Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus, Part VIII

 Vanity Fair July 2012 cover  (Photo credit: Vanity

Complete Series on Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Article HERE.

Continued from Part VII...

All news organizations occasionally make mistakes. T&T is no exception. When readers notify me I’ve made a factual error, I apologize and correct it. I consider it my responsibility to report as accurately and transparently as possible. I believe this policy enhances my credibility as a journalist.

In September, Poynter called Mark Bowden “one of the best narrative non-fiction writers working today.”  Vanity Fair is a widely read media outlet with a reputation for publishing serious journalism.

It’s a mystery to me why Vanity Fair has not fully acknowledged the extent of the problems with Mark Bowden’s article on the Stephanie Lazarus case.  At this point, a year into this series, Vanity Fair cannot plead ignorance.

Since Cullen Murphy, Mr. Bowden’s editor, and Mr. Bowden were  both unwilling to answer my questions on the record, there was only one person left at Vanity Fair to contact.  On June 2nd,  I emailed Beth Kseniak, Vanity Fair’s Executive Director of Public Relations:

Dear Ms. Kseniak,

If you remember, we corresponded last October.  Thank you again for forwarding those questions to Cullen Murphy.  I now have some questions for Graydon Carter.  Could you please forward the following email to Mr. Carter.

Thank you very much.


Betsy A. Ross
Founder & Owner, Trials & Tribulations

Dear Mr. Carter,

I’m writing you in your capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Vanity Fair magazine. I’m a journalist with a small true crime website, Trials & Tribulations, that reports on homicide trials in Los Angeles.  I have some questions and hope you will answer them for my readers.

I am writing you about an article by Mark Bowden that was published in your magazine in July 2012. The article was about the murder of Sherri Rasmussen, a case that I covered extensively. Last year a former LAPD detective, Stephanie Lazarus, was convicted of Sherri’s murder.

When I first read Mr. Bowden’s article, numerous factual errors caught my attention. I asked some questions of Vanity Fair in what became a series of posts between June and August 2012. Vanity Fair never responded.  I did not learn the name of Mr. Bowden’s editor, Cullen Murphy, until I was contacted by Poynter for a story that ran on September 28th. Around that time, Vanity Fair corrected a few of the factual errors I had pointed out in June, but not all of them. The corrections appeared only on Vanity Fair’s website and not in the print magazine.  Some of the quotes attributed to Mr. Murphy in the Poynter story were puzzling to me.

I contacted Mr. Murphy three times via email in October. He did not answer my questions on the record. 

Later that month I obtained Mr. Bowden’s email address. Between late October and mid-November, I emailed Bowden three times. He never responded.

Shortly after, I was on the website of my favorite local bookstore, Vroman’s, in Pasadena. I read that Mr. Bowden was scheduled to appear there on his book tour for The Finish. 

I went to Vroman’s on November 17th. I purchased Mr. Bowden’s book and listened to his remarks.  Afterwards, I stood in line to get my book signed. I introduced myself to Mr. Bowden. Mr. Bowden acknowledged that he had received my emails, but he declined to answer questions about his Vanity Fair article. (He did however sign my book.)  I emailed Mr. Bowden one more time after the book signing. He never responded.

Mr. Bowden said at Vroman’s, “I found over and over again in my career, that the story -- if I told a story well enough -- that it is remembered. And that it enters our popular memory. It becomes a piece of history.”

Mr. Carter, here are my questions:

Why have Mark Bowden and Vanity Fair refused to answer questions on the record?   Who at Vanity Fair will answer questions about Mr. Bowden’s article? 

How did so many factual errors make it into print?  What fact checking did Vanity Fair do before publishing Mr. Bowden’s article on the Rasmussen murder?

Why has Vanity Fair not run a print correction?   When does it plan to do so?

Thank you very much for your time.  I will publish in full any response you send me. I hope to hear from you soon.


Betsy A. Ross
Founder & Owner, Trials & Tribulations

Ms. Kseniak wrote back four days later, on June 6th:
Dear Betsy:

We feel that Cullen Murphy addressed your questions in his email to you.  We have also made the corresponding corrections to the online article (where people will be reading it), and appended a paragraph to the article, which details every correction.

All best,


I replied on June 10th:

Dear Ms. Kseniak,

Thank you for your response.

I believe you are referring to Mr. Murphy’s email to me from last October.  I honored his request to keep that email off the record.  Although you say it answered all my questions, I respectfully disagree. 

Some of the questions Mr. Murphy did not answer were about his initial statement to Poynter. This is the same statement Mr. Murphy later admitted to Poynter was an inadvertent “red herring.”  Mr. Murphy’s red herring remains the most detailed explanation that Vanity Fair has offered publicly about the accuracy of Mr. Bowden’s article.

Vanity Fair’s silence suggests the magazine is more concerned about protecting Mr. Bowden’s reputation than setting the record straight.  Given Mr. Bowden and Vanity Fair’s prominence, what the magazine publishes carries a great deal of weight.  It’s surprising to me that Mr. Carter, as editor in chief, wouldn’t be more concerned about the accuracy of Vanity Fair’s journalism.

It is true that Vanity Fair corrected a number of errors in the online edition, however, the correction was incomplete.  If Vanity’s Fair’s intent was to put the correction where people would read it, why not publish it in print?  Why is the online correction at the bottom of Mr. Bowden’s article, rather than the top?

I hope Mr. Carter will reconsider and respond to my questions. I hope to hear from him soon.

Thank you very much.

Betsy A. Ross
Founder & Owner, Trials & Tribulations

Ms. Kseniak responded on June 12th:
Dear Ms. Ross,

We feel that we have, to our satisfaction, set the record straight, and done so in such a way that will reach future readers of the story in the best fashion. We would note that the small errors that have been corrected had no bearing on the thrust of Mark Bowden's story. Further, one of our editors wrote to you privately, many months ago, to provide background on the reporting and fact-checking. We really don't have anything else to say on the matter.

All best,


I replied on June 17th:

Dear Ms. Kseniak,

Thank you for your response.

Twice, you have referred to Mr. Murphy’s private email to me, as if it sufficiently explained the mistakes in Mr. Bowden’s article. This puts me in a difficult position journalistically. Obviously, Mr. Bowden’s article for Vanity Fair was published on the record. Mr. Murphy’s comments to Poynter were also on the record, as were my questions to Mr. Murphy. Nevertheless, Mr. Murphy chose to respond privately. 

To be clear, Mr. Murphy’s email did not answer any of the questions I asked him about Mr. Bowden’s article. Mr. Murphy seemed more concerned about protecting Mr. Bowden’s reputation than the accuracy of Vanity Fair’s journalism.

I respectfully disagree with your claim that the errors were small and “had no bearing on the thrust of Mark Bowden’s story.”  Among the facts that Mr. Bowden got wrong were when Lazarus’s relationship with the victim’s husband ended, and whether Lazarus took her gun to the interview. This last error, which I pointed out almost a year ago, remains uncorrected online.

The online version of Mr. Bowden’s article still includes numerous inaccurate quotes by Lazarus and the detectives. The discrepancies are more extensive than Mr. Murphy acknowledged to Poynter, and Vanity Fair has admitted to its readers. Anyone who watches the video and compares it to Mr. Bowden’s article can see they don’t match.

Are Vanity Fair’s editorial standards this lax for all of its journalists, or just Mr. Bowden?

I realize I can’t force Mr. Carter to answer my questions. However, I hope he will reconsider.  As before, I promise to publish in full any response that Vanity Fair sends me.

Betsy A. Ross
Founder & Owner, Trials & Tribulations

That was two weeks ago. Mr. Bowden, Mr. Murphy, Ms. Kseniak and Mr. Carter all have my email address. I will update T&T readers if I hear from anyone at Vanity Fair.

To be continued....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Case Exhibits & Potential Cases to Follow

 Juliana Redding, dates unknown

UPDATE 7/1: spelling, clarity
Kelly Soo Park
This past Thursday I spent the entire day in the bowels of the downtown Criminal Justice Center with Lonce La Mon of  A week earlier, we made a joint formal request (in writing) to the court to photograph the exhibits in the Kelly Soo Park case.  All the exhibits for every completed case tried in the CJC are kept in a secure "exhibits room," two floors down from the main floor.  Trial exhibits are never destroyed; they are kept indefinitely.

Here's how the process works. Once the formal request is approved by the presiding judge, you make an appointment with the Exhibit Room staff to photograph the exhibits in a particular case.  The exhibit room is in a very secure area and under camera surveillance.  You need an escort to get to the lower floor via the freight elevators. The elevators only go to those floors with a key access.  There is a door with a key code entry and several other doors where you need to be buzzed in.  You have to show your signed court order by the judge, your request letter and also fill out a form with your name and other information.  You also need to show a form of ID, such as a driver's license.

The exhibit viewing area is a row of separate counters with comfortable chairs separated from the Exhibit Room Department by cage fencing.  The clerk staff will give you a print out list of all the exhibits so you can keep track.  The staff member will hand you three items at a time to photograph.  Once those items are returned, the clerk will hand you three more items to photograph.

 Not to scale diagram of Juliana Redding's apartment

I was able to photograph all the grand jury exhibits. I photographed almost all the trial exhibits. There were over 50 grand jury exhibits and about 120 trial and court exhibits. I took well over 300 photographs. Please understand that it will take some time to convert all these JPGS to PDF format and put them up on T&T's SCRIBD account. I have to say that the Court's Exhibit Room staff were super nice and helpful through the entire process.

Please be aware that, out of respect for the victim and her loved ones, I will not be uploading any exhibits that include images of the body of Juliana Redding.

Juliana Redding's living room
Detective Bambrick and other officers serve Park with
the search warrant for her fingerprints
Potential Cases to Follow
It looks like the Cameron Brown case will not go to trial until January of 2014.  It's unlikely that Gargiulo will get to trial anytime in 2014. It's not certain yet, but it's also possible that the Gerhard Becker case will not settle and will go to trial.  The Becker case would have to be transferred to a long cause courtroom and wait a turn on that Judge's calender.

So, I'm looking for a case that might be going to trial soon, and I'm looking for some feedback from T&T's readers.  I do not know how far along in the process most of these cases are.  Woodward is a relatively new case.

Jason Schumann, charged with murder in the death of a high-school soccer player.  Next court date August 5th in Van Nuys, Dept. S. This is DDA Beth Silverman's case.

Douglas Gordon Bradford charged with a cold case murder of a nurse in 1979. Next court date is July 12th in downtown LA, Dept. 103.

Joshua Woodward restaurant owner charged with the murder of his girlfriend's fetus. Next court date is July 15th in downtown LA, Dept. 30.

Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood charged in the Dodger Stadium attack of Brian Stow. Last court date June 28th. Next court date September 9th in Downtown LA Dept 107. (Doesn't look like that case is going to trial soon, either.)

There's also the case of Ka Pasasouk, who shot four people at a Northridge, CA illegal boarding house last December. This is DDA Daniel Akemon's case.

How do T&T readers feel about gang murder cases?  Usually, these cases are gang members killing rival gang members, so you often times do not have a sympathetic victim. I believe that DDA Garrett Dameron (co-counsel on the Gargiulo case) has a death penalty gang case that will go to trial in September.  I'm not remembering the name of the defendant at the moment, but there were four victims.  Two victims were other gang members and two victims were innocent business owners who were beaten to death in a robbery gone bad.

Do any of these cases sound interesting to T&T readers? Or, if there are any other Los Angeles murder cases that you are interested in, please drop us a line or leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gerhard Becker Case: Preliminary Hearing Part II

Gerhard Becker shortly after his arrest in February 2012 (ABC News)

Continued from Gerhard Becker Preliminary Hearing, Part I...

UPDATED 1/12/14: spelling of Captain Mulvehill's name
Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
9:33 AM
I’m in Dept. 42 on the third floor of the Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center.  Becker is seated in the last row of the gallery.  Detective Stearns is in the first row.  I smile at Becker who give a sort of forced smile back.  Detective Stearns glances back at me but has a neutral expression on his face.  Stearns is legendary for his stern expression inside a courtroom.

Judge Tynan’s court is currently handling hearings for individuals in treatment programs, or individuals who were in treatment programs who were rearrested using drugs and/or alcohol.  It's my understanding that Judge Tynan was the one who initiated the "drug court" programs in Los Angeles County.  He also started a women's program.

10:35 AM 
Becker’s defense attorney Donald Re arrives.  Re takes a seat in the jury box. He’s reviewing a file. 

A defendant is brought out. It’s a Latino woman in a lime green jumpsuit.  Judge Tynan takes the bench. The defendant pleads to her mother.  Judge Tynan addresses the defendant, “Do you think it will make your father feel better to stay in jail?”  (I've only been in Judge Tynan's courtroom for one day and I already love him as a judge.)

The AP reporter arrives along with City News reporter Terri Keith.  DDA Frances Young is here. She’s wearing a gorgeous purple jacket over a black scoop neck blouse and a three strand pearl necklace.  I already love Young’s sense of style.  She always looks sharp, sophisticated and feminine, all at the same time.

Judge Tynan asks the defendant something to the effect of, Are you going to do the right thing or are you going to do what you usually do?

The defendant makes her decision. “I’ll take the time.” She’s going to do what she usually does, and stay in jail for almost another year and not cooperate with authorities.

10:52 AM
Judge Tynan’s calendar clears and the Becker prelim is back on the record.  The press gets to sit in the jury box again.  Again, it gives a very intimate feeling to the court process.

Tynan addresses Captain Watters, “Ready to take the stand?”  Watters’s replies, “Yes sir.”  Judge Tynan tells the witness, “You don’t have to call me sir. I was an enlisted man.”

Captain Watters continues with his testimony from the day before.  He's still under direct examination.

When they opened up the ceiling, they had a visible fire on the outside of the house, but also visible fire on the inside of the house. Watters told (him? someone?) they were not getting it with the water hoses, the main body, ‘seat’ of the fire.  Watters indicated that they needed to pull more ceiling.

Watters was inside the structure.  Judge Tynan asks about a word Watters used “seat” of the fire.  The seat of the fire was on that first light that burned out.  The thermal imaging camera was directed at the ceiling and he saw fire.  Watters was unaware there was a ‘void’ space in the ceiling.  And, there was a twenty-four-inch space behind the wall on the ‘D’ wall.  A wall behind the wall.

Once they opened up the wall to the void space, they made progress on the fire.  Watters said he had never seen that before in construction.  There was a void space behind the origin, starting point of the fire. Once firefighters go into that void space and applied water (opened up the hose) they started to get a handle on the fire.

The equipment and gear a firefighter carries is about fifty pounds.

After they got that fire under control, they used the thermal imaging and started looking for hot spots.  They started pulling down ceiling in other areas. He and his crew (two other firefighters), saw a flicker on the D wall, 10 to 15 minutes later.

People’s exhibit 8, photo of glass door on C-D corner.

Watters describes who was on the scene.  A paramedic, a battalion chief, firefighters from Ladder 7.  Engines 7, 97, 41, were working on the fire near the fireplace wall.  Captain [Kevin] Mulvehill, 97, was over at the stairwell.

People’s 5, photo of firefighters taking down the ceiling drywall with hooks.

They could see perfectly well through the house.  There wasn’t enough smoke in the structure to darken his face piece.  After they got inside the void space, saw smoke come out of a sprinkler head.

All at once, inside the door frame, facing south, BANG!  Captain Watters is down, lying down on his back facing east.  He sees fire above his head. It took Captain Watters a few seconds to realize he was buried under a bunch of material. He couldn’t move.  He tried to reach his arm up.  There was a beam across his face.  He was lying between two joists.  “I couldn’t move. ... I was completely immobilized.”  Watters tried to reach his emergency beacon.  He was calling for firefighter ‘Chad.’ There was an eerie silence in the house. “I didn’t hear chain saws. Nothing.” Watters wondered why he (Chad) wasn’t coming. He continued to tell himself not to panic and remain calm.

Chad walked up. “Man... his eyes were like saucers. ... He was standing on my chest. ... "Get this off me! ... I’m pretty strong,”  (I can lift 260.) Watters continues.

Judge Tynan interrupts Watters testimony. “Are we talking bench press?  We need to be accurate here.”  The figure 315lbs is mentioned for a dead lift.

Chad hit the emergency beacon. Chad and (Sittoway?) started to lift boards off of Watters.

Defense attorney Re objects.  “I’m sorry he’s gone through this, but I don’t see how this is related to charges.” Judge Tynan replies, “Over ruled!”

I believe it's DDA Carney who responds, “We can probably condense it.”

Three people lifted the wall and got the beams off of him.  His ankle was dislocated and he broke a tibia bone in his leg. He had surgery. He has a metal plate in his ankle and leg.

People’s exhibit 6, photo of the massive destruction that happened from the fire showing the collapse of walls, the ceiling.

Re starts off by saying, “First, glad you’re okay. ... Describe the area in the attic.”

It’s a space between the interior ceiling and the roof.  There was a two pronged attack.  People on the roof were cutting away to get rid of heat and locate fire.  “There was no water used on the roof of the fire. ... It’s not how we fight fire in LA.”

Judge Tynan asks, “I’m curious. Why is that?”  Watters responds, "It would be pushing heat back into the structure and back onto firefighters."

“The only communications I listened to ... (was) when I was in the hospital. ... Guys (firefighters) brought me an audio on YouTube. ... They said, listen to this.” ... “Only going to hear Captain on the roof, Battalion chief and I.”

Re asks about (water?) pressure.  The hill hydrant is (?) 300 lbs.  That hydrant is connected to the fire engine and the fire engine to hose.  The fire engine can get rid of that pressure.

D Re: Did any hose go up to the roof?
CW: I’m not sure.
D Re: Half of the attack on the roof and half on (the? underside?)?
CW: Yes.
D Re: There was a little bit of failure communicating?
CW: I wouldn’t say that.
D Re: There was some disconnect going between the group on the roof and the (truck?)?
CW: I don’t think so.
D Re: Did you hear anything about requests for more people?
CW: I’m not sure.  ... There could be.

Witness doesn’t know anything about other requests for more firefighters and another (engine?). A question about a stranger who took film.  A question about water streaming down walls.

CW: The only water I’m aware (of) was water they sprayed inside the house. 

The opened a small hose onto ....

D Re: You didn’t see water coming down a wall near the door?
(miss answer)

Re asks about the probing tool to take down the ceiling.  It takes more effort to pull down the ceiling when the poles are shorter.

Re: How long is the longer pole .. (14 ft?)?
CW: How long? I’m not sure.
Re asks about firefighters punching the ceiling and getting weary.
CW: Yes. (You?) can get tired. Very demanding operation.

Question about pulling a joist.
CW: You’re not going to pull it.
D Re: Isn’t it a fact that they didn’t get the normal type of debris? ... Are you aware of other (stus? Stuff?) where they were not getting down the normal debris?

Cross ends and Carney performs redirect.

I believe Judge Tynan asks Carney in a joking manner, “Do you feel Ms. Young is not up to the task?

We have to interrupt the prelim for a hearing in another matter.  Becker momentarily takes a seat in the gallery. Judge Tynan addresses a defendant before him. “Have a seat in the Richard Ramirez Memorial Chair.” The other hearing is quickly over and we go back to the prelim.

Carney asks the witness to describe the “seat of the fire.” 
SC: Is the seat of the fire something that can change?
CW: Yes.
SC: Or (direct?) it’s natural course?
CW: Yes.
SC: Can you determine how a fire is moving?
CW: Fire was moving south and moving east. ... (It) then moved across from west to east in the glass. ... Fire was along the wall, south, moving west to east.
SC: Towards the glass doors on the outside on the balcony?
CW: Correct.

Question about the imaging camera.
CW: It shows a temperature reading (or a red image). ... It will give you a different shade of gray as it gets hotter it gets white.  ... It’s also used to find (people) when someone’s down.

Question about venting a structure. First, open an exploratory hole, then open larger holes.  The hole can draw fire toward it. To control a fire, draw it towards an oxygen source.

A fire engine will step down the pressure from a fire hydrant.  They have the ability to alleviate pressure from a fire hydrant. Some older (engines?) don’t have the ability to do that. (They) use a pressure relief valve.  There is coordination between the hose puller and the hose holder.  It’s standard procedure not to direct water down inside a house.  If a hose is used on the roof of a house, it will depend on the way the wind is blowing.  If they do, it’s used to create a mist.  They would use a 1-inch hose line.  It’s one of the lighter hoses he would use.

Counsel and the court discuss the available schedule for the rest of the week and next week. Friday afternoon court is closed.    Tomorrow afternoon looks to be the next date, then return on Monday.  And that’s it for the morning session.

1:30 PM

Back inside Judge Tynan’s courtroom.  Detective Stearns sits in the extra chairs in the well.  A gentleman brings Stearns an evidence envelope package.  DDA Carney goes over documents with his next witness.  Yesterday, when Judge Tynan asked counsel, “So it’s Carney and Young?” I believe DDA Frances Young replied, “I prefer to think of it as the other way around.”

It’s obvious from the conversations I overhear that the staff in Dept. 42 really like working with Judge Tynan.  The AP reporter returns.

Works for the City of Los Angeles in the Dept. of Building & Safety for 12 years.  He’s a building mechanical inspector. He is assigned a specific area, Hollywood Hills above the Sunset Strip.

From 2009 to 2011 he reviewed the construction of the home. He performs 12-15 inspections a day for the last 12 years.  He works 250 days a year.  As part of his training he is familiar with the Building and Safety Code.  International building codes are mentioned. He had departmental in-house training through all different trades.  The State adopts the building code then the city adopts that code. I believe the witness states that the International Standard of Building Codes is used.

He became involved in the inspection of this house from the very beginning of construction.  Bescos discusses the process to build a home. Explains how a builder uses an online system to set up an appointment for an inspection.  Within 24 hours, someone responds to that request. That gives the customer a date of inspection. The customer is given a two hour window on that date when the inspector will arrive.

He was the primary inspector on this build.  There is a different (hillside?) grading inspector and a fire sprinkler inspector. I believe he states that he covers electrical, plumbing, HVAC and building.  The home was 12,000 sq ft and three stories. Two stories were below street level and one story at street level.

People’s exhibit #4, view of the house.  The middle and bottom floors were constructed of concrete and rebar. The top floor was steel and wood frame.  He started the inspection. The construction started with friction piles.  Describes how the lower floors were constructed and a rebar cage.

Judge Tynan asks about the building structure. The main piles that supported the structure in the hillside are discussed.  Re objects to the line of questioning.

Early in the construction, Bescos was in the general area of the home when he stopped by the property and found that a Deputy Inspector was not present on one day of pouring the piles.  He stopped construction on that date.

For a concrete pour that is greater than 2500 to 3000 PSI, a Deputy Inspector that is licensed by the City of Los Angeles must be present. The builder/homeowner must pay for that deputy inspector to be on site during the pour. The Deputy Inspector who was supposed to be present was Mike Rosenthal, or his company sent someone out.  Bescos was driving down Sunset and saw the concrete.  Deputy Inspector required to (phone in ahead of time?).  When Bescos stopped at the job site there was no Deputy Inspector.

Re: Objection! Relevance!
(I believe the objection is over ruled.)

Bescos believes this was the only surprise inspection he did on this property.  He shut down the job site at some consequence to the owner.  Witness identifies the defendant. The crew stopped working and he sent the cement trucks away.  Bescos doesn’t know if it cost the defendant.  There was one truck unloading and one truck waiting to load.  Describes the load of cement per truck. 

Bescos spoke to Mr. Becker that day.  Becker then came into the Dept’s offices.  Special testing had to be done to ensure the samples met specifications.  Bescos dealt primarily with Mr. Becker.  This was not a scheduled inspection. He not normally conduct surprise inspections. To his knowledge, this was the only surprise inspection.

The construction proceeded from bottom to top.  The floors were finished in that order. The final certification of occupancy was issued in February 2011.  Witness agrees that February 13th, 2011 sounds about right.

Bescos is not certain how many times he visited the job site.  He visited approximately once a week and that varied throughout the construction process.  He believes Mr. Becker was the owner and the architect. Plans were submitted. A copy of the plans was kept on site, on the property.  I believe he states that is the builder/owner’s responsibility. 

Bescos states you can be an owner/builder. You don’t have to be an architect. In California, you have to have an architect or civil engineer stamp the plans.  I believe the witness states that (Keeter Alberi?) structural engineers stamped the plans.  That only covers the structural element. They would not approve appliances, fireplaces.

Bescos was at the site the morning of the next day after the fire. The next time he went was with the police department; he’s not sure of the date.  He went to determine if there were areas in violation.

People’s exhibit 35, one of the pages of the building plans.  It’s the main floor. Bescos circled the fireplace on the plans for a UL approved gas appliance.  There were no other indications of fireplaces on the plans.  In August, the summer of 2010, he had a conversation with Becker about fireplace plans. Bescos testifies, "He told me he wasn’t going to install it."

They joked that it was a requirement up here in the Hollywood Hills and he circled the fireplace on the plans.  The nature of the jest was, most homes have multiple fireplaces.  To Besco’s knowledge, based on the building plans there and conversations with Becker there were no plans to have a fireplace.

Besco describes what “UL” testing certification is. “CSA” testing is also accepted.

Besco was called by a deputy (?) about the fire. His answer was, there was no fireplace, because he remembered that there was no fireplace in the building. Judge Tynan asks the witness if he ever saw a fireplace in the house.

November 2010 was the last time he was in the house.  To issue a certification of occupancy, he had to get the grading, fire sprinklers and building and safety to sign off.  So his job was done. He was waiting for other inspectors to sign off.  When he asked about the fireplace, in August, they were constructing drywall, framing and electrical. He does not remember when the top floor was poured. 

His inspection notes are reviewed. It's a computer print out of inspections under that permit number.  There are questions about how his notes are generated.  Bescos states, “At each job I type in what I did, what got approved and what didn’t.” In reviewing the reports, July 16th, the middle floor..  His notes are made at the end of the day or the next morning. The department relies on the notes as a record of what happened as far as inspection.  His notes are uploaded from his laptop to the department’s main frame.

In the well of the court, Detective Stearns is very sad looking at the moment. His right elbow is resting on the arm of the chair and his hand is over his mouth.

SC: How many times (were you) out to the home between the first floor concrete was poured and the last, final inspection?
BB: Four or five.

Other inspectors who went to the home are reviewed. On November 30th, there are numerous entries on the report. There is a computer glitch in the program, so the  department employees tend not to say partial approval until the final approval.

September 30th, final approval on plumbing and HVAC. On July 30th, there was an inspection.  Approved partial wood framing Gave the okay to wrap the outside of the house. Other dates in July were to pour a floor and framing. Some of the exterior was redwood siding.  At no time during the inspection did he see a fireplace. But he did see them installed after the fire.

People’s exhibit 12, large, 15 foot fireplace built into the wall.  The fireplace was made out of two by fours and drywall. Venting was via an appliance vent.  If Bescos had seen this at any time, it would have been a significant violation.  First, it was a non-tested appliance built on site. It would have needed a plan check. Second, there is no separation of the wood from the flame. Venting to take out carbon monoxide not to code. The wiring was concealed and not to code.  All of it was wood frame, like a building for a house.

The distance between the valve box and the wood was a couple of inches. The top of the alcove the fireplace was recessed into was a flat drywall surface. The venting used behind the drywall was not the proper type venting. Bescos doesn’t know if the ventilation would be adequate. It’s not in compliance with code.  Bescos lists the numerous non-compliance issues with the venting.

The wiring. An extension cord was hidden in the wall. Not everything was grounded. Vents were connected in an improper manner. Some vents were backwards and of mixed use type. Bescos believes there were three other fire places installed in the home.

People’s exhibit 22, a bathroom with a small fireplace built into a wall next to a triangle bathtub.  This fireplace was constructed in the same way as the 15 foot fireplace in the main room of the home. He looked in the wall behind...

D Re: Objection! Irrelevant!
(S.C.) I think your honor will see that there is a pattern throughout the house to show course of conduct.
JT: Over ruled!

There were extension cords concealed in the wall. Outlets laid on top of bare wood. Combustibles next to a valve box. Venting not to code. The next photo is the large living room fireplace.

Bescos was present (when the walls were opened?).  Saw the same thing with other fireplaces installed in the residence. Extension cords concealed in walls. Evidence of scorching. Drywall was affixed to wood.

New photo of lowest floor, and another fireplace.  The vent for this fireplace was in a concealed space and vented back into the room. The vent pipe was a single 4” pipe.  It was a double walled vent, allowed to be concealed. Opened up the backside of the fireplace. The carbon monoxide vented back into the bedroom.  Again, there was scorching around the firebox in this equipment, similar to what he had seen in the other fireplaces.

People’s exhibit 31.  The way they cut the extension cord and taped it together is a violation.

Back to the 15 foot fire trough/pit. The valve box, on it, it says, ‘six inches to combustibles.’  Above the box, he saw scorching. The drywall had been burnt through and the wood charred.

Judge Tynan then addresses the room, referring to his court reporter.  “I’m getting dirty looks. ... Take a break.”  The court reporter responds, “I’m not giving dirty looks!”  Judge Tynan is playfully insistent.  “I can tell when you’re giving me a dirty look. ... Even when you’re looking down.”

The afternoon break is called. 

My notes are not clear here, but I remember the conversation.  There is a discussion about ‘pergola’ and a photo of a pergola that was described yesterday. Judge Tynan states that his wife knew what it was. The court reporter told Judge Tynan, “I described it to you yesterday.”

Back on the record.
The 15 foot fire trough/pit. Bescos produced a report as to that particular appliance.  There were violations...

D Re: Objection!

I believe Carney responds that the standard here is gross negligence. I believe it’s Re who states, “I’m at a loss to determine what type of expert...”

DDA Carney asks several questions of the witness to establish a foundation for the witness to give the opinion. Bescos was a general contractor for 20 years. He built single family homes, and new homes from scratch.

JT: I’m inclined to let this in. ... 10-20 years as a contractor, ...seems he has a good working knowledge.

The testimony goes to the weight and not admissibility.

Bescos would describe the violations as “grave.”  They are not trivial violations, and he would take them very seriously.  After the violations were noticed, he wrote an order to comply with code standards.  The fireplace on the main floor was changed when the house was rebuilt/repaired.  Photos of the new fireplace are shown.  The approved, newly installed appliance was $30,000.00, verses the original cost of the 15 ft trough of $3,450.00.

Re argues that what Becker did after the fire is irrelevant. Judge Tynan disagrees.  After Becker obtained the permits a new fireplace was approved. Sometime after the fire, all of the prior installed fireplaces were removed and only one fireplace was approved.  A new photo.

I believe it’s Carney who asks, ‘May I approach the witness?’ I believe it’s Judge Tynan who states, “Some judges take that very seriously, but then they weren’t appointed by Jerry Brown.”  (Judge Tynan was appointed by Governor Brown back in 1981.)

The new fireplace came with a testing labs certification and instructions. Bescos is familiar with this type of fireplace. It’s constructed of non-combustible materials, and designed to vent outside the house.  It has a double walled vent, hood and sealed front.  California does not allow an open fireplace.  It must have a glass door or front.  There was a blower that aided ventilation.

Bescos is familiar with a bio-fuel fireplace.  It’s a gel of ethanol that’s lit in a metal fixture with a flame until the gel runs out.  A gel fireplace only has a European union approval.

Bescos goes over more violations in his report. Becker failed to acquire certain permits and approval.  Bescos found things in the house changed after his inspection.

Re: Objection! Relevance.
I believe Carney responds that it’s relevant to the defendant’s state of mind to disregard them.
JT: Objection over ruled. His attitude to building codes is something the prosecution has a right (to explore).

The stairway going downstairs to the lower floors, the railing was removed.  Fire sprinklers were removed. The maid’s quarters had a kitchen when prior, during inspection, it only had a bar.  A doorway was removed.  Bescos outlines the requirements for stairways and railings. A specific wall is required over 30.”  After post inspection the wall was removed.  The fire department requires sprinklers under decks. They were removed. During construction, Becker forgot to put them inside the cement decks. He didn’t like them on wood decking.  Regarding the removed door. It there’s no doorway, it’s considered to be a rec-room and occupancy numbers are different.

A door was removed and then walled up. You had to go out on the deck to enter the room.  A pool alarm on the deck was needed to protect access.  Post fire, there were no door alarms or pool alarms. 

In Bescos discussions with Becker, he seemed to be knowledgeable of building codes. In a discussion with Becker about venting, Becker got information from ‘code check.’  To Bescos, it seemed Becker was resistant to building codes.   When Becker built homes in Germany, he was totally in charge of those projects.  Becker was “acting as the architect.”  In the conversations Bescos had with Becker, he wasn’t used to having a building inspector check is work.

Bescos told Becker they didn’t care about the architect, they only care about the engineer, because he’s the one who signs off on the project.  He saw Becker with a code check book.  November 30th (2010) was the last time he walked through the house. 

Detective Stearns leans in and says something to Carney.

Police or firefighters removed a wall behind the fireplace. And this is the same room where the door was removed.  Inside, a wall had been finished and painted. It looked like the fireplace had been installed over that finished wall.

Direct is finished.

There is a brief discussion as to Judge Tynan’s regular calendar tomorrow and when they might pick up the preliminary hearing again.

Cross Examination
Bescos states he would visit 14-15 houses a day. The inspections would be about 20 minutes per job.  Questions about his job responsibilities.

There were areas where Bescos told Becker to change things and he did.  Bescos believes he talked to Becker on the day he stopped construction over the concrete pour.

Bescos’s feels the interim inspections are more important than the final inspection. This is before various things are covered up. Bescos’s doesn’t remember telling the deputy district attorney the final inspection is “no big deal.”

Re: Did you tell the DA home inspection is “no big deal?”
BB: It’s not a Macy’s.
Re: ... The residential building code ... is based on .. .what’s required for (electrical?) commercial buildings?
BB: I do not ever remember saying that.
Re: Did you ever tell the DA, you told homeowners there are occasions where you tell homeowners to keep things up to code, until after the inspection?
BB: I don’t remember ever telling anyone (that) advice.
Re: There are times you’ve taken, kept hand written notes?
BB: (I) do that in (the) file, ... at the next location. ...written on paper, sometimes on back of permit.

At some point those notes are put into the computer program. He’s never tried to change computer records. The program used is PCIS. He can correct before he closes the program, but he’s never tried afterwards.

Re: Did you have a conversation with Becker about no fireplaces on October?
BB: I believe it was earlier, in August.
Re: Did you make any notes, anywhere, that Mr. Becker was not going to install a fireplace ... (that) was after the fire?
BB: Yes.

Defense Exhibit A.  Photograph of the living room area where the 15’ “trough” would be installed.  The photo is the raw framing. At the bottom, there is a yellow flexible line visible.  Bescos describes the photo is before drywall has been put up and that the yellow line is a gas line.  The gas line came into the house from the street on the north side into the kitchen area.  Bescos states he never saw that yellow gas pipeline sticking out of the floor until after the fire.

To be continued in Gerhard Becker Preliminary Hearing, Part III...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

KELLY SOO PARK TRIAL SYNOPSIS, Part II: Prosecution Witnesses 22-25; All Defense Witnesses

This section has the last of the witnesses that testified in the Park trial. Sprocket.
NOTE: 13 new documents, prosecution and defense motions have been added to the Kelly Soo Park Quick Links Page, under the 'DOCUMENTS' heading. Sprocket

Continued from Prosecution Witnesses 19-21...


From 206-2010 she was a real estate agent. She knew the defendant through business dealings. She was also working with Munir Uwaydah. She worked with Uwaydah since 2004. Worked with Park on behalf of Uwaydah since 2006.

Question about her work with Uwaydah.

She spoke with Park on the phone and received documents from her. She also received emails from Park. Witness was working as Uwaydah’s real estate agent. Park was working as his mortgage broker.


2009-2010  Manager, Ventura County Business Bank. He was introduced to Park from a business man, Martian Chung (sp?) Chung introduced him to a number of people, including Park and Uwaydah. Approximately May 2009 through 2010, he met with the defendant 25 times or more. Park was with Uwaydah on some of those occasions. Met with them together about ten times. He was aware the defendant had been arrested. Did no speak to her again after her arrest.



Identifies People’s 101.  This is an evidence envelope, relating to the fingerprint card.  The fingerprint was recovered on March 17th, 2005. She did write on the back of it. She wrote on the back J1/LT 25291012.

She describes a diagram on the back of the card. It's a circle on the back of that card, and within that circle another circle and an X.

That would be a sketch of the item that the print was lifted from. And where the lift was taken from, from that item. (Big circle, little circle within, and an “X” with a circle around it. This latent print and diagram was collected and prepared by Leslie Funo.)

Introduces into evidence, a fingerprint card of Park, front and back.  Page 3 is an image of the right palm. Page 4 is the left palm. Writing on the bottom of the 10 print card in red.  The witness sees her initials as well as others whom she identifies. Initials placed there after comparison. It’s personal preference where forensic specialists place their initials on the cards.

There were 10 unidentified prints at the scene.  Compared those prints to Juliana Redding. Received Juliana’s prints from the coroner’s office.  The quality of the prints were poor quality. Received Juliana’s right thumb print from DMV. She was able to compare those unidentified 10 prints, to the DMV card. Four of those were Juliana’s right thumb print.

Quality of Juliana’s prints were poor.  Was not able to determine if the six remaining prints belonged to Juliana.  Unable to do that due to the quality of her skin when her prints were rolled.

Coroner’s print card is entered into evidence. Witness explains the poor quality. The rolled inked impressions were lacking in a lot of detail. That’s due to the deterioration of the skin, and due to the fact that they were taken after death.

Juliana’s DMV right thumb print printout is entered into evidence. Used this print to compare with the latent prints.  It was a good quality print.

While at the scene, she located a set of keys belonging to Juliana Redding. Photo of keys at scene presented to witness. In the photo, keys are located in bottom left corner, next to the door. Did not locate a Louis Vitton key chain in her search of the residence.

When she found what she thought was a blood drop, she notified Detective Thompson and others.
When she was at the crime scene, Detective Thompson was not there.


She did not find the fingerprint.  She does not have any personal knowledge as to where the print was found.  She does not know whose keys those were, that were found at the scene.


Police officer for City of Beverly Hills. In 2008, assigned to Beverly Hills high tech crime unit. Officer for 27 years.  Outlines his training, to download information from cell phones.  Testified as an expert in digital forensics about four times.

The witness was asked to pull out as much information as possible from Juliana’s Blackberry cell phone. So the phone logs and Internet history could be reviewed.  Identifies cell phone he examined for Santa Monica PD. Santa Monica Detective John Henry asked him to examine it.

Was able to download and review information for a later date.  At the time, used a program called Blackberry backup manager, which represents the contents on the phone.  Also used a program called ABC Blackberry to view the data. Introduces ABC Blackberry report and explains information on it.
There is a call placed to 911.  The call was user initiated. The report indicates the call lasted:

0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds

911 was dialed, but never connected.  That would indicate, that there was no connection to the cell phone provider. Another document; same thing. Other calls after the #17 call on the report, which was the 911 call. The time on the call is 9:52 PM. He verified that was the correct time. The 911, shows up on the phone itself. When a call is dialed, but not sent it will not show in the phone records. It will only be in the phone’s history.


All the report suggests, is that it was attempted, it didn’t connect. Sometimes, when we make a call, it doesn’t connect.  In order for this to appear, 911 had to have been called, or it could have been a speed dial call. It’s unknown if speed dial was set up for this number.  The speed dial could have been hit accidentally.

If the call connected to the closest tower, then it would have connected.  If a call doesn’t go through, it’s possible that the phone can’t reach a tower. It should only be, less than a few seconds to connect (to a tower).


Police officer in Santa Monica, assigned to the detective bureau.  15 years as a police officer.  Assigned to detective bureau 9 years. She became the lead investigator in the case July 1, 2009. She was not the initial lead investigator. Back in Sept. 2008, the lead investigator was working on a large investigation, and she was part of the skeleton crew, back at the office for this case. She knew there was some DNA and she started looking at the case. When she started looking at the case, a suspect was not known, just knew there was a female suspect. Started collecting DNA from people that knew Juliana, to compare those profiles against the DNA collected at the scene.

Thompson explains the DNA reference and secondary samples she collected.  Reference sample is a direct sample from inside the mouth. Secondary sample is from an object an individual touched or drank from, such as a water bottle. Some people didn’t want to give a sample, so obtained secondary sample.  Obtained a lot of secondary samples from wine glasses, cigarettes, straws, towels. She even swabbed a cell phone. Obtained 42 samples. She personally obtained about 17-18 of those samples.

There was only one woman who could not be excluded. All the other 41 were excluded. A sample was obtained of the defendant's sister, who was excluded.

Details how she became aware of the defendant.  Became aware of Uwaydah, and that the victim had a relationship with him.  So started looking at women associated with him. Saw that Uwaydah was stopped while driving and the Calif ID card Uwaydah had given officers, had a "contact Kelly" with a phone number on the back of the card. Started looking into Kelly Park, linked to the phone number on the ID Card. Also found Park through public records search.

Her investigation continued the original investigation of evidence collection at the scene. Testing of the samples she collected were approved by Santa Monica City Hall. Obtained a cigarette butt from the defendant. Sent to lab on December 2nd, 2009.  Got a report from the lab that the defendant could not be excluded as contributing the DNA found at the scene.

Search warrant for DMV records for Park's thumb print. Wrote a 100 page document to get a wire tap.  Wrote the search warrant to get Park's fingerprints. Ultimately obtained her fingerprints after (Detective) Bambrick met with her.  This was two years after the crime.

Also acquired bank records, to see how much Park was paid by Frontline Medical.  That was a nineteen-office medical association, operated by Dr. Uwaydah.

Document listing the officers for Uwaydah of Frontline Medical for 2008 and 2009. Obtained search warrant of the defendant's personal bank account, from Bank of America ending in 180. Also account ending 2149, Sherwood Financial Investments.  Revealed this business was associated with Park.  There were documents recovered from the defendant’s home in a search warrant about Sherwood Financial and she was to be contacted.

Bank Records requested were from January 1st, 2008, until end of December, 2010.

Two page bank statement for Sherwood Financial. Highlighted portion wire transfer, Oct. 9th for $420,000.00. This amount transferred into the defendant’s account from Frontline Medical.

Another Bank of America Bank Statement for Sherwood Financial. June 11th through July 11th, 2008.  Highlighted a deposit into the account from Frontline Medical on June 11th. Amount $10,000.00.

An actual check. $7,000.00 check from Frontline Medical to the defendant.  Check was part of documents received by subpoena. Another check for $20,000.00.

There were additional wire transfers from Frontline Medical to defendant’s bank account.

Bank statement for Kelly Park's personal account, June 11th to July 11th 2008. Money from Frontline Medical to this account, wire transfers. For the personal account, she looked at Jan 1 2008, through end of Dec. 2010.  From June 17th, 2008 and Oct 15th 2009, the total amount of transfers, including the checks: $437,827.26.

Total amount in the business account transferred was $186,100.00

The total of both, all transfers, checks, June 11th 2008 to December 10th, 2009 (a period covering) 1.5 years was $1,043.927.26.

Listened to the wire tap on June 14th, 2010, and stopped listening on the 18th or 19th of June.
Park was arrested on June 17th, 2010.

Calls made after her arrest. Called Dr. Uwaydah. Defendant called her fiance at the time Ronnie Case, and her (mother). Over the extent of 3.5 days, Park and Uwaydah exchanged 16 telephone calls.

Did not interview Edan Rutledge.  First time spoke to her was in this courtroom. Ms. Rutledge worked at Primitivo. Interviewed another friend of Juliana, a coworker.

Booking photo of the defendant entered into evidence.


Regarding the bank records, she did not do any investigation as to the reason for the transfers. Does not personally know what those transfers were for.

The real estate she saw was not in Uwaydah's name.  Did not see him as owner of any of the properties.

Doesn’t know what the money represented. Don’t know to what extent the money that she kept, or what was paid out by her.  Don’t know what extent, (the funds paid to Park) represent reimbursement for expenses, that Park may have incurred working on behalf of the doctor.

Did not see that any of the $400,000.00 wire transfer went to Ventura County Real Estate Venture. Did see that there was a check written out to Kelly Park, from that account, for $300.00.00. The check is entered into evidence.




Witness lived near Juliana at 1521 Centinela, in the next building over.  A one story bungalow apartment.  Juliana was at 1527 Centinela, closer to the street. Her unit was deeper into the complex, next to the alley, next door to Juliana. They were in different complexes.

On March 15th, she remembers that Juliana Redding passed away. She remembers it vaguely. On that Saturday, she vaguely remembers she had a conversation with Juliana. She asked Juliana to come over. Juliana had something to do later.  Juliana then asked if she wanted some bowls or mugs (plates?). Doesn’t remember how the request started. Doesn’t remember being interviewed by police. She's shown a copy of the police report of her interview.

Tavara asked Juliana to come over, because it was her mom’s birthday. Juliana asked her if she wanted some dishes. She did not get the plates.  She was planning to get those plates. Juliana never called her again.


An image of Juliana's apartment complex is up on the screen. Witness points on the screen where she lived and where Juliana lived. The dishes that Juliana were going to give her were purple.

Juliana would walk her dog, and Juliana would end up at her house. Tavara and Juliana would walk their dogs together.  Juliana’s dog was typically kept inside the house.  Juliana's dog would occasionally get out of the house, then out of the fenced property and get to her house.


Knew Juliana. She was a coworker and hostess at the restaurant. They became friends. She went to Juliana's apartment from time to time. Brooks was at Juliana's house the evening of March 14th. She spent the night in Juliana's bed. Both slept in the bed. Brooks was at the apartment Saturday, the morning of March 15th. Doesn't remember how long she was there.  Guesses she left a little before 11 AM.

That Brooks moved her furniture around in Juliana's bedroom. Brooks doesn't remember the design fully. I believe she points to where she moved the bed. She doesn't believe if she at breakfast at the apartment. Doesn't specifically remember anything about the kitchen. Doesn't remember if she had anything to drink at Juliana's apartment. Did not give Juliana a physical massage. Doesn't believe she touched Juliana in any way.


She was out with Juliana and some friends, one of them being Brian Van Holt. Juliana took her back to Juliana’s apartment. They slept in the same bed on that night.  Brooks does not recall what Juliana was wearing that night. Doesn't remember what size Juliana's bed was. It definitely wasn't a twin bed. She does not remember what she was wearing.

Juliana offered to her a lamp.  She was going to take it but she didn't.


Friend of Juliana's. Lived with her for a time in Marina del Rey about a year or two. Knew Juliana in Palos Verdes before their move to Marina del Rey.

From knowing Juliana, generally she did not allow strangers into her home.  She was careful about that. She kept her door locked.  Murphy states she did not know about Juliana living in the Beverly Hills home.


When Juliana lived in Marina del Rey she did not have a dog.  When she lived in Centinela, she had a dog.


Forensic technologist for a company called Second Wave, Inc. General technology consulting firm. Gives his CV and experience in cell phone technology.  He worked with AT&T’s legal department in his career.  Approaching at least a thousand cases, and at least 500,000 individual records, having to do with cell phones.  He’s worked with military technology and the US government. He’s testified about three dozen times in cell phone communications.

He reviewed the AT&T records for Juliana’s cell phone.  He's being paid an hourly wage.  The billing is handled by his company. Believes the company bills about $400.00 an hour for his time.

In his expert opinion, the cell phone was turned off at 10:50 PM. That’s the last time the cell phone communicated any activity with the tower.   The last record that we have of that cell phone communicating with a tower is a text message. There is a good indication that the cell phone was turned back on, 2 days later.  The phone received a whole bunch of text message. The phone was off from 10:50 PM on the 15th to sometime on the 17th.

Questions about how much his company bills for his time. The company bills $400.00 an hour for his time. Court time works out differently. For a half day, the company would bill for three hours at $400.00 an hour.  That might represent two or three hours.  He estimates he worked about 20 hours on the case so far.  He was present in court on Monday and his company would bill for that time as well.

He typically testifies for the defense but has testified some for the prosecution. Almost all of the three dozen times he's testified have been for the defense. He's never worked for AT&T or trained in Blackberry's specifically. He has been trained in the data that comes from the blackberry.

He heard the Beverly Hills detective testify on Monday. He did see the records the detective relied upon. It does seem that a 911 (dialing/attempt?) does show up in the record.

The last training he did with AT&T was not an official training.  It's just when a case comes up.  Last time was would have been earlier this year.  Witness states this issue is pretty generic. Person he spoke to earlier this year, it wasn't about this case.  He doesn't know if someone turned off the phone, verses the battery going dead.

Review of the reports for the phone's usage and text messages received by Juliana's phone on the 17th. The witness agrees that these were text messages sent earlier, but the phone didn't receive them until the phone was turned on.

The witness won't assume that 911 was dialed. Agrees that it showed up on the call log. Witness states 10:50 was the last time a message was received on the phone. Witness explains how text messages are sent first to a tower, then to AT&T, then go boack through the system. According to the unbilled usage, the last call Ms. Redding received was at 9:52 PM.

The Blackberry does have alarms, messenger and alerts for that. Email is just data. If using a specific blackberry server, different price for that.  Depending on the package the customer chose for billing the email may come through as data. Even if it’s email, and all those notifications coming in like that, they would come at once  when the phone is turned on. On the page the witness reviewed, there are not listings marked as email.

REDIRECT EXAMINATION(I miss the answer to the question about his opinion as to whether the phone was turned off on the evening of March 15th. In the reports, he didn't see anything like on the 15th, was he saw on the 17th. He has worked for law enforcement.


In 2007, there was a time she was doing work at 1316 Beverly Grove, in Beverly Hills. She was working at this home for a 'good chunk of the year.'  She worked for Uwaydah in interior design. The home was under redesign. She cannot remember specific dates.  It was about six months.  While there, she did see Juliana Redding. O'Grady can't give a specific number of times, but did see her a few times.

O'Grady states she did see Kelly Park at the same residence.  Cannot give a specific date. She does remember there was one occasion they were both at the home at the same time.  She was introduced to both of them in the kitchen. She was introduced to 'her' as a friend.

She was introduced to Juliana via Uwaydah. She did not work for Uwaydah on other projects. States she saw the defendant a couple of times.  She cannot remember specifically what time of year it was.

When she was introduced to Juliana, Uwaydah introduced her as just "Juliana." She believes she met one other woman, but doesn't remember her name. The reason she remembered Juliana was because she was a lovely woman. Doesn't believe she told the investigator she saw other women at the house as well. Believes the investigator asked her about Park and Juliana.

Witness is confronted with the fact that the defense investigators report does not say that O'Grady saw both Park and Juliana on the same day.  The defense investigator called her out of the blue and asked if she had met Park or Juliana in the home.  O'Grady states she said (to the investigator?) she remembered one incident where Juliana was in the kitchen and Ms. Park was in the vicinity of the kitchen.  O'Grady states she thinks the prosecutor is using some legal mumbo jumbo when she was asked if the statements in the investigator's report are incorrect.

Witness reads the investigator's report. She is asked if the report reflects her statements that she saw Park and Juliana in the house on the same day. Agrees those specific words are not in the report

States when she was introduced to Juliana it was so long ago. Uwaydah introduced her to Juliana. She was specifically introduced as a friend. She does not remember if Ms. Park was introduced as a friend.


This ends Part II of my synopsis of witness testimony from both sides.  Part III will review the closing arguments. I will be utilizing a transcript of the closings and not my own notes to give a more complete synopsis in Part III. Sprocket.

To be continued in Part III...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Trial Synopsis Part II, Prosecution Witnesses 19-21

Basic structure of DNA

The jurors requested read back of virtually all the DNA evidence presented at trial. Felicia Burke and Annette McCall presented all the prosecution's DNA testing evidence. Sprocket

Continued from Part II, Prosecution Witnesses 11-18....




Forensic scientist at Orange Co. Crime Lab since (I believe) 2001. Former name Felicia Gardner. She used to go by Felicia Gardner(sp?) Currently assigned to DNA section. Explains her training, background, current job and duties. Explains the process of DNA analysis and how it begins.
She met with detectives when she started the case.  Received evidence from the evidence source location in the DNA laboratory. Explains the steps to get the case evidence, their evidence control unit and who has access to evidence locations.

At the crime lab where she works, crime evidence is tracked by a number called an FR number, (forensic report) number. Then the case can also have item numbers, for different pieces of evidence. The FR number is assigned by evidence control or by a clerical unit.  Also explained when she gets evidence it’s sealed. Explains what sealed means to her, that it includes initials and date.  Explains evidence tags that were in use at the time. After she examined evidence, she prepared a report. FR # is 0843964. ... At that time we were still using evidence tags.

Burke’s testimony was interrupted to take the testimony of Dr. Pena, who performed the autopsy.



Dr. Pena is a physician, forensic examiner, position of deputy with the LA County Coroner.  Describes his duties as a coroner. Determines cause of death and manner of death, whether the death is natural, accident, suicide undetermined or homicide.  Explains the autopsy photos.  Photographing the decedent can occur at all phases of the autopsy.  Their case number is included in all the photographs they take.  Explains the documentation of the injuries of the bodies. 2008-2159.

Typical for detectives to be present. Richard Lewis. Sgt. Herman, from Santa Monica PD.  Height and weight. At the time of her death, Juliana was 5’7” and weighed 110 lbs. Cause: Strangulation.  Manner: Homicide.

Dr. Pena explains the neck compression, manual strangulation, hanging, and ligature. types of strangulation. This is a manual strangulation, based on his experience. She had numerous abrasions above her voice box area. Petechia was present in the eyes. Numerous petechia.  Neck compression blocks the blood flow, from the brain returning to the heart, and that’s what causes the petechia.
Standard autopsy diagram form of upper head front and side.

Bruises on the left forehead. Purple, red, means that the time that these bruises were placed there, her heart was still beating.  Explains abrasions and the difference between bruises.  Referring to the upper left face. Had abrasions around the eyes. Abrasions on left and right side of the face.  There were abrasions on the right side of the scalp. The frenulum was torn.

Side view of Juliana’s head. Her face had a purple discoloration, but not easy to see in the photograph. The injury to the left eye was from blunt force. It wasn’t from strangulation. Never going to get that from strangulation. Next photo. This is the lower part of her eyelid, right side, showing the petechia. Next autopsy diagram of the neck area.

Injuries indicate that Juliana was scratching, trying to get the pressure off her neck.  Dr. Pena continues to explain the injuries to the underlying structure of her neck. Explains how they know there was no instrument, ligature. Her hyloid bone was broken.  The hyloid bone function is to stabilize the base of the tongue so we can speak.

The hyloid bone does not fracture easily.  In older women, it calcifies easier, breaks easier. Ms. Redding was 21, it’s still developing.  Her hyloid bone is still cartilaginous, so it’s going to take more force to break the bone.  There was blood around the fracture. It tells us there was a neck compression event. It’s a marker.  Dr. Pena’s opinion is that it was manual, to break it. If there was a ligature, there would have been markings on the external surface of the neck.

Difficult to determine the amount of pressure needed to create these injuries.  Breathing will get harder, and a some point you will lose consciousness. Can’t tell how long it takes for the person to become unconscious. There is a window period, to resuscitate person, but after that, there’s brain damage.

On her tongue, there was  a large bruise on the right side that went from the top side of the tongue to the underside. She probably bit on the tongue. Could be attributed to seizure, but the biting of the tongue is more likely.

Dr. Pena goes over all the injuries to Juliana’s head.  New diagram, skull diagram.  There were hemorrhages present on the skull, so she had blunt force trauma to her skull. Photo of the back of the head, her scalp pulled back and you can see the injuries.

All the injuries on Juliana’s head, could not be caused by a single hit.  All the head injuries occurred prior to death.  Other parts of her body sustained injuries. Another diagram, #20. Front and back of the body.  Besides injuries to her head, face and neck, Juliana had injuries to her legs, lower back, her heels, upper back and a few other areas.

Juliana had injuries to her elbows, which Dr. Pena said is a difficult area to get injuries to.  Feels the injuries to her back are from punches.  Injuries to her foot could be from dragging on a carpet surface.
Diagram 21 side views sketch of injuries to her body. People’s 83, photos of Juliana’s back.  Points out areas of lividity and where the deep bruising was found on her back.  Confirmed through incision that the areas of the back had deep bruising.

Photo of the right side of her body, hip and thigh area injuries. Photo of her legs and injuries to her knees and the deep cut to her right leg near the tibia.  Close up photo of her knees and the abrasions and contusions.

There are two long red lines right along the tibia of her lower right leg. Those are vertically oriented, red abrasions. People’s 40, the injury to right heel. There is a cut on the heel.

Diagram on the screen showing injuries to Juliana’s hands.   Photos of the left hand. The acrylic is cracked on the ring and little fingers of the left hand.  Photo of right hand. There is no nail on the right thumb. Another photo of the right hand.

Performed a sexual assault examination. There was no evidence of sexual assault. Injuries are consistent with manual strangulation and is evident in this case.




Briefly explains how DNA testing is performed at Orange County Crime Lab. Pieces of evidence, the underwear, are up on the screen that she examined.  She did a presumptive test for semen. She explains how that test is performed.  Did not find any spermatozoa.  When there’s no spermatozoa, they test for P30, that was also negative.  Semen was not detected on the underwear.

Also examined the victim's tank top. Examined it for the presence of body fluids, specifically looking for semen. Like the underwear, also examined the tank top with an alternate light source. Refers to her notes for the results of her testing. Identified 10 areas for further testing.  One area on the top was initially positive for semen. Did not see spermatozoa. Then looked for P30, that test was negative, which means she did not detect semen on the tank top.

 Also received sexual assault kit and what it contained. Goes into detail as to the DNA extraction process with the items found in the sexual assault kit.  Put several items forward for DNA extraction: Oral swab, two neck swabs, external genital swab, and anal swab for further testing.  She did the extraction process for the neck swabs. Then the items are placed on a quantitation batch. Also extracted the right and left wet nipple swabs. Also extracted some fingernail scrapings and clippings. All of the information is captured in their information management system. Management and DNA system is where the results were stored and managed. That was the end of her job with this evidence at that time.

Examined other items, gold chain, Oxyclean bottle. She examined at least fifteen to 20 items.  Some of the items are examined just for stain, to determine if they are blood or not, specifically dark stains. Not all are tested for sperm. Also examined contact DNA swab from a cell phone.  Identifies envelope that has the cell phone. Her initials are on the envelope and tag.

Opens the envelope that contains the cell phone DNA swabs.  Quantitation is the next step that determines how much DNA is present in the sample.

They often triage the items in a case, and prioritize those items that might yield good results from the start. Generally, infrequently test hair.  First a trace examiner will examine the hair to see if there is a root that is sufficient for DNA typing. Generally, they are not the first items they would choose.
When they are finished testing an item, they generally send it back to the originating agency. Sometimes they have defense requests to examine evidence.

Noted there was a positive amylase samples for the vaginal, anal, and rectal samples. She prepared a typed report.  She reviews her report. She reads from the report that there were not significant levels of amylase in those areas.  Doesn’t mean there were none.

She collected 15 hairs from the underwear. She collected fibers, items from the tank top. A brown fiber from the tank top. 34 hairs from the tank top. Something from the bag that contained the tank top, and placed that in evidence.

To her knowledge, no fibers or hairs collected from Juliana’s clothing were tested. Fingernail scrapings were tested. Round table discussion with detectives. Met with detectives when they dropped off the evidence initially. There was another discussion with detectives but she doesn’t remember who was present.


It would not be uncommon to find hair in underwear.


Forensic scientist at Orange County Crime Lab since 1998. Explains her job and her CV and on the job training. Lists her memberships in forensics organizations. The Orange County Crime Lab is accredited. To get that accreditation, they are reviewed by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors,  (ASCLD).  As a DNA analyst, she is subjected to two annual proficiency testing exams a year, as well as one other testing.

Explains where DNA comes from and that it’s unique for each person except for identical twins.  Explains what type of body fluids can contain DNA. They perform PCR type testing at the lab.
A loci is the plural of locus. A locus, is the location on the chromosome. An allele, is just a sequence of DNA. A profile is, several specifically chosen loci, put together.  In 2008, they used ProfilerPlus kit, which looks for 9 loci, and two other testing kits.  Explains what a testing kit is.

All the forensic labs use the same loci. They look for the same DNA sequences. CoFiler system looks for 4 additional loci. Also contains some of the same as IdentiFiler, that looks for 15 locations.  Now, the lab just uses IdentiFiler, instead of the other two tests.  IdentiFiler looks for all 15 loci in one test.
Recently used IdentiFiler to retest some of the items in this case. Neck swab, exterior of tank top front and back, and right front stove knob.

IdentiFiler gives us those two additional loci. The 15 loci were picked out by a committee by the FBI. These locations have high variations between people.

Met with detectives to discuss the items to be tested. Originally got some limited results, and then discussed the most efficient way to test these evidence items. Ms. Burke was the first person on this case. She took over the testing parts that Ms. Burke wasn’t trained in.

A shedder is someone who leaves a lot of DNA behind on whatever they may touch.  People don’t always leave DNA behind when they touch something.

A single source profile comes from only one person. A profile with more than one individual is called a mixture.  A major contributor is someone who left more DNA in the mixture. Mixtures are determined by the peaks that are present in the analysis report.  Major contributors will have taller peaks in the report.

For every part of DNA testing there is a positive and negative control. A positive control is known DNA. Negative control, you expect to see no DNA. If they find DNA when they should have none, then they would know that there was a contamination.  Witness explains about elimination and non elimination of profiles.

Population frequency estimate, is based on population data. The method they use to calculate is also used by other labs. Her documentation of her work is made at the same time that she examines the evidence.

She examined around 50 items of evidence, and around 40 reference standards. This is a lot of examinations.

Describe the amplification, molecular copying process. Going to copy the DNA millions of times to detect it.  The machine does that. Once that is done, it’s placed on the DNA typing instrument.
Determined that neck swab was a profile of at least two individuals. Juliana could not be excluded as the major contributor, and that the minor contributor was from a female.

Interpreted the vaginal and anal profiles from the sexual assault kit. Juliana could not be excluded as the profile.  DNA from her fingernails, only one source of DNA.  Only one profile from sexual assault kit swabs. Opened the sexual assault kit once.

Swabs from the nipples, sent those for extraction and forward for testing. Obtained DNA profiles from left and right nipple swabs. There was a mixture from at least two individuals. One was a male, Brian Van Holt could not be excluded as a major contributor of the nipple swabs.  I determined that the source of the DNA “probably weren’t saliva.”

Explains transfer and how it can happen. You touch an item, or someone comes along and touches an item you’ve touched, and transfers your DNA.

DNA diminishes after time.  There isn’t a particular time frame that DNA degrades. The hotter it gets, it will degrade faster. Washing can diminish DNA.  Can’t say specifically how much has to be left, to be transferred. Studies have been done on transfer DNA.  There are different studies that have different conclusions as to transfer. Some have good conclusions, and some have not.

Presents tank top to jury. When she received the tank top, she took two swabs and ran it along the length of the tank top.  From the front and back of tank top, received mixtures from two individuals.  Major contributor Juliana Redding could not be excluded. The other DNA profile was from a female.
Conclusion of the neck swabs, there was a minor DNA female profile. The neck swabs and the unknown female profile on the tank top were consistent with each other.

Performed DNA typing on the cell phone. Did the ProfilerPlus amplification and testing.  For this item, she didn’t handle the swabs, she just put the extraction through the system.  Her conclusion was there was a mixture from at least two females. Juliana Redding could not be excluded.  The major female profile, was consistent with the unknown profile from the neck and tank top. ProFiler and CoFiler were the test kits she used.

Tested the DNA swabs from the stove knob.  There was a mixture of two DNA profiles.  Juliana could not be excluded as the major contributor, and the minor contributor matched the other tested items At the time she tested the items, she did not have a known profile from someone to identify the minority profile.  She had excluded all the females that had been tested through this point.

Later she received additional items. She tested for blood on a latent print card. And evidence from a vehicle.  Between 2008 to 2012 for all the items was when she tested them.

She came up with a DNA profile from the blood drop on the latent print card in March 2009. She observed a possible apparent blood. She pulled back the tape and tested it for blood. That was positive.  She has experience with latent prints and would be able to tell if the tape on the fingerprint had been pulled back prior to her doing so for testing. She amplified and tested the blood on the card. Ran DNA testing on the blood This was a single source profile.  Did not get any indication there was a second profile in this sample.

It was round and circular stain. A transfer stain, would be more of a swipe verses a round drop. That profile, did not match any of the comparison DNA’s that she had previously. The profile of the blood stain, was consistent with the profile of the other items she tested.

She received a reference sample in July 2010 of Kelly Park. Came up with a profile. Compared it to the previous samples obtained.  Compared it to the blood stain.  Kelly Park could not be excluded from the source. Came up with a frequency estimate, based on her findings.  Based on population frequency estimates.

Blood on the latent print card:  The frequency of choosing at random, on latent print card is more than 1 in one-trillion.  The lowest average of all the things we’re looking at. Compared profile of Park to cell phone. Park could not be excluded. Frequency is more rare than one in one-trillion.

Compared profile of Park to the right stove knob.  Park could not be excluded as the minor contributor. Frequency is more rare than one in 20 thousand. Compared Park to the tank top. Park could not be excluded as the minor contributor from the back and front of the tank top.  Frequency is more rare than one in 200 (million) individuals. Neck swab. Kelly Park could not be excluded as a minor contributor from the neck swab. Frequency more rare than 1 in 300 million. Compared Park to the interior front door handle swab. Park could not be excluded. Frequency rarer than one in one-trillion.  Profile of minor contributor could not be determined. There was too little DNA to develop a profile.

She tested somewhere between 40-50 other items of evidence.  Tested approximately 40 individuals.  Blood drop or saliva from mouth is a direct sample.  Secondary samples are from items. Other items she tested, she only found Juliana Redding. There were items she tested where a full profile could not be obtained.

Fingerprints are unique to individuals. Twins would not have the same fingerprints. The latent print card was a typical latent print card. It did not appear to be disturbed when she received it for testing.

McCall describes the DNA collection and processing procedures in more detail. They first put the item in a small tube with a reagent to break open the cells. Explains what a reagent is. Explains what a nucleus is.  DNA is released from the nucleus and put in a smaller volume of liquid.  They concentrate it down to 10 micro liters. less than a drop. That process is extraction. Quantitation is the next step which takes about a micro liter of that drop. That is put in with reagents, that look for a particular location on the DNA to determine how much of the DNA we have.

Amplification, is the molecular copying process. The analysts use commercially sold kits to target the location on the DNA, on the specific loci of the DNA molecule. The amplification process just copies the DNA at specific loci and puts a dye on the molecules. Explains that process of putting the dye on the molecules.

Scientists call their machines, instruments. Explains what the instruments do, and the reports that are generated. Electropherogram is a graph with a peak onto it. It comes with a couple of numbers. One identifies the allele, and the strength of the allele, or the “height” of the peak.

You can end up with no result, a single person result, or a result with more than one person.  If there are three or more peaks at one or more loci, they know they have a mixture. Different people can have the same genetic markers at some spots, but unless they are identical twins, they won’t have the same markers at all the loci. Uses the example of a phone number that many numbers could be made from the phone number. When a peak is taller, it means it has more of that allele, than that of the smaller peak.

DNA analysts can’t say for certain that someone is a contributor. They can say they are a possible contributor.

Witness is asked about transfer. Cells on the surface of the skin, do not contain a nucleus. Might find the DNA of someone who touched an object, or might not find any of someone who touched an object. With sneezing, drinking from a glass or sweating, they leave a huge amount of DNA behind. If you use towel in bathroom, that could leave DNA behind. However, analysts don’t know how much. It's possible that someone could come along, and get that person’s cells on their hands. Or they could use that towel, to wipe an object, and the DNA could get on that object.

There’s different types of transfer. Primary transfer, secondary transfer, and tertiary transfer.

Transfer is possible. It’s also depends on how much DNA is on an individuals own hands. Analysts can not tell how that DNA got there. they can’t tell if it came from primary or secondary. Possibly tertiary, but would not make a determination. Analysts can not tell how long cells from DNA have been on an object. The witness states she would not be comfortable rendering an opinion.

There is a threshold when they analyze their DNA. It’s 100 RU’s. It represents the strength of the DNA.  Sometimes they see peaks, that are between 50 and 100. They could be real alleles, but they cannot be confident in reporting. They could be, bu they can’t be confident of the DNA.

Swabs from Redding’s neck. Ms. Park can’t be excluded as the minor. The defense asks about the test on the neck, and if the witness found alleles, on the neck, that tested over 100, that are not matched to Ms. Redding or Ms. Park.

On the neck swab there is a number 17. Park and Redding do not have a number 17 on locus D3.  There were other numbers, below the threshold that do not come from Park or Redding. At locus D13, there are two low number 12's. On locus D7, there is a number 10 that is low.

In the later testing, in August 2010. There were other alleles that were below the 100 number threshold but above 50.  DNA from at least one other that was in the sample, if those alleles are, in fact, DNA.  Questions about the right front stove knob DNA results.  More alleles that are two low to be included.  There are three low peak alleles on three different locus that did not belong to Park of Redding. If in fact, those are true alleles. The source of the DNA on the stove knob was not known, just knew that it was DNA.  Concentration similar to Ms. Park on the stove knob, was weak. There is no male DNA found on the stove knob.

The tank top (back?). When tested sample with ProFiler plus kit, there are three locations that are below threshold, but above 50. Three alleles at three loci that did not come from Redding or Park. (If in fact, they are true alleles.)

Swab on the front tank top. Did not find any below threshold in IdentiFiler, that doesn’t account for Park or Redding. In the other testing, she has 16/17 at one loci, and that’s below threshold. In ProPlus at one loci, has a 12 allele, that isn’t either Park or Redding Another allele, that is not Park or Redding, but above 50.

Swab of back of tank top. One allele in ProfilerPlus that was not Park or Redding. That was allele 12 at locus D13. Other random alleles below threshold. D8 had a below threshold allele. 15, above 50
D21 had one as well. below threshold, but above 50. Had three alleles that did not come from Park or Redding. If the below threshold are true alleles.

The DNA found on the cell phone could not exclude Ms. Redding or Ms. Park. She cannot tell where on the cell phone the DNA was collected since she did not swab the cell phone. The amount of DNA found on the phone was about a milligram and a half of DNA. That is about, somewhere between 200 or 250 cells. 200-250 cells is enough to test.

The crime lab ran a reference sample of Ms. Brooks. Ms. Brooks did not match the samples from Ms. Redding's neck.

Frequency estimates questions. She looks at all the alleles of all the known (contributors).
Question about a specific loci and if a statistic was done on that loci. Question if they ran Ms. Redding's type at that loci. Witness states that’s not necessarily true. There’s a value for a major female, there, but Ms. Redding’s value was not entered there, no.

This process is used every day. During the testing process, if something goes wrong there are controls in the system, that alert them. In your, statistics, you state, that, the frequency of choosing this defendant, with this profile. However, the witness states this profile is more rare than one in one-trillion.

The cell phone. Where there is a mixture, the possibility of choosing someone at random, is one in one-trillion people. The frequency is more rare, than one in one-trillion for more than one contributor. 

That profile was present on several items.  Consistent with profile on cell phone, the front and back of tank top, the neck, the front stove knob, and interior of front door. She found the profile on six items/locations.

You testified, that under the right circumstances, DNA can last forever, and that if kept in a freezer, DNA can last until a later date. Court asks a question about what "controlled environment" means.

Questions about how long DNA would last on several different surfaces.
The environment of a tank top being worn: It just depends on if it’s kept in a cool dry area, then it could be on there for a while. The environment of a door handle: It depends on where the door is, and how many people would have access to it. The environment of the neck area of a body: DNA would not keep or last for a long period of time.

Explains the threshold for determining DNA. Threshold under 100, it’s possible it could be an allele, but it could also be something else as well. Threshold alleles, over 100, could those be the result of transfer. That’s possible as well.

Firefighter would not leave DNA on stove knob if he was wearing gloves and there was no DNA on the exterior of the glove. Asked about the random allele that met the threshold on the neck, that did not belong to Redding or Park.

Going over loci VWA, and the extra allele there is a 16/17. The 16 is below threshold, and the 17 is above threshold. Sometimes, when the peak is not sharp, they cannot be confident that it’s an allele.

Explains the different between ProFiler Plus and IdentiFiler. ProFiler Plus tests 9 loci; IdentiFiler test 15 loci.

Explains about the frequency calculations of a particular profile, and other threshold standards that are used to include an allele grouping.

Is it not uncommon to have another person’s allele on you at a low threshold. It is not uncommon to find low level DNA on a person.

She tested several reference samples and secondary reference samples. For a loci that had numbers that did not belong to Park or Redding, Ms. Rutledge had a 17 for that loci and Ms. Brooks had a 16 at that location.

Explains the big chart, 'Report of Evidence Examination and DNA Typing' and how the chart is read.

If possible, a reference sample matches an evidence sample in one allele at one loci, analysts can’t determine anything. They would need to see more of that DNA throughout the profile.

Loci D3 is on that chart (possibly prepared by DA's office) but it’s not labeled correctly. Prosecution exhibit 102 fails to accurately list loci D3 data on it.

To be continued in Part II, Final Witnesses...