Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Friend Julienne Dallara & BraunAbility Vans

I'll never forget that phone call I received almost 16 years ago. "Julienne's in the hospital. She's paralyzed." My beautiful, charismatic, totally funny, actress friend who started a volunteer massage program for AIDS patients couldn't move her legs. And for quite a bit of the next year, I was her ride. I was the one who helped take her wheelchair apart, put it in the trunk of my car so she could get to her physical therapy appointments. It was also the start of my sewing custom bags for her that she could hang on the back of her wheelchairs.

This weekend is the ABILITIES EXPO at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St. Admission is free. On Friday, there was an article and video on Julienne in The Daily News about how a BraunAbility van changed her life. Julienne works for Ability Center, selling wheelchair accessible vans to people like her who want more mobility and independence in their lives.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dept. 100, Part II & Lunch With Friends

Continued from Part I.....

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
When Mr. Sprocket told me on Tuesday, that we were going to take a “cross-the-city” light-rail trip to Norwalk, I knew that we would be passing through downtown LA, and the perfect opportunity to drop in on any possible pretrial hearings that might be going on that day.

I immediately checked the DA’s calendar and saw that Alberd Tersargyan (aka Albert Harutyunyan) had a hearing in Department 100. I also checked the LA County Sheriff’s web site to see if Tersargyan was in custody....he was. The inmate information indicated Tersargyan did have a court appearance scheduled for March 21st, at 8:00 AM. I didn’t believe that Department 100 started that early, but I knew from other inmate records that the Sheriff’s usually got the inmates to their respective courtrooms in plenty of time before court starts.

I told Mr. Sprocket that we were going to leave early enough to attend this hearing.

Department 100 is on the 13th floor of the Criminal Justice Center. (In a comment response some time ago, I mistakenly reported that it was on the 9th floor.) It is also known as the “Master Calendar Court.” This is the court that assigns cases that cannot be settled and will go to trial. Department 100 assigns the trial court. I do not know the criteria for assigning cases to particular courts/judges.

Although Mr. Sprocket came to court one time during the Spector trial, he’s never taken the train or bus to court. Let’s just say, instead of following directional signs, Mr. Sprocket would sometimes go with the flow of human traffic from point to point instead of verifying if that was the particular stairwell or escalator we needed.

We arrive on the 13th floor around 8:00 AM. The hallway is virtually deserted. Taped to the wall outside the small door to Dept. 100 is the calendar. There are 28 cases listed and the Tersargyan case is fifth. The list is in alphabetical order by defendant name. The first column is the appearance order, then defendant name, then attorney name, the case number and then Department 100. As Mr. Sprocket and I wait, attorney’s show up by one’s and twos and check to see if the door is unlocked yet.

I'm betting that the door isn’t opened until 8:30 AM.

I observe a few of the attorney’s who are waiting outside Dept. 100. One attractive petite woman is nicely dressed with an unstructured trench-like long sweater jacket, long skirt and white silky scoop neck blouse. Her hair is nicely coiffed in a French bun and she has on just the right amount of make-up (in my opinion..not too overly done). She’s carrying a monogrammed Louis Vuitton handbag, a second small sparkly-looking bag and silver ballet slippers with a huge fake crystal on top that covers the entire toe area of her shoes. Her legs are nicely tanned and across the top arch of her feet are tattoos, an interesting contrast to the upper half of her look. I make a guess that she is a defense attorney.

Once inside Dept. 100 I take in the room. It’s a large room with two aisles toward the front of the court and three sections of wooden row benches divided by two aisles toward the bench.

Mr. Sprocket and I take a seat in the second row, center. I tell my husband that if he wants to cruise the Internet on his cell phone, he will have to step outside in the hall. He doesn’t understand that his cell phone will be taken away from him if he doesn’t put it away. I tell him, if he can’t wait quietly with me, then go outside. He chooses to go back out into the hallway.

Dept. 100 is laid out slightly different than a regular courtroom. The far left side is separated by some short and medium height half walls and that’s where the court clerks desk is. A little forward of that is a small short walled off area where there is a LA County Sheriff bailiff at a desk. This area is for defendants in custody. Beside this area is a podium for their counsel to address the judge.

In front of the judge are three long tables where (I’m guessing) three public defenders are seated, busy going through thick files.

Right behind these tables are two bench rows. Then there is a wide aisle walkway that separates this seat grouping from the rest of the gallery seats. Over on the right side of the courtroom there are 18 jury box type comfortable rocking cushioned seats. It’s quite likely that there was a jury box wall enclosing this area at some time in the past, but today there isn’t any. It’s in this general area that the prosecutor’s congregate. There is a podium in front of the comfy seats that the DDA’s will stand at to address the judge.

Attorney’s file in and go up to the clerk’s desk. I try to think back, to see if I’ve ever been inside this courtroom before. I think I was here for a hearing in the Miura case, almost four years ago. More attorneys arrive. It’s a buzz of activity in the center area in front of the judge's bench.

I note in the bailiff’s area, there are two large double doors with signs on them.



The sheriff stands up and in a loud voice addresses the room to turn their cell phones completely off. “Not silent, completely off!” Virtually all the attorneys in the room ignore this and keep on checking their smart phones.

At 8:45 AM: I see the court reporter come out and set up her computer and equipment to the left of the judge near the clerk’s desk. Defendant’s not in custody, or those asking about loved one’s cases check in with the sheriff. There’s still a lot of noise, buzz coming from the attorneys in the room. I see some counsel meeting with their clients in the gallery.

Now, there are more attorneys in the room than people in the gallery, all chattering. I see some attorneys head into the lock-up area to speak with their clients. More people greet each other and chat. More attorneys head over to the comfy seats, several with their morning coffee or tea in their hands.

Now I see there is another female sheriff with the deputy at the bailiff’s desk. She may have come out from the lock-up area when I wasn’t watching. I’ve seen her before. She was a regular in the Lazarus trial and I’m bummed that I never got her name.

8:50 AM: Another attorney shows up and checks in with the clerk. I survey the room a bit more. There are seven bench rows on the right, four bench rows in the center after that wide aisle and five bench rows on the left. The bailiff yells out, “Folks in the audience, all cell phones off! No power, all the way off.” I’m thinking it’s a good thing Mr. Sprocket left to hang out in the hallway, because I wouldn’t put it past him to go up and ask the deputy why he couldn’t use his cell phone on silent.

More attorneys file in, wave to others and greetings are exchanged. As I sit and watch the interaction of the various players, I’m seeing Dept. 100 as more of a schmooze fest. I just noticed that DDA Lisa Kassabian, (who happens to be DDA Alan Jackson’s wife) slipped into Dept. 100. She’s standing at the center tables using the phone there. Several of the women attorneys have entered with rolling cars.

DDA Alan Jackson arrives; it’s his case that I’m interested in and why Mr. Sprocket and I have made this little detour on our trip. Jackson has on a dark gray suit. There are very thin, barely discernible white lines about one-inch apart in the weave. From how he’s standing, I haven’t had a good look at his tie, but it’s either a shimmering purple or striking shade of blue.

Jackson is speaking to a stylishly dressed woman with short, perfectly permed, blond highlighted hair. She has on a red form-fitting jacket, black skirt and red open-toed heels with a buckled ankle strap. Even from where I’m sitting I can tell she has a lot of expertly applied eye-makeup. I’m betting this is Jackson’s co-counsel on the Tersargyan case. With them is a tall slender woman I first saw at the Kelly Soo Park hearing, Ariel, who I believe is a clerk in the Major Crimes Division. Ariel takes a bench seat on the right side of the room.

Two female attorneys approach Jackson and there are smiles all around. I think I hear Jackson say, “Hi Gina.” I think it’s coincidence but both are wearing pink. One attorney wears glasses and her hair is in a loose bun. She is wearing a pink sweater over a white top and black pants. The other older looking woman has a squarish jawline and short blond highlighted hair. She has on a pink suit jacket and like her (possible) co-counsel, a white blouse and black slacks.

9:03 AM: More attorneys keep coming into Dept. 100 and check in with the court clerk. I see attorneys speak to clients, family members. Then I see defense attorneys approach prosecutors right after. The two women are still talking to Jackson and his co-counsel.

A much older woman with jet black hair (she reminds me of aged Nancy Reagan with Jackie Kennedy hair), is sitting center at the table in front of the bench. She stands up and facing the gallery calls out, “Mr. Rose! Mr. Rose!” There’s no answer. It doesn’t look like he’s shown up for his appearance.

9:10 AM: Things start to quiet down in the courtroom. Jackson and his co-counsel have taken seats off to my right in the row in front of me. The Nancy Reagan with Jackie hair woman stands up again and calls out, “Mr. Bolden! Mr. Bolden!” Again, there’s no answer. I note that the first two rows of benches on the left side of the courtroom, next to the bailiff’s desk have little ropes and signs indicating those seats are reserved for law enforcement.

I start to get a feel for the room after watching the actors for the last 45 minutes. It’s pretty easy to tell the prosecutors from the defense attorneys. Jackson gets up from his seat to greet another prosecutor over in the comfortable jury chairs.

9:17 AM: The Nancy Reagan woman with Jackie hair stands up again, calling for Mr. Rose. No one answers her.

9:20 AM: A few attorney’s come out from the jail area. Judge Schnegg takes the bench. She says something to the effect of, “We have a lot of death penalty cases this morning.”

JS: Everyone here on (case) number 1?

Judge Schnegg calls out the order number of a few other cases.

JS: Number 6; Number 14?

I think Judge Schnegg then calls out #16 Bernard. This might be the woman defendant who was just brought out. Then a case #24 is called, People v. Bland. The hearings happen very quickly and it’s difficult to understand what is happening with each case.

From just these few names called, I’m wondering how long Mr. Sprocket and I will be here today. I thought the case would be the fifth one up, but Judge Schnegg is calling them in her own particular order.

Bernard is brought out and it’s barely a minute and that’s it for the Bernard case.

Mr. Sprocket comes back into the courtroom at the last minute. He’s trying to tell me something about not being able to play a video on the County’s free wifi (he’s upset about that) and I have to tell him to be quiet so I can hear the next case being called.

9:40 AM: People vs. Tersargyan is called. When he’s brought out, I only see him for a moment. He’s a small statured man with a full gray beard. The LA Co. Sheriff’s website puts his height at 5’5” and 145 pounds. The two women who were speaking to Jackson earlier, step up to the podium and from where I’m sitting, I can no longer see the defendant. Standing with the defense attorneys for Tersargyan is an Armenian translator. The death penalty is still pending in this case; the prosecution has not made a decision yet on whether they are seeking death. That will have an impact on where this case gets assigned. A new date of April 30th, 2012 is set for another hearing in Dept. 100. Judge Schnegg tells the defendant that he will have a trial date set within 60 days of that April 30th date. She asks him if he waives his rights to a speedy trial. Tersargyan agrees. Judge Schnegg also orders the Armenian interpreter back on that date.

And that’s it. We get up to leave so we can catch Jackson before he goes back to his office. I catch him just as he exits the courtroom.

“Mr. Jackson,” I call out. “I just need to see the color of your tie.” He turns around slightly startled and when he sees it’s me and Mr. Sprocket, he smiles, understanding the joke.

I ask him a question off the record about the Kelly Soo Park case which he confirms for me. Thanks to a friend, I've received copies of public documents on that case and as soon as I get them turned into a PDF document, I’ll post an entry about them and link to the documents. The prosecution alleges that Kelly Soo Park's DNA was found on the throat of Juliana Redding, who was strangled to death.

And then Mr. Sprocket asks Jackson about who will play him in the movie. I try not to turn beet red with embarrassment. This is the risk I take, bringing him to court with me. I don’t even think Mr. Sprocket knows what case he’s even referring to. Jackson, ever the gracious person that he is, answers the name of a well known actor who has a similar southern accent. I drag Mr. Sprocket away before he has the chance to open his mouth again and we head back to the Red Line train and the rest of our cross-the-city trip.

The rest of my week was one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long, long time.

On Thursday, March 22nd, I got the opportunity to meet some more of those terrific cowboys who proudly wear the blue uniform. If you’re ever in the Valley for lunch, the place to stop is the Four & Twenty restaurant because it’s likely those guys in suits are local detectives and you just might be surprised to see a familiar DDA or two from the DDA’s Justice System Integrity Division.

On Friday, March 23rd, it was a non-stop fun coffee-chat-lunch at the historical landmark Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant in Burbank, CA, with two totally charming women who dedicate their lives to keeping our streets safe. Ladies, I had a blast.

On Saturday, March 24th, I attended my friend Matthew’s discussion about his book at the Pasadena Library. It was a good turnout of baseball fans and I got to meet his family. At the end of the discussion, Matthew is signing books and a tall, commanding balding man with a mustache, rosy cheeks and warm smile walks up to me and tells me he wants to talk to me. When he introduces himself I’m floored and excited at the same time. It’s none other than the guru of all LAPD detectives, a detective’s detective, Rick Jackson, of the LAPD’s Cold Case Unit. If you’ve never heard of Rick Jackson, you need to get your head out of the sand because he is legendary.

I’ve known about Rick Jackson ever since early on in my blogging career when I attended hearings on the Kazuyoshi Miura case. He was the detective who flew to Saipan on an outstanding warrant to retrieve Miura in 2008 for the November 1981, murder-for-hire of his wife, Kazumi on a downtown Los Angeles street. Miura was originally convicted of this murder in his native Japan, but ten years later a higher court overturned the verdict and he was set free.

Rick Jackson also worked on the Grim Sleeper and Westside Rapist Cases.
I was in heaven getting the opportunity to chat cold cases with Rick.

On Sunday, March 25th, I had lunch at the infamous Vitellos (where Robert Blake supposedly left his gun on a booth seat while his con-artist wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley was getting murdered) with my longtime friend and mentor since the first Spector trial, Ciaran McEvoy, currently writing for The Daily Journal.

I don’t think I packed so much excitement into half-a-week since I rode my R60/2 with Earls from Cali to Ohio in four-and-a-half days.

Here are a few cases I’m keeping my eye on and the next upcoming pretrial or arraignment hearings:

March 29th, 2012, Dept. 30 Gerhard Albert Becker
April 16th, 2012, Dept. 109, Kelly Soo Park: pretrial hearing.

April 17th, 2012, Dept. 109, Grim Sleeper, Lonnie Franklin, Jr.: pretrial

April 20th, 2012, Dept. 107, Cameron Brown: pretrial hearing for 3rd trial. (Second trial.)

April 25th, 2012, Dept. 108, Michael Gargiulo: pretrial hearing.

April 30th, 2012, Dept. 100, Albert Tersargyan: assignment hearing.

May 4th, 2012, Dept. 104, Stephanie Lazarus: sentencing.

I know I will be at the Lazarus sentencing, the Becker hearing tomorrow and the Kelly Soo Park hearing, but I don’t know at this time if I will make the rest. Some of them will depend on how long it takes Mr. Sprocket to get my car back on the road again. Sigh. Yep. It's still not fixed yet.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Meet Author Matthew McGough

The Baseball Reliquary and Pasadena Public Library present a discussion and book signing with Matthew McGough, author of Bat Boy: Coming of Age with the New York Yankees, on Saturday, March 24, 2012, at 1:00 pm, at the Allendale Branch Library, 1130 S. Marengo Ave., Pasadena.

More info at

Matthew will be writing the definitive book on the Stephanie Lazarus case and this is your opportunity to meet the author and get a signed copy of his autobiographical book. Mr. Sprocket and I started reading Bat Boy on our morning walks and it also kept us completely occupied on our across-the-city light rail trip on Wednesday. For Mr. Sprocket to be completely engrossed in this book says quite a lot since he is not a sports fan. I've had the fortunate opportunity to get to know Matthew over the past year that I covered the Lazarus trial. Reading Matthew's first book has convinced me he is the right person to tell the true story of Sherri Rasmussen, Stephanie Lazarus and how their lives intersected.

Matthew McGough for "The Moth" a video experience where he talks about his first day on the job with the Yankees.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Going to Court: Department 100: Master Calendar Court


It's always something isn't it? Well, my little car is still not fixed!

Yesterday, Mr. Sprocket realized at a late juncture that he got the exhaust and intake seals on the valves...mixed up. On American "Felpro" the exhaust gaskets are brown. However, on Toyota the intake gaskets are brown. You can but the exhaust seals on the intake, but you can't put the intake seals on the exhaust. They won't take the heat.

Consequently, we are taking a trip down to Norwalk and the only Toyota dealership in the area that has the extra seals we need. Since this trip in the White Whale Work Truck would take quite a bit of time (and not to mention gas with it's very economical 8 miles per gallon fuel efficiency) Mr. Sprocket and I are using public transportation to get down to Norwalk. Since we are passing through downtown, I checked the DA's calendar for today to see if there were any interesting cases that might have a morning hearing.

DDA Alan Jackson has a case that is in Department 100, which is not on the 9th floor. Dept. 100 is the Master Calendar court that assigns cases to other courts that can not be settled. It's the Alberd Tersargyan case, (aka Albert Harutyunyan) who is charged with four murders. I don't think much is happening today, it might even be held over and not assigned to another court today. Still, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to drop in on the Criminal Court Building and see if this case might be interesting.

I'm in the hallway outside of Dept. 100 right now and I'll post an update later today.

8:30 AM:
The judge in Dept 100 is Patricia M. Schnegg, who I believe presided over the Robert Blake case, the very first high profile case I attended.

3:10 PM
Mr. Sprocket and I are finally home from our cross-the-city on light rail trip to the Norwalk Toyota Dealership. It was enlightening taking the Blue and Green Lines and I've decided I'm partial to the newer trains and buses of the Orange and Red Lines with their more cushioned seats. As soon as Jusge Schnegg took the bench I knew it was not the same judge who presided over the Robert Blake case. That judge was Honorable Darlene Schempp. I think it was the double letters in Judge Schnegg's name that made me think it was the same person.

It was an interesting morning on how things go in Department 100. To answer a comment question, there is no place on line that gives a list of the cases appearing in Dept. 100. And, things went so fast, it was hard to follow. I'll write up my notes on my impressions of this courtroom later today.

8:09 PM
I'm trying to get a PDF link for the LA Co Superior Court's description of the Master Calendar Court but I'm having a bit of difficulty. Hopefully, I'll be able to get that link working when I update this story.

Thursday March 22, 2012 7:28 PM
HERE is the PDF link to a description of Department 100, the Master Calendar Court and it's duties.

LA County Superior Court Rules.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Going to Court: Pretrial Hearings

The Clara Shortridge-Foltz, Criminal Justice Center (CJC) is between Broadway and Spring St. on Temple. Sprocket.


I’m taking the train into downtown LA today to try to drop in on two pretrial hearings for cases that I might end up attending. My problem is, I believe both hearings are happening around the same time, in different courtrooms at opposite ends of the hall from each other.

One hearing is for Kelly Soo Park in Department 109, Judge Kathleen Kennedy’s courtroom. I know one of the prosecutor’s on the Parks case, DDA Eric Harmon is currently in trial in Dept. 105, so he may not attend and just let his co-counsel handle the hearing.

The other case was featured on CBS 48 Hours this weekend, “The Boy Next Door” accused serial killer Michael Gargiulo, who is scheduled to appear in Department 108, right across the hall. I don’t believe Park’s case will be going to trial this year, but Garulido’s could, since he’s been in LA County Jail since June 2008, an entire year longer than Stephanie Lazarus.

I am hoping to get up on the 9th Floor right around 8:00 AM to see if Dept. 108 or Dept. 109 might be open early so I can ask about what time each hearing will be heard.

I’m here on the 9th Floor. I’ll probably attend Soo Park’s hearing if it conflicts with Gargiulo. I'll have an update later on today.

8:13 AM
Several of Kelly Soo Parks supporters were waiting to go through the 9th floor scanners at 8:00 AM when I got on the 9th Floor. It’s an interesting mix of people young and old, caucasian and Asian. Hopefully, I'll have an update on both cases (if I can attend both) later today.

1:00 PM
I'm back home. I didn't even check on the Gargiulo case. In between house work I'll be updating my notes on this pretrial hearing later today. The only thing exceptionally noteworthy today is that Patricia (sp?) and Gregory (sp?) Redding, parents of victim Juilana Redding, 21 asked permission to address the court (and that was granted) about how long will it has taken for this case to come to trial and for their daughter to receive justice.

(Here's what happened after 8:13 AM today. Kelly Soo Park has been charged with felony murder in the death of Juliana Redding. Sprocket.)

8:19 AM
The other blogger who has been covering the case is here. She is a nicely dressed Asian-looking woman in a black suit who mostly reports on cases involving insurance fraud. I’m weekend super casual compared to her attire. There are about nine or ten people here for Park. Not as many as the last time I attended one of her pre-trial hearings in 2011 but still a formidable show of support for her. One has to admire the support and determination of her friends and family.

When I see DDA Eric Harmon clear 9th Floor security, I ask him if he thinks the hearing will take very long since I was going to try to hit another hearing in Dept. 108. Eric doesn’t think the hearing will take very long. I know that depends on if Judge Kennedy takes the bench right at 8:30 AM or if she’s like I remember, and doesn’t start until 9:00 AM or a bit after.

There is an entourage with Eric. I overhear that one individual is with the Santa Monica PD and the other individual is a Major Crimes clerk, Ariel (sp?). There is a couple with them. They all head down to the other end of the hallway to talk privately.

8:32 AM
I see Park arrive with another woman (who I later learn is a co-counsel) and when they clear security and enter the hallway they both turn down towards the other end of the hallway and enter the ladies room. I believe I’ve said this before. Park is a striking, statuesque Asian woman. Today I can see a light silk-type scarf peeking out beneath an eggshell trench coat. She’s wearing slacks and on her feet ballet like flats that look like they are are made of snake or alligator skin.

This photo of Park while she was still in custody after her arrest in 2010 and before she made bail does not do her justice.

Two men show up, obviously part of Kelly’s counsel/team and they start greeting all of Kelly’s supporters. The older man with blondish-white hair asks where Kelly is. I’m sitting across the hall from the majority of her supporters but I pipe up and tell him that I believe I saw her head towards the ladies room. Both gentlemen then head into Department 109.

As Park comes down to where her supporters are sitting, she greets everyone warmly. Lots of hugs are exchanged. It’s now that I seen her large gold handbag. Just then her attorney comes out of the courtroom into the hallway and Kelly reaches out her arm to him from wear she’s sitting and takes his hand. The younger looking man is very tall, easily over six feet and broad shouldered with longish hair.

8:43 AM
I see DDA Alan Jackson clear security, look at both ends of the hall and when he sees the rest of his team he heads down towards them.

8:45 AM
More supporters for Park show up and there are more hugs exchanged.

8:50 AM
When the prosecution heads down towards this end of the hall, I get up and follow them in.

DDA’s Jackson and Harmon confer with defense counsel. It’s now I realize that the woman who arrived with Park is co-counsel to the older gentleman.

Judge Kennedy’s bench still has the large collection of animal figurines on her right. Now the prosecutors are conferring with the female Santa Monica PD officer. She’s wearing a black pantsuit and her hair is pulled back in a ponytail at the base of her neck. Peeking out from her suit jacket is a light colored blouse with a dark lined pattern.

I finally get a glimpse of DDA Jackson’s tie. It’s a shimmering purple with a touch of maroon in the hue. It’s my memory that Jackson has a tie collection to rival the late writer Dominick Dunne. Harmon is wearing a bright red tie with his white shirt and dark suit. (DDA Jackson is running for District Attorney and DDA Eric Harmon is running for Judge. Sprocket)

Not long after I sit down, ABC 20/20 Producer Lisa Tomaselli takes a seat beside me in the gallery. I’m happy to see a familiar face.

Judge Kathleen Kennedy comes out from her chambers and she’s not yet in her robes. She’s wearing a form-fitting red jacket. It’s obvious she’s lost weight and looks fantastic.

At 9:00 AM Judge Kennedy takes the bench and I am thrust back into trying to write as fast as Judge Kennedy talks. It’s impossible. It was difficult when I covered the James Fayed case in her court and it’s the same today. Kelly Soo Park left her seat in the gallery and stood by her attorney in the well of the court.

Stephen Bernard and Alena Kilmianok for the defense

Harmon and Jackson for the people.

Judge Kennedy asks if counsel have worked out their differences (on the evidence).

Bernard speaks first regarding his motion to compel the people to turn over evidence. There were several items counsel was able to come to an agreement on. I believe they are asking for the sexual assault kit so they can perform their own testing. I believe there was additional DNA analysis performed and that was turned over to the defense. There were also evidence images that were turned over to the defense this morning.

The last item in contention is the defense is asking for written protocols for the (Santa Monica?) PD and the Coroner’s Crime Lab. The defense want’s their protocols and procedures for the (collection?) and storage of evidence.

SB: We’d like to have those. (snip) regard to whether the protocols (reflect?) as to how that protocol (was applied to the evidence collected?)...

The defense states the last item, photos of candles they came to an agreement on.

DDA Harmon speaks for the people. He tells Judge Kennedy that the protocols are not relevant.

EH: ....whether or not (fr? spec?) did nor didn’t follow protocols doesn’t have any bearing on (the) results or findings...

Harmon states the procedural manual is “four inches thick” and possibly 1,000 pages.

It’s not clear in my notes if the defense interjects that they don’t want the entire manual.

Judge Kennedy is not convinced by the prosecution’s argument and almost appears agitated with the prosecution’s argument.

Apparently, the defense only want’s the portion that relates to storage and collection of evidence.

It doesn’t matter at this point whether it’s relevant or not. That’s yet to be determine.

JK: I think you should turn it over. (snip) It may or may not apply. It may all lead to nothing but may lead to something. I’m ordering it turned over.

I believe she goes onto say something to the effect that what the defense wants is not “four inches thick”.

The defense states that Santa Monica PD was involved in the collection of biological evidence (as well as the coroner).

SB: We’re only looking for (the) protocols for the collection, preservation and storage (of evidence).

The defense believes it is relevant and their interest in the manual is a very narrow scope.

Counsel then moves onto the defense’s request for the transfer of physical evidence so that they can perform tests on it. One item is a pink wash cloth. The other item is the sexual assault kit. I believe Harmon states he has agreed to provide those.

EH: I need to speak to the lab to see how long (it will take) to make a split. (snip) And I don’t know how long (on the?) pink wash cloth. (snip) If we can come back in a few weeks... (snip) we’ll know.

Judge Kennedy asks counsel about turning over the manual material. I believe Harmon tells her they will make the phone calls today. Judge Kennedy asks if they can come back four weeks from now, on April 16th, 2012.

About this time a cell phone starts to go off in the gallery. It’s in Soo Park’s purse in the gallery and she tells the Judge she can’t turn it off.

JK: (angry) What do you mean you can’t turn it off!!!

Judge Kennedy then goes onto yell at the defendant that she can’t turn it off she should never have brought it into the courtroom. Judge Kennedy asks if there’s a window that the cell phone can be thrown out of.

It’s then that Kelly Soo Parks tells the court that it’s the tracking device that has gone off. (This device is not attached to her person but something she has to carry. That’s interesting.) Now we know why Park couldn’t turn the phone off. It wasn’t a phone. It was her tracking device!

Harmon then tells the court that the victim’s parents have traveled from Arizona in the hopes of speaking to the court.

The case is set at 0-90 today and in one month on April 16th, 2012, it will be at 30 of 90.

Harmon states by that time they will have complied with the defense discovery for four years.

There is some back and forth between Harmon and Judge Kennedy about the discovery materials and how long this has taken, the current defense has had the case for seven months and they are just now, requesting to test evidence. Judge Kennedy appears to get irritated with the prosecution again about this line of argument and reminds Harmon that Park’s prior counsel had a conflict.

In an irritated tone, Judge Kennedy states she would like to start the trial today. I believe she then states “It would be a fortuitous act. There are things that (still?) need to be tested.” The rights of the defendant verses the rights of the victim. Judge Kennedy states she doesn’t want to do a fruitless act that could be overturned (by appellate courts) later on.

The defense tells Judge Kennedy that they received 823 pages of discovery since January 23rd and they’ve had further discovery in today. They expect as the case moves forward to receive more discovery.

SB: We’ve had the case for 7 months. We’ve got 5,000 pages of un-redacted discovery. We’re still receiving evidence today. (snip) So if there’s a wash cloth back in to evidence (?) that has never been tested.... (snip) We’re not sandbagging or delaying the trial....

Harmon states that the discovery they handed over today was evidence in CD form that the defense already received in paper form. The prosecution expects that the defense will now want in paper form, evidence that was given to them in CD form.

EH: Discovery has now taken on whatever they request. (snip) It’s not fair to say we’re.... (I miss the rest of his statement.)

There is more discussion about the pink wash cloth. I believe Harmon states that the lab did some preliminary testing and determined there was no evidentiary value. And why didn’t they request it on day one? Now that the defense wants to test it, the prosecution wants to test it before handing it over to the defense.

Judge Kennedy is sounding irritated again.

I believe it’s Harmon that goes onto explain that the defense was handed evidence today, a CD.

EH: They want digital copies now. They’ve had hard copies (of the same material).

In the issue of Redding’s parents addressing the court, Judge Kennedy makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be (prejudiced? influenced?) by the facts of the case.

JK: I need not to hear things (relating?0 to (the?) merits of the case.

Redding’s parents get up from their seats in the gallery and approach the podium. Redding’s mother reads from a prepared statement.

It’s been four years since our daughter has been murdered. Our daughter (has) rights in the State of California to a speedy trial.

They are here to voice their concerns to....

She talks about the defendant being arrested in June of 2010. Twenty-one months have passed (since the defendant has been arrested). For four years our family has been shattered. (The defendant has been out on bail.) She’s had the opportunity to celebrate birthdays and holidays. (Their daughter has [not?] [had that taken from her?] We implore the court to bring this trial....

After Juliana’s mother stops speaking, Judge Kennedy asks them to identify themselves for the record.

Patricia (sp?) and Gregory (sp?) Redding.

Judge Kennedy states they are going to move along to the the next trial date of April 16th. Hopefully all (the issues) will be completed and they realistically can pick a trial date.

Judge Kennedy asks the parties how long they think the trial will take. DDA Jackson states for the entire case, no more than three weeks, unless the defense case is going to be much larger than he’s aware of. The defense feels the case will take five to six weeks. The defense states their case will take at least two weeks.

Judge Kennedy tells counsel that in her courtroom, you get a full day. In her courtroom they start at 9:00 AM or 9:15 AM and go to 4:15 PM or 4:30 PM every day. She also asks the parties how they feel about pre-screening jurors for time qualifications. She suggests that both sides develop a witness list and this helps in the time it takes during jury selection.

Judge Kennedy orders Park back on April 16th at 8:30 AM.

And that’s it. Out in the hallway, Lisa is kind enough to get for me Ms. Kilmianok’s business card so I can spell her last name correctly. Lisa tells me there wasn’t a preliminary hearing in this case. There was a grand jury proceeding and then a bail hearing. After stopping in the cafeteria, I make my way home via the train. I still don't know if this case will conflict with my coverage of the third Cameron Brown trial, which I've already made a commitment to cover.

TruTv Crime Library Report on Juliana Redding's Murder

Desert Living Today, April 2011 Story


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Closing Arguments Day II, Part III

The Three B's. DDA Shannon Presby
© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT

Continuing with my commitment to bring T&T readers the complete closing arguments. Sprocket.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 Closing Arguments Continued

At 10: 24 AM Judge Perry tells the clerk, “Bring the jury out.”

DDA Shannon Presby gets up to address the jury.

I also want to thank all of you for being here a long time. In jury selection there were a lot of jurors who got out of service... (snip) Some of them were true; some of them pushed the limit.

But not one of you because you answered the questions truthfully and you didn’t work too hard to get away. (It’s) very important that Stephanie Lazarus get a fair trial. (It’s) very important that Stephanie Lazarus get (a fair jury?).

(At the beginning of this trial I told you this case was about) a bite, a bullet, a gun barrel and a broken heart. I told you that evidence (would show?) Stephanie Lazarus murdered Sherri Rasmussen. That was true when I told you (then?) (even more true today?)....

There’s nothing that’s been presented that shows a reasonable doubt ... (snip)... The defendant has failed to provide a reasonable explanation (as to?) how did her DNA get on Sherri Rasmussen. ... a reasonable explanation (why her?) gun disappeared right after the crime..... a reasonable explanation for the fact that Sherri Rasmussen was killed with LAPD bullets.... a reasonable explanation as to why she (died?)..... (and?) who had a motive...

What does that mean, reasonable explanation, reasonable doubt? In the defense (closing argument?) he committed an error in analysis and he committed it over and over again. Let’s look at one marker...just loci D5, let’s look at that...

What did witnesses tell you over and over again? You have to look at the whole profile....everything... the DNA proves.... and it’s that same error in analysis that he wants you to repeat.

He’s saying, that’s fluff and that’s filler...don’t look at that... (snip) and that’s what jury instruction (220) tells you. You must consider all evidence, not (just) one piece of it.

(The defense) called it filler and fluff. There’s another word that described the bullet and the gun, it’s corroboration.

From the human heart to DNA shows only one person committed this crime, the DNA of the killer. But let’s talk about some (specifics?)...

The gun. Every physical attribute of the defendant’s gun matches the murder weapon (of the?) defendant.

Murder weapon was a revolver. (Defendant’s gun was a revolver.)
Murder weapon had five (lands and groves with a) right twist. (Defendant’s gun had 5 right twists.)
The bullets had five right twists.
Murder weapon had a five shot capacity.
Five shots were fired.
And the murder weapon had a short, 2-inch barrel, just like the defendant’s gun.

What about the 1 7/8” verses 2”? There are variances in the model of the gun. When you look at (the) blanket photo, (image of gun laid on the barrel cylinder gap discharge on the blanket).....

Whether 1 7/8, 1 9/8, 1 10/11 or 2 inches, it matched this gun! That gun matched (the barrel cylinder gap discharge) when laid on the blanket.

Patricia Fant (Defense witness #6) said this gun could have been a 3-inch barrel! Could it have been? No way!

The defense made a lot of accusations that the prosecution misled (you?) (but the truth is the defense did just that)... Here’s the evidence of it right here.

The gun. The gun (went) missing. (That’s a) pretty big coincidence that the gun that matches the murder weapon in so many ways.

Presby then goes over the story she told the Santa Monica Police verses what she told Mike Hargreaves (Prosecution #28). What did she tell Santa Monica? What did she tell Mike Hargreaves? When people lie about one thing, you distrust them about another. That Santa Monica Police report is a lie. The only thing that report proves is she reported it.

(Remember back during jury questioning, we talked about questions that matter and questions that don’t. We talked about taking your regular route and your alternate, backup route and the information you needed to decide which route to take.) Presby goes over the questions that are important (when deciding when to take your alternate route). Some questions aren’t important. What’s playing on the radio; the car in front of you.

The defense said the prosecution’s theory is the defendant then went over to Sherri’s house planning on killing her. We never said that and we’re never going to say that.

(The defense said the prosecution’s theory is) she went over there planning on killing her. We never said that. Was she going over there (to kill?) Was she going to tie her keep the pressure on the marriage and confront Sherri? Was she going over there just to sneak around the apartment? We don’t know. It’s a question you don’t have to answer.

Who killed (Sherri)? (Was it?) the defendant, and the moment she chose to kill her, did she make a conscious decision to kill her? On the jury form there’s no question about what she was thinking. That’s a trick, a defense trick and it’s really common.

It’s like a DUI. Was the person driving and were they drunk. Does it matter what lane and where they’re going? Who (who’s car? cares?) doesn’t matter. Just like there are many questions that will never be answered in this case.

The gun - disappeared right after. (She) never reports it to her own department, LAPD.... who (she?) knows that lists every firearm and (she must) present any new firearm for inspection to meet the special requirements (for her to carry).

The defense (said) she reported it to Santa Monica so that means she knew (she was reporting it to AFS). BS! We heard about that system. You have to make a query to it. That’s a lie, (L+G?) one of the deceptions the defense tried to fill you with.

Another thing that’s consistent with the defendant’s firearm and that’s the imprint on Sherri Rasmussen’s eye. Presby goes over the too-mark imprint on Rasmussen’s body.

Another one of the characteristics that is the same as the defendant’s gun.

Presby goes onto speculate that: Maybe she just forgot (to notify LAPD the weapon was stolen). But you know, that doesn’t really fly. March 16th, 1986. Right after... three weeks, ten days or so (after she) reported the weapon stolen, she’s at the LAPD armory, she’s physically present and she presented her new weapon she purchased to the armory (for inspection and modification).

(So at the armory) he’s got the card (listing all the weapons she’s purchased), writing down the new gun. She doesn’t say, ‘You might want to cross that (oher) gun out because it got stolen.’

Is that reasonable and is it true? (The circumstantial evidence jury instruction) explains if there are two reasonable explanations... if they both are reasonable. That’s what reasonable doubt means.... reasonable.

The defense explanation about the firearm is a coincidence upon a coincidence upon a coincidence. It just happened to get stolen. I just happened to tell something different than I (told my friend about my?) stolen my firearm.

In 1986, the best information detectives had was fingerprints and guns. They didn’t have DNA. The defendant knew that. Ms. Fant (Defense #6, Patricia Fant) said microscopic analysis of firearms goes back years. Get the bullet, get the gun and then match (them). The defendant knew this so (she) had a powerful motive to get the gun to disappear.

Is it a coincidence?
Is it believable?
Is it true?

The defendant’s journal. (We’ve) seen a lot of entries, and to be candid, they are banal in the extreme. Restaurants, donut shops, cutie guys. But what does she leave out? I’m a cop and my gun got stolen? Oh the irony. (There’s) nothing about (the gun being) stolen, about making a report, (or) getting a new back-up weapon. And the one thing that happened to you, you conveniently leave it out?

Not fluff. Not filler. It’s fact. It’s corroboration who committed this crime.

The bullets. The defense says it’s just fluff and filler. Is it? In 1986, the LAPD was required to use these type of bullets. (Federal 38J +P) 125 grain. Not maybe they had to use. And these bullets have these unique hoof shaped notch. Mr. Rubin (Prosecution witness #51 Daniel Rubin) looked at those (and he’s?) never seen any other (bullets have that hoof shape?). Mr. Rubin says these are the (Federal brand) bullets. Not consistent with. Not maybe, are.

Presby talks about how Rubin went to the plant with Stearns and saw the machine that imprints the crimp hoof shape on the bullets and cartridges.

The bullet that killed Sherri Rasmussen are these 38 J bullets. At some point those bullets became available to the general public. That’s true and we can’t date when they became available. But what what we know, in 1986, all LAPD officers carried this type of bullets.

By themselves, do they prove (guilt?) No. But it’s one more piece of evidence that outlines the (proof) of this (case?). It’s one fact along with all the others who killed Sherri Rasmussen. It’s not fluff. It’s fact.

The gun disappeared and by the way, the bullets are the same kind. Coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence. Is it believable? Is it true?

Go back to what the defense said (about) six bullets that were fired. Two through the plate glass window. Three fired into Sherri and one was a contact. And his argument for this (is), the coroner said (the weapon) had to be in contact with the body or cloth. Well we know it was (in contact) with the clothing. We know that contact wound (was in contact with fabric?) I’m going to make sure.... the colored robe folded over.

(The front of the robe, the lapel, was folded over and the contact wound bullet went through two layers of fabric and still left an imprint of a contact wound on Sherri's skin . Sprocket.)

Is it also so difficult to believe it (the bullet) also went through the snuggy (blanket)? The short barrel revolver is an explosive event out of that firearm. More power; more energy, more blast.

Assume there were six bullets. Two through the glass window and three... (snip) Only two went into Sherri (?) Where’s the other bullet? Where is it?

There were five bullets. Anything else is the defense asking you to speculate on something where there is no evidence. Don’t be fooled.

(The defense said) the people say that (the) defendant was obsessed, obsessed with John. We’re saying the defendant had a motive to hurt Sherri. Had a motive to kill Sherri. That’s what we’re saying.

What is the motive? The defendant loved John since college....for a long, long time. She kept those feelings hidden even from John. How could a defendant, a police officer, who’s sworn to protect us from such violence, how can that be?

Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, wrote a letter to his friend Nikolai Vitkevich and ended up in the gulag.

If only it were all so simple..... (snip) The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.

Even people that seems like a good person can do (evil things). (A?) some who have secrets... We know she’s the kind of person (because) she locked those feelings away. She hid them from John. When she sees that John and Sherri are getting closer, what does she do? She see’s John’s car and she watches it. (She left the note on the car.) She stops by his apartment but the girlfriend is there. When John and Sherri become fianc├ęs’ we see the walls of her inner prison begin to crack.

Mr. Stearns didn’t mislead you. The defense asked him if he saw any other journal entries and the defense read you all those journal entries. Let’s take a look at them. Presby goes over the entries one by one. ( I don’t try to write them down a third time.) And each time he asks a question afterwards. Is that a boyfriend? Is that the love of your life? That may be a fun night, but it’s not a boyfriend. It’s not the (int? intimate?)... (snip)...

None of them were a boyfriend. None of them Detective Stearns saw as being a boyfriend. These are acquaintances. (Not def? lies?)

(So what does she do next?) She reaches out to him. She finally confronts her true feelings. I want the future with you, that you plan with Sherri. It’s supposed to be me and John says, “No, I’m marrying Sherri.” And then the defendant asks for sex. Why? Is this going to help her move on?

This is ammunition. Just like bullets. This is manipulation of John. John makes a mistake. John was truthful with you. He was a young man. Just because John made a mistake...Sherri should die?

But what does the defendant do? She uses it as a bludgeon against Sherri. The defendant goes 20 miles out of her way, finds the nursing administration office, finds Sherri and tells her.

What does she tell Mike Hargreaves? Oh, I went and saw that nurse, and she wasn’t even that pretty. And Sherri goes home and tells John and they discuss it. (But fortunately, they get through it and the marriage goes forward.)

The defendant has a different explanation for it.

John Ruetten admitted that he was unfaithful before the marriage.

(But according to the defendant) I went one (time) to tell Sherri to tell John to pick, to choose.

Does that make any sense?

(I can’t believe it. Both counsel ended using this line.)

If John was even calling her, she wouldn’t have told Sherri because she would have wanted that to continue.

Presby then brings up Lazarus’ interview video.

Look at her statements, demeanor, facial expressions! (Look) how she changes the subject! You can see the wheels turning (in her mind). What do they know? What should I say? (When they ask her about confronting Sherri) I’ll just spin it (that) it was about John but it wasn’t very important.

It’s not reasonable.
It’s not logical.
It’s not true.

Presby then goes to the letter Lazarus wrote John Ruetten’s mother, Margaret. (She) then writes at the end of the letter, “I hope I meet some ONE I can love as much. Not some family. Some ONE.

Presby questions the line in the letter that says, “I had to build up the courage...” Why did she have to build up the courage? She had a farewell with John; farewell sex. Why did you have to build up courage, if it was so amicable?

Presby questions the line in the letter that says, “I’m sorry it ended so...” If it (the ending of her and John’s relationship) was so banal, why are you so sorry?

That was an UGLY confrontation at Sherri’s work. She couldn’t know how much John’s mother knows and if she does, she has to give some justification for that, so read it (that letter) closely.

John and Sherri get married, then this, the (Christmas?) card the defendant gets from Mrs. Ruetten and that makes her very sad. Is that Mrs. Ruetten, John’s mom, or is that Sherri? We don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

And we know that many many years later, because she’s (? in the video?)...

(The defense asked if she did kill Sherri, why didn’t she ever initiate contact with John? Why didn’t she try to contact him?)

Are we saying she killed Sherri to get John back? And so if she did that, why didn't she contact him? That would be a little delusional even for this defendant!

That doesn’t make any sense. We’re not saying she went there to kill her. And now she’s beaten this woman down in her own home. She has to kill her, or she’s finished.

It’s an interesting question but it won’t... (snip). It would be delusional to pop back up into John’s life. Here I am! Look at me! But what else didn’t she do? She never reaches out to John, to say, “Oh my God! I know we’ve had our differences! Is there anything I can do? I know I’m not a detective, (snip) but I’m there for you.”

That’s what an innocent person does. It’ can’t (do nothing but?) add (to the) the ugliness of this murder. She did nothing. Another fact. Another piece of the evidence that shows the defendant had a motive to harm Sherri.

Let’s talk about DNA. The defense says this is the (centerpiece? of the prosecution’s case)...

This case is a BANQUET of evidence. We have the vegetables. We have the turkey. We have the salad. What it is, is they are corroboration of each other....

Corroboration (rishing?) against the defendant or motive evidence against the defendant.

The case was reopened. There was the profile. Detective James Nuttall looked at it fresh. He eliminated all the other women in her (Sherri’s) life and he was left with the defendant. Then they took the next step, they looked at the gun. Well, if the bullets were Remington or Winchester...(but that would exclude her?).... but she was included. But if the defendant was working that day....But she wasn’t on duty. That’s what they did. (They followed the evidence.) It led them to the defendant. Because wonder of wonders, she did the crime!

The DNA. Every person is unique, except for twins. DNA doesn’t transfer (into someone else's DNA). No matter how it’s packaged. No matter how it’s stored. No matter where it’s kept. It cannot become someone else’s (DNA). The defendant’s DNA is in item #30.

One in 1.7 sextillion. It’s the defendant’s DNA (mixed with) Sherri’s DNA. Saliva amylase. Degradation can’t explain it. So, how did it get there. But that’s what we see....(?) (snip). Contamination can’t explain it. We see contamination in this case. Presby explains that, with the pieces of evidence (fingernail scrapings, the blood on the garage wall, the blood in the car) that have one or two random allele’s that cannot be traced to any known person.

There’s some kind of break here. No one in the gallery sees everything that happened. Someone saw that Lazarus’ sister Judi pointed to someone on the defense side. Someone else saw that Courtney went up to the court clerk to say something. Judge Perry calls a short break. Overland left the courtroom then came back at the end of the break. We start closings again at 11:30 AM.

Presby begins again. So how did the defendant’s DNA get into item #30?

And then I see Mr. Overland! His face is all red! He’s leaning forward, his arms on the defense table and he’s put his head face down into his arms!

Presby continues arguing, possibly unaware that Overland might not be well behind him.

You get contamination when you have a mix of alleles. What are they? They’re not a complete person. A (random) allele here (is not?) a female there.

The defense says there (there’s?) the only (one?) way you can (get those allele’s in there? and that’s through contact? scratching?)... (snip)

He wants (you?) to reject item #30, where there is the strong (personal?) profile, (of the defendant) but the random (alleles).... (he wants you to question who that is). I’ll tell you who that is. It’s nobody! One allele here, one allele there is not a complete person.

What the coroner did in 1986, (was) use the same clippers, over and over again. They (were not looking for DNA) they were looking for fibers, dirt, big items. Those DNA (random) alleles don’t establish anything. They’re like static, between the radio stations, back when you used to have to tune the radio.

Presby mentions the movie Poltergeist, and that those random alleles are like ghosts, static. That’s what they are. The background static of DNA.

They’re all weak samples. They all had to be amplified. It’s not a full, strong (statistically?), a complete person.

Presby states, the defendant bit Sherri when she was attacking her. Someone had to intentionally bite Sherri.

Let’s talk about what would have to happen for someone to plant evidence in that tube.


What’s the motive for framing Stephanie Lazarus? Have you heard of any motive? So, you’ve heard she was a police officer. She was liked by her family and friends. You have her personnel file. Look at her commendations. Does it say anywhere that Stephanie Lazarus caught a serial killer? No. Stephanie Lazarus helped out with a BBQ. At best, she was a “B” (as police officers go). There was no reason anyone would try to frame her.

(To frame her) the person who did this had to be a scientist or criminalist to manipulate DNA, or be sort of like a Dr. Moreau from H.G. Wells...

They’d have to get the defendant’s DNA, salivary amylase... It’s possible, because detectives did just that. But it took a team of officers following the defendant day after day, following the defendant. Now (the framer is) Dr. Moreau and a combination of Sam Spade. I don’t mean to be flippant, but (I’m trying to show you) how farcical this explanation is.

Then they had to get Sherri’s DNA. Sherri’s skin cells. (How did they get) Sherri’s DNA, when, one week after she was killed, she was buried. So now they’re (the framers) grave robbers? Dr. Moreau meets Sam Spade meets Dr. Frankenstein?

How did they do it? They had to do it in 1986, because that’s when Sherri’s DNA was available. But they had to know that DNA in the future, would be available.

They had to now break into the coroner’s office. Break into the evidence room. Now find the evidence envelope and switch that sample. It’s not to be flippant but it’s a combination of (the characters mentioned before) and James Bond or (what’s the more current one) Jason Bourne.

Occam’s razor
. Selection between two explanations. When you have two explanations of facts, the simpler one, must be true.

It’s clear how it got there, because she bit Sherri when she attacked her.

(During testimony) defense counsel asked witnesses over and over again, why are (the evidence seal) tapes on envelopes? To protect (the) integrity as to what’s inside. And that’s true, in the abstract. He never asked, were the contents tampered with. Not could they have been, but WERE they. He did get an answer when he talked to Mr. Anderson (Prosecution witness #17 Dan Anderson). The outside envelope, yes. (It was torn.) But (Anderson testified) nothing happened to the tube itself.

The explanation is the defendant did this crime and that’s why her DNA is there.

Presby goes over the seals on the evidence.

The first seal is the plastic tube. The second seal is the envelope. Yes, there’s a tear in it. The third seal is the refrigeration (freezer) that locks items away from the rest of the world. The fourth seal is the locked evidence room. The fifth seal is the Coroner’s Office itself. It’s not like it's a public bus station. The sixth seal is the integrity of everyone who worked there. You saw them testify. You saw the (evidence log). If they wanted to frame her, why did they document (everything they did?)? That’s a seal on the integrity of this evidence. That’s a seal.

Now, if we go to the frame job (theory), He (the framer) says, Oh, I’m going to frame her. I’m going to mastermind (a frame up?)...

Why just item #30? Why not put the defendant’s DNA on the snuggy? Why not on (this other evidence, or this other item?).

It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s desperation.

It’s 11:45 AM and I wonder if Presby is going to finish by noon.

There were some real efforts to try to mislead you. Swab verses Swabs.

Look at the testimony of Dan Anderson and Lloyd Mahaney. (Anderson testified the company made both kinds, of swoob tubes single and two sticks inside the tubes.) Since 1990, since (before? and when) I (Anderson) arrived, (they used the two sticks type tubes) and that was mainly to cover the surface of the items being swabbed.

Presby goes onto explain that, the coroner’s criminalists used tubes with two sticks to ensure they had enough material to test more than once.

Presby then reads Lloyd Mahaney’s testimony to the jurors.

It doesn’t mean that there was just one applicator. This was a direct effort to deceive you. Presby puts up a photo SERI took of the tube they received from the LAPD, and the questions the efense put to Jennifer Francis, asking if she put those numbers on the sticks. (Jennifer would have not seen the evidence when it was packaged up five years later, the two sticks labeled separately and sent to SERI.) It’s a desperate attempt to mislead you.

(The defense was) talking about the minor profile in item #30, with respect to (allele/loci) D2. Over and over again he misstated the evidence. There were 9 loci for Sherri Rasmussen. 13 loci for the defendant.

Presby then addresses Judge Perry. “Your honor, I don’t think I’m going to finish before lunch."

I have a note that Mark Overland looked like he was about to faint when we had that earlier break. Someone tells me that at first he was real pale, and then he was real red in the face.

As we pack up to leave the courtroom, the male bailiff addresses the packed gallery. “Be sure to pick up all your things. We had a pair of shoes left behind.” Then the tiny gray-haired female sheriff, (I’ve seen her at many of the cases I’ve covered) I think the name on her badge is Parra, tells us about the shoes..., “And they didn’t match any of our outfits.” The room laughs.

Matthew points out to me who he thinks is Presby and Nunez’ boss, the department head of the Justice System Integrity Division (JSID). Overland wipes his face, his eyes with a tissue. One of the things Matthew noticed was, for several days in a row, Lazarus was drinking water from a plastic coke bottle and not a standard brand of water bottle.

During the lunch break, I finally get confirmation on the name of the woman who sat with the detectives behind the prosecution table and who looked so lovely in her sharp outfits I often commented on. DDA Rosa Alarcon.

1:35 PM. We’re all packed back inside the courtroom, and I mean packed. The room is stuffed with as many people as the Public Information Office can get in there.

Presby continues with his rebuttal argument.

I want to talk to you about a few more things that were not correct or (were) deceptively presented to you by the defense.

Fingerprints. Identified and identifiable. There were two fingerprints of all the prints that were identifiable, that were never identified. One was a joint print on the phone in the kitchen. There’s no evidence that any part of the attack happened in the kitchen. And the palm print on the banister.

The prints in databases in 1986 that were in the database were fingerprints only. (It wasn’t until years later that palm prints and other types of prints were added to the database.)

There were several other (prints) that were unidentifiable. They may very well be Sherri’s or Johns, there’s just not enough information (to tell).

Other DNA in the crime scene. Blood down the stairway. There was no witness who said, this is the blood of (the? killer?). (There was) one marker. It had one allele. One out of thirty (30). (Note here. When Presby states “30” he’s talking about at each loci, you get alleles from each parent. So the 15 loci that are looked at in a DNA analysis, you will get the number of repeats from each parent, ergo 15 x 2 = 30. Sprocket) That’s not a person. That’s a single allele. It’s not a question that can be answered to that very limited stain.

The blood on the arm rest in the vehicle. The blood was Sherri’s blood. A few male alleles in that mixture. We know Brian Lane drove Sherri’s car (the day before). There was no testimony to say (those alleles belonged to the killer) (snip). No evidence of that whatsoever.

The blanket. The “snuggy.” Two swatches were cut. Two samples. On the control swatch, there doesn’t appear to be blood and the DNA is John and Sherri’s. (The swatch with blood) comes back to Sherri with one other allele. The defense wants you to speculate to this stuff, (that) is part of the background noise (we talked about earlier).

But ( the same time, they) want you to ignore #30. Remember, all the blood in the crime scene belonged to Sherri.

Mr. Alexander (Defense witness #4 Michael Alexander) worked with Stephanie Lazarus. He doesn’t remember whether or not the defendant was injured. That’s not surprising. (I believe Presby goes onto remind jurors that he couldn’t remember anything about that day, who he worked with without looking at the work logs.)

Sherri Rasmussen was a nurse. With her whole professional life, she had wanted to help people. The police, part of their training, is fighting, gun retention training. Mr. (?) talked about..... (snip) She was an outstanding, superior athlete. Brian McCartin testified she was the most aggressive female in that (LAPD) academy class. It’s not surprising once the defendant (started) to (assault? Sherri? she won?)... Sherri was in her underwear and the robe. She fought as best she could.

The defense talked about the documentation. The (coroner’s) evidence log, and the missing GSR entries, and that this (the log) was never updated. What’s the reasonable explanation? This is on microfiche. The card (log form) doesn’t physically exist anymore. The fact that GSR kits were destroyed doesn’t mean anything to item #30. In fact, the GSR kits were never released to anyone. (They) were never given to another agency. (They stayed completely in the control of the Coroner’s Office.)

Where do we stand in respect to the evidence?

The gun.
The bullets.
The motive.
The DNA.

The defendant’s DNA could only get there by her doing this crime. The other explanation isn’t reasonable. But there’s more evidence. Sherri’s fingernail, found at the scene, (with a) one in 26,000 (random chance of a match). One in 26,000 is not as much as 1.7 sextillion, but it’s not ‘nothing’ either.

Presby then gives a visual explanation as to how view that one in 26,000.

If you were sitting in the Staples Center (this is a known, local stadium) and it was filled with women, only one of those women could have committed this crime. The defendant is that woman, and one (other) in the Staples Center. That woman, would also have to have, motive, a gun, dispose of the gun, kill with LAPD issued bullets and have the opportunity to bite Sherri in the arm.

DNA. (multiplying) alleles. Let’s talk about how they come to the percentage in a DNA profile, one multiplied times the next times the next time times the next. That’s what you have to do in this case with each piece of evidence.

We’re talking about what is a reasonable explanation and what is a made up explanation. That fingernail was never in the Coroner’s Office. It was in the LAPD. So now, somehow.... and now they would have to plant that DNA in the LAPD also.

If you’re going to plant, why didn’t they put that full DNA profile on the fingernail, or the blanket, or the rope? Why not go all the way?

But there’s more evidence still. There is a staged crime scene. The defense said, Mr. Safarik put this all together. No one put this all together. It’s the evidence that puts it all together. I’m not going to list all the things that Mr. Safarik (testified) that shows it’s a staged crime scene. Wrong apartment; not right for a robbery location. The door has a sticker that there’s an alarm system. Look at the stacking of this stereo equipment. It’s right in the middle of the stairs! We know the fight started upstairs and we know it ended at the bottom of downstairs. So Sherri had to get downstairs over that stereo equipment and so did her attacker.

We know Sherri is crawling around on the ground by that entry way. (You have to conclude they were placed there after) Sherri was killed. The drawer pulled out and not rifled through. The straight pins, undisturbed. This was an after the fact, staging of the evidence. The only person who has a reason to stage (it) is the defendant. A stranger would not have any reason to stage the crime scene.

But, if you’re the ex-girlfriend of someone who’s wife was killed. (Stephanie Lazarus thought he ~John~ should be mine.) It was someone who knew the spotlight would be on them. The BMW was not stripped. This was a made up motive because she knew the police would look at her, and that’s exactly what we see, staging.

There’s one other piece of evidence that this defendant committed the crime. Sherri wasn’t just killed. She was beaten. Her face was disfigured. Her beauty, was marred. IT was that face, that beauty, that took John away from the defendant. Who else had a reason to do this (photo placed up on the overhead screen) to Sherri’s face?

So where does the evidence stand at the end of the day? Presby goes over the list again. (snip) ...And the staged crime scene.

The defense talked to you a bit about reasonable doubt. it’s not just looking at one (DNA allele) marker and having doubt abut the case. It’s about looking at all the evidence, and having an abiding conviction about the evidence in this case.

Mr. Overland gave you an example of himself being wounded, struck, and “Steve” standing next to him. That’s true you couldn’t decide if that’s all the information you had. That’s not a true example of this case.

Lets say, an analysis was done of the wound (on Mr. Overland’s head). The wound was made by a special tool, say a special hammer. Steve owned such a hammer. Steve owned that hammer and then that hammer disappeared.

And lets say, there were particles in the wound. Something like the bullets (but from say, nails). And lets say, the nails that he used in his work, and those nails were special nails. The only nails he could use.

Then, they find out that Steve hated Mr. Overland because Mr. Overland had stolen the woman Steve loved.

But then there’s more. Let’s say the wound was analyzed and there was wiping done around the wound and they find Steve’s skin cells with Mr. Overland’s DNA.

There are too many coincidences to try to explain away.

William Congreve wrote (and it’s often misquoted):

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

That’s what we see in this case. That’s what we see in Sherri’s face.

You have only two questions to answer in this case. One: Who killed Sherri Rasmussen? (Was it) the defendant, Stephanie Lazarus? and Two: Did she make a conscious decision to kill.

Presby goes over the evidence of the contact wound and how the defendant, at that point can decide. I’ve beaten her. What do I do? Do I leave or finish what I came here to do? She wrapped the snuggy around the gun. And this tells you, she wants to get away with it. She fires once. She fires twice. Sh fires a third time. Each one of those acts was a conscious cold calculated decision to kill.

(You’ve? We’ve) worked on this case a long time. Five weeks. But this case is not about me or Mr. Nunez, Mr. Overland, or you. I’s not about John Ruetten or Sherri’s mom and dad. This case is about Sherri Rasmussen. This case is about justice for Sherri, and it’s about responsibility for this action.

Mr. Overland told you there were tragedies all the time in this courthouse. An equally big tragedy is to have a defendant gain the system, because she knows how to change the crime scene. She knows how to beat the system. But she did steal from Sherri Rasmussen. She stole every day from that day to this day. All the joy and pain that Sherri might have existed. All the pain and joy that makes up a life, she stole from Sherri.

I really implore each and every one of you to use your logic and to look at the big picture and see who did this crime. There really is only one profile that explains all the evidence. (snip) (When you?) go back and do your deliberations, give justice to Sherri Rasmussen.

It’s 2:05 PM. Judge Perry reads the instructions to the jurors.

2:34 PM The clerk administers the oath to the bailiff to take control of the jurors. The prosecution starts to pack up. DDA Nunez takes the prosecution’s evidence books over the clerk, Melody. The alternate jurors are taken to another empty courtroom or empty jury room.

2:35 PM the jurors entered the jury room.

Stephanie Lazarus appears to still be reading the jury instructions. She was reading along as Judge Perry was reading them.

Then Judge Perry asks everyone (prosecution, defense) to stand by.

JP: There’s a minor error in the jury instructions.

Inside I groan. That can totally screw up an entire trial, if they don’t fix that right away and haul the jurors back in. Judge Perry continues to look at the computer screen for the “minor error”.

There is a single line missing from the jury instruction 520 or 521. It has to do with defining second degree murder. The prosecution has no problem adding the missing line in and giving it to the jurors.

JP: I will leave it up to the defense.

MO: As I’ve said (before) I have an objection on second degree.

JP: I will accept your rejection of any modification of the jury instructions.

The courtroom is still packed with most of us in the gallery.

3:05 PM Overland is still in the jail area with Lazarus. He knocks on the door, but the bailiff that’s supposed to be inside the courtroom has left for a moment. Overland is locked inside there.

3:10 PM Overland and Courtney come out. He ensures that Melody has their numbers to reach them.

Most of the press has left. Judge Perry comes back out. He’s not in his robes. I can clearly see the patterned black and white tie he has on. From where I’m sitting, it could pass as an Aubrey Beardsley drawing or some other very intricate pattern.

Judge Perry answers a question about what time the jurors will be deliberating tomorrow. 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

There are questions (to Melody) about the reading of the verdict, once it’s been reached. It would probably be about an hour later, but it’s a function on how long it takes the attorney’s to get here. Mark Overland is about an hour away in Santa Monica.

I finally pack up after seeing the jurors leave at 3:55 PM. They avert their eyes from those of us still in the gallery as they exit.

Outside in the hallway, local CBS reporter Dave Lopez tells me that was the most compelling closing argument he's ever seen. I have to agree that Presby probably gave the presentation of his career. It was quite good.

The rest of the story, y’all know already. Thank you everyone, for reading T&T. Thank you to everyone who wrote me and told me how much you appreciated my coverage of this trial. There is no greater personal reward for myself, than to know that the time and effort I put into this trial was appreciated by so many. And thank you to my new friends in the mainstream media, who told me they thought I did a great job, reporting on this case.
I still have a couple of stories to tell about the Lazarus case. There have been several people who have contacted me, people who knew Lazarus at various times in her life. Of those that gave me permission, I will be sharing their stories soon. Understand though, most of these individuals wish to remain anonymous and I will be honoring that request.
I still hope that, if any of the jurors do decide to come forward they will consider talking to my friend Matthew McGough, who will be writing the definitive book on the case. I know that he will honor any level of anonymity they wish to preserve. If anyone still has questions about the case, I will try to answer them as best I can. Sprocket.

P.S. I'm still working on my mail, so please be patient. I will answer your letters.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Closing Arguments, Day II, Part II

Overland and the bite mark.
© Thomas Broersma thomasbroersma AT

Continuing with my commitment to transcribe the full closing arguments in this case. This is the rest of Mark Overland's closing argument. Sprocket.

Closing Arguments, Continued Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
It’s gray day for Courtney and Mark Overland’s suits. The color of their suits is so close that from where I’m sitting it looks like an exact match. Overland goes back into the jail area to speak to his client privately.

It’s 8:20 AM. Nunez has on a dark suit, close to black and Presby has on a medium navy suit and I can barely detect a faint, light pinstripe.

We’re waiting for jurors. I finally get the first name of a gentleman whose been in the courtroom for most of the proceedings. His name is Greg and he is one of the DA’s investigators. He is one of the people who rushed to the Rasmussen’s aid during a very difficult part of the trial for them.

A few of us in the gallery mention how Detective Stearns has a constant, serious contemplative expression on his face. He looks exactly like what you would expect a seasoned homicide detective would look. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him crack a smile. He naturally looks serious all the time.

As we wait, Mona, Pat LaLama and I chat about our pets. It’s a packed house in the courtroom again. Pat shares a great story about when she was on a stake-out with two big, burly suspender wearing detectives and a cat that was living at one of the crack houses kept coming up to her. She ended up adopting the kitty, “Kiki” the crack house cat. Hopefully, I’ll have time to share that story in detail because her husband Tony gives a great punch-line at the end and it’s a fun story.

Lazarus comes out and she’s in a silver gray loose knit jacket cardigan. Almost exactly like all the clothes she’s worn to court. At 8:40 AM the late juror finally arrives and Judge Perry takes the bench. We’re finally on the record.

Lazarus and the defense investigator, Randal “Randy” Later whisper. The jury comes in and as they enter Lazarus then leans into Mark Overland to whisper to him. Now Overland and Randal whisper.

When Overland approaches the podium he tells the jurors, “Don’t worry. It’s not the middle. We’re coming close to the end.”

There are two things related to the bite mark swab. First: One swab or two.
And second: The envelope and how was it found.

In terms (of)..... (snip) You may recall that question I asked of Mr. Anderson. The questions that were asked, to try to get Anderson to explain that reference (that was?) made to the swab and that it was really a reference to a tube....that had two swabs in it.

The second problem, that’s not really accurate because we looked at Exhibit #90, form from the Coroner’s Office that was filled out by Lloyd Mahaney and his initials. And Mr. Mahaney was very careful if you look at 4D (on the form) again to note that where (a?) swab was made, he was careful to note one or two and crossed out (the number there?) and put in “two”.

And Mr. Anderson didn’t really know what was going on in 1986 (at the Coroner’s Office). Overland reads Anderson’s testimony back to the jurors. In 1986, Anderson was in high school.

Lazarus’ arms are in front of her on the defense table. Her fingers are interlaced. She stares straight ahead and occasionally looks off to her right, away from the jurors. Overland is reading more of Dan Anderson’s testimony to the jurors.

Another missing link in the chain of custody. The prosecution’s reliance on that coroner’s log. The prosecution is relying on that log that that item was in there for that period of time. And that’s true if it really was there. But Overland brings up the GSR kits. Overland brings up that the GSR kits don’t show being logged out, and (that?) they were supposedly destroyed 20 years later.

Overland has the log up on the overhead screen and goes over the columns and that the “signed out” column is blank. Overland points jurors to the GSR kit entries and those don’t show being signed out either. The log shows no further entry on the GSR kits.

But we know different and we know different because of Exhibit 140, the log of destruction of kits by the GSR analysts. All the 1986 GSR kits were disposed of on January 12th, 2007. If they were destroyed on that date then there should have been an entry on the log showing they were taken out.

Should there have been an entry? Overland puts up the procedure manual and goes over the manual portion for documenting the log for the jurors. If they were disposed of as shown by those notes, should (mark?) disposed and mark the date disposed in the evidence log.

And that’s not there. Si either that was done or the log is inaccurate. They should be in the control of the coroner’s office, but they’re not. The log says they should be there. The prosecution is relying on the log for “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Can you rely on it?

There’s something very troubling about items for so long in the Coroner’s Office. Look at Defense exhibit P, another part of the Coroner’s Manual. (Coroner’s Office property room employee) Alicia stated (she?) follow(ed?) (the) manual. Overland reads the manual procedures for this section to the jurors. They are responsible to release evidence as soon as possible. Not 20 years later.

So it’s troubling. You have evidence that’s supposed to be analyzed by the LAPD but it’s not until 20 years later.

Then I hear something I’ve been waiting to hear in someone’s, anyone’s closing argument and Overland says it first.

“It makes no sense.”

This is one of the brakes you must apply in this case. Overland puts up on the overhead screen, jury instruction 224 covering circumstantial evidence. Before you can rely on circumstantial evidence (you have to ask?) where was this bite mark (evidence?) for 20 years? That fact has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

What was collected (swab?) by Lloyd Mahaney, one or two swabs?

Integrity of the item.

And is the item in control of the Coroner for 20 years?

Are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt? Do you have any question about that? Overland then reads the final paragraph of the circumstantial evidence instruction. Overland then goes back to his example about two reasonable conclusions and then to reject the one that leads to guilt.

Courtney Overland comes over to the podium to help him, point to an area in his prepared argument.

In respect to the question I asked about (bite mark swab?) was it taken, where it’s been. In looking at DNA analysis, Mr. Fedor, he put it best. In terms of value of items of evidence, in terms of which that is the actual item that was collected... (snip?) Back (then?) what he said was, “...preserve the integrity of the sample (wear as?) what was analyzed was taken at the scene of the crime...”

And that makes sense. If what you’re analyzing is (really what you collected at the scene?).

DNA. Mr. Safarik never looked at that. He didn’t think it was relevant. DNA. It’s a bit more complex than what we read in the paper. I believe Overland says something about the statistical analysis and it’s interpretation.

We know Ms. Francis switched tubes in one of her analysis, confusing the analysis. (I don’t specifically remember this from her testimony, but I my notes say one of my colleagues tell me Francis did acknowledge making an error.)

Overland challenges the databases that are used to create the statistical analysis percentages.

If you really look at it, it points to the innocence of Stephanie Lazarus.

SERI received from the LAPD item 8A, from mail scrapings and clippings from the left hand of Ms. Rasmussen. They (marked?) it as:
8A1 = the scraping
8A2 = three nail clippings from left nails

The prosecution “poo-poos” this evidence. (They say) you put your hand on a door knob and you pick up DNA. It doesn’t make sense, (?) But these were scrapings under the nails. This is something you would get if you scratched somebody, not something if you touched a door knob. Ms. Rasmussen was a (clean? person?). She must have washed her hands (we know?) when she got up in the morning.

The testimony of the maid cleaning, Ms. Flores, whatever happened, happened at 12:30 PM and if Ms. Rasmussen was sick, she wasn’t walking around touching door knobs getting DNA under her fingernails. What ever was under her (hands?) and nails was from the struggle.

Mr. Fedor took a swab from the underside of the nail(s?) and (here’s what?) the result was from the underside of (swabs?).

A-2-(1?)(The result was a) weak and inconclusive results (included?) a mixture from at least three persons: Sherri Rasmussen was a possible contributor to the mix, statistical probability 1 in 3,000. Stephanie Lazarus was excluded in the mix. So DNA of two people under that fingernail and Stephanie Lazarus was not one of them. We talked about that how (statistically?) just means she can’t be excluded.

What about the next one, 8A-2-2, a swab from the second nail, a mix from at least two persons and at least one male. Sherri Rasmussen was a possible major contributor of 1 in 130 trillion. Stephanie Lazarus was excluded as a contributor. The male contributor was never identified.

8A2-3 was a mixture from at least three persons including at least one male. Sherri Rasmussen, Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were all excluded as contributors.

So we had three people, at least one male. It’s not Stephanie Lazarus, it’s not Sherri Rasmussen. It’s not John Ruetten’s DNA. So who was the male DNA in 8A2-2 and 8A-2-3. And in 8A-1, just because male DNA wasn’t detected doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Don’t we want to know the answers to those questions?

A8-4-1 was from the right hand. It had at least two persons. Sherri Rasmussen was a possible major contributor of 1 in 1 trillion. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were excluded. Both of them. Who is the other one? Down’t we want to know (the answer to those questions?)?

8A4-3 Another swab from the right nail was a mix from at least two persons. Sherri Rasmussen (possible?) major contributor of 1 in 21 trillion. (The other) DNA could not have come from Stephanie Lazarus or John Ruetten. Whose is it? Don’t you want to know the (answer) to that?

8A4-4 Another swab from the right hand finger. It’s a mix of two persons. Sherri Rasmussen possible major contributor of 1 in 58,000. (Low number doesn’t mean it wasn’t her.) The rest was too weak to be detected but it was there. Don’t you want to know whose DNA that was?

8A4-5 Swab. Mixture from at least two persons, 1 of which is a male. One same profile as Sherri Rasmussen of 1 in 490 quad trillion. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were excluded. Don’t you want to know (whose that was?) The male DNA has not been identified to this date.

Don’t you want to know the answer to those questions?

The prosecution presented (the two torn nails) (testimony?) the statistical probability (of one nail) were 1 in 26,000 and (other nail?) one in 9,000. I expect that... (snip?)... We have a very low statistical probability. The prosecution (argument) said (this?) shows that (she’s the killer?).... It only means she can’t be excluded. It could be or it could not be. In circumstantial evidence in two (?possible outcomes, you must choose the one that supports innocence?).....

Item #10 was 1 in 26,000. Item #10 was analyzed by Francis in 2005 and she didn’t (k?) any blood. But when Fedor did he found blood. So she either missed it... or.....?

Swab from the ignition key was a mix from three persons, at least one of them a male. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten were excluded. Don’t you want to know who that is?

Item #31 was what Nuttall mistakingly said was from #30 when it was from item #9. The DNA results for this item (swab from car). Results from the analysis from the towel found at the scene. DNA from Stephanie Lazarus was excluded as a contributor. And one hair has DNA that could be from a male.

Then there’s the hair discovered on the blanket by Patricia Fant. The hair no one had ever seen before and the foot print that just appeared.

And doesn’t it make you question this evidence that supposedly was taken care of? Doesn’t it make you wonder how this evidence was (taken care of?)?

The cuttings from the blanket (snuggy). Results (a mixture?) of blood on the blanket snuggy. Mixture from two persons including at least one male. The majority porting from Sherri Rasmussen of 1 in 490 trillion. Stephanie Lazarus and John Ruetten excluded. So whose male DNA was on that snuggy? This was after the (struggle?).

You would expect someone to have had some blood on them, but it’s not Sherri Rasmussen and it’s a male. Don’t you want an answer to that question? The other cutting 6B, Stephanie Lazarus was excluded from the DNA. So whose is it?

Talk about the DNA on the bite mark with respect to minor contributor. Well, you know the major and Ms. Lazarus and lets forget about (the fact) that it was (not?) properly preserved and collected. And lets just look at the analysis and see if the prosecution is correct in telling you the truth in that minor contributor. (I think Overland is now quoting the prosecution’s argument.)

And naturally when you swab you would pick up some cells from Sherri Rasmussen and that was Sherri Rasmussen’s DNA.

Let’s take a closer look. I’ll (there’s?) you’ll see the bottom line. That Ms. Rasmussen’s DNA contains certain alleles.

(I have to stop writing for a moment. I’m getting a cramp in my hand.)

Is there a number at a particular allele that is inconsistent with a profile. Overland goes over Fedor’s testimony at loci D21.

We looked at peaks and the number of the minor contributor #31.2 Sherri Rasmussen at D21 is #32.2, and therefore that was inconsistent with her profile. The explanation given was “allele drop out”. That’s a reasonable explanation. But there’s another reasonable explanation and that allele was not in the (sample?) and inconsistent with Sherri Rasmussen’s DNA.

Overland then goes back to the jury instruction on circumstantial evidence and the choice jurors are instructed to make if there are two reasonable explanations. They are to choose the explanation that supports innocence verses guilty.

At D21 (loci) we have an inconsistent allele. (snip) Overland goes over parts of the DNA sample.

(The prosecution is looking at (a) chart while Overland is presenting his closing and it appears to me that he shook his head.)

Unanswered questions about item #13, a smear of blood that was not Stephanie Lazarus, Sherri Rasmussen or John Ruetten. Don’t you want to know (whose DNA that was?)?

The hair on the speaker wire.

Fluff and filler by the prosecution because this is evidence that really proves nothing.

The theft of Stephanie Lazarus’ firearm in 1986. (The prosecution) wants you to believe this was all made up, because the gun stolen was used by Ms. Lazarus. That assumes that the gun stolen was used to kill Ms. Rasmussen. The first question is, that’s kind of weird. You’d do it before the crime and not sometime after. She knew she was a police officer and she could have gotten rid of the gun anytime. You can’t match the bullet. You need to have the gun and many times (criminalists?) can’t match the bullet. If your gun really wasn’t stolen, then why make a report when you’re really faking the whole thing?

It makes really little sense.

Overland brings us the “many” thefts in the Santa Monica area.

9:40 AM

She reported it. It went into AFS. Overland claims the reporting (document?) was really a (doc?) to LAPD. (??) There were three other thefts of firearms from police officers in Santa Monica. (I don’t remember Overland presenting that, but he may have and I missed writing it down.) (The prosecution’s argument) assumes the gun stolen was used to fire the bullets. Ms. Brown (#38 Elaine Sena Brown) testified that she checked the car and the car (lock?) had been punched.

Overland then presents Lazarus’ daily planner/calendar for March 17th that shows (I can’t read it from where I’m sitting.) “Take in car.”

The dental impression. Insufficient characteristics. (In the autopsy report?) Dr. Gerald Bale, (Dr. Law’s mentor) People’s exhibit #79, dated February 25th, 1986. Dr. Bale called investigators and told them the bite mark was good for comparison.

The next piece of fluff are the bullets (that are) supposedly linked to the bullets that killed Ms. Rasmussen. Prosecution tells you there were five bullets fired. But were there really five shots fired? But not by my count. And the blanket, according to the prosecution theory was wrapped around (the gun) as a silencer.

But there was another shot. There was a contact wound to the skin. Overland reads Dr. Selser’s testimony to the jurors; her testifying about the contact shot. (It was) consistent with a muzzle imprint contact gunshot wound. But sufficiently tight against the skin, the soot would be drive into the wound itself. If (it was?) fired through a blanket, it’s not a contact wound if fired through the blanket. Two plus three plus one = six shots.

(One of the alternates looked over at me and I could swear he gave me an eye roll.)

Overland now moves onto the bullets.

(Jurors are rocking in their chairs in the back row.)

It’s 9:50 AM. Overland goes over the prosecution’s argument (about the bullets) and why that’s not the right conclusion to draw from the evidence. The bullets that were found in the home of Ms. Lazarus, none of them matched the bullets that killed Ms. Rasmussen. And I say again, she was a pack rat. None of them matched the bullets that killed Ms. Rasmussen. None of the (bullets?) is critical. What’s critical is the firearm. Whats the relevance? It points to evidence that proves Ms. Lazarus’ innocence. (The prosecution) assumes that this was the firearm that killed Ms. Rasmussen.

Forget the guns.
© Thomas Broersma

Mr. Rubin (#51 Daniel Rubin) talks about the various types of guns that could (have) killed Ms. Rasmussen. What we heard from Rubin, there were 30 or 40 different types of firearms. Rubin said, after 2-inch narrow window of firearms with a 2-inch barrel, which ones, another list. The prosecution (tells you to?) forget about all these other ones, just focus on this one.

Now finally Mr. Luczy (#44 George Luczy), who talked about the barrel cylinder gap and 2-inch barrel.

(Judge Perry is leaning back in his tall leather chair. His head is back and his chin is up a bit.)

The measurement of the barrel cylinder gab was two inches. But the (Smith & Wesson) Model 49 was 1 and 7/8 inches. But the prosecution wants you to focus on the fact that the defendant (had that type of firearm) but that Model 49 has a 1 and 7/8” barrel. Not 2-inches.

Barona (#37 Donald Barona) testified that the barrel length of (S&W?) not 2-inches but 1 and 7/8”. The Smith & Wesson had a barrel length from 1 7/8” to 2 1/4”. Her firearm did not have a two-inch barrel. It was 1 and 7/8”. The barrel does not fit.

Now Overland talks about the defense witnesses who testified about Lazarus’ character. He then goes over what the jury instruction for character evidence can be. And (it can) be a basis for reasonable doubt.

10:05 AM.
(The) prosecution could have presented evidence of bad character. But they didn’t because there isn’t (any). So, if I’ve said anything to you that made any sense at all..... (snip) see if the prosecution has answered all those (questions?). There are so few answers.

Overland thanks them and then adds: If I’ve said anything that angered you or offended you, put it against me and not Stephanie Lazarus. See if you can answer all those questions. See if you can answer. Those brakes; and apply those breaks given to you by the law.

Overland’s closing argument is finished and Judge Perry calls the morning break.

Dear T&T readers: I haven't forgotten about transcribing DDA Presby's rebuttal argument. I'm working on it now. My only excuse is, I got lassoed by some real maverick cowboys, where we relaxed around a campfire, swapped amazing stories and I learned all about the difficulty of wrangling in the wayward calf. Hands down, the best company and one of the most memorable days I've had in a long time.

To be continued in Day 2, Part III.... Sprocket.