Tuesday, May 31, 2011

James Fayed Penalty Phase Verdict Watch Day 5

Update: Edit for spelling and grammar 4:19 pm. Sprocket.

8:46 am: A few moments ago I settled into my little corner in Dept. 109. After I got my laptop set up, Judge Kennedy arrived. From the gist of what I'm hearing in the courtroom, they were ready to start a case (picking a jury) but it appears the defense attorney is very ill so they are post-phoning the trial until Thursday. I thought I would be cramped in the gallery with a packed jury today and the other reporters and myself all jammed in together. The case they were going to start will be "10 of 10" on Thursday. There are two black people in the gallery, that I'm guessing are here for the defendant. An older black woman and a young man.

People vs. Corneilus Byers (sp?) ...the court reporter is having trouble setting up. Judge Kennedy isn't even in her robes. This will be a quick hearing. Ms. Gray is ill today so they are holding over until Thursday. It's quick. The defendant isn't even brought out. The bailiff asks Ms. Gray's representative to see the defendant. (I'm guessing to explain what's happening.) The two people in the gallery are disappointed they will not get to see their loved one today.

Ms. Gray's representative who is standing in for her goes back to speak to the defendant and then comes out to speak to the people in the gallery.

8:56 am: Fayed jurors come in a few at a time and it's echoing silence in 109 again.

One juror, a woman looks a little down-trodden and she comes in. I just hear Lori tell Sean that Juror #6 is running a bit late. I can hear that Lori sounds like she has a head-cold. She's sniffling a bit and Sean asks her if she's felling any better.

8:59 am: Another juror enters. I wait it for the buzz, but it doesn't come so this must not be #6.

9:02 am: One of the female jurors leaves the jury room and exits 109. Another juror enters right after her.

9:05 am: The female juror reenters the jury room. Still no buzz.

9:06 am: The court reporter Laurie (sp?) is here today. I'm spelling her name differently than the court clerk Lori, even though I don't know how their names are actually spelled.

9:07 am: Lori advises Sean to let the foreperson know (that #6 will be late). He gets up to inform the jury.

9:10 am: Lori and Laurie chat at the clerk's desk. I can barely see the bailiff sitting at his desk from where I am in the courtroom. Even though there is a glass partition around it, there is white paper put up around the lower portion of the glass, so that while he's sitting, only Sean's eyes and the top portion of his nose, visible. Sean is exactly what one would picture in your mind when you think of a L.A. County Sheriff. He's tall and lean. He's got short dark hair parted on the side and handsome.

9:18 am: I believe we are still missing the one juror.

9:22 am: Sean is on the phone with Juror #6. "How long do you think it's going to be until you get here? Sounds good." Sean then gets up to inform the waiting jurors.

9:24 am: Two male jurors exit and complain about the odd single door that leads back to the jury room.

9:26 am: Another male juror exits. I hear Lori tell Laurie that Franklin is on calendar tomorrow. That's Lonnie David Franklin, Jr., accused "Grim Sleeper" rapist and murderer.

9:36 am: Terri Keith from City News drops in to see if there's any news. I tell her we are still waiting for the late juror. I mention about the Franklin case in 109 tomorrow. She tells me prior hearings in that case have been at 9:00 am. I'm thinking that if the Fayed jury comes back with a verdict today, I may come back tomorrow just to listen in on the pretrial hearing.

I ask Terri who the DDA's are on the Franklin case. She believes it's Beth Silverman and Marguerite (sp?) Rizzo. I briefly met Beth Silverman years ago at the Van Nuys courthouse. I was following a case that eventually settled, Shizari, (sp?) I think. It was a man accused of killing his brother out in Canoga Park or Woodland Hills (I can't remember) and his brother's body was never found. The defendant eventually pled to involuntary manslaughter. He's probably out by now with good behavior.

9:46 am: Three male jurors return. One says to the bailiff, "I tracked him down and brought him back in."

9:48 am: BUZZ! The jurors are finally on the clock!

9:51 am: I'm reading that the Casey Anthony jury is hearing for the first time, the phone call Casey Anthony made to her family when she was first incarcerated. This is what my friend Sedonia Sunset said about it. "So many people have never heard that oh-so-damning phone call, and they are pretty shocked to hear it at this point. The vitriol, selfishness, contempt for her mother and obsession with Tony, along with what she actually SAID made quite a vivid picture for people. Up until that point, a lot of people had waivered on her guilt, but I think seeing her mask slip is going to make quite an impact." When Sedonia says "her mask" she's referring to what Hervey Cleckley's describes in his famous book, The Mask of Sanity.

9:58 am: A suited gentleman comes in and asks if a female witness has shown up. Lori says "No." If she does, he asks Lori to call him. He quickly leaves.

10:02 am: Sean asks Lori why she came to work. "I'm sick, but I'm not dying. .... I can feel crappy here."

10:05 am: BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! We have a verdict!

The minute I hear those three buzzes, It's like my stomach jumps and my heart starts racing a bit. Hopefully, it won't take too long for the family to get here so that they can be here for the verdict.

10:12 am: The trim public defender with the short graying-hair shows up. I don't know if it's to hear the penalty verdict or if she is here to drop something off. I think she might be staying to hear the reading.

10:18 am: I move over to the chairs by the door so I can quickly exit to report the verdict. A few moments ago the pretty blond Dateline producer arrived and I told her we have a verdict. Terri Keith from City News arrives as well as Cathy from the court's Public Information Office (PIO).

10:26 am: Defense counsel Mark Werksman and Steve Meister arrive and speak informally with the judge to find out when the verdict will be read. I believe she tells them that back when, she told the family about one hour. I believe she states that it will be a little bit longer than that.

I believe Meister asks the bailiff if the defendant is back there (in holding). (He is.) A slew of nicely dressed young women enter 109. Nine young ladies sit in the second bench row. One of them greets Terri Keith and they chat.

10:29 am: Another contingent of young people arrive, about seven more. They sit in the back row and now the gallery is a chatter with conversation.

10:30 am: Desiree arrives with the DA's clerk. Right behind them is Alan Jackson, Eric Harmon and Jackson's long-time companion, Lisa. (Lisa is a DDA.)

10:31 am: Fayed's counsel are both back with him. Jack Leonard from the LA Times comes in and sits by Jane Robison from the DA's office. Lisa changes seats and sits up with Desiree.

10:34 am: Pat Dixon, #3 in command at the DA's office arrives. I'd forgotten that he had been promoted from the Dept. Head of Major Crimes to a new position. The tall slender man with glasses from the DA's office that I first saw in the Spector trials is here. I've totally forgotten his name, as usual. There are quite a few more people from the DA's office that came in a minute ago.

10:36 am: There are two sheriff's standing at the courtroom doors. The defendant has not been brought out yet. Meister is chatting with Harmon, Jackson and the DA's clerk in the well.

Werksman just came out from holding. He shakes Jackson's hand.

10:38 am: A still photographer shows up. Cathy from the PIO tells him where he can stand. She heads over to that area of the courtroom to monitor what he photographs I think.

More people continue to pour in.

10:40 am: Now a cameraman with a video camera shows up. Fayed was just brought out a moment ago. There are two more sheriff's at the courtroom door making it four now.

I don't know if the cameraman, from whatever station it is has clearance. Mary is on the phone at the clerk's desk. I can't see the channel number from where I am on his equipment. It's someone I've never seen before. I guess there's clearance. I make this my last transmission until verdict is read.

10:44 am: It won't be long now. A second cameraman shows up and then he leaves after seeing that someone is already here.

The still photographer is signaling Jack Leonard from the LA Times. Maybe he's from their paper.

10:46 am: Judge Kennedy takes the bench.

JK: Are we ready for the jurors?

The clerk calls for the alternates over the speaker. A reporter for ABC Channel 7 walks in and sits beside me; tall, young, handsome.

The jurors file in.

On the record. Juror #3 still the foreperson. Verdict forms handed to the bailiff.

Clerk to read verdict.

Meister puts his hand on Fayed's shoulders

Death by execution.

Werksman covers his mouth with his hand.

Defense asks for the jury to be poled. I can't see Fayed's face. His back is to me.

Clerk is ordered to record the verdict.

JK: I know this was a very difficult (decision).

She thanks the alternates.

Judge Kennedy addresses the jurors:
As to the 12 jurors, I know you've been here for a long time, and I bet you didn't know how difficult it would be to juror in this case.

Our criminal justice system depends n people like you who are willing to put in the hard work.

Now tells them you are now free from the limitation. You may talk about the case with anyone you like.

You can speak to the attorney's if you wish, but you are under no obligation to do so. It's totally up to them if they want to speak to the media that's been following the case.

Assures them that their identities that will remain sealed.

There's more. Remind them to take their possessions and to check out with the central jury waiting room. Continues to thank them and remind them about the importance of their time here.

I stepped outside to publish the last notes.

Defense requesting a sentencing date of September 22nd. Judge tentatively agrees to that date. Meister makes some constitutional objections to the death penalty. Werksman looks very very sad. The mass of people from the DA's office files out.

When I went outside to publish, the Dateline producer and Greg Fisher from CBS were handing out envelopes to the jurors as they walked past.

I think there will be a press conference on the 12th floor. I don't know if I will stick around for that. I'm behind on too many chores.

11:07 am: The press conference will be on the 12th floor in the hallway right in front of the DA's "Public Assistance Fraud Division". It's an area where they film that has on one wall, a bunch of connector outlets. There are no chairs, so I'm sitting on the floor. The still camera is set up. Fox 11 news is her as well ask KNX 10.70. Terri Keith, Greg Fisher, Jack Leonard and a photographer from the LA Times and the Dateline producer (I'm not remembering her name again. I think it's Michelle.)

There is a sign on the wood walls that says "MEDIA AREA." Jane Robison is also here.

I ask the gentleman, Robert who was behind the video camera if Fayed had any reaction when the verdict was read. He said that he didn't show much emotion. Werksman looked like, (to me) that he was devastated with the death verdict.

Claudia from WKFB shows up. Another gentleman who looks vaguely familiar is also here.

Werksman and Meister show up. They stand over to be video taped.

Meister: I'm disappointed, but I obviously understand the jury's verdict. They took longer than the guilt phase verdict.

Meister talks about the death penalty case and the moratorium in California. In an ironic sense, we have a victory today. He's 49, he's depressed, he's overweight, he's in a bad state. I don't expect an execution to ever take place.

Greg Fisher takes my photo with his smart phone. I put my head down to try to hide my face. Maybe he wants to blackmail me.

Meister: He (Fayed) described this as a "downfall of mythical proportions."

Meister continues to comment on the jury's verdict. "We had faith and confidence in them, but I'm disappointed in the result."

Two more cameramen set up to interview Meister and Werksman and they continue to be interviewed.

Q: Is anyone satisfied?

SM: Who's satisfied? There's nobody to be satisfied.

Meister continues to talk about the death penalty.

Werksman states that Fayed continues to maintain (from the very beginning) his innocence, that he did not hire killers to kill his wife.

Jackson steps up.

I can't even see Jackson there are so many camera.

Alan Jackson:
Today, let me be very clear, it is not a time of celebration. Truly, that the jurors have rendered a (verdict) came on the heels of incredibly hard work. Rendering the toughest decision you could render in a criminal case. And they should be commended for the work that they have put in.

AJ: People of California have spoken over and over about the Death penalty, and as long as it's still available, the people...

A question about if there was a deal.. Jackson won't speak to that.

AJ: We feel that Mr. Fayed, did, through his conduct, earn the ultimate punishment.

Reporters, who didn't know a thing about the case, ask Jackson if it was just all over a bitter divorce.

AJ: This was a very, very complex case, and a lot of thought went into it by the jury. (For the verdict.)

Reporters again, ask details of the case.

AJ: I'm not going to retry the case in front of the cameras.

AJ: There is nothing to joke about. There is nothing funny about this.

Why did you choose the death penalty in this case?

AJ: Did you see the face of Desiree? Did you see it? This man destroyed not only her, but an entire family.

The media packs up, and I'm going to head home. They try to work out getting the video from each other.


Sprocket said...

Chris said:

On Fayed sentencing and post sentencing conference. Thanks, as always, for being our eyes and providing info that we really can’t get elsewhere . . . you’re a gem!


Thank you Chris. I have to say, for me, this was the most painful verdict watch ever. My thoughts will be with Desiree Goudie and her family in the months ahead.

Anonymous said...

Why is the sentencing 4 month away? Is that normal?

Sprocket said...

It's a little longer than normal. When I stepped out to publish the verdict (there is no transmission allowed during the reading of the verdict) I missed most of the arguments by the defense for the delay in sentencing.

I believe (but I'm not positive) it's so the defense has the time to prepare an argument for the Judge to change the verdict at sentencing. There is something else that will be decided (at that time) and I think it's the restitution costs...but don't quote me on that either.