Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 3


UPDATED Feb 8th, 12:58 PM

Sherri Rae Rasmussen, victim

February 7th, 2012 Prosecution Witnesses: #5 Steven Hooks (Retired LAPD Detective - assisted in the 1986 investigation)

I don’t get a seat on the 7:09 AM train but I’m standing right now, holding my laptop and trying to write. Today, we don’t know if we will be hearing arguments or more cross of retired LAPD Detective Steven Hooks. In all honesty, I don’t think either side could get motions together overnight, and I don’t think Judge Perry would expect counsel to do that. We’ll just have to wait and see. One possibility is, Judge Perry could limit the cross of Hooks to not include his investigation of other burglaries until the issue has been litigated.

I want to thank all of T&T’s readers that have recommend T&T on Google as well as those who have left comments or E-mailed me directly. It’s really helpful to me to hear your questions because it lets me understand more of what you want to know about the trial. Please keep those questions coming and at the same time try to be patient with me if I don’t answer your comments or E-mails right away. Besides coming to court every day and writing into the early hours, I do have a husband to take care of and no housekeeper. (The house usually suffers when I’m covering a case.) I will answer all my mail and your comments, just give me a little time.

Some of you have asked for information on coming down and attending a day or more of the trial. Within the next few days, I promise to put up a detailed entry on how to get here via train or car, the least expensive places to park and where you go once you get inside the Criminal Court Building. I'll try to have an update at the noon lunch break.

10:04 AM:
There was a short hearing outside the presence of the jury this morning discussing the issue of "third party evidence". I will have a more detail description of that at lunch. The next witness on the stand was Joe Murillo, recently retired from the coroner's office. He worked in the evidence collection and property room. He received into evidence several items collected by the coroner's investigators.

12:58 PM:
I can't believe it's almost 1:00 PM. I haven't even answered all my mail! At least I got lunch down. There are some corrections I have to make. The copy of the preliminary hearing I received had the coroner's investigator, Lloyd Mahaney as Lloyd Mahanay. I apologize for the error. In the morning before the jury entered, the prosecution did present a motion to exclude third party evidence and Mark Overland had presented to the court a "Memorandum of Law". (Everyone must have worked the midnight oil yesterday.) Judge Perry had already read both documents by the time he took the bench.

Judge Perry responded, "I must say, trial are fluid and sometimes witnesses don't testify as expected and sometimes surprises occur. (snip) A trial is to ascertain the truth. To that end we have discovery rules that have changed over the years. I was a prosecutor and a defense attorney. It is not uncommon for the defense to produce at the last minute (to the court?) an alibi witness. (snip) The laws have changed. The law now requires the defense to disclose (before trial all witnesses). I do fault the defense with this. (snip) I do think the defense was not forthcoming, withholding (from the prosecution) where they wanted to go."

Overland interrupts and states he wants to be heard. There appears to be anger in his voice. "It's just not true!" Judge Perry responds, "I'm not getting into a fight about this. (snip) Not living up to the full disclosure. Overland now is angry and doesn't agree. "It has nothing to do with discovery! (This has to do with the report,( It's not fair to accuse me of discovery! It's not right!"

Judge Perry rules, "I'm not going to allow Hooks to be examined on this issue at this time (the other burglary). Third party evidence. I will hear testimony from the burglary witness. (snip) And I will make a decision (?) and make (that? at a) later (time?)."

Overland states he'd like to make an offer of proof and mentions pages 34 and 35 of the report, signed by Mayer and Hooks. Overland reads from the document and I do not attempt to write what he says. Overland doesn't look happy. And that's it.

From the above exchange, I gathered that Judge Perry would rule later on whether or not to allow third party alibi evidence. I took that to mean that they would have a hearing on the motions by the prosecution and the defense as well as a 402 hearing on the witness. My friends in the MSM feel that's not correct. They interpreted it as Judge Perry allowing the other burglary victim to testify, and arguments then a ruling on whether Hooks can be crossed on the information in the report he signed, later. I'll see if I can get some clarification.

#6 Joe A. Murillo: Retired coroner's office evidence room tech. His duties involved collecting, receiving, storing and releasing items of evidence collected by coroner investigators.

#7 Lloyd Mahaney: Preliminary hearing transcript testimony was read into the record by a Deputy DA. Paul Nunez read the part of Shelly Toreallba, Overland read his part and Judge Perry read his parts in the transcript. The jury was informed that Mahaney was deceased.

#8 Jane Rodrigues: Questions Document Examiner from the LAPD. Examined the bite mark envelope and swab tube in January, 2011.

#9 Richard James Heath: Coroner's office employee. In 1986, worked the evidence room.

More to come....


kim butler said...

Dear Sprocket, I stumbled onto you when I was desperate to find coverage of Spector trial two and there was no news out there. I've been waiting two years for the Lazarus trial and again you were the only one with updates.I've so much enjoyed your blogs and you report all the info exactly as I want, you remind me a little of the late great Dominick Dunne.This Lazarus case is as juicy and heartbreaking as they come. Please comment on John Ruetten, what do you know and when will he testify?Keep up the great personal reporting. Kim Butler

Sprocket said...

Katprint: Sherri did not have a younger sister named Susan. I asked the family.

Charlie N: It is difficult to tell how Lazarus feels from how she appears in court. I have never seen her look up at the jury or at the overhead screen when photos are up. She keeps her focus on the defense table, whatever she is writing or on the computers at the defense table.

Kim Butler: There is no way my meager attempts a trial coverage could compare to what Dominick Dunne did, but I thank you for the compliment none the less. Dominick was "da bomb." I do not know when John Ruetten will testify. He is the unknown quantity. From my understanding, I believe the last time he spoke to the press was jointly with Sherri's family, in 1987.

lisa: The defense has yet to present a third party alibi witness. They may do that in their case-in-chief. Mark Overland did say yesterday that he was going to put on the stand the victim of the robbery in April, 1986. Overland in his opening statement did attack the validity of the scientific evidence and try to discredit it. This is based on the condition of the envelope the bite mark swab was found in.

Anonymous said...

I Agree thank you for keeping us updated i have followed this case since i knew about it June 2009. You do a great job with your coverage and a lot of detail, keep up the good work! I will continue to tell people about your blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sprocket,

Thanks again for your excellent reporting.

I hope you will understand that you need not reply to every comment I make. You really need time for the report.

When I just comment, but not ask questions , its only a way to motivate you to report and report 24/7. Never mind about sleeping or the car. Mr. Sprocket is very wellcome to Helsinki. I have a car which so far has no signs of problems.

The above post is just to let you know how much I appreciate your blog.

Thanks again, Sprocket.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Sprocket! I skipped all of the usual coverage and went right for the meat! Your site continues to be unparalleled in its coverage of this case. I look forward to your detailed report of the trial today. And yes, I did give you a GOOGLE +!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sprocket!!!

I would like to see evidence photos, if that's possible.

Sprocket said...

Break. The coroner is currently on the stand. The press won't get evidence photos until they are released by Judge Perry's clerk. That has not happened yet. Can't get anything until they are.

I only have a few photos that I would like to get. I personally do not plan to publish any photos of Sherri deceased. I think that is too painful to the family. Just my personal opinion, and not what I will have on T&T.

Charlie N. said...

One thing is for sure, a degraded DNA sample from a third party will not change into Lazarus' DNA.

Kathy said...

If I lived closer, I'd volunteer to come over to your house and do some housecleaning so you could spend more time concentrating on your writing (in case any of your neighbors read this, hint, hint).

If I was wealthy, I'd donate a late model car to you to make it easier foryou to get to court (any really wealthy people reading this, feel free).

Looking forward to your next installment.

Francaise said...

Dear Sprocket,

I never follow any work as you do. You are excelent. Keep up the good work. And I always wait patiently for your update because I know you have a family and obligation toward it. Please if you get a chance, can you please post Mark Overland open statement for us. Thanks in advance.

Sprocket said...

I am about two-thirds of the way through finishing transcribing Mark Overland's opening statement. It's the one I'm working very hard on.

It will go up as soon as it's finished.

Francaise said...

Dear Sprocket,

I personnally feel like you are a freind that I talk to everyday. Can I please know you by you putting your picture up here? Don't give me wrong, I love your cat picture but I just would like to know you too. Thanks for working on Overland opening statement.