark wounds.)

Defense Case-in-Chief

Day 14 and Day 14, Part II
#1 EVANGALINA FLORES (Evangelina?) (Housekeeper for Unit 206 next door to the crime scene who heard noises that sounded like fighting; told detectives in 1986 she heard these noises about 12:30; told detectives in 2009 it was about 11:20 AM.) *Potential witness list has spelling as Evangalina; I have it as Evangelina in my notes.)
#2 SUZANNE WINSTON MENDOZA (Cousin to defendant; known Lazarus all her life and close to her when they were younger; testified she can not imagine her cousin ever being violent.)
#3 ROBERT KIRK (Retired LAPD Officer who occasionally went to dinner at Lazarus' home off Rinaldi in 1986 when on work dinner break; could not recall seeing photographs at Lazarus' condo; doesn't remember meeting Lazarus at a doughnut shop with another officer, John Ross.)
#4 MICHAEL ALEXANDER (Retired LAPD Officer; rode patrol with Lazarus in 1986 in the same car at Devonshire Division on February 25th, 1986 and February 27th, 1986; does not remember any injuries on Lazarus.)
#5 GORDON WADE (LAPD Officer; testified about cleaning out lockers in Internal Affairs Division two years prior to her arrest; a weapon, uniforms and ammunition was inside the locker.)
#C1*JEFFREY ALDEN THOMPSON (LAPD SID Acting Assistant Director overseeing the serology lab for three years; reviewed old ASCLD/LAB reports and testified as to what the findings were in regards to deficiencies in lab procedure in 1998, 2004 and 2009.)
#6 PATRICIA FANT (Former LA Co. Sheriff and independent firearms examiner; could not definitively say the bullets recovered by the coroner were Federal issue; for the trajectory analysis, could not definitively say the hole in the drain pipe across the alley was a bullet hole to use for the trajectory of one of the fired rounds; testified abut the barrel cylinder gap on the blanket/garment.)

Day 15, and Day 15 Part II and Day 15 Part III
#7 CARL OLSON (Santa Monica Police Department Custodian of Records; testified about property thefts from automobiles in Santa Monica from February 1st, 1986 to April 30th, 1986.)

#8 KIM DITTBERN (Personal friend of defendant; met her through CPA preparation training program and in LAPD Academy)

#9 SHERRI HUFF (Personal friend of defendant; known her 30 years since UCLA)

#10 JAMES NUTTALL (LAPD Van Nuys Division Detective)

#11 DAN MYERS (LAPD Robbery Homicide Division Detective; testified he recovered a weapon in Lazarus's locker)

#C1*JEFFREY ALDEN THOMPSON (LAPD SID Acting Assistant Director overseeing the serology lab for three years; reviewed old ASCLD/LAB reports and testified as to what the findings were in regards to deficiencies in lab procedure in 1998, 2004 and 2009.)

#12 GREGORY STEARNS (LAPD Robbery/Homicide Detective who investigated the case and conducted the interview of the defendant at Parker Center)

#13 ANDREA DILLON (LAPD SID latent fingerprint analyst who worked on the case)

* Court witness #1, 402 hearing. Did not testify before the jury.