Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Michael Gargiulo: Pretrial Hearing 8

 Michael Thomas Gargiulo, date unknown

Michael Gargiulo QUICK LINKS

UPDATE 5/1: spelling, clarity
April 26th, 2013
Mr. Sprocket had to get up very early to install the Turbo Air door in the bakery that I picked up yesterday, so I got up early as well.  The drive into downtown Los Angeles was a dream, virtually no traffic.  When I get inside the Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center (aka CJC), around 7:30 AM, it's like a ghost town.  There's hardly anyone here.  I stop in the cafeteria to surf the web on my laptop until about 8:10 AM, since the 9th floor security station doesn't open until 8:00 AM.

When I left home, I thought that I had two competing hearings to go to this morning. Cameron Brown was also scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 8:30 AM today in Dept. 107.

While I was waiting on the 9th floor, I didn't see Brown's wife, Patty so I checked the LA County Sheriff's inmate locator to see if Brown still had a hearing today.  He doesn't.  It states Brown's next appearance is for Thursday, May 2nd. At some point after his last hearing, there must have been an agreement between the defense and prosecution to move Brown's hearing date.  I've never had that happen before with an in-custody defendant I've been following so I make a mental note to ask the court's PIO about that.

8:25 AM I see Gargiulo's investigator, Christian Filipiak arrive and head down towards the other end of the hallway.  By 8:30 AM, there are about 20 people in this end of the hallway, waiting to get into the courtrooms.

The first thing I notice when I enter Dept. 108 is that Pat McNeal is sitting in as the court reporter.  She used to share court reporting duties with Mavis Theodoro right next door in Judge Pastor's old courtroom.  I don't know if this is her new assignment or if she is just sitting in for Judge Ohta's regular reporter.

I note the large container of Red Vines on the clerk's counter is quite full. DDA Daniel Akemon arrived right on time and his co-counsel DDA Garrett Dameron is also here as well. Many people are filling the gallery and I'm guessing it's either for a trial or hearings for other defendants.

8:40 AM Filipiak enters Dept. 108 and gets introduced to Dameron.  Akemon hands over a large stack of papers, easily four or five inches tall to Filipiak.  Filipiak and Akemon appear to discuss the documents.  There are several other DDA's here for another case or cases.  There are several defense attorneys here, a few I've seen before in Dept. 30.  I'm guessing it might be a multiple defendant case that has a hearing, with all the bustle that's going on inside the well.  Attorney's are filing documents with the clerk and there are several conversations going on at once.  I can't hear a single one of them clearly.

8:55 AM More attorneys enter and check in with Judge Ohta's clerk.  Then I see a familiar face enter the courtroom and head over to the prosecution team.  It's someone I've seen testify in three trials now, and who has also worked on this case, LA County Sheriff Detective Mark Lillienfeld. Lillienfeld testified in both Spector trials and the Cameron Brown trial.  I was very impressed with Detective Lillienfeld each time I got to hear him testify. Today, Detective Lillienfeld is dressed casually in jeans and a light blue shirt.  His badge is on his belt.  

Lillienfeld greets Akemon and Dameron.  Then, a defense attorney comes over to chat with Lillienfeld and Dameron.  More attorneys come and go.  The language interpreter with the seeing eye dog enters and sits in the gallery on the defense side.  Now several defense attorneys leave.

It's 9:05 AM.  I continue to keep my eye on Akemon, Dameron and Lillienfeld's chat.  A minute later, Judge Ohta takes the bench.  The judge reads over a document at the bench.  Once Judge Ohta took the bench, I focused on the door to the jail holding area for Gargiulo to emerge, but a defense attorney comes into Dept. 108 and sits right in front of me, blocking my view.  I can't believe it.  It's one of Phil Spector's former attorneys, Roger Rosen.  I slide over a bit so I can still see the holding area door.

When Gargiulo emerges, it appears he has significantly trimmed back his abundant mustache.  Judge Ohta calls the case and states the case is at zero of 90 today.  I believe the people have a response for the defendant regarding police reports.  This is all about discovery.

The judge asks Gargiulo, "Mr. Gargiulo, have you received both of these documents?"  Because of some noise in the courtroom, I don't quite get Gargiulo's response.  I believe there is some discussion about Gargiulo responding to motions or arguing motions. Gargiulo tells the court, "I'm not prepared on that."  Judge Ohta asks, "You wish to litigate but are not prepared?"  Gargiulo gives the court an explanation that he hasn't had enough time to respond. If I'm recalling this correctly, the law library computers were down, Gargiulo being ill, and that's why he hasn't been able to prepare responses yet.

Judge Ohta gives an overview of where the case is at present, addressing Gargiulo.  "Since you have been granted pro per status ... the goal ... get on the same table of information and then move forward beyond that."  (The prosecution?) still making sure of the table, and body of evidence is disclosed to (you/Gargiulo) by 1054. The judge continues, "Now issue of Downey murder as you call it ... (the) people's position, this information doesn't belong to you."

Basically, Judge Ohta is trying to get both parties to be working from a complete set of discovery documents.  That both sides have the same thing, come to the table equally, and no one is at a disadvantage.

I believe Gargiulo responds, "I want to get ... I want to file formal request to compel discovery. ... Computers being down and I've been sick.  ... and other misconduct the prosecution has committed... but (I've) not had time to prepare a formal motion."  Gargiulo has an idea of what he wants to file but...

Judge Ohta asks "How much time will you need?"

With a long delay from Gargiulo, I believe Judge Ohta asks the prosecution and Mr. Filipiak about discovery. "Are we near there?" Ohta asks.  Filipiak states he's received an additional 1,000 pages of documents and a CD.  I believe it's Akemon who responds that this is the last substantial amount of discovery.  His department has gone back and has audited the case file.

There's more discussion as to how much has been turned over and Judge Ohta asks Mr. Filipiak, "Do you think that's accurate Mr. Filipiak?"  Filipiak responds, "Yes, I think we're pretty close. ... I think we're very close to (paper?) discovery."

Judge Ohta then goes back to Gargiulo and asks, "How much time do you need to file (a) motion so that can be litigated?"  There is another pause from Gargiulo and Judge Ohta continues, "Let's do it this way."  Gargiulo then responds, "By May 17th."  Judge Ohta replies, "I'm not here (that day) so lets pick the 24th."

I believe this is about the unsolved murder of a woman named "Rodriguez."

Akemon makes a suggestion to the court, that to move the case along, to increase the frequency to come back to court more often.  Asking possibly come back every two to three weeks instead of every four to five weeks.  Judge Ohta responds, "I'm not sure I'm going to do that but we'll see..."

Gargiulo states he prefers coming back on the 24th of May.  Judge Ohta then discusses with both parties the possibility of coming back more often.  "If at some time I think things are not moving forward, I'll take that action.  I'll be watching out for that.  At this point, (I'm) not seeing it."

Akemon states he has two housekeeping issues.  To date, the prosecution has disclosed 25,250 pages. Akemon refers to one other discovery issue, "...which we thought was ... jail in 2008 ... (the defendant) was put in a cell with two deputies.  ... There's been this idea there was a video of that 30 to 40 hours. ... That operation was not video taped.  That does not exist. (The event) was monitored by CCTV (closed circuit TV) system and that was ... Mr. Lillienfeld did an investigation and is here today..."

Judge Ohta asks the defense, "Do you have (the) audio tape?"  Gargiulo states he as "...parts of it."  Mr. Filipiak states he has the entire audio.

Gargiulo asks the Judge if he will sign a medical order.  I believe that is granted.

Akemon (states?) Mr. Gargiulo issued three subpoenas. He's complied with all three.

1. The radio transmissions: (between LE regarding I believe, Maria Bruno's murder?)  the prosecution gave him that.

2. Jail Policies: He has access to that at jail.

Akemon continues, We basically have given him everything he wants except...  "The (jail) internal staff policies ... which we believe is not discoverable."

Regarding the jail policies, Garguilo tells the court he doesn't have access to them. The ones he does have access to, I believe he states they were issued in 2000, or 2001.  I believe Akemon then hands him a paper or papers on jail policies that were updated in 2011.

Judge Ohta then takes the time to patiently explain to Gargiulo that the prosecution doesn't believe they have to turn over to him, the internal staff policies at the LA County Jail.  Ohta goes onto explain to him what legal recourse is still open to him, that he can still issue subpoenas for those documents.

Judge Ohta is not required to explain the law to Gargiulo, and what avenues are open to him in preparing his case, so it's interesting to see the judge take the time let Gargiulo know that even though he didn't get all the documents he was requesting, there are other options available.  One wonders if this case was assigned to a different courtroom, would another judge go out of his way to guide the defendant to the extent Ohta is doing.

And that's it for this hearing.

My Thoughts
Preparing a case of this magnitude, with over 25,000 pages of discovery would be daunting even for a seasoned death penalty qualified attorney.  It takes quite a bit of thought and research to prepare for cross examination of a witness; to methodically prepare your questions to build upon the next one, to have an artful presentation. Even seasoned attorneys can stumble through cross examination. Where I think this case will get interesting, is when the prosecution files motions to introduce evidence.  As far as I know, Gargiulo doesn't have a college education.  He was an air conditioning service man.  It will be interesting in the months ahead how well he will do in preparing opposing arguments to the people's motions.

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 9

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tobias Dustin Summers, First Calif. Court Appearance

San Fernando Courthouse, Google Maps
UPDATE 4/29: Corrected dates, spelling, clarity
Case Summary
I can't imagine a worse nightmare for a parent.  You check on your child around 1AM, and everything is fine. You hear a noise in the house and you get up to check on your child again at 3:40 AM and they're not in their room.  You do a quick search of your home. Your 10-year-old daughter is gone.  This nightmare happened to one Northridge family in the early morning hours of March 27th.  The young girl with long red hair was discovered about 12 hours later in a Woodland Hills strip mall with cuts, bruises and in shock.  In my opinion, the parents are lucky their daughter is still alive.  This nightmare could have been far worse.

Tobias Dustin Summers, 30, (described in many newspaper reports as a transient) and his accomplice Daniel Martinez, 29 are charged with the 10-year-old's alleged kidnapping and rape. Newspaper reports indicate the pair had planned to rob a house.  It's my understanding Martinez waited in the car when Summers entered the home they were going to rob, saw the child and decided to kidnap the young girl.

Martinez was arrested March 31st. Summers was caught in Mexico and returned to the US on April 24th. One media report indicated he was identified by the Superman tattoo on his chest. He made his first court appearance April 25th in a San Fernando Valley courtroom.  Martinez is facing felony kidnapping of a child under 14 and first degree burglary. His bail has been set at 1 million.  Summers is facing 37 charges and bail has been set at 19 million.

April 25th, 2013
In the morning, I got the announcement that alleged kidnapper Tobias Summers would be arraigned in the afternoon at the San Fernando Courthouse, Department S, in the city of San Fernando, CA.  I had never been to the San Fernando Courthouse and I didn't have any commitments going on, so I thought I would see if I could get a seat at the arraignment.  I don't often get to see arraignments since I usually pick up a case before or after the preliminary hearing.

San Fernando is a tiny city in the northeastern section of the San Fernando Valley that is completely surrounded by the city of Los Angeles.  The city was established in 1885 and currently has about 24,000 residents, the majority being Latino.

The first thing I notice when I reach Third Street is the media presence.  Local media trucks take up the entire block in front of the courthouse on both sides of the street.   I'm able to find street parking a block up and walk towards the courthouse.

As I get closer, to the entrance, I can see it's an older building with Spanish influences.  Because of the full growth trees I can't get a good sense of how tall the building is.

San Fernando Courthouse, Entrance

When I clear security I keep going straight towards a wide, arched hallway.  The hallway walls are that bland ivory color with a hint of yellow.  The floor is brown, eight-inch square Spanish tiles.  I don't get far when I see some familiar media faces on very long, low wood benches. I note the name of the judge on the plaque outside the courtroom, but I overheard someone say that a different judge is on the bench today.

The first person I recognize is well known sketch artist, Mona Edwards and I also see Eric Leonard a well known reporter for local radio station KFI 640. I've been a fan of Leonard's long before I first met him at the Robert Blake trial in 2004-5. OCWeekly named him Best News Anchor in 2009. He does have a web page, but he doesn't post to it much.

Mona, who is there at the request of ABC Ch. 7, asks me if I'm going to the Jackson family civil case that is about to start.  I tell her that I usually only cover murder cases or cases involving children.  Mona tells me she's been drawing the Jackson family ever since '95 or '96, when a production company (Smith-Hemion Productions) sued the family in a case known as Jackson Family Honors.  There are other reporters here that I don't know, that are probably assigned to the San Fernando Valley.

Several of the TV faces show up dressed in their on-air suits.  Patrick Healy from NBC Ch. 4, and a familiar face from CBS Ch. 2.  Mary Hearn from the Superior Court's Public Information Office (PIO) arrives.  She will be the liaison between the court and the media's request to film the defendant when he's brought out.  I also wave to Claudia Peschiutta from KNX1070.

 While we wait for Dept. S to open, I politely listen while one reporter tells another about a famous incident from 2003 involving Judge David S. Wesley.  Apparently, an individual who was supposed to be arraigned that day but was freed committed a murder a month later.

When Dept. S opens, the reporter's fan out to where ever they want to sit.  In other arraignment courts, usually there are specific areas designated for the media.  The courtroom has three sections separated by two aisles.  There are about 42 seats in each of the side sections and about 30 in the center rows.  The center front row is blocked off from seating.  Trying to get the best seat to see the defendant, I sit in the center, last row.

The wood paneled courtroom is almost a much smaller version of Dept. 30 in downtown Los Angeles.  The small name plaque on the bench says Michael O'Gara, Judge. There are large green signs on several of the walls outlining court rules about no talking to detainees in custody.  There are several court staff in the well, all looking like they are busy doing 'something' and a couple of mid-level looking managers just standing, watching the gallery. Sheriff deputies come and go, but there are at least two or three in the room most of the time.

The defendant "fish tank" or cage is on the far right.  It's about five feet by 10 feet.  Hanging from the ceiling inside the cage is a microphone. The ends are wood paneling. The front is a mixture of glass at the top and screen and the bottom half. The detainee entrance is not on the far left, (like in Dept. 30) but the far right.

A child cries out from the back left of the courtroom and a bailiff tells the mother to take the child outside.  PIO Mary Hearn sits in the row of seats in the well, against the low wall.  There are several long tables in the center of the well for the defense and prosecution.

A video camera and still photographer are setting up in the well of the court to photograph the defendant.  I see Hearn speak to a few people in the media.  Mona tells me she will still do a sketch.  Mona asks if she can sit in the well to get a better view of the defendant and her request is granted.

Court is finally called to order. Several other cases are heard first.  A few defendants plead guilty. Those of us in the gallery wait.  Some reporters leave and come back. Waiting for one case, Judge O'Gara impatiently taps his pen while holding his chin in the palm of his left hand.  Looking behind me to my right, a black reporter with an ABC 7 pin on his lapel appears stretched out in his seat, his eyes closed.

Some of the defense attorneys who wander in and out of Dept. S look like characters themselves and I recognize at least one face I previously saw in Dept. 30. It's 2:40 PM an a DDA enters that the pretty young reporter next to me recognizes.  She thinks its DDA Laura Jackson, who is prosecuting Summer's co-conspirator, Daniel Martinez.

2:44 PM The judge steps off the bench for about 15 minutes.  Even though there are lulls in the proceedings, the court reporter needs a break, too.

2:58 PM The judge retakes the bench. I hear him say, "Ms. Lambert (sp?), Ms. Jackson.  The judge states something about having a long discussion at the bench with the prosecutor and defense.  The defendant is not currently present in the courtroom.  There are a number of media requesting (to photograph and video record the defendant) including the LA Times.  All will be granted.  "Have the defendant brought out," Judge O'Gara tells the bailiffs.

The defendant emerges from the back area. He's in street clothes.  When he comes out, he keeps his head down.  You can't see his face at all. Earlier, a few reporters did talk about how the defendants often try to stand behind their defense attorneys, to avoid being photographed.

Tobias Dustin Summers, first US court appearance.

The judge states that this matter would be "..put over to Dept. H, May 2nd for continuance and arraignment."  The defendant's 19 million bail stands.  The people then request a protective order for the victim and that the defendant be prohibited from any contact with the victim by his person or a third party.  The defendant will be served with this protective order. The prosecution asks that the protective order be under seal and I believe that is also granted.  The defendant is taken back to the holding area.

And that's it.  The reporters leave the courtroom back to their news trucks to get their copies of the video and the on air suits to file their video reports.

Just when I think I can take a leisurely drive back home and write up my story, I get a call from Mr. Sprocket. He tells me the new door is in for the bakery's Turbo-Air refrigerated displace case.  Since I'm so close to the distributor, I get to go pick it up.

Northridge Kidnapping Suspect Appears in Court KTLA Video

FBI Joins Search for Missing Northridge Girl

Police Hunt for Two Men in Girl's Abduction

Two Men Sought In Abduction

Northridge Girl Repeatedly Raped

Suspect Charged in Northridge Girl's Kidnapping Assault

Judicial Watch

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cameron Brown Third Trial, Pretrial 6 & Dropping in on the Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter Murder Case

UPDATE April 16th: Many thanks to Karen for pointing out spelling errors in Gerhartsreiter & Chichester. Sprocket.

Thursday March 21st, 2013
Orange Line Bus
I’m on the Orange Line bus to North Hollywood.  It’s packed, but I was able to get a seat since I was right there when a wheelchair exited and the seat row was put back.  I’m hoping that after the Cameron Brown hearing, I’ll be able stay and get a seat at the Christian Gerhartsreiter (aka “Clark Rockefeller”) murder trial.

Red Line Train
Just after I had typed my first paragraph, at the next stop, another wheelchair needed to get on and the bench I was sitting on had to get folded up to make way.  The Orange Line bus was quite full, and now I’m about 10 minutes later than I had hoped getting into downtown.  I know it’s going to be tricky on the 9th floor, and the sooner I’m able to get there the better.

Other News

Many of T&T’s readers have been asking about Matthew McGough’s book on the Lazarus case.  I’m in contact with Matt on a regular basis, and his work is going well. Recently, he asked me to help with some research.  It was a rewarding experience to be able to assist him on this fascinating project.  I still can’t tell you a publication date yet, but as soon as I know, I’ll write about it.

T&T  is an advertising free, reader supported blog. 

Mr. Sprocket has finally gotten his full strength back from being diagnosed with bacteremia in his blood last October.  It’s been a slow recovery ever since he was hospitalized last year.  A full month on IV medication at home zapped his strength and it took him quite some time to be able to work a full day again.  Mr. Sprocket is a ‘one man’ shop in his line of work.  Our finances have taken a huge hit due to his illness. Consequently, I will need to devote more of my time to helping my husband in his business.   It is unknown at this time if I will be able to continue to offer coverage of all the cases I’ve been following.  If you’ve enjoyed reading T&T in the past, a donation --no matter how small-- would be most helpful to us during this difficult time.

The 9th Floor

I’m up on the 9th floor.  There are camera operators waiting to get into Dept. 107 for the Christian Gerhartsreiter case and a reporter I don't recognize.  Other than that, the hallway is virtually empty.  Another camera operator that I recognize (but I can’t remember his name) is also here. 

There is no Public Information Officer in the hallway so it’s quite possible there isn’t the huge interest in this case right now, compared to the Jodi Arias trial.  Several readers have asked me my thoughts on the Arias trial.  To be truthful, I’ve barely watched a full day of testimony.  To me, Arias is not that interesting of a defendant.  I see her as a garden variety psychopath who lies more than she sleeps and her ability to play gene splicing word-sparring gymnastics with the prosecutor is evidence of that.  However, for those of you who have been following the trial, I highly recommend the blog Calls For Justice, run by my former co-blogger, Donchais.  She is blogging the trial on a daily basis.

Inside Dept. 107
Once I get inside Dept. 107, the camera crew starts to set up their video equipment.  I ask the bailiff, Sheriff Kyles (this is the same deputy that was in Judge Fidler’s courtroom during the first Spector trial) if I can use my laptop.  Kyles tells me, “For the Brown hearing, no. For the Gerhartsreiter case, yes.”  I pull out my notepad and put my laptop away.

DDA Hum is here at the prosecution table.  He’s wearing a dark blue suit, a medium blue shirt and a red and blue patterned tie. We are waiting on defense attorney Aron Laub.  Along with several reporters, in the second row near me, there is a middle aged couple speaking French.  The man speaks to defense attorney, John Allen.  I later find out the French couple is here for another defendant who has a pretrial hearing.

8:40 AM  Patty Brown enters the courtroom, looks around and exits.  I only got a quick look at her. She’s wearing black.

The camera crew continues setting up equipment and microphones.  Judge Lomeli steps out from the back room area and I notice the striking, black and gold stripe vest he has on.

A man enters whom I recognize to be Frank Girardot, metro editor for the Pasadena Star-News & San Gabriel Valley Tribune and author of Name Dropper: Investigating the Clark Rockefeller Mystery.  I turn and introduce myself and ask him if Dr. Lynne Herold is still on the stand.  He tells me that her testimony was completed yesterday.  I’m quite disappointed that I totally missed Dr. Herold. Dr. Herold was kind enough to give me and Mr. Sprocket a tour of the LA Crime Lab after Phil Spector was convicted of murder in April 2009.

9:15 AM I overhear the clerk talking to someone on the phone.  Something is said about another appearance in another courtroom.  I hear the clerk say, “He’s very upset with you. ... ...supposed to be here at 8:30 AM.”  I believe the clerk conveys a question to DDA Hum, that possibly Laub is asking if they can do the hearing tomorrow.  Hum replies to the clerk, “... can’t do tomorrow.”

The French speaking man comes over to me to ask me some questions about court procedure.  They are here for another man who has a hearing today.  The French man shows me the spelling of his friend’s name, Aurangzeb Manjra, or, it’s Manjra Aurangzeb.  I wonder what the couple called their friend. This man was a car salesman the French man bought cars from. 

The bailiff then announces that Judge Lomeli has taken the bench and Lomeli informs his bailiff, “Not quite yet.”

I continue to explain courtroom procedure to the delightful French couple. 

Judge Lomeli, unwilling to wait for Laub any longer, asks his court staff to locate an attorney who can sit in for Laub.  Lomeli has the high profile, Gerhartsreiter case in trial and a jury waiting.  Attorney William Jacobson is located who is willing to stand in for Laub. The bailiff reminds the court that Brown requires an Sergant’s escort, so they decide not to even bring Brown into the courtroom.

Brown’s case is called.   William Jacobson announces for the defense.  Judge Lomeli asks DDA Hum what the court calendar is set at today.  Hum replies, “I have it as 27 of 90.”  I believe Judge Lomeli continues, “It may be a fall trial.”    It’s agreed that the matter is put over until April 26th at 8:30 AM.  On that date the case would be set at 63 of 90.  There will be a waiver at that time as well.  Judge Lomeli tells Mr. Jacobson, “....appreciate Mr. Jacobson to come in (as?) short notice."

And that’s it for Brown’s pretrial hearing. I decide to stay for some of the Gerhartsreiter trial.  Hum exits the court room and I explain more court procedure to the French couple.

After the hearing is over, Patty Brown comes back in to ask me what happened, since she saw DDA Hum leave.  I explain to her what she missed, by waiting out in the hall for her husband’s attorney.

The French couple tell me their friend is a Pakistani man, and it’s a DNA charged case.  I believe the couple tells me there was a murder in Glendale and one in Mexico that were linked by DNA.

The prosecution and defense for the Pakistani man are at the bench with Judge Lomeli.

The Pakistani man is brought out, but he is left standing by the bailiff’s desk.  They don’t have an appropriate chair for him at the defense table (one without wheels) or, maybe they already brought out Gerhartsreiter (I didn’t notice).  He’s a short, slightly rotund man with curly graying hair.  He give a big smile to his friends in the gallery.  He’s wearing a yellow jail jersey top.  That’s interesting. He’s charged with murder. I thought he would be in blues or orange.  I need to ask a sheriff about the jail color coding system.

The Pakistani’s case is continued to May 21st.  Judge Lomeli states there is a 1050 issue.  The trial is expected to start mid August. There is a delay to accommodate the vacation of one of the parties, possibly the prosecutor. The defendant is asked to continue his case to that date and that his trial would commence within 70-75 days of that date.  Judge Lomeli asks, “Is that agreeable to you sir?” The defendant responds, “Yes, your honor.”  The defense attorney mentions that he might not be completely prepared by then. Judge Lomeli tells the defense that there is a possibility of another 45 days, however, “No more continuances beyond that.”   And that’s it for the Pakistani man.

Christian Gerhartsreiter

Excellent coverage of the case can be found by Frank Girardot, at the Pasadena Star-News.

I pull out my laptop and try to type as I observe the well area of the court.  I’m not a great typist by any means, nor am I very fast.  I know I will have to edit my notes extensively, later.

9:28 AM  Counsel are at the bench.  I feel a bit lost since I dont’ know the names of the defense attorneys or even how to pronounce the prosecutors name,  DDA Habib Balian.  (Days later, Pasadena Star-News stories provide the names of the defense team Brad Bailey, Danielle Menard. Sprocket)

There is a sheriff’s detective at the prosecution table.  I can tell by the green placard badges they wear. The detective’s name is Tim Miley.  I can read his name tag because he came into the gallery for a moment and stood in the aisle beside my bench row.

The prosecutor goes to the back row to speak to a distinguished gentleman. Mostly, it’s reporters and cameramen in the gallery that I’m not familiar with.

I didn’t see when Gerhartsreiter was brought out, but he’s now at the defense table. 

I see some blond/graying hair around his bald spot in back.  He’s wearing what appear to be wire framed glasses.  I was under the impression that wire frames were not allowed in the jail.

Members of the public enter the courtroom and sit in the third row. I’m in the second row.

Judge Lomeli commends the jury for being on time. “Thank you very much I appreciate that.”  Judge Lomeli informs the jury that tomorrow will be a early day. The question still remains whether just morning or, possibly part of the afternoon.

The prosecution is up and people call their next witness.
(Note: My notes in this section below still need spelling, clarity editing. Sprocket)

Marianne Kent 

A senior, silver-haired woman walks up to the jury box.

DDA HB: How old are you?

 The witness stops to think. The Jude questions the witness. She’s 82.  (She looks really good for 82.)

DDA HB: How is your memory from things back in the 1980’s?
MK: Pretty good.
DDA HB: Whats better, memory of things long ago, ... of things recently?
MK: It’s kind of a faucet now.

(Long ago is better)

DDA HB: Do you best, tell me what you remember. ... Just because I say something doesn’t mean it s true.  Do your best to answer the question as only you know them to be true. ... In the 1980 where were you living?
MK: 1960 Lorain Road San Marino. ... Moved in the day before Thanksgiving  in 1959.
DDA HB: When did you move out of that home?
MK: Almost the day before thanksgiving in 1995.
DDA HB: Were you familiar with with the house ... 1920 Lorain Road?  ... Who lived there?
MK: DeeDee Sohos.
DDA HB: And her mother lived on the property?
MK: That was her mothers home. Didi grew up in that home.

Didi was the name she called her. Her true name was Ruth. Everybody called her Didi.

DDA HB: Howmany doors down from Didi did you live?
MK: About four.

Photograph  peoples 84 put on the overhead screen.

DDA HB: And that’s was how Didi’s home looked back then?

People's 85 or 86 is put on the overhead screen. Balian asks the witness about the people in the photograph.

MK: Didi and Johnny.
DDA HB: Who’s Johnny?
MK: Johnny is Didi’s son. 

They would all go to the park and the movies together.

People's 85 photo is shown to the witness.

MK: It’s Didi and Johnny.

Ms. Kent’s son, Clayton, and Johnny were about the same age. Clayton Kent played with Johnny. Didi and Ms. Kent were the only one’s with little ones down at that end of the street.  That’s how Ms. Kent met Didi. Would take the kids to swimming, the park. That’s her son.

MK: Johnny was very precocious. He liked to take things apart and figure out how they worked. ... They, Dee was into the theater they made a little play stage. ... He really just hung onto Clay.
DDA HB: Was he friends with Clay?
MK: Yes.
DDA HB: As they grew older did they take separate paths?
MK: They took separate paths. Clay went int football and sports and Johnny was into more technical things.
DDAHB: Was he into computers?
MK: Yes.
DDA HB: In the 1980’s,  how close was your relationship with Dee?
MK: I knew Didi very well.
DDA HB: How long did you talk to her on the phone?
MK: A great deal of the time. We saw one another.
DDA HB: Did you see her frequently?
MK: Yes. Saw her socially, when it pertained to the children.
DDA HB: In the 1980s, how often would you visit Didi at here home?

The witness pauses.

MK: This is kind of a hard. Momma Dee lived behind, and I was always down there with Momma Dee and Didi.
DDA HB: Through the years, as John grew older into teens and adult years, were you still friends with Didi?
MK: I was still friends but we were not as close as before because the children had moved on. I was busy at the hospital.

She would still visit and go to her house.

DDA HB: How often?
MK:  Iv’e never thought in terms of how many times. ... Often times, she would call and ask, “I have this problem and how to I solve it?” So I went down.
DDA HB: (miss question)
MK: We remained friends. Yes.
DDA HB: She would be over at the house within a month once or twice?
MK: Oh sure. ... She idolized her son.  She was so thrilled with Johnny. The things that amazed me the most, is that she diagnosed him a diabetes. ... She made sure that she knew so that she (the witness) didn’t do something that would throw his menu off track.

(When the witness took care of him.)

DDA HB: How close were they to each other?
MK: Didi and Johnny?  Oh, very close. ... When you have a mother that loved him to pieces, and then finds out he has a[problem she’s very interested.

Defense: Objection! This is going further...
Judge: Counsel, sidebar...maybe you can enlighten me about some things.
Sidebar over.

DDA HB: How would Didi speak (about John?) to you?

Defense: Objection!
Judge:  (Addressing the jury) Not offered for the truth. (To the witness) You can answer if you can.

DDA HB: How did she speak about him?
MK:  Oh on the highest terms. She just loved him and tried to do everything she could for him.
DDA HB: At some point did you lear that John got married?
MK: Oh yes.
DDA HB: Did you met his wife?
MK: Very briefly.
DDA HB: (You) didn’t go to the wedding?
NK: No.
DDA HB: But at some point you learned they got married. ... Where did they go to live?
MK: At Didi’s house. They stayed in Johns old room. ... Didi lived in that same house with them.
DDA HB: Why didn’t they live in the guest house?

Defense: Objection! Speculation!
Judge: Sustained.

At some point, she learned that there was a male renter in the house.

DDA HB: John and Linda were living in the main house with Didi?
MK: Yes.
DDA HB: Did you meet this male renter on one occasion?
MK: Just briefly. ... On the property.  ... At the garage.
DDA HB: Were you aware of a time, that at some point, John and Linda had left and had not come back home?
MK: Yes.
DDA HB: Were you aware of a point in time that Ruth was left there and her children were gone?
MK: Yes, she didn’t think it was permanent but her children were gone.

DDA HB: At that time they left, shortly before they left who was living in the main house?
MK: Didi, Linda and John.
DDA HB: And at that time, shortly before they left, who was living in the guest house?
MK: The gentleman who m I had just briefly met.
DDA HB: At that time was they anyone living on that property when John and Linda didn’t come home?
MK: No, there wasn’t any room.
DDA HB: After John left and didn’t come home, did you notice a physical change in the room?  (There might be a missed question and answer here.)
MK: Didi started drinking. She just um, she was at a loss, at first. ... She got a postcard. 

Defense: Objection!

Upon hearing that objection by the defense the witness answers for the judge by saying, “Hearsay.”

Judge: Hearsay.

The courtroom breaks out into laughter.  I believe the Judge asks the witness, “Did you go to law school?”

MK: I have a son. ... There were huge changes. She didn’t get out of her nightclothes. She didn’t get out of her robe every day. She was drinking.

DDA HB: Did you testify at preliminary hearing? ... Do you remember saying she lost her spark to live?

Defense: Objection!
Judge: Sustained!

DDA HB: After John left, was there anyone in the home to take care of her?
MK: No. there was no one.
DDA HB: Do you know where john was working around the time he disappeared?
MK: To my knowledge he still, ... where he had worked?
DDA HB: Yes.
MK: He had worked in Pasadena, and it was in coordination with Cal tech.
DDA HB: Was it JPL?
MK: Yes, that is Cal tech, JPL.
DDA HB: After John left, did she sell her house and move?
MK: Yes. She moved to a trailer court.

Direct ends and cross examination begins. I do not know the name of the defense attorney conducting the cross.

Defense: Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Good morning Mrs. Kent. So, did you live at Lorain road about 36 years?
MK: A long time.

Defense asks about 4 or 5 houses up the street from Didi Sohos.

MK: That’s correct.
Defense: The relationship was based you your son Clayton & John’s relationship?  (I believe there are more questions and answers here.)
MK: I didn’t work at the hospital until much later. I was just a housewife.
Defense: John and Clay went they separate ways around 1973 74 in high-school?
MK: Yes.
Defense: Clayton was more involved n sports and John more involved in the camera club?
MK: That's correct.
Defense: Your familiar that there were two houses on the property?
MK: Yes.

Defense: There was a big house and a small house, a guest house on the property?
MK: Momma Di's house. ... She built it because she wanted ... Didi was married and she wanted Didi was going to have a family. ... So momma Di’s house (was) in the back until she died.
Defense: That was 1980?
MK: I don’t know the date.
Defense: Then someone moved into that house? ... She couldn’t identify him at the preliminary hearing?
MK: Well, remembering someone’s face that long ago...  Familiar, but not positive.

She could not identify the defendant at the previous court proceeding.

Defense: Do you remember someone identifying someone who operated a camera?
MK: I could not identify (him).
Defense: Now going into who lived in the guest house after Clark.

After John and Linda had been gone, a new tenant Jackie Whitmore’s (sp?) mother?

MK: I remember the day, the car was gone. Then the car was in the driveway.
Defense: Do you remember what year, they lived in the property?
MK: When they got married?  .... I don’t remember the year.

She doesn’t know anything personally about John or Linda’s marriage.

Defense: All you know is that they lived there at that property?
MK: That's correct.
Defense: All you know is that they lived there and then they were gone?
MK: That’s correct.
Defense: Then, you remember that property started to fall apart and deteriorated?
MK: Yes.  The yard, the yard got messy.
Defense: You said at that point, that Ruth began to drink a lot?
MK: Yes.
Defense: Isn’t it true that Ruth had began to drink a lot before then?
MK: Before John left?
Defense: Yes.
MK: Not to my knowledge.
Defense: Do you recall, when you were interviewed by investigators in this case back in 2009, after the adoption of John, Ruth’s husband left her for (another?) woman and began to drink a lot.
MK: That is not true. ... When she had John she was not drinking. That was not true.
Defense: If you’re saying that’s in a report that’s not accurate?
MK: That’s correct.

(I note that the gentleman crossing the witness is tall and slender with brown hair.)

Defense: When she would be drinking, she would call you on the phone almost every night.
MK: Yes. Uh-hum.
Defense: From her speech and her diction you could tell....
MK: No, not her diction.
Defense: Do you remember being asked in a prior proceeding you were asked about her speech and diction, and then going on to say that she primarily wanted to talk about religion...

MK: I don’t recall her being drinking.
Defense: At night? ...
MK: At that point?
Defense: Your testimony (was?) she became a very heavy drinker?
MK: After John left.
Defense: And that concerned you?
MK: Yes.
Defense: When Mr. Balian asked you about visits to the property when John and Clayton had gone their separate ways, you said you still visited the property, but isn't’ it true those visits were infrequent?
MK: They were infrequent.
Defense: Despite John's marriage, you did not attend the wedding, correct?
MK: Correct.
Defense: I appreciate you time. You’ve been very (?)...

Cross ends and redirect begins.

DDA HB: Talking about various people living in the guest house.

Momma Dee passed away a long time before John and Linda got married. And then Jackie’s mother moved in before John and Linda disappeared.  But the man who lived in the guest house at the time John and Linda disappeared, was a man and he was the only one who lived there.

MK: Yes.

John and Linda’s car was in the driveway for a time after they left.

Redirect ends and recross begins.

Defense: At a prior proceeding you testified Momma Di died in 1980?

MK: the year? Probably. I can’t put a year to it. ... I found her.
Defense: Do you recall testifying it was in 1980?
MK: My memory may have been better back then.
Defense: Actually John and Linda got married in 1983, so if momma Di died in 1980 then it could only be about 3 years that she lived there.
MK: That’s correct.

The witness is finished. People call Gustavo Perrea.

I take a few moments to glance over at the jury. I don’t have a good read on them at all. They appear attentive.  Some are taking notes.  Some are yawning at the moment. The jury consists of seven women and five men. There are some Asian, women, and the men appear older.

An older looking gentleman takes the stand.

Gustavo Perrea  (Perea? Perrea?)

DDA HB: Back in 1980’s where were you living?
GP: 1910 Lorain Road, San Marino.
DDA HB: Where in relation to 1920 was your home? 
GP: I was just west right next door.
DDA HB: So if you were standing in front, was your house to the right?
GP: Yes to the right.
DDA HB: Who lived at 1920 Lorain?
GP: Didi Sohos.
DDA HB: Did you hear of Ruth Sohos?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: Did you call her Didi?
GP: Yes.

Prosecution showing the witness a photo of the house.

DDA HB: Is that how it appeared? Is this where you knew her to live there?

People’s exhibit 86 is presented to the witness.

DDA HB:  Do you recognize that woman?
GP: That’s Didi Sohos.
DDA HB: Do you recognize the boy in the picture?
GP: No.
DDA HB: What year did you move into your home?
GP: 1979.
DDA HB: When did you move out of that home at 1910 Lorain? ... (Did you) Move out at the end of 1984? 
GP: I think November, December.
DDA HB: Did you ever know of any males living in the guest house on Didi property? (miss answer) What name did you know that person (as)?
GP: Christopher Chichester.
DDA HB: Do you see that person in court right now? ... Can you show the jury?
GP: Middle person at the second desk.
Defense: We’ll stipulate (to identity).

DDA HB: Who gave you that name? ... Did he give you that name?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: Did he ever give you any other names other than Christopher Chichester?
GP: Never.
DDA HB: How long (do) you estimate you knew him?
GP: Couple years I’d say.
DDA HB: Was it a couple years that he was living in that guest house?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: Did you ever know him not living in that guest house?
GP: No.
DDA HB: Were you friends with him?
GP: Yes.

DDA HB: What kind of things did you do?
GP: I remember going out with him one time going out for coffee.
DDA HB: Did you speak to him as he was coming and going from the house?
GP: Yes.

DDA HB: Did you ever go into the house at...
Defense: Objection!
(I don’t have the judge’s ruling.)

DDA HB: Were you there on one occasion or more than one occasion?
GP: I just recall one occasion, there may have been more.
DDA HB: You never saw (him?) again after 1984?
GP: That’s correct.
DDA HB: The guest house, (was at?) the very back of the property as you walk down Didi’s property?
GP: Yes?
DDA HB: Is there more than one guest house on this property?
GP: Just one.

The witness thinks the time he was there as 1983.

DDA HB: Do you remember what type of flooring was in the guest house?
GP: I don’t recall.
DDA HB: Do you think based on who you are, (that?) if someone was living on concrete grade flooring, would that be something that you (would have?) noted?
Defense: Objection.

Judge: Would you know sir or would you be guessing or speculating?
GP: I would be guessing.
Judge: Sustained. His answer will stand that he believes that it was not a concrete slab. that answer will stand.

DDA HB: (Miss question.)
GP: I don’t recall.
Defense: Objection!
Judge:  Move on.
DDA HB: Where did the defendant tell you he was from?
GP: I don’t remember.
DDA HB: Did he tell you what he did for a living?
GP: I believe he told me he had a local cable show and did some film work.
DDA HB: How friendly were you with ruth at the time the defendant was living in the guest house?
GP: Pretty friendly.
DDA HB: How often did you see Ruth ... I mean, how often did you speak to her and go to her home?
GP: About twice a month.

The defendant would go to her home to say hello.

DDA HB: ... all the times you were at the property, did you ever see the defendant inside the main house?
GP: Never.
DDA HB: From your home, was your home one story or two stories?
GP: Two stories.
DDA HB: From your home, where is your bedroom?
GP: My bedroom is on the second story.
DDA HB: Could you see Ruth’s backyard?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: Could you see BEHIND the guess house?
GP: Not behind the guest house.
DDA HB: Did you ever see the defendant doing any yard work on the property?
GP: No.
DDA HB: Did you ever see him ever do any manual labor on the property?
GP: No.
DDA HB: Were you working at that time?
GP: No
DDA HB: How often were you home?
GP: I was home almost every day.
DDA HB: Were you aware at some point in time that... (rest of question is about Johnny). 

Photograph. People’s 87.

DDA HB: Did you know Ruth’s son?
GP: Yes, I met him that’s all. I had no interaction.

The witness recognized a photo of John that he was shown.
DDA HB: At some point, (you were) aware that he had got married?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: (Did you) meet his wife?
GP: Yes. ... They live lived in the back bedroom on my side.
DDA HB: Of the main house?
GP Yes. Which was on the west side.

Photo of People’s 99. Linda feeding John cake at their wedding.

DDA HB: Who are these people?
GP: Linda and John Sohos.
DDA HB: Linda is his wife?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: Were you um, from your window, could you see into their bed room?
GP: Yes.
DDA HB: In the tie you were there... strike that. ... (Were) you (?) in a position, if there was (hard?) yelling and screaming, would you have heard it?
GP: Yes.
Defense: Objection. I don’t think this gentleman is able to evaluate the acoustics.
Judge:  Sustained.
DDA HB: Based on how close your houses are together.
Defense: Objection!
Judge: If he heard ...

The defense still argues that he can’t answer.

Judge: Based on where he was living at the time, did he hear that?
GP: Never did.
DDA HB: Never heard any yelling or screaming?
GP: No.
DDA HB: Never heard or saw them arguing?
GP: No.
DDA HB: Who was living on the property first? The defenant, or John and Lind got married.
GP: The defendant.
DDA HB: How long before they got married?
GP: A year or two.
DDA HB: When you moved away, who was living in the main house?
GP: John, Lina, Didi.
DDA HB: Who was living in the guest house?
GP: Christopher.
DDA HB: Was anyone else living on the property?
GP: Not that I was aware of.

Direct ends and cross begins.  A curly, silver-haired defense attorney greets the jury and introduces himself.  The defense asks that People’s 88 be put up on the overhead screen. It’s a wedding photo.

Defense: Is that an accurate representation in the difference in their size, height and weight?
GP: Um, she was definitely taller than John.
Defense: Would you say heavier as well?
GP: Yes.
Defense: Would you say that is a fair representation to that differential?
GP: Possibly.
Defense: You only met them one time?
GP: Linda, I only met her the one time. John, I’ see him. ... I had no interaction with either of them.
Defense: Did you ever hear any yelling?
GP: No.
Defense: Did you ever hear any nice, warm conversations on...

Laughter breaks out in the courtroom and the jury.

GP: I don’t think I would hear nice conversations.

More laughter.

Defense: Did you get interviewed by the police or the prosecution team?
GP: Yes.
Defense: When would that have been if you recall?
GP: I have no idea. They probably came to my home about six months ago.
Defense: Prior to six months ago, you called up the police to discuss something with them?
GP: Oh yes.  When I first.... (miss rest of answer).
Defense: Was that was in 2008?
GP: I have no idea when that was. ... The first person I talked to was Mr. Wilkes (sp?) the police chief in San Marino.
(Miss question.)
GP: No, that was recently. When the article first came out, it asked you to call. ... I moved into my home in October of ‘08. So it was way after that.
Defense: (You) had no conversations prior to 2008?
GP: That’s correct.
Defense: If there were police reports prior to that august of 2008, they would be incorrect?

I think Judge Lomeli steps in and asks a question.

GP: If I could tell him the date or year I would.

He did have conversation from his current home.  ... He believes it was from his current home. He believes it was with Sgt. Miley, within the last year.

Defense: Other than that, you don’t recall any other conversations?
GP: No, I don’t.

The defense asks several more questions. About the location of houses and his home being two stories.  Defense asks about the yards on Didi’ property.  The witness states there was only one back yard.  He could see the entire guest house from his home.

Defense: Could you see the back of the main house?
GP: Yes.
Defense: So you had a pretty good view of the whole yard?
DDA HB: Objection!  Misstates the testimony.

Judge: Did you have a clear view?
GP: I don’t think I had a clear view of the whole back (of the property).
... Of course I had no reason to look back there.
Defense: In 1984, how old were you?
GP: I was 50 years old.
Defense: Were you not employed at that time?
GP: No.
Defense: At some times, you would socialize with Didi Sohos?
GP: Yes I did.

Defense: About twice a month?
GP: Yes.
Defense: When did that start?
GP: It probably started when I moved there. ...I moved there in ’79.

He moved out in 1984.

Defense: That socializing, perhaps included some drinks and socializing?
GP: Yes.
Defense: Did you have any observation during the time that Didi was (a? drunk?) or frequent drinker?
GP: I have no idea.
Defense: Other than when you were there, she ...
GP: She had a drink.
Defense: Do you recall if there was any kind of lighting that went on (in the back)?
GP: I don’t believe (there?) was?
Defense: You’re pretty sure there was no lights on in the back?

DDA HB: Objection! Lights on or lights existing?
Judge: Did you ever see it (the back yard) lit?
Judge (or Defense): Did you ever see any lighting fixtures there?
GP: I don’t believe so.

Defense: Did you ever see any lights on?
GP: I don’t remember.

Defense: Did you ever see if lights ever (that?) reflects from the main house to the back?
GP: I don’t recall. ... I don’t believe there were any lights.

(unknown) And we had some testimony about the neighborhood watch that existed at the time.

Defense: Were you a member of the neighborhood watch?
GP: No I was not.

The witness states he knew there were sings on the street (but not aware of their activities). The witness is asked to describe the motor activity.

GP: I believe that was a very busy street.
Defense: Was there a lot of pedestrian traffic?
GP: I believe yes. ... Mostly in the morning.
Defense: Do you remember if there were (da?) walking out there at night?
GP: There might have been. I’m not aware of it.
Defense: And I think that um, if I’m not wrong when you testified earlier, you considered Mr. Chichester, who we know at Gerhartsreiter to be a friend of yours. ... Was he a very good friend of yours?
GP: No.
Defense: Do you remember there being something strange about him?
GP: No.
Defense: Did you think, it was unusual for someone in their 20’s to perusue a relationship with yourself?
GP: Yes.
Defense: So, if you said something earlier, in a report that you may have said that he was trying to use you?
GP: I don’t believe I said that.
Defense Do you feel that there was anything untoward in your relationship with this gentleman?
GP: No.

People’s exhibit 69 photo of Mr. Chichester.

Defense: ...have you take a look of this and tell the jury if that’s an accurate representation of Mr. Chichester, how he looked back in the 1980’s.
GP: Yes.

Cross ends.

I believe Judge Lomeli asks, “Any redirect?”

DDA HB: Showing you People’s 16. Do you recognize this photo?
GP Yes. That’s Christopher.
DDA HB: Do you recognized this is how he looked at this time?
GP: Yes.

This witness is excused and a new witness is called to the stand. It’s a woman. The witness slowly makes her way to the gallery and the woman takes the stand.

Witness states her name is Elaine Siskoff. She lives in Wisconsin. She’s lived there all her life. 

DDA HB: Did you go to college?

ES: UW of Milwaukee.
DDA HB: Did you ever meet anyone in at (University of Wisconsin that you see here right now)?

Defense: Stipulate to identity.

DDA HB: Approximately what year did you meet?
ES: I believe it was 1981.
DDA HB: Was he, as far as you were aware (enrolled)?

(Unknown) He was attending the university of law (?)

ES: Yes, I thought he was attending the university.  He was on campus whenever I saw him, at either the theatre, or the (?) Dept.
DDA HB: What name did the defendant (give?) who introduced himself to you, (or him)?
ES: He came up to a friend and myself.
DDA HB: What did he say?
ES: “Would you like to see a theater production for free?”
DDA HB: And did you go?
ES: Yes we did. ... He was an usher at the theatre production.
DDA HB: What name did he give you?
ES: Christian Gerhartsreiter. ... He gave the name Christopher Gerhartsreiter Chichester.

Unknown: When he was talking about his family tree pedigree, he used the name of Chichester as one of his ancestors.

DDA HB: Did he tell you from where he was from?
ES: He said Germany, but I thought it was England.
DDA HB: If you recall,  have you read some things in the media about this case?
ES: Yes I have.

DDA HB: I want you to keep clear what you read and what you remember.

ES: He said he was an exchange student.

DDA HB: Do you recall ...
ES: I guess not really.
DDA HB: Did you ever know him by any other name?
ES: No.
DDA HB: Did you date him for a period of time?
ES: About fall through spring. Spring break and when the semester ended about May.
DDA HB: What year?
ES: I think it was ‘80 or ‘81 and then he left. ... He said he was going to California to pursue intership with the Lucas, Star Wars director.
DDA HB: After he left, did you ever see him again?
ES: No, I never saw him again.
DDA HB: After (you? he?) left did you ever receive anything from him?
ES: A post card.
DDA HB: After that post card, you never saw or heard from him again, is that correct?
ES: No.
DDA HB: Your honor, I have a post card marked as People #89. May I approach?
Judge: Yes.

People’s 89, photo of the postcard. It’s of English men in uniform. Then the back of the card is shown on the overhead. Lots of writing on the back of the card.

DDA HB: Do you recognize the post card?
ES:  Yes.
DDA HB: Is this the post card you recieved.
ES: Yes.
DDA HB: Did you get it in the mail?
ES: It appeared in my mail.
DDA HB: Postmarked January 23rd?
ES: Well, he left in May, so it would have been the next year.

He writes about how England is great and that he was teaching 10 and 11 year olds in Sunday School.

DDA HB:hen he last met you , did he ever tell you he was  going onto England?
ES: No.

Prosecutor reads from card again. About how he was going to other countries, Mozambiquie.

ES: Well, he said his family lived in Africa (country), and that the exchange rate, you could live quite well.
DDA HB: Did you have any reason to disbelieve that he wasn’t on the way to Africa?
ES: No.
DDA HB: Based on everything he told you did you, have any reason to believe that he wasn’t in England or Africa?
ES: (No.)

Defense: Objection!
Judge: Sustained.

Direct ends and cross is by the gentleman with gray hair.

(My note here is: (Jeffrey) Denner, along with (Danielle) Menard and (Brad) Bailey introduces himself.  Defense attorney’s names obtained via Pasadena Star-News. Sprocket.)

Defense: I think you mentioned that you first met (the defendant) in Wisconsin?
ES: Yes.
Defense: Was that Milwalkee, Wisocnsin.
ES: Yes.
Defense: At some point you two dated?
ES: Yes.
Defense: Dated as a romantic or just friends?
ES: A little romantic.
Defense: At what period of time did that occur?
ES: I guess I suppose, after (I) met him in October, through May, I saw him once a week maybe that.
Defense: When you say October, October of what year?

ES: It’s been 30 years, I kind of forget what year exactly, knowing I was at the University in ‘81, uh....
Defense: Were you at University of Wisconsin 1980 as well?
ES: Second half. ... I was going to night school in 1980 and thats where I met him.
Defense: Would it be fair to say at some point, the defendant would as you to marry him.
ES: Yes, he did.
Defense: Did he make it clear it would not be a regular romantic marriage but one to circumvent the laws of the immigration?

DDA HB: Objection! Calls for specualtion on his part, based on hearsay.
Judge: Sustain.

Defense: When he asked you to marry him, did he say it would be a sham marriage?
ES: Yes.

(Unknown. Likely prosecution. You honor, can we approach?)
Judge: Yes.
Judge: We’ll be taking our break in five minutes ladies and gentlemen.

Defense: Going forward,  I believe you answered yes, that it was going to (be a sham marriage)?
ES: he asked me if I would marry him. I said no. h\He asked me if I knew someone else who might be interested in marrying him. I said possibly. I said maybe my sister.
Defense: You said your sister who is ... Her name was Amy?
ES: Yes. Jersild last name.
Defense: Did they get married?
ES: Yes.
Defense: Did they ever live together?
ES: No.
Defense: Do you know if he ever promised her compensation for marriage?
ES: He told me he would but my sister told me she never got anything.
Defense: At some point did your sister divorce?
Es: She did so she could marry her current husband.
Defense: Do you know when she got divorced?

ES: I wasn’t aware when she did, no.
Defense: Would you agree it was 20 years before?
ES: Probably.
Defense: When you knew him it was by what name?
Es: Christopher Gerhart.
Defense: Did he ever ever identify himself (as?) Christian  Gerhartsreiter to you?
ES: Yes.
Defense: Were they any other names you say he ever use any other names?

(Unknown: Chichester.)
ES: Yes. There were about eight names that he flashed in front of me at the family tree.
Defense: Did you buy this at the time?
ES: I guess I did.
Defense: Was this the way that he presented himself to the public?
ES: I don’t think I saw him interact with anybody else.
Defense: Did you form an opinon that there was some British (peerchance?) or royalty?
ES: I’m not sure about royalty.
Defense: That he was some British royalty?

DDA HB: Objection!
Judge: Sustained.

ES: I don’t believe so.
Defense And at some point you received a post card? 
ES: Yes.
Defense: And that post card was right there?  (Pointing to the postcard on the screen.)
Defense: Did you respond to that?
ES: There was no way to respond.

(There was no return address.)  Cross ends and redirect begins.

DDA HB: Do you recognizes the handwriting as that of the defendant?

The witness states she saw the defendant writing before. She saw him writing.
Redirect ends and recross begins.

Defense: When did you bring that post card to the attention of law enforcement?

The witness asks, “When was the boston trial? Because someone came to talk to me just before that. I then looked through my college records and found it.”

Defense: When did you in fact send the post card (to LE)?
ES: A month or two.

Recross ends and Redirect begins.

The witness states she was interviewed at her home.

ES: I believe mr Miley was (at my) home and i believe I told him that I had a post card at that time.
Defense: It was very recently that you mailed that? ... What was it that made you go back to look for it?
ES: Well I was cleaning my basement and I was cleaning things out.
Defense: And you just mailed it to Sgt. Miley?
ES: Well, I put it in a drawer, then mailed it .
Defense: Why did you save this post card?
ES: Well, it was my first boyfriend.

The morning break is called and I decide to call it a day.
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was convicted of first degree murder on April 10th.  His next court hearing is June 26th, 2013 in Department 107.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter Convicted of Murder

 Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, center with his defense counsel. 
Photo credit Walt Mancini/SGVN

The AP is reporting that the jury in the Christian Gerhartsreiter (aka the fake Rockefeller) case reached a verdict early today.  Gerhartsreiter was found guilty of first degree murder in the death of John Sohos.

Back on March 21st, I dropped in on a few hours of Gerhartsreiter testimony after the Cameron Brown pretrial hearing.  I hope to put my notes up on going to court that day, soon.

Excellent coverage of the Gerhartsreiter case can be found at Pasadena-Star News.

Gerhartsreiter Wikipedia page.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 7 & Dmitriy Sheyko Sanity Ruling

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, possibly on arrest date.


Previous hearing on 2/25/13

UPDATE: April 5th spelling, clarity
March 20th, 2013
I’m in the elevator bay of the downtown criminal court building.  It’s very busy and the elevators are slow.  DDA Paul Nunez sees me before I see him and slowly saunters over to say hello. Nunez asks me how Matthew is doing on his book.  I tell him it’s going well. Nunez is wearing dark suit with a light shirt that has the faintest blue check pattern.  The shimmering sky blue tie is a nice complement to the shirt.

Nunez then tells me, “I’m leaving the building.”  At first I think he’s leaving the DA’s office, but he then tells me that he’s been promoted to head the East LA DA’s office.  Paul makes sure to add, “It’s a small office.” I congratulate him on his promotion, but will be sad not to see him around the downtown courthouse. 

I tell Paul that I’m here for a Michael Gargiulo hearing in Dept 108.  Paul knows this is DDA Akemon's case.  Paul and I ride up to the 9th Floor together.  He tells me he has a hearing in Dept 102.  I’m going to the other end of the hallway, but I thought I’d hang out with Paul for a bit while he tells me about his case involving a former attorney.

At this end of the hallway, defense attorney Mark Werksman approaches Nunez and I step away so they can chat privately.  Werksman defended James Fayed and he is representing the defendant in Nunez’s case.  After they are finished talking, I reintroduced myself to Werksman.  I wanted to tell him that I saw him on TV recently.  It was some documentary crime show from long ago and in the middle of the show I recognized a much younger, very handsome Werksman defending the man charged.  It brought a smile to Werksman’s face.

Donald Re, who is defending Gerhard Becker on involuntary manslaughter charges was also happened to be on the 9th Floor at that end of the hall, but I didn’t get an opportunity to say hello.  It appeared that he was meeting with clients.

I get back down to the other end of the hallway just in time for Department 108, Judge Ohta’s courtroom to open.  A cameraman with the large video equipment comes into Dept. 108, uncertain if he is in the right courtroom.  He’s here for a ruling in another case, Dmitriy Sheyko.  The bailiff informs the cameraman that filming requests are usually denied in this courtroom, but he will check with the court clerk, who is away from her desk at the moment.

8:38 AM DDA Daniel Akemon arrives and says hello.  A few moments later the bailiff tells the cameraman that he is in the right courtroom for the Sheyko case, however, the video request by his network (I believe it was local ABC Channel 7) was denied by the judge.

There are two people in the well of the court that look like they are with the DA’s office and a reporter in the gallery behind me, Elizabeth, (sp?). I introduce myself and she tells me she works for City News.  Elizabeth asks the bailiff about the same case as the cameraman.  DDA Akemon and I chat a bit.

One of the women DDA’s in the well asks Akemon if she would sit in for her at a hearing where they are just going to hold the case over for another month.  I hear her tell Akemon that her defendant is not here and it will take time to locate him.  Something about him possibly missing the bus from the jail.  She’s in trial in Pasadena, and she needs to get back as soon as possible.  Akemon agrees to step in.  She gives him date ranges on when her calendar is free to return.  With a smile, Akemon tells his colleague, “No problem, I’m glad to do it.  Makes me feel useful.” Akemon goes over to the clerks desk to let the clerk know he will be stepping in for the female DDA.

I note there is a new full container of Red Vines on the clerks counter next to the wall.

The next person who enters  Dept. 108 is DDA Sean Carney, which tells me the case he’s here for is Sheyko, an arson case.  This case is the same one that the City News reporter is here for.  Vania Stuelp from local ABC 7 arrives and says hello.

While we wait for Judge Ohta to take the bench, DDA Nunez (his hearing must have finished quickly) steps into Dept. 108, takes a seat in the gallery and chats with his friend Akemon and Carney.

I’m not positive I heard the conversation correctly, but I believe Akemon and Carney jokingly asked Nunez how he wants to be announced (referencing his recent promotion).  I was amused by his triumphant reply.

While I listen to the DDA’s chatter, I note that Akemon has on a similar shirt as Nunez’s, except there is a tiny additional faint line of brown in with the blue check.  Carney is wearing a red diamond patterned tie with his white shirt and dark gray suit.  Nunez tells the group his last day in his current unit, JSID (Justice System Integrity Division) is next Thursday.

9:15 AM Judge Ohta takes the bench.  The defendant is brought out.  He looks very young and he’s wearing a yellow, county jail top with blue pants.  It’s my understanding that this designation of color usually signifies some type of mental/drug or alcohol issue.

People v. Dmitriy Sheyko is called. This is the case the media is covering.  Apparently, Judge Ohta is to rule on whether or not Sheyko was sane at the time he committed his crimes.

The parties identify themselves for the record.  I believe the defendant has a public defender, the people are represented by DDA Carney.  Judge Ohta states something to the effect that this is a sanity trial on this matter.  The court took the matter under submission. Judge Ohta states he reflected on it, went over materials and is ready to render a verdict.

Carney informs the court that he did submit a translation of the audio and video clips of Cheyko’s interview (with police).

Judge Ohta then begins to read his his ruling.  On September 21st, 2012, the defendant entered a plea of not guilty by virtue of insanity.  The defendant waived a jury trial. He waived the original plea and admitted guilt on all 22 charges.  Sanity charge...  Judge Ohta goes over all the evidence that was presented at the sanity trial.

Judge Ohta then describes in detail the law covering insanity and reads from the specific law.  There are, um, conditions (tests?) that must be met before Judge Ohta can give a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Judge Ohta reads the specific code number (I'm not sure I got it right), a preponderance of the evidence, and the burden of proof is on the defendant as shown.  Judge Ohta mentions (I believe) the M'Naghten Rule test, a right and wrong test, irresistible impulse test.

The crimes occurred over four days in April, 2011, at four different locations. An expert on schizophrenia interviewed the defendant of a few dates. I believe Judge Ohta states the interviews were on March 27th and April 17th, 20112.

A Dr. Cohen testified the defendant was legally insane at the time of the crimes.  Dr. Cohen states the defendant made odd statements at the time of his arrest.  The Dr. felt the statements were bizarre, such as, “Are there cameras?”  And, also states the use of an alias made no sense.  The defendant said, “I shouldn’t commit crimes in churches. I know I shouldn’t do that anymore.”

Dr. Cohen testified the detectives assumed that the defendant understood the statements he made about his crimes.  Dr. Cohen testified that the defendant’s behavior is unorganized. It’s nonsensical. 

Dr. Kanapeck (sp?) testified that the defendant was able to sit calmly and cooperate with detectives.  He was evasive and did not answer questions.  Dr. Kanapeck (sp?) testified that was not characteristic of someone in a psychosis episode.  He was extremely evasive in his answers, and attempted to escape culpability.  Dr. Kanapeck (sp?) testified that individuals who are truly psychotic do not have the capability to be insightful.  Regarding his actions, he knew, he stated that his actions were wrong.

Judge Ohta finds, the defendant was aware of his actions and knew the sequence of his actions.  His repeated behavior over several days indicates he was aware of his actions.  His curiosity was satisfied by fire.  Judge Ohta mentions all four locations. 1. A burglary at the Fresh & Easy; 2. Arson Temple Israel; 3. Burglary at Richard Simons (sp?) residence; 4. Arson Beverly Ridge.  (I believe I have the locations correct.)  Judge Ohta states, he knew that the drum he destroyed was expensive.  He acknowledged that drums are expensive. 

Judge Ohta stated, that, while the court has sympathy for the defendant’s mental illness, that does not (excuse?) his actions.  Just because someone suffers from schizophrenia, does not necessarily mean someone is insane.  The defendant failed to carry his burden.

Judge Ohta rules.  The court “finds the defendant was legally sane. ... Next step is sentencing.”

Judge Ohta states he’s not thought about sentencing and is not prepared to go forward with it at this time.  He asks for recommendations from counsel, and tells them that sentencing does not need to occur immediately.

(At some point that I miss, the court goes off the record to discuss possible sentencing options.)

DDA Carney throws out the possibility of the prosecution recommending to the prison board, psychiatric care in the State Hospital.

Judge Ohta states he is willing to entertain any and all recommendations.  Carney states he will submit a recommendation.  The defense attorney states she would like a hearing.  In county, the defendant is only receiving medication.  Not really any type of treatment.  She also informs the court that there are not outside mental health facilities that will take someone convicted of arson.  The defendant has quite a bit of credit.  He’s been in custody since April 2011.

Judge Ohta states the court is allowed to make a recommendation to the State Hospital, but he would not be able to stay once they are no longer able to help him.  The determination is ultimately made by the Board of Prison.  There is nothing Judge Ohta can do to compel the Board of Prison’s to follow his recommendation.

(I believe I remember someone saying, that those sent to the State Hospital are those who were found not-guilty by reason of insanity. There is no guarantee that this defendant will go to the State Hospital, even if the court recommends it.)

The defense attorney replies, “Call me a skeptic...”

Judge Ohta replies that he’s not aware of the public perception...”  He then asks about conservatorship.

DDA Carney replies that he will have to consult with his colleagues. He’s not familiar with (Doyle?) conservatorship, but he is with Murphy.

I believe the defense attorney informs the court, that the parents are very involved (in their son’s welfare) and reside in Sacramento.  The crimes occurred when the defendant had a mental break and ran away from home.  At the time he was under some type of treatment.  They are here in court today.  I see the defendant turn around to look in the gallery.  Seeing his parents, he smiles and waves at them.

Judge Ohta states that the defendant did enter a plea under (I think I have that right).  The sentence can’t be suspended (for?) probation granted.  Judge Ohta addresses counsel. If the two of you are able to agree ... possibly vacate some of the charges ...  I wasn’t born yesterday. I can see what the problems are.  ... I could do low ball on all the charges and he’d be done but then there is no supervision.”

DDA Carney steps in and offers another idea.  Judge Ohta states his hands are tied.  I believe it’s Judge Ohta who states that he doesn’t see it as a person that is going to be a problem in the future.  Judge Ohta states he waxes on what happens and try to figure out what’s best.

The parties discuss other options.   Judge Ohta then addresses counsel.  “Why don’t the two of you talk. ... If you want to involve me ...”

Carney tells the court, “I have a little bit more concern than the court has. ...some history of serial fire setting and conduct as a juvenile.”

Judge Ohta responds, I’m not unaware. There are people that cause huge monumental property (damage?) and loss of life.  ... I’m not one to do something out of fear ... (or) ... just on the possibility something might happen.”

Carney agrees to put the matter over for three to four weeks. He feels it is appropriate to explore these possibilities.  I believe the defense asks the court if they would like to hear from the parents again.

Judge Ohta responds, “The possibility of future crimes is always a possibility, and if there’s any info to possibly reduce that ...”

After all this off the record discussion, the court goes back on the record. The next court date is set for May 2nd and the calendar set at zero of 30 for sentencing.

DDA Carney tells the court that his upper management, Pat Dixon, is set to retire on the 29th.  He asks if they can wait.  DDA Dixon was the one (who made the decision) to go forward with this case.  Carney states he thought the court was very fair to both sides.  Carney doesn’t know who will step into Pat Dixon’s position.  Carney states he kind of predicted this result but knows that he wanted to help him (the defendant).  Carney states he has to look out for public safety.

I believe Carney also mentions that the crime of arson is outside the AB 109 realignment, and the defendant can’t get into the County system.

That’s it for this case.  The mainstream media leaves, Carney takes off and it's just me and DDA Paul Nunez in the gallery.

Michael Gargiulo
The Gargiulo case is heard next.  DDA Paul Nunez decides to stay for Gargiulo’s case.  I believe he’s waiting for Akemon so they can have coffee together.

When Gargiulo is brought out, I could swear his black fluffy mustache is even bigger than last week. It's a sharp contrast against his overly white skin. Mr. Filipiak is not here today.

Gargiulo filed a couple of documents and the prosecution filed an informal request for discovery.  Gargiulo filed an informal request for several items.

Someone, (Akemon? Gargiulo?) states there’s no need for the court to act on (them?) at this point.

Judge Ohta asks, “Where are we as to your position?  Gargiulo tells the court, “I’m in a situation where witness information is inaccurate and outdated.  ... So, not sure what they have worked out.  ... I’m missing 10,000 pages because the jail (is) in lockdown. ... haven’t had a chance to get investigator...”

Judge Ohta asks the prosecution, “Are you aware of issues regarding addresses?”  DDA Akemon states he’s not aware.  Akemon tells the court, “There are over 500 witness on the list and he updated that information from the file and law enforcement database. ... (I’ve) provide the best info we have. ... If (there are) any issues, Mr. Filipiak will be in contact with me.”

I believe Akemon informs the court that Mr. Filipiak is out of town. Akemon states he has a box (of discovery) for Gargiulo, about three to four thousand pages. These are cleaner copies of what the prosecution has provided in the past.  Akemon tells the court that Mr. Filipiak will be back in town next Thursday and he will come into his office and make arrangements to receive the materials.

Judge Ohta asks the parties when they would like to continue this matter.

Gargiulo tells the court this is his second informal request for obtain that information.

DDA Akemon tells the court, “There is an open case in Downey.  Mr. Gargiulo has been identified...” as a potential suspect.  I believe Akemon tells the court that another individual is also a suspect. It’s an open investigation.  “Mr. Gargiulo is not entitled to that discovery.”

Akemon tells the court that he obtained copies of the transcripts of all the court proceedings, which he has, that Gargiulo was looking for.  He’s made a courtesy copy of those transcripts and he will provide them to the defendant.

Gargiulo responds, “I’m very thankful for that.”

Akemon tells the court, the victim in the other case is Maria Rodriquez (sp?).  It’s a separate case. Mr. Gargiulo and other other person has been identified, but Mr. Gargiulo has not been charged.  The case is being investigated by Downey.  “...but no intent to file a charge in this case.”

Judge Ohta asks about discovery.  Akemon responds, “I think we are very close to 24,000 pages. The DA’s office is “still analyzing Mr. Gargiulo’s computers”  They are waiting for a report on that.  There is more investigation on other forensics that will be finished in another month or two.  Akemon continues, “... should be able to turn over all our discovery... by ... turned over in next two to three months. ... At this point, Mr. Gargiulo has 90 to 95% of discovery at this point.”

Gargiulo then tells the court that he issued subpoena’s for various law enforcement (manuals?) for a specific date (April 25th).  Judge Ohta informs Gargiulo that he is not in court that week.  The subpoena’s are regarding different police procedure manuals.  (And possibly for handwritten notes.)

DDA Akemon informs the court he’s not aware of any handwritten notes. I think it’s Akemon who tells the court he’d like to be heard (motion) on that issue.

Judge Ohta asks the defendant if he used the courts boiler plate forms (for the subpoena’s) and did he launch them with the court of simply issue them. I believe Judge Ohta asks if he has spoken to his investigator about the items.  I believe Gargiulo answers “No.”  Judge Ohta tells the defendant that he’s allowed to use subpoena duces. “Just because you use the subpoena power of the court, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. ... (It) makes sense to talk to Mr. Akemon first.” 

Judge Ohta explains to the defendant that they can either send documents to the court, appear and present the documents in person, or send someone to squash the subpoena.  Judge Ohta further describes the steps the defendant can take.

DDA Akemon asks to see the subpoenas.  “Looks like these three have been issued by Mr. Filipiak and I can work out with him...”

Apparently, Gargiulo is requesting procedural manuals from the Sheriff’s Department, and law enforcement radio communications in relation to the murder of Maria Bruno.  I believe he’s also asking for the jail procedures and policies.

I believe it’s Akemon who states he will get together with Mr. Filipiak. He will make a note of what Gargiulo is requesting and see if these are things he can have under 1054.  Akemon tells the court, “I don’t want there to be any discovery issues.  ... I would like to resolve (this).”

Judge Ohta asks the defendant, “Would you like to withdrawal (the subopenas)?”  Gargiulo replies, “That seems very fair. ... And see how...”

It’s agreed that the subpoena’s and Gargiulo don’t need to be brought out on the 25th.    The next court date, April 26th is set.  Akemon believes that’s enough time to resolve the discovery issues.  Judge Ohta sets the court calendar on that date as zero of 90.

And that’s it.  Akemon and Nunez head off for coffee and I head back to the Red Line train. The April 26th date will be decision time for me since the next Cameron Brown hearing is at the same time in Dept. 107.

Next hearing is April 26, 2013