Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 4, Part II

Judge Perry, 2-12-12 Sketch © Thomas Broersma


UPDATED 9-23-12:
Flowers to Francis

UPDATED 2-20-12 for accuracy, clarity.

February 9th, 2012
It's about 8:15 am: Scott Young is in the front row on the far right. He's reading the Bible he's carried to court every day. Steven Lazarus arrives. Rasmussen's family chat amongst themselves behind me. Pat LaLama and I discuss 46.2, "Third Party Culpability", a paper that Pat's husband Tony printed out for her. Ann O'Neill is back; apparently she didn't leave but stayed in her hotel working all day yesterday. She confirms to me that her network is sending her someplace else and this is the last day she will cover the case. Steven Mikulan is back. Judge Perry takes the bench and we go on the record at 8:40 AM.

Lazarus is wearing a loose cardigan type, hip length sweater with her slacks. DDA Shannon Presby tells the court that they had some planned witnesses that have sick children. I try to take the time to become familiar with the faces of the jurors, to ensure I don't talk about the case in the hallway or lunch if they are near. We are missing a juror, Alternate #4. It was the jurors who point out to Judge Perry that this juror is missing. He almost started court without him. Perry reminds the jurors we will be dark on February 16th, saying, "If you have medical or dental appointments, consider (booking them when) not in session with the jury. (snip) I won't cover you with your employer on the 16th." The next witness is called.

#13 WILLIAM MOORE: LAPD criminalist; in 1986 worked in the alcohol analysis unit and crime scene investigations.

It's not in my notes, but I believe DDA Shannon Presby presents the witness.

Moore went to the crime scene then in 1986. The evidence he collected included blood. He (also?) processed the 1985 BMW 318i, license plate 1MKJ850. Photos of the back, left and front sides of the BMW are shown to Moore who identifies it. He went into the car to search for a few items and collected evidence. Before he did that, he observed Mr. Ames do a fingerprint test on the exterior of the vehicle. He observed Ames do his standard, usual procedure to look for fingerprints.

SP: Did you note in your report, any damage on the outside of the vehicle?

Moore asks to refer to his notes. The photos of the vehicle are put up while he's asked about the condition of the vehicle.

SP: The exterior of the vehicle, did you observe the condition (and note it in your report)? (snip) Visually, was there any damage?

WM: No.

SP: Did you notice any stains?

WM: Yes.

Moore made a diagram to note the location of stains. This drawing is put up on the overhead screen. It's a standard drawing outline of an interior of a car and he marked where he found stains on the vehicle by hand. The keys were in the ignition and Presby puts up on the overhead a photo of the keys found in the ignition.

The first area he looked for and collected evidence were the keys in the ignition. The ignition key(s) appeared to have a residue on them. He swabbed the keys to do a "phenol" presumptive test for blood. The test is a phenolphthalein which tests for blood. A swab is treated with distilled water, phenolphthalein is dropped on the item then (the item is swabbed) and the swab will turn from clear to chartreuse. The response was "weak at best".

Moore explains how he collected evidence using a cloth square and afterwords placed in a bag inside an envelope. The second location he collected evidence was the interior door handle. He also did a phenol test on this area for the presence of blood. The next location he collected evidence was a red stain on the top edge of the driver's side door. He used the same procedure as before to collect and store the cloth swab. The fourth item he collected was a brown fiber that resembled a human hair. He did not perform a phenol test. He collected at that time for human hair comparison. He collected the item and placed it in a paper bindle, and booked it as property item #23. Photos #132 -#134 are photos with a Q-tip point towards where he collected the three stains and the hair fiber.

Moore opened the vehicle only after the fingerprinting was complete. The vehicle was analyzed in the property room at the Van Nuys Station. He did that "...because there was threatening rain that day." He did not keep the Q-tips from the phenol tests.

Direct ends and cross begins.
Overland asks about item #20, which were two cloth swab squares he swabbed the face of the ignition (keys?).

MO: What did you do with the squares?

WM: Placed them in plastic bags and transported to (the evidence room).

I believe he states that the item is taken out of the plastic bag back at the station and the two cloth squares are placed inside a paper bindle and that is placed inside a coin envelope.

MO: Did you put any other items you examined with that envelope?

WM: Three coin envelopes in a separate shelf-storage envelope.

MO: Was that so those items didn't get mixed up?

WM: Yes.

The witness is finished and the next witness is called.

#14 LEONA THOMAS: retired LAPD officer, in 1986 working valley traffic unit car.

DDA Presby introduces the witness.

Before March 7th, 1986, she had recovered vehicles approximately 50 times. She located the stolen BMW 318i that was reported stolen. She wrote a vehicle investigation report.

One of the alternate jurors has his arms crossed over his chest. Overland looks at the document Presby wants to present and asks for an approach to the bench. I notice writer Matthew McGough is here. Juror #8 rubs his face.

SP: Did you write a report, based on things you actually observed?

LT: (Yes.)

She found the vehicle on Zombar and Cohassett street at 20:15 (8:15 PM). Presby asks her a series of questions about the condition of the car and Judge Perry interrupts him.

JP: What was the condition?

The witness states that it appeared to be intact. She noted things that were still present on the car in her report.

SP: The car was not stripped or chopped in any way?

LT: No sir.

The nearest cross streets were Sepulveda and Vose. She believes the car was found within Van Nuys Division. She can't remember if it was locked or unlocked. She notified another police officer, the watch commander of Van Nuys. Detective Mayer came out to the scene where the car was located.

SP: Did Detective Mayer sign the vehicle inspection report?

LT: Yes.

Mayer signed under approval (area on the form?).

SP: The vehicle was impounded?

LT: Yes.

She doesn't remember if she was present during the impounding.

LT: I know I was there for significant amount of time but don't know if I was there for the tow.

SP: Once Mayer arrived, you turned control of the car over to Mayer?

LT: (Yes.)

There's no cross examination of the witness.

#15 ALICIA RAMIREZ: evidence and property room custodian at the LA Co. Coroner's Office.

She's been an employee of the Coroner's Office for 20 years. Since 1987 she worked in the property room. She explains (the purpose, responsibility?) is to keep the chain of custody within their department, of evidence received from criminalists and to release it.

Overland is leaning back in is chair at an angle, his elbow on the arm of his chair and this hand slightly over his mouth. Now he’s sitting forward at the defense table.

Ramirez describes where the property unit is located. Items in the property room are usually checked out by law enforcement and she would document who checks out the items. She verifies that everything she received is logged. Fluids are kept in a freezer. She is familiar with Dan Anderson, a criminalist supervisor. Back in 2004, the supervisor was Joseph (Moto?), who was her direct supervisor.

In December 2004, Anderson asked her to do a search. Anderson had received a call from LAPD serology lab, looking for a bite mark swab. Anderson told her to look for it. In the property/evidence room there are four freezers and one refrigerator/freezer. The request was initially made to her coworker Jackie; Ramirez found the item. Items in the freezer are stored in an envelope or box. When she found the item it was torn or damaged.

Typically when she finds items, they are in an envelope.

People: Do you put any additional information (on the item?) before you send it out as is (if it was intact?)?


AR: When I noticed (the condition of the envelope?) I called Dan Anderson (and notified him of the condition of the envelope).

Dan Anderson came down immediately. She placed the item on butcher paper.

People: It was a tube with a red top?

AR: Yes.

People: Is that a tube typically kept at the coroner’s office?

AR: Yes.

People: And you could see the red top?

AR: yes.

That item was kept in a secured room.

People: Was Jackie working there?

They were the only two authorized people to be in there (property/evidence room).

Ramirez supplied Dan Anderson with a new envelope and she observed him repackage the damaged envelope within a new envelope.

Photos of the envelope are shown to the witness. She was not present when the photos were taken. She cannot say if it was exactly the same as when she first found it (as depicted in the photos).

Photo of the large new envelope states it was repackaged on December 22nd, 2004. Then it went back into the freezers. The coroner’s case number on the envelope is 86-02676. She noted the actions Dan Anderson did on a (new) evidence log. The copy of the original evidence log is on microfilm and the image is put up on the overhead screen.

December 22nd, 2004, is the date the item was found and also the date the item was repackaged. She filled out a new evidence log. She wrote on the new log that Lloyd Mahaney collected the evidence, R. Heath recieved it into evidence. She states she knew Maheney was one of the criminalists and Heath worked in the property room before her.

A new log for an old case, she needed to document it so that’s why she created a new evidence log for the item. She transferred information from the old log onto the new log. The notation on the bottom of the log of what she observed Dan Anderson do is in her handwriting. She wrote:

Original env. torn repackaged by Dan Anderson in order to release. Orig env inc 12 22 04 at 13:50 by DA (then her initials).

People: In addition to yourself, could Jackie release an item to an agency?

AR: Yes.

People: You observed the item placed on butcher paper? (snip) Was it ever taken out of the evidence or property room?

AR: No.

Direct ends and cross begins.

MO: In answer to one of the prosecutions questions, one of your duties is to keep (snip) (records?) (?)

One of her duties is to ensure that all evidence received has the proper seals and is signed.

MO: The coroner’s office has a proper procedure (manual) and she was trained in the manual?

AR: I had hands on training.

I believe Overland asks her if she has ever read the manual or been trained through the manual.

AR: (I) glanced (at it) and I don’t recall if all (the) things (were) gone through with it. (snip) It was filled out in the original log...

MO: I know, but I’m talking about this paper (the newer log after the item was found).

Overland asks why didn’t Lloyd Manahay fill it out since he was still working there (at the time the item was found).

Overland now asks about the search. Ramirez is not sure when she actually joined the search. She cannot recall how many of the different refrigerators/freezers she looked in. She doesn’t recall how long she looked. She didn’t take any notes of her search.

MO: Do you know when you didn’t find (it)?

JP: She found it!

Overland now asks her if she is familiar with the policy and procedure manual 8.2 and I believe he gives her the specific text to read. She’s not familiar.

Paul Nunez asks Judge Perry to approach the bench. I see Judge Perry stand at the sidebar and stretch out his arms. Juror #11 looks out at the gallery. Lazarus takes a sip of water at the defense table, her eyes focused down at the desk.

The sidebar over, Overland asks the witness to look at defense exhibit O and read it to herself.

MO: Are you familiar with that part of the manual?

AR: I’m not familiar with it.

MO: When you found the envelope, do you remember if there were other envelopes next to it?

AR: I don’t recall.

MO: If the other you remember what shelf (you found it on)?

AR: I don’t remember the exact location.

MO: When you found it, what was the first thing you did?

AR: I told him (Dan Anderson) we found it (and that) it had a tear in it.

MO: Did you say, “We have a problem?”

AR: No.

MO: Did you hear anyone...

PN: Objection! Hearsay!

Overland goes back to the new log for this item that she made up, and the last line with the asterick (*).

MO: You were describing what you felt was the condition of the envelop at that time?

AR: Yes.

MO: You wrote what struck you as being significant?

AR: Yes.

MO: Did that have a significance to you?

AR: Yes, because I could see the red cap.

The witness doesn’t recall if the image in the photo was how it looks.

Judge Perry interrupts cross.

JP: You looked, you found it and remember there was a red cap?

AR: Yes.

Overland asks why she had to repackage the envelope. I think he also asks, if it didn’t follow procedures of the coroner’s office, and that you had to ensure chain of custody.

Judge Perry asks his own question of the witness.

JP: This is what you do if you find something that has a hole in it?

AR: Yes.

Overland directs her attention to the photo of the back of the envelope.

MO: Is that the way it was (when you found it)?

AR: I don’t recall.

Cross ends and redirect begins.

The witness states that when first looked for the item, all she had was the decedent’s name and the case number. When she found the envelope, she saw R. Heath’s name on it.

PN: You didn’t take the item out of the original envelope?

AR: No.

JP: Did you know anything about the case?

AR: No.

JP: You were just helping a co-worker find something (that she couldn’t find)?

AR: Correct.

The witness is finished and the morning break is called.

#16 JACKIE GARCIA PARTIDA: worked in the LA County Coroner’s property room in 2004. She started there in 1994. She knows Alicia, who still works there. She was trained in how to handle evidence. It was hands on training.

Partida explains that they release an item to an agency, the people who pick up the item have to write their name and badge and agency. She would also write her name and document the release. She doesn’t recall the case. She doesn’t recall if she was present when the envelope was found. People’s #138 s shown to the witness.

PN: Do you see any handwriting of yours?

JGP: Yes I do.

PN: Tell us what is your (?). Identify with the laser.

She identifies on the log JGP the date is 12/30/04 and the time. She is asked about other initials on the log. She believes those initials are “Millie’s” a lab tech from LAPD who used to pick up items from the coroner’s office for LAPD. The witness recalls releasing the envelope to her. She states if the evidence is biological evidence it is refrigerator or freezer stored. Basically the log is filled out....just to locate evidence. They never open an item. They just release it as is. It’s not opened. It’s not touched.

PN: Do you know if Millie’s last name is Srbova?

JGP: Yes.

She’s not sure of the spelling.

Direct is finished and cross begins.

Overland asks her what she goes by, and she states Garcia.

MO: You mentioned your training is “hands on?”

JGP: Yes.

MO: What do you mean?

JGP: A senior criminalist would demonstrate how to document and receive (evidence). It was one-on-one training.

MO: And you follow procedures?

JGP: Yes.

MO: Do you have a copy of the procedures manual?

She states a copy is kept in the evidence room.

MO: Do you know procedures on bite mark evidence?

JGP: No.

MO: Do you know what chain of custody (is? means?)?

JGP: It’s keeping a record of evidence, or of evidence brought into us, just a paper trail....where it started.

Overland asks something to the effect of, do you know, that what’s ever brought in goes out.....same goes in same goes out.

MO: It has to be secure?

JGP: Correct.

MO: It has to be sealed in such a way that it cannot be tampered with?

JGP: Correct.

MO: When did you first receive the request?

JGP: I don’t remember.

MO: December 4th?

JGP: I don’t know.

MO: Who asked you (to look for it)?

JGP: Dan Anderson.

MO: He’s a supervising criminalist?

JGP: Yes.

MO: He called your co-worker and he told you to go look for it?

JGP: Yes.

MO: Did you look for it right away?

JGP: I don’t remember.

She doesn’t remember anything about the search, just releasing the envelope.

MO: Do you remember where you looked? (snip) The freezers?

JGP: We have four freezers.

She doesn’t remember if it was just her, or if they worked as a team.

MO: Do you remember how long you spent looking for it?

JGP: I’d say about two days.

MO: Eight hour days?

JGP: Yes.

She doesn’t remember if she looked for it when she was with Alicia.

MO: Do you remember who found it?

JGP: Yes, Alicia.

She doesn’t recall if she saw it when it was found.

No redirect and the witness is finished.

#17 DAN ANDERSON: Los Angeles Co. Deputy Coroner, supervising criminalist. I believe Nunez presents the witness.

Anderson has been a supervisor at the coroner’s office since 1995. He started there in 1990 right after school, with the exception of one year at Ventura County Sheriff’s. His primary responsibility is to the lab. He’s basically a toxicologist. In prior years, he was also responsible for field criminalists. Anderson provides his CV.

He received a request for help in finding an item of evidence. The request was a telephone communication with an LAPD crime lab technician, a woman named Jennifer. She was interested in finding a bite mark swab still in the coroner’s custody.

People’s #88 is put up on the overhead screen. It’s the original evidence log on microfiche.

PN: Are old system evidence logs kept on microfiche?

DA: Yes they were.

On the side of the copy of the evidence log he had printed out, Anderson had written some notes: “Jennifer from 0061x 12/20/04” and “Jackie will look”. He was taking notes while he was on the phone call. On the bottom of the form, saw notation for bite mark swab. That meant he received a call from Alicia Ramirez, basically letting him know they found the swab.

He immediately responded to the evidence room.

PN: What was the issue?

DA: The envelope looked tainted and ratty. There was a hole in the envelope, the tube sticking out.

There was no specific policy to fix that problem. The first thing was the preserve the integrity (of the evidence) and to (?) so they could release it. He did that in the property room. Anderson is asked if he recognizes the original envelope and the photo of the back of the envelope. I believe he answers ‘yes’. He states he recognizes his own handwriting on the larger envelope he prepared. I believe he uses the laser pointer to point out his initials on the envelope and the date. Anderson states he was not present when the evidence photo was taken. He states he placed his initials and date on the new envelope because that was a primary protocol to be able to release the item to a law enforcement agency. He put all the relevant information on the new envelope, and sealed it with red evidence tape.

He recreated a new evidence log since the original was disposed of. The only record of the original evidence log was now just microfilm.

PN: People’s #88, is that a copy printed off microfiche?

DA: Yes.

PN: (You) instructed her to create another evidence log?

DA: Correct.

He does not remember if the new log was created in his presence or after. The new log, he instructed her to prepare. Now that the item was repackaged, it was now available to release to an agency.

PN: What was your concern?

DA: (The) original envelope (snip) since destroyed (damaged), it was inappropriate to release (it) as it was. The “swoop tube” could fall out from the hole. (snip) “Swoop tube” is what the manufacturer calls them.

Anderson brought a swoop tube with him and shows it to the jury. He demonstrates how the cap screws into the top. It has a hard plastic cap with two swabs attached. It’s purchased as a bulk case. Anderson explains that “kits” are put together in for the field criminalists to use them to collect evidence.

PN: What’s inside s sexual assault kit?

DA: It contains several types of swoop tubes.

Anderson explains several areas of the body where evidence would be collected using a sexual assault kit. Field criminalists also has available other swoop tubes. They carry additional swabs. They have that utensil at their disposal.

The swoop tubes have a red cap and two wooden dowels attached to the red cap and a cotton applicator at the end. There are two separate swabs that come out of the cap. The manufacturer makes these tubes with one swab stick inside and they make them with two swab sticks inside. Since Anderson has worked at the coroner’s office, the swoop tubes with two sticks have always been used. It gives the analyst more material. These swoop tubes are common for an analyst to have them in their kits.

A photo is put up of the sexual assault kit tubes taken at the scene.

If you look at the tubes depicted here, they look very similar to the tubes he (Anderson) brought into court. A close up of the photo is shown where you can see inside the tube, two swab sticks. On all the paperwork filled out, one tube = swabs. It was a common practice in 1990 (when Anderson was hired) and still present today (to use these dual swab tubes).

Nunez asks Anderson about his review of cases from the 1980’s, and if he noticed any change in terminology. (I miss the answer.)

Nunez asks a question about a set of swabs being called a “swab” there’s an objection. It’s over ruled, but Anderson has no personal knowledge on the issue. Judge Perry interjects and asks his own question.

JP: Do you recall if that (the photo image?) fairly and accurately reflects (that’s exactly?) or how you saw it on December 22nd, 2004?

DA: Yes.

Anderson states that when he repackaged the item he did not open it up.

DA: I took the envelope as it was with no other handling.

PN: You did not handle the red cap tube?

DA: That’s correct.

Nunez then goes back to the original log and points out the GSR kits, and that there are no listings regarding their release. Nunez asks what the practice was, collecting GSR from victims?

DA: If there’s a firearm from a homicide, yes, they (coroner’s office) collected GSR.

In 1990’s there were thousands of these kits not only for homicides, but suicides. They would collect GSR in those incidents, too. There was a retention policy in regards to the GSR kits. There are retention policies in all types of test kits. The (analysts? upper management?) felt it would serve it’s needs best to store kits for 10 or 20 years, depending on solved (case?) or not.

A new log is presented for GSR kits, People’s #140. It’s a photocopy of a page out of a book of work performed on the electronic scanning microscope. That department was in charge of disposal. On the log are initials of a Debrah (sp?) Kowal (sp?) the log page dates GSR kits collected from 1978 through 1986. Not all entries on the page are in her handwriting. The form indicates the GSR kits collected in this case were destroyed on January 12th, 2007. Thousands of kits were collected (over the years) but Anderson doesn’t know the exact amount that were disposed of.

Anderson is asked if they went back to the original evidence log for each item (GSR kit) and log that the item was destroyed. Anderson states he’s never worked in the evidence room and never supervised the evidence room.

Lazarus looks over at the document up on the screen.

Nunez introduces People’s #123 and #124, the front and back side of a special processing tag that is attached to the decedent.

DA: It’s a communication tool to allow others (in the Coroner's Office) to know what evidence has been collected.

PN: In homicide cases would that evidence (had? have?) a retention policy?

DA: It depends on who that evidence belongs to.

Nunez presents the witness with an evidence retention document (policy?), Homicide & Retention Schedule.

PN: Is there a retention schedule for blood, bullets, biological evidence?

DA: Indefinitely. Until it’s released to law enforcement or authorized for disposal by that agency.

PN: For evidence that belongs to law enforcement?

DA: Yes.

Nunez asks how the top is attached to the swoop tube.

DA: It’s a screw cap. (snip) It’s just screwed on.

Anderson states it’s not the custom or practice to put evidence tape on those screw tops. The screwing on of the cap does the sealing of the tube.

Direct is finished and cross begins.

Overland brings out that in 1986, Anderson was still in high school.

MO: Any contact at the coroner’s office prior to that (his hire date)?

DA: No.

Anderson is asked if he ever had any interest in the coroner’s office before he was hired.

DA: I was very interested in the field of forensic science.

MO: You never talked to anyone or found out what the policies and procedures were (prior to hire?)?

DA: No.

Anderson states he never talked to anyone in the coroner’s office in 1986.

MO: When did you first meet Lloyd Mahaney?

DA: April 1990.

Overland asks about the manufacturing of swoop tubes and if the company also made tubes with one swab in them. Anderson states, “Correct.”

MO: Do you have any personal knowledge whether or not, have first hand knowledge what tubes (they used in 1986?)? (snip) It’s always been the same tube? (snip) Do you have any personal knowledge.... (?)?

DA: Well, in this case they (he?) used 2 (stick) swoop tubes.

Overland asks when was the first date that he knew about the case.

DA: The date in which I wrote on the microfiche (log copy) December 20th, 2004.

MO: Before that date you had no knowledge they were looking for that item?

I miss the answer. Overland presents him with an E-mail dated November 17th, 2004. Nunez asks to approach. It’s 11:40 AM and I’m starving. Overland withdrawals the question.

MO: We’ve had (cor? correspondence?) before today?

DA: Correct.

MO: You were asked to look for a manual (for the coroner’s office) in existence in 1986. In response you said (the only prior policy you could find was a manual?) dated August 24th, 1987, a Policies and Procedures Manual. Based on your review (of that manual) that’s the one that was in existence (in 1986?)?

DA: It was being developed over several years.

It was made/created by employees of the coroner’s office.

MO: And those policies were to be followed by employees of the LA Co. Coroner’s Office?

DA: That’s correct.

Overland want’s to show him something and Presby asks Judge Perry if they may approach.

JP: You went looking for the policy manual for 1986, and the best you could come up with is one in 1987? (snip) To the best of your knowledge, the policies are the same for 1986 as 1987? (Yes.)

Overland now takes pages out of the manual and shows them to Anderson. Anderson says something to the effect that this page is something of something. Judge Perry states that this is taken from te manual.

DA: I don’t know what section.

One of the prosecutors recommends giving Anderson the index to the manual. They get it straightened out.

MO: Is that exhibit, defense P part of the 1987 manual?

DA: It is.

MO: Take a look at the first complete paragraph... (department)..

People: Objection!

MO: Is the reason to release to original agency as soon as possible?

DA: We don’t want ot be a warehouse, because it’s not our evidence to hold onto.

Overland shows Anderson people’s #88, the copy of the evidence log off of the microfiche, and his notation that refers to Jennifer Butterworth (now Francis). Overland asks him about the conversation with her.

DA: I don’t remember the sepcific exact words of the telephone conversation, but do know that (the) evidence log and that was in their custody.

Judge Perry asks Anderson questions about his notes on the log copy.

Overland now asks several questions about the “we have a problem” statement. On December 7th, at another hearing in this case, (his preliminary hearing testimony). He’s asked to read the prior testimony.

DA: Yes, I read it. (Page 160 lines 17 -20)

MO: What is it that you now remember.

DA: Nothing different. She called ....

MO: Did she say, “Our evidence section can’t find it?”

(DA? Lines 17-20 are my voice, it’s not her, which means....)

(MO? JP?) When you told her our evidence section can’t find it, that was on the 20th? How long had you been looking for it?

DA: I don’t know. (snip) I know she was calling for help.

MO: Did you testify on (at the?) (preliminary hearing?) “Our evidence section can’t find it?”

DA: That’s what the transcript said.

Overland asks him about a section on the storage of bite mark evidence. He reads from the manual. I don’t get it all; there's too much. "It has to be, shall be stored frozen in the evidence room (freezer)." It says, "swabs shall be stored in sequential order by coroner case number in sequence." Overland shows hm another exhibit.

Nunez asks for a sidebar. Judge Perry asks the jury to step out. Judge Perry then states they will go onto another section and hold the witness over.

Anderson is asked when was the first time that you started telling....

DA: I’m just going by my note.

MO: Do you have any specific memory of that?

DA: Not specific, no.

MO: Did you tell her it was a rush?

DA: I told her there was an inquiry.

The next time he remembers of hearing from anybody (was when it was found).

MO: Do you remember being told, “We have a problem?”

DA: Not specifically, no.

MO: Maybe I can refresh your memory.

I miss writing down the answer to going back to the prelim transcript and the lunch break is called and just the jury is excused. It’s at this time the witness is asked about Lloyd Mahaney’s hand written notes.

Overland shows Anderson defense exhibit R.

Judge Perry states, “We’re going to deal with it.”

My notes are not clear if Overland questions him or if Judge Perry questions him.

Q: Do you recognize Lloyd Mahaney’s criminalistic notes, the form used by.

DA: It’s a form Lloyd used at that time. I’m familiar with the notes. (snip) I’m not familiar with that preprinted form.

Q: (I miss the question.)

DA: In actuality, no I’m not.

Q: Are you familiar with how criminalists take notes?

DA: They are very individualistic.

Q: Have you seen this before today?

DA: Yes, when I was assembling this for discovery. (snip) There was a printed report.

Overland wants the manually written notes that Lloyd Mahaney took (and then wrote his type-written report from) admitted as a business record or document.

JP: I don’t think it qualifies under either but I’ll think about it.

Counsel is excused and the gallery gets to go to lunch. In the afternoon session, I get back inside the courtroom just in time. Terri Keith from City News is here. Lazarus appears (to me) confident at the defense table, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Jane Robison from the DA’s office is here. Overland has a relaxed, laid back position in his chair, almost a reclining appearance.

The prosecution has an issue with some afternoon witnesses they had planned to call. Some of the witnesses are sick and their children are sick.

We’re back on the record. Judge Perry has reviewed a copy of the hand written notes regarding Mahaney’s (test? tests? testing?) in the record.

JP: I’m not convinced in my mind it is a business record. These are notes that were typed up later. Mr. Anderson has identified them. On that basis I will allow defense exhibit R and I will tell you why. When doing a case (that happened?) so long ago, (we?) should have some latitude. (snip) There’s no doubt these are his handwritten notes. Bring out the jury and resume with Mr. Anderson.

Then just as the jury comes out, Judge Perry calls another sidebar again.

JP : Something else I want to talk to you about.

Finally, cross continues. As Mark Overland walks over toward the podium, he walks into the defense table. Courtney Overland says to her father, “Stop.” The jury watching Overland, does a collective intake of breath, “Oh!”

Anderson is shown the handwritten notes. The records of coroner’s office reflecting exam (condition?), exam on February 25th, 1986, by Mr. Mahaney? They’re dated march 4th, 1986. Report notes in Mahaney’s handwriting. It appears his practice after he made his hand written notes, to make a rough copy verbatim.

DA: There is actually a third page of notes.

Anderson had a chance to go over the document at lunch.

MO: When (the) bite mark swab (was found), you were told, “We have a problem?

I believe Anderson disagrees. Overland asks him to look at his testimony from the preliminary hearing on December 7th, 2009.

MO: Look (at line?) 19-26. The judge asking questions, on Page 162. (snip) Does that in fact help you?

Either Anderson answers or Overland states the following.

The court said “You have a problem”.

DA: Actually, no. It’s a problem to have a hole in an envelope.

Judge Perry now asks questions of the witness, if he remembers testifying about that. Anderson responds, “Yes.”

I think it was at this point, that the preliminary hearing transcript is gone over by Judge Perry. In that transcript it was the court who asked Dan Anderson, trying to get the detail of what was remembered, “We have a problem.”

People’s exhibit 89. (Mahaney’s typed notes from his collection of evidence at the scene.)

Q: Is that a type written transcript of Defense exhibit R?

DA: Yes it is.

Another part of the manual.

MO: All categories of evidence should be checks randomly by the quality assurance section. Is it (for?) sure done as far as quality assurance goes?

DA: I personally don’t know.

MO: Do you know if anybody does?

DA: Yes, A supervisor does.

MO: In the search for records, did you find any type of records documenting quality assurance?

DA: No.

MO: Records that document a search for the bite mark?

DA: I don’t believe there is, no.

Overland asks about the purpose of the microfiche log and whether it’s to maintain a log of custody of records. Overland then asks him about the two GSR kits reflected on the original evidence room log. Overland brings up the discrepancy that nothing was reflected on the original log that the GSR kits were destroyed.

I note that Juror #7 takes lots of notes. Juror #5 is picking at their nails.

Overland points out another part of the procedures manual.

MO: It state that (evidence?) should be documented in the evidence log when released. Is it like this today?

DA: I doubt it. (There is a computerized system to keep track of evidence today.)

I note that Judge Perry has a habit of looking off to his left, his elbow on the edge of his chair or desk and his chin in the palm of his left hand with his hand on the side of his face.

Overland now asks Anderson about the photo of the back side of the original evidence envelope.

MO: See the bottom of the envelope? Does that appear to be open?

DA: I can’t tell.

MO: You don’t remember looking at the bottom of the envelope?

DA: I remember the front side, at the top. I shouldn’t say “sticking out.” It was exposed.

(This is noteworthy that Anderson who first said it was sticking out of the envelope now says it was "exposed.")

Overland asks another question about a different section of the 1987 manual and retention policies and as he does this, it dawns on me that Overland is trying to apply 1986 manual policies to 2007 manual destruction policies.

Nunez helps Anderson with his copy of the document. I believe Overland reads from the manual.

MO: In order for physical evidence to be of value, it must be:
1. Recognized
2. Documented
3. Properly handled
4. Secured and Packaged
5. Establish and maintain chain-of-custody
6. Transferred through proper channels.

I believe Anderson answers, “I think these are all key concepts to maintain the integrity of evidence. That it’s the same...”

Judge Perry looks off to the left towards the overhead screen again. Defense is introducing a new document and Anderson is asked if he recognizes it.

DA: It’s a copy of a pink 42 with my handwriting.

The people object to publishing this document to the jury. A sidebar is called. The jury looks out at the gallery. At the sidebar, I overhear Judge Perry say, “You did not!” Overland appears to be arguing a point at sidebar. Judge Perry gestures with his hands.

MO: Mr. Anderson, after looking at that (document?) do you remember August 5th, 2010, having a conversation with a former prosecutor? (snip) Did that item deal with an item of integrity? (snip) Do you recall the conversation?

DA: I do.

MO: Did that conversation relate to what policies were in place when an item was compromised? (snip) You had a conversation with her about the bite mark evidence as an item that had been compromised?

DA: Yes.

I believe cross is over and redirect begins.

PN: The conversation you were talking about had to do with the package itself?

I miss Anderson’s answer but I believe he said yes, or correct.

People’s #139 is shown, there are lots of tubes, and some have seals on them. In the exhibit, you can see the bottom row, going left to right the second tube. I miss the last question by Nunez.


Overland asks him about the integrity of the package, and that the integrity of the package needed to be maintained. Anderson states, “Correct.”

Now Overland picks up a piece of red sticky tape that is a bunch of stickers together. The label on each sticker states


MO: Are those sticky labels placed on evidence envelopes?

DA: Yes.

MO: They’re put on envelopes?

DA: Yes.

Overland goes over the purpose of the seal and that it’s to make sure that what’s inside (stays inside?).

JP: But we have a problem with the package?

DA: Yes, because it was torn.

Anderson took the envelope that the tube was in and put it in a larger envelope.

JP: You did not examine the tube, based on your observation?

DA: I didn’t examine the tube.

Overland gets up to recross the witness.

MO: Am I partially correct?

DA: Everybody’s partially correct.

The outside package was damaged, but not the tube inside. Anderson appears to be getting a bit testy with Overland, almost as if he’s had enough of his cross.

MO: Did you call them (LAPD) that, personally call, if they didn’t come pick it up?

DA: Not that I recall.

Finally, the afternoon break is called. One of my friends in the media asks, Why destroy a GSR kit to an unsolved homicide? That’s a good question. Those of us in the gallery trade ideas about who should play the roles of the various characters if this case was made into a movie.

After the break is over, the prosecution is calling some witnesses out of (their scheduled) order of their case because of the other ill witnesses.

#18 ROBERTO MORALES: LAPD Detective, on the job 20 years and five months today exactly. In 2009, worked the Internal Affairs (IA) detail that obtained the surreptitious DNA sample from Lazarus.

I believe DDA Presby presents the witness.

The IA unit handles investigations that investigate police officers, and does a surveillance of police officers.

On May 22nd, (yr?), he conducted surveillance with his team. He identifies his team members by name but I’m sure I don’t get the correct spellings of their names. While on this detail, he dressed in civilian clothes with a beard. He’s currently no longer with that unit.

The witness is asked to identify the person in court whom he tailed. At first he’s looking and he can’t find her.

RM: Tan sweater, green turquoise blouse.

Lazarus keeps looking at the table. She doesn’t look up at the witness.

I have in my notes the witness states May 29th, 2008 he conducted surveillance (but I don’t believe that date is correct) to get a DNA sample from something Lazarus discarded in a public place. The witness states he followed her approximately two weeks until that day.

At 12:41 PM, in a public place, a COSTCO super-store.

SP: Where was the defendant when you saw her?

RM: She was getting something to eat.

SP: This particular COSTCO had a food court on the outside?

RM: (Yes.)

SP: Did you see her with a drink in her hand?

RM: She had a white cup.

SP: Where there tables and chairs?

RM: There were cement benches. (snip) I was about 20 feet away. (snip) I was sitting down. There was a trash (bin? can?) about three or four feet away from me.

SP: How long did you watch the defendant?

RM: About five to seven minutes.

SP: She still had the cup in her hand?

It had a plastic straw, lid and cup appeard to be cardboard.

SP: The kind of cup you get soda from COSTCO?

RM: Yes.

He was able to see her walking towards him, in his direction.

RM: I saw her take a last sip befores she threw it away.

The trash can she discarded the cup in was three or four feet away from him. She then left his field of view for 10-20 seconds; he can’t remember exactly how long. He continued to observe the trash can.

SP: Did you see anyone else deposit trash into the can?

RM: No.

He then went to the trash can to recover the cup. He looked inside.

RM: I saw only two drink cups on top of the other trash in the can. (snip) There was other trash below (the cups).

SP: Did you pick up both cups?

RM: Yes. (snip) I picked them up from the bottom of the cups and started walking away. (snip) Both cups had lids.

SP: Did you touch the straws at all?

RM: No.

SP: You picked up the cups and did you meet up with any other members of your team?

RM: Yes. Dante Palacio.

SP: How far were you from the trash can?

RM: (About) five steps, then I was right there.

His other team member, Donte had two envelopes. Maybe one, maybe two. He put the cups in the envelope(s).

SP: Was he holding the envelope open (for you) when you put the cups inside?

RM: Yes.

SP: Then what happened?

He split up from his team member. After they split up he never had any contact with the cups after that. He never touched the lids. He never touched the straws.

SP: Did you have any animosity against the defendant?

RM: No.

SP: Did you have any hostility towards the defendant?

RM: No.

SP: Were you an enemy of the defendant?

RM: No.

SP: (Was she?) a close personal friend?

RM: No.

Direct ends and cross begins.

MO: (It) happened on May 28th, 2009?

RM: Yes.

MO: Did you write a report?

RM: No. (snip) I looked at the report that was made. (snip) I don’t know who wrote it.

The witness states that he maybe looked at it a couple of times before he testified.

MO: Do you remember if it was on May 28th?

(I miss the answer.)

MO: Was she with someone?

RM: Yes.

MO: A little kid?

SP: Objection!

(I can’t tell from my notes if the objection was sustained or not. The evidence code cited was 352.)

MO: When she sat down, did she sit down alone?

RM: No.

MO: Was she with a child?

(RM: Yes.)

MO: Did she get up with one cup or two cups?

(I miss the answer.)

MO: She took one cup with her and deposited one of the two cups in the trash?

RM: Yes.

MO: The last time you saw one cup and the cup in the trash was on May 28th, 2009?

RM: Yes.

Cross ends and redirect begins.

SP: The cup that you saw the defendant drop in the trash, was that the cup she drank from?

RM: Yes.

This witness is finished and the next witness is called.

#19 DANTE PALACIO, Detective for the City of Los Angeles for 16 years. Assigned to the Internal Affairs, surveillance unit.

DDA Presby presents the witness.

Palacio identifies the defendant for the record.

SP: Did you have an envelope with you in case (you) observed the defendant in the COSTCO food court?

(I miss the answer.) He saw another member of his team in the food court. He saw her discard it (the cup) in a trash can. He was maybe, ten feet away from the defendant. He then walked towards the trash can and Detective Morales. Palacio had one envelope with him. Detective Morales placed two soft drink cups in the envelope. The cups had lids. He did not touch the cups. It was a manilla envelope type with a clasp closure.

Palacio (who had the envelope) then drove to meet another member of the team. He drove a couple of blocks. He met up with Sgt. Hensely in the parking lot of a hotel. He gave the envelope to Sgt. Hensely.

SP: Did you ever come in physical contact with the cup(s)?

DP: No.

Presby then asks the same type of questions he asked Morales, whether or not he had any animosity towards the defendant, and if he knew her.

I believe direct ends at this point but it’s not marked in my notes. The following questions I believe are defense cross.

Q: How long before you had started the surveillance?

DP: Two, three days. Maybe a week.

Q: Do you know exactly how long (or) when you started?

DP: May 23rd.

He had just parked and was walking to the food court. He and Morales went in separate vehicles.

Q: When you parked, did you see Ms. Lazarus put anything in the trash?

DP: I just observed her walking towards the trash. (snip) After that, my focus was on the trash can.

Q: You saw at least one cup go in?

DP: I saw one cup go in.

The witness is finished. I see Judge Perry tap his notepad with his pen.

#20 JIM HENSELY, LAPD 22 years, IA surveillance officer in Internal Surveillance Unit, working with a team.

SP: Was your surveillance (suspect?) someone who (was? is?) in court today?

JH: I can’t tell. Her head is down.

JP: It doesn’t matter. Move on.

When he received the envelope from Palacio, he looked inside the envelope. He only came in physical contact with the envelope. He then went to Cal State LA, Science Division, where the LAPD has a crime lab. On his way there, he called Mr. Yamauchi, a supervisor at the crime lab. He met him in the break room.

SP: Do you remember about what time you (gave him the manilla envelope)?

JH: About 1:30 PM in the afternoon.

SP: Did you have any further contact with the envelope?

JH: No.

Presby asks the same questions, if he had any anger, hostility or hatred for the defendant, Stephanie Lazarus. He states, No.”

SP: Have you reviewed the property report for the transfer of evidence?

JH: Yes.

SP: People’s #141. Is this the propert report?

JH: I believe so.

SP: Is there a DR number that was assigned to the cup?

JH: 09-01-12081. (Note: I may not have this number correct.)

SP: Did you hate the defendant?

JH: No.

SP: Did you know her?

JH: I’d seen her around.

SP: Were you close friends?

JH: No.

SP: Enemies?

JH: No.

Direct ends and cross begins.

Overland asks if he received two cups on that day and if he did anything with them when he looked inside the envelope.

JH: I did not remove them. I only saw the tops of them.

MO: Did you see any markings on the cup that identified the one discarded by the defendant?

JH: No.

MO: Did you put any markings on the cups?

JH: No.

The witness is finished.

#21 JENNIFER FRANCIS, criminalist with the LAPD laboratory for approximately 12.5 years.

I believe Nunez presents the witness. It’s obvious when she takes the stand that she isn’t feeling very well.

Francis performs DNA analysis in the LAPD’s serology lab, where she (catogorizes?) and identifies DNA. She’s been accredited for DNA analysis. I believe she states it is a two year program. Francis is a member of ASCLAD.

Francis states her CV for the record. She has testified about 20 to 30 times before as an expert witness.

Francis explains what DNA is. “It’s a chemical substance found inside the nucleus of our cells that tells us who we are.” We inherit one-half from each parent. DNA from all bodily fluids is the same.

(Here is a primer on DNA for non-scientists.)

She examines to determine a genetic profile and make various comparisons. She also inputs DNA profiles into CODIS.

Francis explains the four steps obtaining a DNA using, PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

1. DNA extraction. Remove the DNA, break open the cells purify and concentrate.

2. DNA quantification. An example would be an old photograph that’s blown out, you have too much and not enough material, the photo would be too dark.

3. PCR. There are certain areas they target, regions of DNA to make lots of copies.

4. The material then goes into a genetic analyzer and the (instr? instrument) ends up with a genetic profile.

The DNA profile can also determine the sex of the individual the sample came from.

Short tandem repeat is explained. It’s like, lined up box cars. You will get so many box cars from your mother and so many from your dad. The number of these “repeats” are counted and that gives a number for the pair of each allele targeted.

Reference samples are handled at different times from (target? donor?) samples. The analysts will change coats, cover benches with lab papers inbetween testing the two different sample (types).

Degradation of DNA occurs through the enviornment or chemicals. Francis explains it like a license plate. When you start losing numbrs, letters, you start losing information. It means you get less and less information. Less information, not “different” information.

Francis prepared a report on February 8th, 2005, covering items she specifically analyzed. She obtained these items from the LAPD property division. The following items she describes and states which item she obtained DNA from. (I don’t have all the ones noted that she obtained DNA from.)

Item #3, # #7, #9, #20, #30 #24. She believes item #3 was a stained swatch. #5 looked like a red swatch or two red swatches. #7 was a dish towel.

All items were separated (not stored together). She explains a “batch.” She might be assigned a case with four items. The items are each in their own separate tubes but processed at the same time. Everything is separated on the instruments. She may work on more (items?) at the same time, but in separate tubes.

#9 was a piece of fingernail, that she obtained a partial DNA from.
#24 was a blood swatch from Sherri Rasmussen.

PN: Did you obtain a DNA profile for Ms. Rasmussen?

JF: Yes I did.

People’s #143, the profile of Rasmussen is put up on the overhead screen. Lazarus looks at the evidence exhibit that Nunez hands Overland, then she looks to her left.

Francis reviewed the chart (#143) earlier today of DNA profile. It’s a record (from the?) sample of Ms. Rasmussen’s blood.

Across the top of the exhibit are 13 different marker, genetic names that correspond with allele locations. There are 13 different locations tested plus a gender marker. Those are Rasmusen’s unique marer at each of those locations.

There are two locations that are blank, and Francis explains. When she did the testing in 2005, she was using a commercial kit that used less marker locations. Subsequently, a new kit is now used that includes the two extra locations. In 2005, that was still considered a complete profile. In 2008, the LAPD lab changed to a 15 spot marker kit.

For item #3, she obtained a full genetic profile.

PN: If there was a mixture of blood in a sample would it show up as a (?)?

JF: It all depends on how much contribution is giving to a sample.

PN: If there’s enough of the second (profile)?

(I miss the answer I believe she answers yes.)

Sample #3 is consistent with a single person.

Item #5, the genetic profile matched the DNA profile for Sherri Rasmussen.

PN: Did you find any DNA that appeared to be foreign to any other?

JF: ?

It could have been due to degradation. Based on step two, it was a small amount of DNA. Item # 5, she obtained a partial profile.

PN: Any part foreign to Sherri Rasmussen?

JF: No.

PN: Item #20, was any of that profile foreign to Sherri Rasmussen?

JF: No.

Nunez asks if all the items were analyzed on the same day. I’m not sure of the answer. Item #30 was tested on January 27th, 2005, and she completed her report in February 2005.

This was a cold case that was referred to the Serology Unit. The unit (a co-worker?) received a request for several cold cases at that time and she said she would assist.

PN: Did you also get approval to receive materials (such as) the bite mark swab?

JF: (Yes.)

PN: Did you attempt to locate the swab in LAPD custody?

JF: I did not find it there.

She called a criminalist at the LA Co Coroner’s Office. She spoke to Lloyd Mahaney and the records (kept on?). She made a request of Lloyd Mahaney to help (find the bite mark swab). She had a conversation with Dan (Anderson).

JF: It may have been one of them; I don’t know.

PN: At some point, you got a notice that the bite mark swab had been located.

JF: Yes.

It was released to LAPD via LAPD pick-up.

That’s it for this day. Court resumed at 8:45 AM the following day. Overland said something about having the witness on the stand for most of the day tomorrow.


Kathy said...

I'm taking the long weekend and have gone back and to catch up by reading all your past reports on this case. It is easy to get hooked on, and it has really captured my attention.

Please tell me what 0-60 means, exp. "Judge Perry sets the trial at 0-60 for the August 15th..." This is referenced many times in the preliminary hearings.

Thank you.

Sprocket said...

It means the defendant has agreed to the delay in the proceedings and the trial judge has "reset" the time clock to have the case heard within the next 60 days. The defendant agrees to this, on the record.

Then at the next hearing (within that 60 days), the defendant agrees again to delay his case and the clock can be/is most likely reset again. However, if at any time, the defendant says "No, I want a speedy trial", then the moment he does that, the state must bring the case to trial within the required time frame, otherwise, his rights have been violated. And, (I believe, not positive) the case can be thrown out & the defendant free, regardless of the charge. It's one of our fundamental rights, the right to a speedy trial.

Sprocket said...

This wikipedia entry might give you more information.

Sprocket said...

And here is a better explanation from The Free

and one from

Tezi said...

Good job Sprocket!

NancyB said...

I am immensely enjoying the fine work of this sketch artist who was kind enough to allow you to post his work on your blog! His work is very good.

Sandy said...

I have been following this case for quite awhile and waiting for the trial to get under way. I am so delighted that you are our eyes and ears for this, and you do a superior job, too.

Crickit said...

Thanks so much for your hard work in getting these details up for us all to read!