Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 11

UPDATED February 23rd, 2012

2-12-12 Jennifer Francis, DNA Analyst who tested the bite mark swab in 2005. © Thomas Broersma

10:15 AM
We are at the morning break. SERI DNA Analyst, Thomas Fedor is finally off the stand. The prosecution has called their next witness, Daniel Rubin, who has not yet taken the stand. There was something up on the overhead screen, with Rubin's name on it so I'm guessing we will have a slide presentation along with his testimony.

In his recross of Thomas Fedor, Overland was asking many of the same questions he asked yesterday about the MiniFiler results for the damaged fingernails that came back with mixed profiles that could possibly include Lazarus' DNA. Overland was asking about single specific allele locations that did not have the numbers that Lazarus has in her profile. He was not asking about the DNA profile as a whole. Even the witness, when asked about one of the Electrophermogram print outs said, "I remember discussing this yesterday."

11:15 AM
Another short break is called. When I got back inside the courtroom, a different witness was called instead of Rubin. George Luczy, independent firearm examiner and explosive expert. Luczy testified at the preliminary hearing. He is explaining to the jury all about revolvers and how they operate. Back in 1986, he also did trajectory testing on the bullet holes found in the curtains covering the shattered patio doors off the kitchen balcony.

1:00 PM
Luczy testified that, in his opinion, the patchwork blanket-like garment was wrapped around the weapon each time before it was fired and essentially acted as a silencer. He also testified that the gunshot residue present of the blanket-garment was from the barrel cylinder gap of a revolver with a two-inch barrel. A Smith & Wesson Model 49 was placed over the blanket-garment where the line of gunshot residue appears and the end of the barrel exactly matches up with the bullet hole.

Daniel Rubin is waiting in the hallway to testify. Tomorrow, it is expected that the prosecution will call their crime scene analyst expert and end their case-in-chief with that witness.

Before trial started, Shannon Presby expected that the prosecution's case would last "about 11 days." Tomorrow will be day twelve of the trial, so they have come pretty close to their original estimate.

2:41 PM
We are on the afternoon break. Luczy is under cross examination. He's been asked about ballistics tests he conducted in 1986. He didn't remember conducting them. On his 1986 report, he indicated the bullets could have been 38 caliber or 357 caliber. Luczy states that these bullets are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Luczy was also asked about a police directive from the Chief of Police, issued on October 15th, 1982, that stated any officer relinquishing a weapon needed to fill out a form and notify the armory of the transfer telephonically or in person. Luczy did not remember that particular directive.

UPDATE: February 23rd, 2012
A bit more detail about the afternoon session for Day 11.

At 1:30 PM, when got back inside the courtroom there was a young, pretty India-looking woman sitting where I like to sit in the front row. I make a guess that she is an intern for the DA’s office because she has a badge on her blouse with a business card in it that looks at first glance to be from the DA’s office. She tells me she is interning for the City Attorney’s office (I guess those official government business cards all look alike.) and ask me if I’m “Sprocket.” I ask her name and introduce myself to her.

Nunez is standing in the well, leaning against the jury box with his arms crossed over his chest. I jokingly ask him about his “defensive” looking body posture and he just replies, 14 days of trial. I count eleven, (from testimony) but Nunez is counting from voir dire.

In the press, the “multi-colored blanket” has been identified as a blanket and as a robe. Today, we finally find out why both descriptions are correct when it’s presented to the jury and explained.

The blanket appears (to me) to be handmade, and I believe DDA Presby even described it as such. It is rectangular in shape, about the size of throw blanket in a patchwork pattern. It’s quilted and has a type of polyester padding/stuffing inside it. At one end, there are two elongated slit openings to put arms through, so it could be worn, like a robe.

My friend and CBS 48 Hours producer, Greg Fisher showed up for the afternoon session.

In the cross examination, Overland asked how much he had billed so far. Luczy had not billed the prosecution yet. He thinks he has worked about 20 hours on the case so far and he bills for those hours at $150.00 an hour. When he testifies, it’s a flat rate of $350.00 for half a day or $700.00 for the full day. That’s not very much, in my opinion.

In his report on the ballistics of the bullets that he prepared in 1986, he mentioned several other manufacturer’s that produced a firearm that could have been used to fire those bullets. Smith & Wesson, Lama, Ruger, Taerus, and several others, that produced a 38 2” revolver that had the same 5 lands and groves with a right hand twist in the barrel.

In the analysis Luczy did on the blanket, Overland asks if he limited his comparison of the barrel cylinder gap on the blanket to just the S&W Model 49. Luczy states he was not asked by the prosecution to make any comparisons of the marks on the blanket to any other firearm, just the Model 49.

Overland asks Luczy if reporting a firearm stolen to a police agency would qualify for documenting the status of a back-up weapon. Luczy at first appears to agree.

Judge Perry interjects and qualifies, “Any police agency?”

Luczy then backtracks and states, “Well, I don’t know about that.” He feels that one has a direct responsibility to report it to their direct command.

Overland goes over the recruit manual, and the section of the manual that states, “The issue ammo is Federal.” I believe Overland is implying that the manual doesn’t specifically state that it “has to” be Federal ammunition by the way the manual is worded.

It’s interesting to hear this former LAPD officer testify on the stand. The expression on his face when Overland implied that about the ammunition. With a somewhat surprised expression on his face Luczy responds, “I had friends who were suspended for two weeks without pay (for using ammunition that wasn’t approved)!!”

In response, Overland then implies, that this violation was common among officers.

Luczy is questioned about the photos that showed he and another officer performed trajectory analysis of the two shots through the patio doors and if he knows what was the distance from the outer most place in the apartment from the holes in the curtain. Luczy doesn’t know. Judge Perry interrupts and asks, “What estimate (in measurement) from the photo (was it) to the window?” Luczy states he cannot tell from that photo.

Overland asks several more questions about the distance from the window about the other bullet hole. After several ‘I don’t knows’, Judge Perry interjects and says, “He says he doesn’t know!”

Overland asks many questions about what he remembers about qualifying with his service weapon all those years ago. All Luczy remembers is that he started at a close distance and then they went out farther. Many questions from Overland about if there was a score or not, if it was this distance or that distance and if he remembers what the different ranks were awarded. All Luczy can say for certain is that it was a pass or fail exam, he doesn’t remember the exact distances one had to shoot from and that he only remembers one level, the highest because he achieved that level: ‘distinguished expert’.

I write myself a note wondering if Overland is going to claim that Lazarus was such a good shot she wouldn’t have missed? I can’t be he would use that argument.

Overland asks more questions about his examination of the multi-colored blanket, whether he noticed any hairs on the blanket or a footprint on it. Luczy did not.

The gun Luczy used in his photo demonstration on the blanket was provided to him by a detective on the case and it was the only one provided. Luczy agrees that the S&W Model 49 has a 1 7/8” barrel and the measurement from the barrel cylinder gap residue on the blanket to the bullet hole is two inches.

Overland asks if Luczy conducted tests on similar blankets to support his conclusion that the blanket would act as a silencer and if he measured the thickness of the blanket. Luczy did not. Luczy cannot say that the blanket was wrapped around the weapon each time it was fired.

Cross ends and redirect begins.

Luczy states that there is basically no difference between a 38 and a 357 caliber bullet. One bullet that was recovered was deformed and weighed 119.2 grains. It was a semi-jacketed soft point bullet. The other bullet was 124.7 grains and also a semi-jacketed soft point bullet. Both bullets are consistent with the bullets issued by LAPD in 1986. They had the same weight, structure and caliber. They had the same five lands and groves with a revolver that has a right hand twist, consistent with a S&W Model 49.

Presby asks, “When you did your (monthly) qualifying shooting, where you firing at a live person?”

GL: No.

Luczy was shooting at a target, not a live person.

SP: Was someone grabbing at you and trying to point the weapon away from the chest?

GL: No.

Direct ends and Overland asks questions on recross.

The report on the firearm was prepared when things were a lot more fresh in his mind. Overland brings out every other weapon he listed on the report that could have fired those bullets. There are at least six other manufacturers that Overland asks Luczy about.

The witness is finished and Paul Nunez directs the next witness.

Gilbert Aguilar, retired LAPD SID latent fingerprint expert in 1986. He started in 1977 and left the LAPD in 1999. Aguilar gives his CV in fingerprint analysis. Aguilar knew fellow employee George Herrera. The first fingerprint report Nunez goes over is written in his handwriting that lists seventeen prints he collected. He arrived at the scene at 7:15 PM and left at 4:oo AM.

Aguilar describes his procedure and what he would normally do. Nunez asks him about several items and locations at the scene, whether he fingerprinted those areas and his normal procedure. He recovered fingerprints using fingerprint powder.

Nunez asks about printing the stereo equipment stacked by the stairs.

PN: Do you recall finding any kind of blood?

GA: If I did find any I would not have printed them.

Nunez asks another few questions whether or not he knew criminalist Alice Ochiae when Judge Perry interrupts and asks his own question.

Aguilar states that if they found a bloody print or any blood or body fluids on an item that could be transported, it would be taken to the crime lab to determine the best way to examine it (for prints).

Aguilar states that in homicides he would and printed the entire door, not just the door knob and surrounding area. He also printed hand rails. He didn’t print the kitchen and doesn’t believe he printed the bar area. He didn’t print the ironing board because that’s cloth. He didn’t indicate all the places he dusted for prints on his report. He only documented what he recovered.

As we look as the photos again where prints were found, one smear/print was just above an electrical outlet between a closet and another door. Aguilar states that he would have printed the pulled out drawer in the little end table with N-hydren (sp?) (the toxic substance they spray and then seal the location for a few days) because wood is heavily textured.

Court ends with Aguilar still on the stand under direct examination.

It is expected the prosecution will rest their case either Thursday or Friday. My friends in the mainstream media tell me that Overland expects to start his case either Friday or Monday.


T&T FAN said...

Thanks Sprocket! your notes are great---I see in previous comments that SL is suffering from throat cancer?- I had never heard this before-

Francaise said...

Hearing that she is sick make me feel sorry for her. I hope she feel better.

NancyB said...

Lazarus does NOT have throat cancer. She was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer prior to her indictment in this case. It appears to me that it was successfully treated prior to her being charged in this case. She would presently require daily oral maintenance doses of thyroid hormone. All thyroid cancer(Papillary, Follicular, Medullary) survival rates are 100% if found early.(stage I or II)

Lazarus has already surpassed the initial 5 year survival rate, which is an excellent estimate for her long term survival.

Anonymous said...

I heard she had thyroid cancer years ago, and it was successfully treated. Thyroid cancer is very treatable and very few people die from it.

Curious that the thyroid is at the throat chakra location. This is the area for speech. Keeping a murderous secret - not speaking - has negative health ramifications. Many of OJs dream team got one form or another of cancer.

People think murderers just march on with life after the crime. I am sure that is true for some, but many become ill from it.

Anonymous said...

Sprocket - I truly appreciate your your sense of fairness to all parties. This is a difficult situation regardless of the public's feelings either way. Thanks for putting your heart and soul into this project.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 4:50 PM
IMHO, there is no other way to view this case. One should have compassion for all these people who come to court every day, and hear information that is painful and/or challenging.

Remember, Lazarus' family knows her as dedicated, exemplary detective whose personnel file is full of accolades about her dedicated service and charity work. (I believe Overland touched on this in his opening statement.) This is the person they've experienced, all the time they've known her.

It's a testament to their love for her, that they come to court every day in support of what she's going through.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon, it must be extremely difficult for SL's family. But when the jury reaches their inevitable decision, the family will have 2 choices: they can continue to live in denial, or they can accept the hard, cold fact that she committed the ultimate crime. And its not just the crime itself. Its the senseless motive, the brutal nature, the fact that she was stalking both JR & SR, but most of all, the way she hid behind a badge for 23 years. Truly outrageous, revolting and horrifying. She deserves nothing but a lonely cold cell for the rest of her days...

Mark from OC said...

Oops, I meant Sprocket, not Anon!

And keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say I am totally lost in trying to
follow this blog. Trial day four (Feb. 10?)
was posted on Feb. 20? I then click on
Newer Post, and it comes up on today?
Something about Phil Spector showed up
in my fruitless searching, too. Can anyone
point out what I'm sure is the proper way to
navigate chronologically?

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 2:28 PM
I answered your question in the comments area on the February 24th's Day 13 entry. Here's the direct link: