Monday, February 27, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 14


I’m on the Red Line train, hoping there isn’t much rain in downtown Los Angeles. Three sisters who are T&T fans are going to try to get a seat today and have offered to take me to lunch. (I probably won’t have a lunch time update today.)

The prosecution is expected to rest their case first thing this morning and enter into stipulations with the defense, on certain aspects of the case that they agree upon.

I have been working on updating the witness list and I’m almost finished. On the witness list page, you will find every witness who has testified in the trial to date, links to the trial coverage for that date as well as a short synopsis of their testimony. The prosecution has called 53 witnesses in their case-in-chief. I have no idea how many witnesses Overland plans to call for the defense or who will be first up on the stand.

Overland called six witnesses today. There was an additional witness who testified outside the presence of the jury. Judge Perry has not made a final ruling on this witness and whether or not he can testify. He will make a ruling tomorrow.

From the conversation counsel had with Judge Perry at the end of court today (Overland ran out of defense witnesses before 3:00 PM) it looks like the defense will rest at the end of the day tomorrow! Wednesday would be a day off to prepare for closings and closing arguments would begin Thursday and run into Friday morning. DDA Nunez stated his closing will be about 2 hours. Overland stated his would be not more than 4 hours and Presby stated his end closing would be about 1 hour. Then there's also the jury instructions. Those can take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the instructions. It's very possible the jury could get the case as early as Friday afternoon. Counsel will go over jury instructions to see if they prefer CAL JIC or CAL CRIM instructions.

I will be working all evening on getting my notes up on the witnesses who testified today, so please keep checking back.

Court resumes tomorrow at 8:30 AM.


Anonymous said...

Mornin Sprocket :) Just wondering how difficult it is to get seating @ the Trial? Do you need connections? Do you need to arrive extra early? How does one go about viewing the Trial? Also I'm wondering if SL's eyes appear as crazy wild as they do in all the previous pics & vids of her, sitting there in the courtroom.

Francaise said...

Thanks to those 3 sisters. Nice from them. I leave in Concord, North Carolina. One day, if I come to LA, I will try to meet you if it is possible. Enyoy your lunch with them.

Becky said...

Sprocket, Can you explain a little more about what you mean by stipulations? Sorry, I'm just a little lost. As always, thank you! You're the best!

Sprocket said...

Getting a public seat. Should not be a problem tomorrow but for closing arguments, all bets are off.

It all depends on how many of the general public show up for the seats they will let the general public have. Traditionally, if there are more people who want seats than there are seats available, they will be given out through lottery ticket draw that's done right there in the hallway.

Lazarus' eyes.
They do not look anything like the photos of her. Nothing. She is thin, she is pale from lack of sun, but her eyes don't look anything like the photos of her at her arraignment hearings.

Thank you! It was a super special treat for me to get lunch at PITFIRE! These three sisters ROCK!

A stipulation is an agreement where, the prosecution and defense both agree on evidence and what it shows/means. It can also mean that, IF A WITNESS (NAME PROVIDED) had testified, he would have said (this). Those stipulations are read to the jury.

Hope that helps.

Now I've got to get some chores done and then I can sit down to write.

TS said...

I overheard it said the defense has a total of 17 witnesses which sounds about right if there is a possibility of the defense resting its case tomorrow. As always, I appreciate you giving us an update of "what's next" as far as you know (including court start time for the next day for those of us who may be able to attend). By the way, your response to the person who wrote about keeping more to the facts of the trial was such a thorough, impressive and professional reply - which is how you write everything!

Sprocket said...

We don't know if the defense is going to call all those witnesses though. They only got through six today. Don't see how they can get through eleven tomorrow and still rest.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely cannot believe that Overland will "rest"! We will call far less witnesses than I had anticipated!! Shocker.

Please don't forget to tell us why a juror was replaced on Friday

Sprocket said...

I already wrote about in Day 13, Part II about how juror #4 from the morning was replaced with a new alternate in the afternoon.

We don't know "why" she was replaced; that discussion happened in chambers. However, Judge Perry's lecture to the jury after the next alternate was chosen gives us a hint that she must have said something, to someone and/or had come to a conclusion based on something she saw happening in the gallery.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the defense is going to rest by tomorrow afternoon! Obviously they don't have a very strong defense (six witnesses??!!). God, please let Sherri and her family get justice!

What a shame that this woman was able to walk around for almost 26 years footloose and fancy free while Sherri lay in her grave dead. Justice may come slowly sometimes, but I believe in my heart that it is just around the corner for Sherri's family. And Sprocket...YOU ARE THE BEST!!

Utah Chris said...

Thanks Sprocket and thank Mr Sprocket for us all. He must be a keeper.

Could you run us through a list of witnesses called by defense with a short sentence on each describing the testimony? Also, were there any rebutal witnesses on DNA evidence or alibi?

Thanks for all you do.

Shannon from Seattle said...

Bear in mind that chances of conviction back in the 80s without the benefit of DNA would have been difficult at best. If she had been acquitted, even with DNA now they would be dead in the water -- double jeopardy. I think it was probably difficult for her to carry this secret all these years. She did have thyroid cancer. Some think the throat cancers are related to inability to speak or clear the conscience.

I also think it is tougher now with a husband and child. The humiliation and shame are exponentially greater for all involved.

I am curious Sprocket, was John there today to hear the defense? That could give your readers a hint as to what he thinks about her guilt or innocence.

Sprocket said...

I had a little nap and now I'm hard at work on my notes for today. Yes, John Ruetten was there for the afternoon session. Understand, there was only a single witness in the afternoon, a firearms expert and then court ended early since Overland ran out of witnesses.

I'll have more in my notes on the witnesses Overland called. The housekeeper next door who heard noises, Lazarus' cousin, character witness, two LAPD officers who worked with Lazarus in 1986, an LAPD officer who testified that 2 years before arrested her Internal Affairs locker was cleaned out and a weapon, uniforms and ammunition was found, and then the fire arms expert.

Anonymous said...


Sprocket said...

We will have to wait and see if the defense calls her tomorrow. If you read my update on the blog, it's expected the defense will rest tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Sprocket can you tell us what she is being tried for ??? ...meaning Murder in the 1st degree with or w/o special circumtances. Is this a death penalty case and does she have any additional charges? I was in court today also and was very surprised that the defense is going to rest so soon. I thought the trial was going to run at least 6 weeks.

Sprocket said...

Okay, ONE LAST comment answer and then I HAVE TO get back to my detailed notes!

She is on trial for first degree murder. I do not believe the judge will add the possibility of second degree murder. (my opinion)

There are no special circumstances/additional charges except the use of a firearm. The lying in wait original charge was rejected by Judge Perry at the preliminary hearing. You can read about that in my synopsis of the preliminary hearing. You can find those stories on the Quick Links page.

The defense dropped several witnesses from their list of witnesses. We have no idea why they did that or what the strategy is.

debbiescalisi said...

debbiescalisi said.....
What still puzzles me is that John did not seem aggressive in pursuing justice for Sherri AND then I read in the notes that he hooked up with Stephanie in Hawaii in 1989 and continue sexual relations with her three years after Sherri's death? This cannot be good for the prosecution. It is hard for me to believe John did not have any gut feelings about this crazy woman.

Sprocket said...


I believe I've commented on this in a prior entry. Y'all have not heard John Ruetten testify on the stand. I have not yet published my detailed notes from his testimony. His grief on the stand was genuine, even 26 years later, talking about finding his wife's body. I started to cry, watching him testify. It was very difficult for me to not be affected by his testimony.

He may have given Lazarus' name to police (and he told her he did when he met up with her in Hawaii) but IIRC, he testified that he did not believe that Lazarus had anything to do with the murder back in 1986 and detectives told him in '86 Lazarus was cleared.

It took him at least a year to recover. he could not go back to the apartment. He quit his job and told them he could not go back to work. He went to live with his parents and then his older sister in Northern California after that for nine months.

I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion about John Ruetten but in my opinion, the testimony I heard from him on the stand felt very genuine to me.