Friday, March 2, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 14, Part III

Special thanks to Mortie, who found the firearm images for me. Sprocket.

Monday, February 27th, 2012, Afternoon Session Continued.
The prosecution’s firearm expert, Daniel Rubin is sitting at the prosecution table. This is accepted practice that the opposing counsel’s expert can listen to the other expert testify.


Fant is a self employed, independent firearms examiner, and on the witness list with the LA County Superior Court. She was a deputy sheriff for (?) number of years. She then transferred to the Los Angeles County crime lab. She worked there for six years. She retired in 1999. Fant gives her CV. She’s performed abut 9,800 comparisons and has testified in federal and municipal court about 140 times.

MO: What does forensic firearms examination do?

PF: Tests expended bullets and firearms trajectory; GSR on clothing, reconstruct the crime scenes and assist with investigations.

During her training she went to five different armory schools. The work is similar to a mechanic, where you go to a firearms manufacturer and they teach you how a firearm is made.

MO: Are you familiar with the Smith & Wesson Model 49?

PF: Yes. It’s a small revolver, advertised as a 2-inch barrel five shot.

The 2-inch barrel is not only (on the?) the Model 49. The measurement of the barrel is actually less than two inches. They’ve been measured as 1 7/8”. Font states they would measure them at the crime lab. Overland asks about how many of these guns were manufactured.

PF: 623,000 of that particular model manufactured.

MO: Is there a (sp?) firearm that is a copy of the S&W Model 49?

PF: It’s manufactured in Brazil and (made with) cheaper metals.

MO: You said cheaper. How much cheaper?

Objection! Sustained!

MO: Did you examine a multi-colored blanket?

PF: It’ a .... (snip) What I would call..... it had arms in it. Snuggy before there were Snuggy’s.

MO: Was it quilted?

PF: It was quilted.

She first performed her analysis on July 1st, 2011. She examined the texture of the Snuggy. It was different types of material.

MO: Do you have an opinion as to (whether or not it could be used effectively as a silencer?)?

PF: I would have to do a test with that blanket to do a (comparison test to) see if there was a detectible difference in sound.

MO: Can you make a determination if the sound would be muffled?

PF: No, I cannot.

A photo is put up that she took of the blanket. She found (what appears to be) a long dark colored hair on the blanket. Detectives Stearns and Jaramillo were present as well as a former colleague of her, Jeff Wally (sp?). Fant details how the Snuggy was packaged when she opened it. It was in a cardboard box and wrapped carefully in butcher paper. After she stated there was a hair on the blanket she took the picture. Detectives collected the hair. She doesn’t remember which detective collected the hair. The detective put it in an envelope and closed it. She doesn’t know what happened to the item after that.

Another photo is put up and she’s asked why she took the photo.

PF: There appears to be a print from a sole of a shoe. (snip)

A close up of the photo is put up.

PF: There is a print or a piece of a print right here (pointing with the laser) a curved pattern with four distinct dark pattern shapes. (To me, the pattern could be the lateral or medial edge of a shoe near where the toes would be.) Stearns and Jaramillo were present when she took the photos.

Overland now moves onto the bullets recovered by the coroner, 422A and 42B.

MO: Did you examine these bullets yourself? (snip) Can you say after examining them that those bullets are Federal bullets?

PF: No, I cannot. (snip) Because the different manufacturers at that time, (purchased?) had bought components from other manufacturers. (snip) There’s only a (hand?) full of bullets out there that are unique to one manufacturer and those bullets are not (these?) (I miss the rest of the answer.)

Overland now introduces a cartridge casing into evidence as Defense OOOO, missing the gunpowder and lead bullet. It’s empty inside. Overland asks if he can pass it to the jurors. Judge Perry replies, “Just show it.”

PF: This cartridge casing still has an active primer.

Judge Perry asks if she did that (take the powder and bullet out). She replies, “Yes.”

An enlarged image of the bottom of the cartridge is put up. You can see come initials, I believe its FC, for “Federal Cartridge”. Fant states this is a cartridge casing manufactured by Federal.

MO: Is there any way to tell on the bullet (lead bullet itself) who it is manufactured by?

PF: No.

MO: Would there have (been?) some kind of stamping on the cartridge case?

PF: It could. Some will have (LE? LF?) Some would not.

I believe Fant states the bullet part is made of nickel. Overland asks if she knows whether or not the Federal bullets (I believe he means cartridges) 38J +P 125.grain (were sold to the general public).

PF: There were sold commercially and to law enforcement.

MO: Was there any distinction in any way those sold to law enforcement and to the general public?

PF: There were not distinctions.

MO: Do you know how many were sold by Federal?

(I believe she either indicates it’s a large unknown number or she doesn’t know.)

MO: Other than stamp by LE on cartridge, there’s no way to tell if a bullet with those specific characteristics (are a Federal? bullet?)?

PF: No. I don’t know. Only by (the) stamp on the cartridge case.

MO: Did you also examine the trajectory analysis in this case?

PF: I looked at their diagram and case... (snip) I looked at firearm analysis reports, trajectory reports coroner’s report, (snip) on this particular (report? case?).

MO: Did you look at all of Mr. Luczy’s reports?

PF: Yes.

MO: All of Mr. Rubin’s reports?

PF: Yes.

MO: Did you ever see that Mr. Rubin had identified those...

Objection! Sustained!

MO: Do you ever use the term, consistent with?

PF: Yes.

It means you can rule it out but it’s consistent with; (snip) abut haven’t seen everything.

PF: Yes, I can say they are consistent with (Federal bullets?).

MO: And that’s as far as you can go?

PF: Yes.

MO: As far as the trajectory analysis, you’ve done some yourself?

PF: Yes.

MO: How many?

PF: I couldn’t say. You do it every time you go to a crime scene.

MO: When you do an analysis, is that were...

PF: It’s easier to do with a pistol than a revolver because you have (usually?) cartridge cases. (snip) So, getting a general idea. Wish it was like CSI on TV but it isn’t.

First, with trajectory you need two parts. Then you do a trajectory rod in there and then you (get?) a general idea.

MO: If you know where ending point is, you can get a general idea, than if you.....

PF: Yes.

MO: Did you look at two holes in a (curtain?)

PF: I saw the diagram.

MO: Did you know (?) (if one?) was lower (or) higher?

There’s another question about ending points of the bullets.

MO: Did you review photos of that rain gutter? (snip) They showed where.... (snip) Did you determine if that impact was a bullet?

PF: I wasn’t able to determine that.

I believe Fant states that she would have done some type of testing on the drain spout to determine if there was lead residue to positively confirm that was the end point of the fired bullet. Then there is a question about the shot that was fired high through the curtain and if she could tell the trajectory of the “high” bullet.

PF: I only know that it was held toward that area.

Her analysis can’t tell her where the shooter was standing.

Direct ends and cross begins by DDA Presby.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38

SP: With respect to that trajectory analysis, (you never performed your own trajectory analysis)?

PF: No I did not.

SP: You never went to the crime scene?

PF: No.

I believe she’s asked if she knew that the detectives identified the hole in the drain pipe as a bullet hole.

PF: They said it was a bullet strike. But I would do a (sodium?) test to determine if it was lead.

SP: Ten they used that as an end point to the lower hole in the curtain?

PF: Correct.

SP: And there were two bullet holes?

PF: Correct.

SP: One higher and to the left?

PF: Yes.

SP: And they did have two points (for the first)? (snip) And they did have two points to do a trajectory?

PF: That’s correct.

SP: You were asked by the defense, (being paid? by the defense?)?

PF: No. I’m not doing this for free. (snip) Through the county, I’m being paid.

SP: You’re getting paid?

PF: I hope so.

Presby goes over the training she did, and that consists of microscopic examination of bullets and their comparison.

PF: That’s correct.

SP: To determine if they had microscopic tool marks to determine if they were fired from the same weapon?

PF: That’s correct.

Presby asks another question about microscopic examinations.

SP: Do you know when that first started to be performed?

PF: 1947.

SP: And people who trained you had been doing it? (snip) Even before you knew there were experts who.... (I miss the rest). (snip) So, in 1986, it was a common investigation technique to have those examinations to be made?

PF: Yes.

There is another question (I believe related to when she was a patrol officer, but I’m not positive. I have a note that says, “As a patrol officer, we’d call homicide.”

SP: In 1986, it was known among police officers that was a technique that could be compared?

PF: Yes.

SP: Did you become familiar with AFS?

The procedures for AFS are discussed, where the paperwork would have to be filled out then entered into a computer system. Police Officers (Departments?) are required to enter into the system. At some point Judge Perry interjects.

JP: I don’t think this witness is qualified...

Someone states, either Presby or Judge Perry, “Well, it doesn’t just spit it out.”

SP: You have to make an active query to get a result?

PF: That’s correct.

SP: One of the things you would look at would be GSR, to try to determine the distance that (obj?)....?

PF: In order to do exact (distance measurements) you need the firearm to do the distance of...

SP: For a contact shot, you can tell just by looking at it?

PF: Yes.

SP: You reviewed the autopsy report? That bullet, right in (the center?) Ms. Rasmussen’s chest, that’s a contact shot, isn’t it?

PF: Yes.

SP: You reviewed the robe?

PF: Yes.

SP: You saw two gunshot holes in the front of the robe?

PF: Yes.

SP: You took photos of the GSR (on that robe)?

PF: Yes I did.

SP: People’s 348, (photo of red robe). This one of the (robe) you took?

PF: That’s correct.

SP: There were burned and unburnt powders there?

PF: Yes.

Presby shows her another photograph that she verifies she took, a close up showing the burnt and unburnt powder and holes. She answers yes.

SP: A short nose revolver tends to (ex? disburse?) more GSR doesn’t it?

PF: Yes.

SP: Because the short barrel leaves less time for the powder to combust?

PF: Yes.

Another photo is put up.

SP: Could both those photos be a (Model) 49?

PF: Without handling it, yes.

SP: They are either a Model 39 or 38? (snip) What caliber is the 49?
Presby then asks about the lands and groves and the twist of a Smith and Wesson Model 49.

PF: Usually five right.

SP: What was the lands and groves for evidence items 42A and 42B?

PF: Five right.

SP: Two bullets were fired?

PF: Yes.

SP: Three bullets into the victim?

PF: Yes.

SP: So there were five bullets fired?

PF: A minimum of five, yes.

SP: Are you familiar with this kind of document? ATF 44837?

A question about all firearms need to be registered, or reported as to their status, something to that effect.

PF: If they buy a firearm from a dealer.

Objection! Cumulative!

JP: Beyond the scope.

SP: Did you review the documentation with respect to bullets from the LAPD (new recruits manual) were permitted to carry in 1980’s

PF: Yes.

SP: They were required to use Federal 125.grain?

PF: Yes.

SP: The bullets, were they 125.grain?

PF: Yes.

SP: Semi-jacketed?

PF: Yes.

SP: Soft points?

PF: Yes.

SP: You say you can’t say they were Federal bullets. (snip) Can’t say... (?)?

PF: Not 100% sure so I can’t say.

SP: Did you compare that hoof shape? (snip) Did you make a micrograph of your comparison?

The witness appears to be confused about the term micrograph and what it is.

SP: Under a microscope of your comparison?

PF: No, I didn’t.

SP: You never went to the Federal plant?

PF: I know from slides from (?) prosecution made...

SP: Did you see the machine? (snip) Did you talk to the (Federal) representative? (snip) So they (kn? know?) you know they used this kind of punch? 

(I’m not positive, but I believe he shows an image of the punch next to the bullets on the overhead.)

SP: You saw they both have this unique hoof shape crime?

Objection! Argument!

SP: (snip) looking at those photos?

PF: Yes.

SP: By look at...

(Don’t know if this was question or answer.) That was a proprietary trade secret. (snip) They don’t share what they’re doing?

PF: I talked to other manufacturers about the bullets, not the crimp.

SP: You looked at the “snuggy”?

PF: Yes.

SP: That’s barrel-cylinder gap?

PF: That’s what it appears to be.

SP: And that’s from a revolver?

PF: Yes.

SP: You identified (the multi-colored blanket/garment) as a snuggy. What ever the object was, you took photos of it?

PF: Yes.

SP: You knew that distribution (of GSR) was something asked to comment on?

PF: (Probably?) Yes.

SP: So why didn’t you?

PF: Because I was just looking at holes in the garment to see if it could be barrel-cylinder gap.

SP: Isn’t the distance from the barrel-cylinder gap to the hole is 2 inches?

PF: That’s correct.

People’s #352.

SP: Also saw you wrote in your report. In your report (regarding the barrel-cylinder gap measurement to the bullet hole) could have been 2.5 inches or 3 inches.

SP: Is it 2.5 inches from the hole?

PF: No.

SP: Is it 3 inches from the hole?

PF: No.

Another question about the firearm that could have left that GSR.

FA: It’s one of the firearms; (snip) there are other firearms that have a 2 inch barrel.

Fant states her opinion that it’s not known if the fabric wasn’t stretched or folded over.

SP: That fabric wasn’t lycra or nylon?

PF: No. (It was cotton. Cotton stretches.)

Cross ends and redirect begins.

Smith & Wesson Model 49
(This image looks the most like the photo exemplars shown to the jury.)

MO: Is Ms. Lazarus paying you for your testimony?

Judge Perry interjects and states, “She’s being paid for services on a court appointment.”

She states she has 20 billable hours so far at $125.00 an hour. Testifying is $200.00 an hour. I have a note about the, “amount of bullet remaining or the type of jacket on it.”

MO: did you review Mr. Rubin’s testimony on the number of different firearms besides the Smith & Wesson that could have (fired the bullets)?

PF: Yes.

MO: It wasn’t just the Smith & Wesson that court have ...(?)?

PF: That’s correct.

MO: Do you know how many (other firearms? number produced?)?

PF: I couldn’t tell you the number. Too many.

MO: The barrel-cylinder gap. That is the measurement of the barrel...(?)?

PF: Yes. 2 inches is the....

Redirect ends and recross by Presby begins.

SP: The bullets, 42A and 42B, they had information (on them?) to compare to a firearm? (snip) That they were fired from the same weapon? (snip) If (you) had the firearm?

PF: Yes. That’s correct.

SP: You could compare?

PF: Yes.

Recross ends and redirect begins again.

MO: The only way to tell if it’s the same (information?) if after the weapon is fired?

PF: That’s correct.

And that’s the end of witnesses for today. DDA Presby states he has one other issue. Courtney Overland leans in to whisper to Mark Overland. The jurors are excused and Judge Perry hears arguments outside the presence of the jury.

It’s regarding Ann (sp?) Young. Presby is requesting a 402 hearing. At issue is the defense investigators memo regarding Ms. Young’s testimony.

(?) I think the plan was... If you could make a ruling now, so if she wouldn’t be called in to testify.

JP: I’ve read the two page document. (snip) What is the relevance of Ms. Young’s testimony?

(MO?:) Mr. Presby has asked if you have any animosity against Ms. Lazarus. There is a certain amount of animosity by LAPD that is preventing us from interviewing witnesses.

The godmother.

She was willing to talk to the defense investigator outside, with the city attorney present.

JP: I’ll hear from Mr. Later.

SP: We see this as extremely collateral. (snip) I think that (it?) would tend to mislead the jury.

JP: I’ll accept that Mr. Later is under oat. (snip) Could (you) tell the court (about?) your interview Mr. Later (with) Ann Young?

RL: She did not want to talk to me. (We) set up a meeting then (she?) talked (to her supervisor?) (She?) said they told her to cancel the meeting, that she would have to get special permission from the chief-of-detectives. (snip) She had to meet with risk management with this issue. (snip) She advised me that she couldn’t be interviewed unless the City Attorney was present and the prosecutor.

JP: I’m going to rule as 352.

I believe Judge Perry asks Overland something about how many more witnesses, or how much longer he has.

MO: Depending on how your rule on Mr. Thompson..

JP: Then you expect to rest... (?)?

I believe Overland states tomorrow at the end of the day.

JP: Let’s talk jury instructions. (snip) Do counsel have a preference?

Overland is under the impression they will use CAL JIC. Judge Perry states that was so in the beginning, when there were special circumstances and lying in wait charges on the table. “But those are out of the picture,” he adds. I believe Judge Perry adds, “I found CAL JIC awkward and CAL CRIM more (?).”

I speculate on how much this defense cost the Lazarus family.

JP: Let’s talk length of argument.

Nunez states not more than two hours. Starting the defense argument....Thursday.....

MO: No more than four hours.

Presby’s rebuttal one hour.

They discuss Overland’s appearance in Department 109 on Friday, and possibly moving that. Judge Perry quickly leaves the bench and we’re done for the day.


Anonymous said...

When I first saw the images of the type of gun that was used to kill Sherri, it just brought sorrow to my heart. Lord have mercy!! That poor lady must have been terrified out of her mind!! Please let her family get justice!!!

NancyB said...


Do you consider the amount of testimony in this trial that you have to transcribe from your notes more challenging then in other trials that you've covered d/t hand written notes or has this not really been of an impact? I can definitely see from your last several blog entries how impossible it would be for anyone else to decipher the spiral notebook a day that you go through!

I'm wondering if you would be able to tell us some of your observations of the jury. Do they appear to have been paying close attention for the most part? Do any of them take any notes? Would you describe this jury as a cross section of our general population? (socioeconomically, education, age, race etc) Are there any members of this jury that have criminal convictions as was the case with a few of the Anthony jurors? Have you noticed if any members of the jury have been visibly affected by some of the more emotional and painful testimony that's been elicited by some of the witnesses? I know that the majority of the time that you are hyper focused on getting all the testimony/evidence down but I have been curious about this jury all along.

Sprocket said...

What has been different in this case for me, is that during the day at almost every break and at lunch, I've written a short synopsis of what witness testified or of significant testimony/rulings. At the end of the day at home, I wrote more of what happened in the last several hours of the court day.

That's because I have a new laptop that's not as heavy to carry to court. In previous trials, I would write hand written notes and then do a write up at home, often working very late into the night. I do not believe I wrote or published as much testimony in prior cases as I did in this case.

I still may go back and do a detail of some of the other witnesses who testified, but it will depend on my real life responsibilities if I have the time to do that.

The jury.
I believe all of them have taken notes during the trial at some point or another. All appear attentive. My only significant observation was during the video tape interview. Most read the transcript instead of watching the tape. Only one juror, that I could see, watched the entire tape verses read the transcript. Others read some, watched some, read some, watched some.

I have not requested copies of the juror questionnaires. I don't know if there is a media outlet who did.

I have a different view than the mainstream media. I believe the jurors should have privacy as to their personal information.