Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 7, Part III

Here is the completion of Day 7, the beginning of John Ruetten's testimony. I will be working on the rest of Ruetten's testimony in Day 8, Part II. Sprocket.

February 15th, 2012


As Ruetten took the stand, I believe Lazarus glanced at him briefly.

Ruetten states he is 53 years old and was born in Eugene, Oregon. He went to Patrick (H.?) High School. He’s asked how tall he is and he states he used to be a bit taller. He’s now 6’3”. (His sister Gail is also very tall.)

At UCLA, he was specifically studying engineering. His major was mechanical engineering. He lived in a dorm, Dykstra Hall. He knew a David Neuman (sp?), for some time in the dorm. He met Neuman in his second year at UCLA. Ruetten is shown a photo which he identifies as Neuman. In his third year, he and Neuman were roommates. They were friends in college, roommates in his junior year and after that they roomed together off campus. They continued to be friends after college.

Ruetten is now asked about another friend, Mike Gorder. Gorder he met in junior high school and also went to high school with him. They were in the same grade. Gorder also went to UCLA, entered the same year as him. Gorder was also studying engineering, specifically electrical engineering.

Ruetten continues to be friends with both men now. Ruetten identifies Lazarus at the defense table. He testifies that he met her at UCLA, Dykstra Hall. Lazarus was also a resident of Dykstra, a year behind him in school.

People’s exhibit #177. Ruetten identifies the photo.

JR: Yes. It’s me. (snip) Yes. It’s my dorm room at UCLA. (snip) Yes. That was sophomore year. (snip) Because in my junior year I was in a loft room. In my sophomore year I didn’t.

People’s exhibit #178

Ruetten identifies the defendant in the photo. It was taken in the resident halls at UCLA. Her physical appearance in the photo was what she looked like when at UCLA.

Ruetten states he played basketball in high school. He played at the intra-mural level at UCLA. Lazarus played at the intercollegiate level, junior varsity level.

I believe there is an objection since I have a note that Judge Perry ruled 352.

More photos are introduced of the defendant playing basketball. He attended some of her basketball games.

JP: Move on.

SP: Did you remain friends? (snip) Did her level of fitness change?

JR: I would say yes.

SP: Did her strength increased?

JR: Yes.

During college they remained in close contact. They did not have a sexual intercourse during college. They began a sexual relationship shortly after he graduated college.

SP: Did you have any (?) during college?

JR: We had some periods where we were necking, kissing.

Ruetten then recounts an incident. During college while he was showering, Lazarus came in and stole all his clothes and took them someplace else.

Another photo is introduced. Ruetten identifies it as himself in college, asleep on the sofa. On the back of the photo are the words:

JR 1979 D. I snuck in room and took the picture.

JR: I think I recall seeing this photo.

SP: Did the defendant take the photo?

JR: Yes.

Ruetten states he did not have a steady girlfriend while at UCLA.

SP: Did the defendant have a boyfriend (at UCLA)?

JR: Not that I recall.

At the time, his parents lived in San Diego. He took trips to San Diego.

JR: I think Steph (was) at (my) parents house on more than one occasion.

He’s asked about a trip to Sea-world.

JR: I don’t remember a trip to Sea-world.

A photo of him and Lazarus that Ruetten believes was taken at the San Diego Zoo. Ruetten thinks that two other people were on the trip with them. Diane Abasta (sp?) and Carmen Duanes (sp?).

Ruetten states it was the summer of 1981 when he first had sex with the defendant. They remained friends after college.

SP: Did you date the defendant from 1981 to 1984?

JR: Yes.

SP: Approximately how many (times were you intimate)?

JR: I would say about twenty-five to thirty times.

SP: Did you ever consider her your girlfriend?

JR: No.

SP: Did you have an exclusive relationship with the defendant?

JR: No.

SP: Did you ever discuss the relationship wit the defendant?

JR: No.

SP: What was your understanding (of the relationship)?

JR: We were good friends. We saw each other off and on. Some of those times we had sexual intercourse.

SP: Did you (ever?) do anything to limit the contact?

JR: Sometimes (I) felt uncomfortable, so there were periods of time when we didn’t see each other.

Between the years 1981 through 1984, Ruetten states he saw the defendant approximately two to three times per month on average.

SP: Sometimes more frequently?

JR: Yes.

SP: Sometimes less frequently?

JR: Yes.

SP: During that time, were you going out on dates with other women?

JR: yes.

SP: Did you feel it was necessary to tell the defendant?

JR: No.

Ruetten had an apartment on Roscoe Blvd. Lazarus visited him there. Lazarus did spend the night there. Ruetten can only remember one or two times when she spent the night. It was a few times. During that time, he was employed with a company called Data Products in Woodland Hills. He was a mechanical engineer.

Ruetten states the defendant graduated from UCLA and he attended her graduation. There is a photo presented of them together at her graduation.

SP: How would you describe the defendant’s physical condition after college?

JR: Very fit, very strong.

SP: Did you ever see the defendant in a bathing suit? (snip) Was she physically fit?

JP: He just said he was.

People’s #184, is a photo of Lazarus spread out on a park bench. It’s a very sexy photo of her on a park bench. She is quite toned. She looks very slender. A very attractive physique.

SP: Did you take overnight trips with the defendant?

JR: Three (trips). (snip) One to Catalina. A trip water skiing Lake Mohave (sp?), a group of us going to Palm Springs.

SP: Were you (having?) sex on (those) trips?

JR: I think not on Lake Mohave, the other two, probably.

He invited the defendant to a company Christmas party. A photo is shown of them together, portrait style that was taken at the party. There’s another photo of them together, again at a Christmas party in 1983.

During the time he knew the defendant at UCLA until 1984, Ruetten believes Lazarus met all his siblings. He introduced her to his mother. Ruetten met all of Lazarus’ siblings and mother at some time.

SP: Did you attend any holidays (with the defendant)?

JR: Not that I can recall.

At some point he learned she was entering the academy to become a police officer. They remained friends after she became a police officer. At some point, Lazarus purchased a condo off of Rinaldi in Woodland Hills and Ruetten did go to that condo.

Photos of the condo. Ruetten believes that some time between 1981 and 1984 he did spend the night at Lazarus’ condo.

SP: Do you remember her having a roommate?

JR: No. I never met a roommate.

A new photo is put up, of Rasmussen and Ruetten is asked about the photo.

JR: That’s Sherri.

You can see on Ruetten’s face he immediately gets sad. They met in June 1984. The met at a party. Judge Perry interjects.

JP: Did sometime after you meet her did you start dating?

JR: I got her phone number from friends and I was very interested. (snip) We were dating steadily from the time we met. (snip) Eight to ten times a month. Rasmussen and Ruetten attended the 1984 Olympics together. A photo is put up of them lying together on the ground, possibly at a picnic or an event.

SP: By 1984, were you seeing Ms. Rasmussen exclusively?

JR: Absolutely.

SP: When you started dating Ms. Rasmussen, (snip?) do you have any recollection of seeing or dating the defendant?

I believe Ruetten answers “No.”

SP: Did you feel it was necessary to tell the defendant about your relationship about Ms. Rasmussen?

JR: No. (snip) Stephanie and (me), we were just friends. And I can’t remember the last time I saw her before I met Sherri.

SP: Did you meet Sherri’s parents?

Ruetten starts to break up on the stand. He’s sobbing.

JR: I met them soon after I met Sherri. (snip) They had a boat. They came up.

Ruetten is crying pretty badly now. There’s a photo of him and Sherri on the boat. Nels Rasmussen starts to cry behind me.

JR: I don’t (snip) I know that Sherri and Mom and I spent Mom’s birthday together.

Another photo of Ruetten, Rasmussen, Mom (Sherri’s?) at birthday party. Judge Perry requests a sidebar. During the sidebar Ruetten starts to compose himself.

SP: At some point did you and Rasmussen decide to get married.

JR: May 1985.

SP: During (that) same time, did you and Ms. Rasmussen purchase anything for Ms. Rasmussen?

JR: A car. A BMW 318i.

SP: Who’s car was that going to be?

JR: Sherri’s.

Ruetten identifies a photo of the BMW.

I believe Presby asks if that was an engagement gift.

JR: We purchased (it the) same day we decided to get married, so I guess you could day that.

SP: Do you remember the cost?

Objection! Sustained!

SP: May I be heard briefly?

JP: Move on.

SP: Did you tell any friends from UCLA that you were engaged?

JR: I’m sure that occurred.

I believe Presby asks if he told friends that were also friends of Lazarus.

JR: Some of (the) friends I told were also ... (?)?

SP: Did Lazarus ever stay at your apartment during.... (snip) Do you remember... (?)?

Ruetten states Lazarus did not stay at his apartment when he was on Roscoe Blvd. At some point, he moved in with Sherri.

SP: After (your) engagement, how long was it before you moved into Rasmussen’s apartment?

JR: Thirty to sixty days.

At some point, he received a phone call from the defendant. A phone call to his apartment. Ruetten believes the call was in the early evening.

SP: Approximately how long after (your) engagement when you received the phone call?

JR: My sense (is) it was fairly soon. Thirty days or less.

She was very upset. He’d not (seen? experienced?) anything like that. It was full blown crying. She wanted him to come over so they could talk. Ruetten went over to her condo.

SP: Was she crying?

JR: She was basically ...(?) ... (snip) that she had deeper feelings. That she loved me. Basically that was the gist of it.

This was different than what she had ever told him before. She had never told him she had loved him before.

SP: Did she ever tell you that she knew you were engaged.

JR: I don’t remember that specifically.

SP: Did she convey (something?) to you that she knew you were engaged?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did she tell you she didn’t want you to get... (?)?

JR: It was clear that she was upset that I was getting married and moving on.

Ruetten is asked again I believe about his last contact with Lazarus.

JR: I think it was a long time. I can’t recall a specific contact with Stephanie Lazarus after Sherri and I began dating (in the spring of 1984).

Lazarus asked him for sex that night (the night she called and asked him to come over). She asked him more tan once.

JR: She was still upset.

SP: Why did you have sex?

JR: She had no closure. I was (in) over my head. (I) didn’t know how to calm her down, other than being stupid and a young man. (snip) No. I was going on to marry Sherri. (snip) I made it clear to her (the defendant).

SP: Did you (eventually) tell Ms. Rasmussen that you and met Lazarus and had sex?

After they had moved in together. She was directer of nursing at Glendale Adventist Hospital.

SP: One day did she come home upset? (snip) Did she tell you why she was upset?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did you tell her about your meeting with the defendant?

JR: Yes. (snip) I told her what it was about.

SP: (You) told Ms. Rasmussen you had sex with the defendant?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did Rasmussen appear to already know about (your) meeting with the defendant? (snip) Did you and Ms. Rasmussen discuss plans for marriage.

Ruetten breaks down again. He’s crying. The Rasmussen family is crying behind me. I’m having a difficult time seeing Ruetten cry and hearing the Rasmussen’s cry behind me. (As I write this now, I’m back there, in that moment, hearing Ruetten sobbing as he’s testifying.)

(Local ABC 7 video report with Mona Edward’s sketches shown.)

JR: I told Sherri, “Don’t let this mess things up. (sip) There’s nothing that I want more than (to marry her).” (snip) I’m sure we talked for quite a while that night.

The resolution was, they were going to get married.

SP: Did you promise Sherri something?

JR: I didn’t want to have any contact with Lazarus at all.

SP: What did you... (snip) Did you confront the defendant after meeting (with Sherri) that night?

JR: No.

Ruetten testifies he never saw Lazarus after that. He states he never had any contact with her by hone.

SP: Did you have anything to do with the death of your wife?

JR: No.

Ruetten cries again.

SP: Did you know that anyone was going to cal you (wy?) (?)?

JR: No.

SP: What day did you get married?

JR: November 23rd, 1985.

Photos of Ruetten and Rasmussen side by side, at their wedding. Ruetten dabs his eyes (with a kleenex).

SP: Were you happy you and Sherri got married?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did you have any second thoughts about getting married?

JR: No.

They honeymooned in Jamaica.

SP: From the time you moved into the town home, did the defendant ever come while you were present?

JR: No.

SP: Did you ever tell the defendant where you were living?

JR: Not that I recall.

SP: What was Ms. Rasmussen’s level of fitness at the time she was killed?

JR: Pretty good. Probably in the best shape of her life.

Ruetten states his wife was five feet, eleven inches tall and maybe 140 pounds.

SP: How would you compare Rasmussen’s level of fitness (to the defendant)?

Objection! Over ruled!

JR: Stephanie was strong; she (Lazarus) was stronger.

Presby goes over with Ruetten the day before his wife was killed. Ruetten states she did not have any injuries, cuts or bruises. She did not have a bite on her forearm.

SP: How would you describe Ms. Rasmussen’s personal hygiene?

JR: Pretty good.

SP: If she had been bitten, (would she have been able to take care of the wound)?

Objection! Speculation! Sustained!

A photo is put up of the dining room of the town home, showing a chair pulled out from the table. Ruetten identifies it as the dining room area. Ruetten confirms that his wife would sit to read or work at that table.

SP: Was it her habit to put a chair back when done?

JR: I would guess.

JP: Don’t guess.

Another photo, showing the flowers on the table. There are three roses in a vase.

JR: I had given Sherri three roses on our three month anniversary.

Their three month anniversary was February 23rd, 1986, the day before she was killed. Presby now moves to questioning Ruetten about the day of the murder.

Ruetten testifies that he had changed jobs. He was working for a company that made disc drives, Micropolis. He worked 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Rasmussen worked at Glendale Adventist. He normally woke up before 7:00 AM. To the best of his knowledge, (that’s) when he woke up (on that morning). He liked to arrive at work before 8:00 AM. He left the house around 7:20 AM. It was a 20 minute drive to work. It is Ruetten’s belief, that normally, Rasmussen would leave about the same time for work, or sometime before him. To the best of his recollection, he followed the same pattern for that morning. He either made his lunch the night before or that morning. At that time, he bagged his lunch, brought his own lunch to work.

Ruetten testifies about Rasmussen’s job.

JR: In general, she was responsible for training nurses in ICU units. (She?) lectured around the world. (snip) She also had human resources lectures she had to give. (snip) (People differences lectures?) (snip) She didn’t particularly like that series of lectures.

It is Ruetten’s recollection that she had a lecture that Monday. That morning, she wasn’t getting up.

SP: How did she normally dress for bed?

JR: sometimes a long nightgown. Sometimes a sort top and panties.

It’s 11:55 AM. Ruetten states that when she got out of bed, she wouldn’t walk around the house in just a top and panties. She would have put on a robe. When he left the house that morning, he knew she wasn’t going into work. H left about 7:20 AM. Ruetten verifies that the town home had an alarm system. There was a keypad (to activate the alarm) in the bedroom and one by the front door. There is a photo of the alarm system by the front door up on the overhead screen. Ruetten states that they had a routine that they would arm the alarm system when they were going to bed. At other times, they didn’t have it armed.

A photo of the front door is put up and Ruetten identifies the front door of their former home.

SP: Was there any placard near the front door?

A closer photo of the front door is put up, showing the announcement that there was an alarm system.

The noon lunch break is called and Matthew and I have lunch in the cafeteria. Matthew reminds me that I have to not let the emotions of the courtroom get to me. That I have to be like the lens of a camera.

I remember that Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne told me that he often got emotionally involved in the cases he covered. He told me that he rarely was able to remain impartial. I know that Dominick became emotionally affected by the death of Lana Clarkson, and visited her niche at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

I’m back inside the courtroom at 1:30 PM.

Presby states, “Before we broke (for lunch) you were describing some of the doors.”

SP: (What was your normal routine in) respect (to your) practice (for going) in and out of the town home?

JR: The vast majority, (we) went through the garage door because we would be driving.

Ruetten doesn’t think he checked the front door (before he left for work).

SP: (You) don’t know if the (front) door was locked?

JR: That’s fair to say.

Before he arrived at work, he went to the cleaners. He got into work (approximately) ten minutes to 8:00 AM. He stopped by Paul Raush (sp?) When Ruetten first called home, he was unable to reach his wife. Ruetten believes it was around 10 AM that he first called. He believes he called his wife twice. The second call was also in the AM. He did not reach her the second time.

He called his wife’s work, and spoke to (her secretary?) Silvia.

SP: Do you know if she went to work, or to another location (where she was to give that human resources lecture)?

JR: I know what Sylvia told me.

He did not speak to his wife when he called her office.

SP: About what time did you speak to Sylvia?

JR: I don’t recall specifically.

SP: At that time, were you concerned that anything was wrong?

JR: I was wondering but not concerned.

Ruetten describes his work day. He ate his sack lunch at work. During lunch, he went to the bank. The bank was fairly close, about five to ten minutes away from the office. He believes he returned to work from the bank trip around one o’clock. He’s just going with the normal routine, of what he would normally do.

At 5:00 PM, he left work. He stopped at the cleaners. He had ordered shoes, and he also stopped at UPS to pick up the shoes at the UPS location. He came home a little bit before 6:00 PM.

JR: I noticed the garage door was open and noticed glass down around the garage door.

A photo of the garage with his car pulled into the spot. You can see the glass depicted in the photo. Ruetten identifies his car in the garage. Rasmussen’s car was missing.

JR: I thought something had happened with Sherri’s car.

(It’s either at this point or later in cross examination, that Ruetten tells a story of Rasmussen having an accident with the garage door, and so he thought she had done something else similar.)

He went up the stairs. He noticed the door to the garage was just setting ajar. He closed it and locked it.

JR: I saw Sherri laying on the floor. Her head facing away from me, towards the fire place.

A photo of his wife lying on the living room floor is put up and Ruetten identifies it.

JR: Well, at first I wondered what was going on.

He wondered why his wife was lying on the floor of the living room.

JR: I touched her, checked her pulse and I think I touched her leg. (snip) It was just the wrong color and her eyes. I could tell by her eyes that she was gone.

Another photo is put up on the overhead screen.

SP: Is that the way Rasmussen looked when you came home?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did she have any of those injuries when you left?

JR: No. (snip) I was, I think I tried to take her pulse. (snip) I almost immediately called 911.

It took him a couple of minutes to compose himself first. He called 911 from the phone downstairs.

SP: How long did you wait (for emergency personnel to show up)?

JR: It wasn’t that long. Fifteen minutes or so.

SP: What were you thinking?

JR: You can’t describe it. I was reeling. I started to bob like an autistic person. I was in shock.

SP: Who arrived first?

JR: I don’t have an independent memory. (snip) I believe I placed a blanket or something over her face.

SP: Did you do anything else to change until.... (snip) other than to place the blanket ...the first responder’s arrived?

JR: No.

SP: Do you see (a) blanket in that photo?

JR: Yes.

SP: (Was that) in the house?

JR: Yes.

SP: Do you see (the) stereo equipment?

JR: Yes.

SP: (Do you) recognize those components?

JR: Yes.

SP: What were those?

JR: (The) top, CD player. Bottom, VCR.

Ruetten is asked how much the components cost.

JR: It was high. About $400.00.

Ruetten states he had other equipment in the house. A receiver, tape deck and two speakers. Ruetten valued the receiver at $400.00, the tape deck at $200.00. The speakers were Danish, expensive and about $300.00 each. There was a TV in the living room that Ruetten stated was not very valuable. The TV upstairs, was more valuable.

SP: (Were) all items present in the home after Sherri was killed?

JR: Yes.

SP: Nothing was removed?

JR: No.

SP: Aside from the BMW and the purse, were there any other items missing from the home?

JR: Not that I’ aware of.

SP: Did a detective arrive? (Lyle Mayer?)

JR: I don’t recall (Lyle Mayer) arriving.

Ruetten states he spoke to Mayer at some police building. Ruetten is asked to identify the detective in a photo.

JR: (It) looks like Detective Mayer.

SP: Were you interviewed by Detective Mayer?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did you answer all the questions he asked you?

JR: Yes.

SP: What was your emotional state?

JR: Shocked. Messed up.

SP: Did you break down at a couple of points during the interview?

JR: Yes.

The interview with Mayer occurred the same night that he found his wife.

SP: Did he tell you what he thought happened?

JR: He thought Sherri came downstairs and interrupted one or two people in a robbery.

Ruetten had never been interviewed (by anyone?) before.

SP: Did you believe him?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did you question him about the theory?

Objection! Sustained!

SP: Did he ever ask you if Ms. Rasmussen had any ex-boyfriends?

JR: I don’t remember.

SP: Did you ever tell him about Stephanie Lazarus as an ex-girlfriend? (Did Mayer ask?)

JR: No. I didn’t consider Stephanie Lazarus as an ex-girlfriend.

SP: Did you receive any proceeds from an insurance policy on her life?

JR: No.

SP: After you talked to Detective Mayer, did you go back to the town home?

JR: No.

Ruetten’s parents came into town and he stayed in a hotel. He met Mayer and did a walk through of the apartment. He went back to work once, and then told them he couldn’t hack it. At some point, he left the Los Angeles area to stay with his elder sister in Northern California.

SP: When was that.

JR: It was a matter of days.

There was a funeral service for Ms. Rasmussen in Los Angeles within a week. He remained in either Los Angeles or Sonoma with his sister. he spoke at the service. He kept Detective Mayer appraised of his movements. At some point, he met with Detective Hooks and Mayer back at the town home.

Presby requests a sidebar at this point. Lazarus appears to look at the computer screen next to her during the sidebar.

SP: At some point after meeting with detectives at the condo, did Mayer tell you that Stephanie Lazarus was not involved?

JR: Yes.

SP: About how long after (the meeting) did he tell you that Stephanie Lazarus was not involved in Rasmussen’s death?

JR: Within the first few weeks. (?) (Three to four weeks?)

SP: And it was detective Mayer who told you that?

JR: Yes.

SP: Did he reiterate his theory? (snip) Did he tell you what he thought happened?

JR: All along he maintained what he thought happened.

SP: Did you doubt Detective Mayer’s theory at that time?

JR: No.

SP: After Ms. Rasmussen was killed, did any of your UCLA friends reach out to you?

JR: I know Mike did.

SP: Did the defendant ever reach out to you?

JR: No.

SP: Did you understand... (snip) Did the defendant ever reach out to you to help you navigate the police bureaucracy?

JR: No.

SP: After some time did you move out of Los Angeles?

JR: Yes.

(I have a note of three weeks.) He moved to San Diego and lived with his parents.

JR: I was around for a couple of days for police. I wasn’t going to...

Ruetten cries. He breaks down under questioning again.

JR: I was down there for a week. Came down. Then I went up again. (I believe he’s referring to his sister’s house.) (snip) It was a place to get away. Thank you to my sister. (snip) I just told them (at work) I have to be gone a wile.

SP: You kept the police apprised of where you were?

JR: Absolutely.

He lived in San Diego for quite a few years. He was there through 1990, 1991. After the murder, he moved out of his parent’s house after nine months. (I think that’s corrected later to reflect he lived with his sister for 9 months.) Then, at some point he got a job in 1991 in the Simi Valley area.

At some point, he made contact with the defendant again.

JR: I believe it was... (snip) I learned she was going to be in Hawaii. I believe it was in 1989.

SP: Did you see the defendant in Hawaii?

JR: To the best of my knowledge, that was the first time I saw her since the murder.

SP: In 1989, did you have sex with her?

(I don’t have the answer in my notes, but my memory is, Ruetten answered he did not have sex with Lazarus in Hawaii in 1989.)

SP: In 1989, did you tell her you provided her name to police?

JR: Yes. (snip) I told her that I told police that she was upset and had gone to see Sherri at her workplace.

SP: When you told her that did she deny that?

JR: No.

SP: At the time you saw the defendant in Hawaii, did you believe she was involved in the death of (Sherri? your wife?)?

JR: No. (snip) I saw her on two or three occasions after that.

A year-and-a-half later Ruetten saw Lazarus.

SP: Did you have sex with her two times after?

JR: I can remember twice.

Ruetten does not remember who initiated the later contacts.

SP: Did the defendant ever ask you about Sherri’s death?

JR: Not that I recall.

SP: Did she ever offer any help?

JR: No.

SP: She was still an LAPD officer?

JR: I believe so.

SP: When was the last time you had any contact with Lyle Mayer?

JR: I don’t remember any contact after the first year.

SP: Do you remember in November 1987, of receiving a call from Detective Mayer while you lived in San Diego?

JR: I have no memory of that call.

When the case was reactivated three years ago, Ruetten heard from Detective Nuttall.

SP: He told you he was investigating Rasmussen’s death. Did he ask you about women (in her life?)? (snip) Did you provide a name?

JR: Yes. Stephanie Lazarus. (snip) (He asked me that question, why.)

JP: I don’t need to know why.

SP: Did you tell Nuttall about the defendant going to Rasmussen’s work place?

JR: I don’t remember that information being in the first call.

Since the case was reopened, he’s spoken with detectives (and prosecutors?) about fifteen times. He gave a DNA sample. Ruetten also provided photographs of himself and Rasmussen, together.

SP: You still have those photographs, even 27 years later?

JR: Absolutely.

Ruetten states he doesn’t remember specifically giving her name to police, but he did tell Lazarus he gave her name to police in 1989 in Hawaii.

Direct is finally over and cross begins. Someone tells me that Overland’s wife is sitting in the front row, and I try to crane my neck to see her. She’s a tiny woman, impeccably dressed and coiffed.

Overland asks if the first time he was questioned was on February 24th, and then the following day on February 25th.

JR: I don’t remember who was there. I couldn’t say for sure if Hooks and Mayer or (just) Hooks.

MO: The first time (you were) interviewed, (you were) in a condition unable to answer questions?

JR: Yes.

MO: On the 24th? (Another question, about being questioned briefly.)

JR: I wouldn’t characterize it as brief. It was not brief. (snip) In the neighborhood of an hour or two hours.

MO: Your best recollection as you sit here today?

JR: An hour.

MO: Was the first time at the condo? (snip) Second time at the condo?

JR: Yes.

MO: How long?

JR: I don’t know. I don’t have a time.

MO : Was March 12th, the next time?

JR: I don’t know that date.

MO: Then (were you) questioned again, May 30th, 2009?

JR: I don’t know any dates.

MO: Approximately how many times, up to recently (by the) prosecution?

JR: Twenty to twenty-five times. Quite a few times. (snip) I had a review meeting with the DA before today, just to review.

MO: (Were) you shown photos? (snip) How long did that review meeting take?

JR: Three to four hours.

MO: Before that, what was the previous meeting?

JR: I believe last fall.

MO: November 2011?

JR: Yeah.

MO: In the DA’s office?

JR: Strange, but I’m a little blank on that now.

MO: (You said you) used to be 6’3” tall?

JR: I think I’m shrinking is all. (snip) I’m trying to say I’m both handed. (snip) Write with my right and throw ball with (my) left.

MO: Ambidextrous?

JR: Yes.

Overland asks Ruetten about Lazarus, how tall she is. Ruetten said he had never measured her. Overland asks if (when he knew her? she weighed?) 130 lbs.

JR: I didn’t weigh her.

Overland asks if 130 pounds would be his best estimate.

MO: During UCLA, would you characterize her as a prankster?

JR: Yes.

MO: (She) stole (your) clothes?

JR: I don’t remember how I got them back.

Overland asks him about the photo Lazarus took of him sleeping on the sofa and if he remembers the circumstances of the photo being shown to him. Ruetten says he doesn’t.

I believe Overland asks Ruetten about how many times he took Lazarus to his parents house.

MO: Do you remember how many times?

JR: I don’t remember how many. My guess was two. (snip) I don’t know exact.

MO: Do you remember year?

JR: 1980 - 1983.

MO: Did you ever take any other women to your parents house in San Diego?

JR: Not that I recall.

MO: In the summer of 1981, how old (were you)?

JR: 22.

MO: From 1981 - 1984 you had sexual intercourse... (?)?

JR: Maybe twenty to twenty-five times.

MO: That’s your best estimate?

JR: Yes.

MO: (You said) “I had various dates with other women.” Did you have sex with them twenty to twenty-five times?

JR: No.

MO: At some point, you became uncomfortable?

JR: Yes.

MO: So you limited contact?

JR: Yes.

MO: Did you ever tell her that you were feeling uncomfortable?

JR: Yes, I would say, yes. (snip) I always made it clear and that we were just friends and this was not going anywhere.

MO: Did you ever tell her specifically.....?

JR: (I) can’t remember a specific topic where that came up.

Ruetten remembers only two times where Stephanie stayed over night. It could be more, but that’s what he recalls. He went to Lazarus’ graduation. He doesn’t remember if she asked him. He doesn’t remember any other male friends (there?).

MO: In fact, you testified you had ver little contact after the “break-up”?

JR: Yes.

Overland puts up the photo of Lazarus in the bikini.

MO: Was that how she looked last time (you saw her?)?

JR: Yes.

MO: Did you ever buy any birthday gifts for Ms. Lazarus?

JR: I can’t recall.

MO: Ever send her any birthday cards?

JR: I can’t recall. (snip) It’s in May; May 4th.

MO: (You) went to Catalina. Did you or didn’t you have sex?

JR: I believe yes.

MO: Between 1981 and 1984, you also went to Palm Springs?

JR: I believe that was with a group.

MO: Did you or didn’t you have sex (on that trip)?

JR: That is less clear.

MO: (The) 1983 Christmas part at work. Was that the first Christmas party at work?

JR: I can’t recall.

MO: This was (your) job before Micropolis?

JR: Yes.

Overland asks when the portrait was taken.

JR: I don’t know specifically when, but there wasn’t anytime in dating Stephanie Lazarus that I wouldn’t consider dating another woman.

MO: Did you ever tell .... (snip) “Hey, I don’t want my portrait taken with you?”

JR: I don’t ever recall that.

MO: During your trips to San Diego (but with Stephanie Lazarus also), met your siblings?

JR: I don’t recall when. (snip) She eventually met all of my family.

MO: With respect to other women (you) dated did you introduce them to your siblings?

JR: I don’t recall.

MO: Do you know if your brother Tom helped Stephanie pay for her condo?

JR: That may be true. I have a vague memory of that.

MO: Were you present helping Lazarus find a condo?

JR: No. (snip) I don’t recall. (snip) I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. I just have no recollection of that.

I note that Lazarus is not writing furiously like I’ve seen other times I’ve looked over at the defense table.

MO: You testified that after (you) started dating Sherri, you didn’t see Stephanie Lazarus?

JR: I don’t recall a case where I did.

Overland puts up the photos of his family, relatives again. Overland asks where the photo was taken. Ruetten is not sure. The photo is of him and his siblings: Tom, Janet, Gayle.

MO: Do you know who took the photo?

JR: No.

MO: Do you know if Lazarus was with you?

JR: No.

Ruetten identifies people in other photos.

JR: That’s my brother-in-law Jim, gayle and niece Beth, born July, 1984.

MO: That would be after you started dating Ms. Rasmussen?

JR: Yes.

MO: Do you remember whether Lazarus did go with you to Sonoma?

JR: I know Lazarus didn’t go with me to Sonoma.

The afternoon recess is called. Nels Rasmussen moves to a back row seat near the door. I don’t know why. I speculate that Nels is not handling the testimony very well. The break is over.

On the record outside the presence of the jury, the defense has originals of Defense exhibit EEE to replace in evidence. Presby stipulates to something about the photo books. At 3:00 PM cross resumes.

MO: Do you remember attending a birthday party for Stephanie Lazarus in 1982 at her mother’s condo?

JR: I don’t recall that.

MO: Ever buy any Christmas presents?

JR: I don’t recall a specific Christmas present that I gave her.

Defense exhibit FFFF. Presby asks to approach. Ruetten is asked to look at a photo. Courtney Overland gets document from the defense files. Lazarus watches her at the defense table. Nels comes back to sit with his family.

MO: Mr. Ruetten, do you remember in an interview in 2009, May 2oth, you brought some photos with you?

JR: Yes, I remember.

MO: And one was a photo of a 25th birthday?

JR: I don’t know if that was one of the photos.

MO: That was a birthday party for you? (snip) Stephanie Lazarus was your date? (February 1984?)

JR: Well, it was a surprise birthday party (that Lazarus threw for him?).

MO: Did you tell her I don’t want to stay around because I’m pulling back?

JR: I don’t recall that.

MO: Do you recall asking (mother?) for a life insurance policy?

JR: I don’t recall that.

MO: (You) moved into the condo shortly after May 1985? (snip) In July 1985, the condo was transferred to both of your names in July 1985?

JR: It eventually was.

Defense exhibits FFF, an E-mail and GGG, court record.

MO: That condo transferred to you, joint tenancy by her father, Nels Rasmussen?

JR: Yes.

MO: Do you see (the) notary stamp dating the transfer?

JR: I don’t know what date you’re referring to.

MO: See (the) date at (the) bottom, July 25th, 1985?

JR: Yes.

MO: The stamp on the document, July 25th, 1985?

JR: Yes.

Defense exhibit HHH, a certified copy of date joint tenant from official records of Los Angeles County Recorder.

MO: That’s your affidavit, correct?

JR: Yes, looks like it.

MO: (It) says that, April 21st, 1986, affidavit of death, to make (you) sole owner of condo? (snip) This is (the) grant deed sale of condo by you on September 25th, 1986... you sold the condo. (snip) What was the sale price?

JR: I don’t remember.

MO: The proceeds went to you as sole owner?

JR: Yes.

MO: Did you ever offer to pay any of these proceeds to Mr. Rasmussen?

Objection! Sustained!

MO: Did you benefit (snip) take all the money?

JR: I assumed so.

MO: When she (wife) got up, did she say she wasn’t feeling well?

JR: I don’t recall that.

MO: Let’s see if we can refresh your memory. (snip) You have in front of you a number of transcripts of prior interviews. I want... I’m going to do is refer to pages to take a look about who.... (snip) When you gave (an) interview, you were trying to tell the truth?

JR: As best as I could, yes.

MO: You weren’t trying to lie?

JR: No.

An interview date of November 10th, 2009. Ruetten looks over the transcript and says something to the effect that dates are not always readily in the same place on the pages. He asks for someone to help him.

JP: Yes, please let’s try to move along....

Judge Perry taps his pen on his desk.

MO: 1986 interview with Mayer, page 13, read to yourself the lines pointed out to you. Tell me when you’re done reading. (notified) Does that refresh (your) memory on February 24th, 1986, on the same day that this happened, you said that her stomach wasn’t feeling well.

JR: Yes. That refreshes my memory.

MO: So, when she got up, she wasn’t feeling well?

JR: Yes.

MO: That was unexpected to you?

JR: I don’t remember.

MO: Was she feeling unwell the day before?

JR: Not that I recall.

MO: Did you forget to lock the front door when you left for work?

JR: I remember I forgot to check...

MO: Another door?

JR: Well, that was the front door.

MO: The front door was seldom used?

JR: Yes.

MO: Did you let cat... have a cat?

JR: Yes.

MO: Did you let the cat go out at night?

JR: I don’t remember our cat procedures very well.

Overland has him read another portion of an interview he did with law enforcement.

MO: You said you seldom used the front door, but you let the cat out the front door?

(JR: That made sense.)????

MO: Do you remember letting the cat out the night before?

JR: I don’t recall that.

JP: As you sit here today, is it your belief you did not check the door to see if it was locked or not?

JR: That’s correct.

MO: Did you leave the door ajar?

JR: That would not be our procedure.

MO: Well, how did you know (to let the cat back in?)? (snip) Was Mike Gorder over the night before?

JR: Yes.

MO: Did you check the door? (snip) Did you check the front door after he left?

(This is taking forever.)

JP: You’ve got to refer to which interview. Mr. Presby, if you will assist? Let’s mark the date of the interview so we know what we’re talking about.

I believe Judge Perry or someone states to put dates on the interviews being handed to Ruetten to read. Presby tells the court that Overland is referring to the documents by the “Bates Stamp.” (It’s my understanding the “Bates Stamp” is a stamping mechanism to give a unique number to every page of every document that is entered into the prosecution’s case file and passed to the defense.)

JP: I’m going to send the jury home and have counsel.....

Judge Perry appears to be angry.

( Unfortunately. my notes do not reflect if the following exchange is before the jury or not.)

JP: We took twenty minutes and asked two rather unimportant questions. (snip) Did you leave the front door open at night? that’s what I think.

MO: I resent the court’s insinuation again! The court has done this before! If the trial transcript said before, I’m entitled to ask that! (snip) I think it’s unfair! When it’s unfair.... But that’s unfair if he...

Judge Perry appears really angry and reads California Code 765.

JP: The court shall exercise reasonable control of witnesses to make rapid (?) and to protect witnesses from undue harassment and embarrassment. (snip) I think your cross is not to ascertain the truth. I think you’re taking things out of context. (snip) But let’s not take this traipsing back and forth, taking the courts time.

Overland appears very angry with this dressing down by the court.

MO: My concern is my cross examination. (snip) Calling attention to ... (snip) (the court? is?) not supposed to be (biased?).... any concerns of bias and that’s all I have to say.

And that’s how court ended. Court resumes at 8:30 tomorrow.

Ruetten's testimony will be continued with Day 8, Part II.....


Shannon from Seattle said...

wow! Riveting.

Sprocket, thank you for all of your hard work and for your attention to detail!