Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ka Pasasouk Preliminary Hearing Day 3, Part III

From Ka Pasasouk's Facebook Page.

Continued from Day 3, Part II....

UPDATE 11/19: Witness name changed per request

1:00 PM
I ate my lunch quickly in the cafeteria and headed back to the fourth floor to plug in my laptop beside a hallway bench.  The woman sitting on the bench next to me turned out to be Robert Calabia's mother, Alejandra.  She sat next to me in the courtroom several times during the proceedings.

Normally, I do not approach victim's families when I cover a court proceeding. I prefer to give them their privacy.  But Ms. Calabia had spoken to me a day before inside the courtroom when we were seated next to each other.  She had shown me a photograph on her phone. At the time, I wasn't sure which victim she was referring to.  So this time, I ventured where I normally don't go. I asked Ms. Calabia if she was related to one if the victims.  She told me it was her son, Robert.  She showed me a photo on her phone of a smiling, handsome young man.

I asked Ms. Calabia to tell me about her son. Robert, her youngest child was an LVN, nurse.  He worked at Cedars Sinai Hospital, just like she did. So I could get the correct spelling of her first name, she showed me her employee badge, where she worked at Cedars as a certified nursing assistant.

Alejandra told me about her son. "He was a very popular nurse with the patients.  He took good care with the patients."  Robert was a kind person and people were always asking favors of him.  "Because my son had a car, they (friends) often asked him for rides to places." Alejandra also stated that the two women with Robert, "..often came with Robert to my house."

Alejandra told me why Robert drove to the Devonshire residence. "He was there to pick up Jun."  Jun supposedly had called Robert and asked for a ride.  Robert knew Jun because of an ex-girlfriend he dated named Ann (sp?) Ann is Jun's niece. "That's how they all knew each other," Alejandra said.

I do not know how much of this is accurate, regarding why Calabia and his passengers drove to the Devonshire residence. I do not know if the detectives verified if there were phone calls from Jun to Robert or not.

There has been very little in the news about the victims other than their names and photos. It's unknown why Kim and Ghossein were in Calabia's car at 3 AM on the morning of December 2nd. Other than what Ms. Calabia told me about her son, I don't know what the other victims did for a living, if the photos of the child with Ghossein is her daughter, or if she or Kim were married, etc.

Victim Amanda Ghossein's memorial fund Facebook Page shows a beautiful young woman with a young child that could be her daughter.  A similar photo of Ghossein with a young child was included in an LA Times article. Then, Ghossein's mother and aunt spoke to the press about their anger towards Van Nuys Judge Jessica Silver who agreed to let Pasasouk enter a drug program verses being sent back to prison. 

There appears to be a photo of victim Jennifer Kim on a Facebook Donation Page set up for her that matches a photo identified of her on has a photo of Robert Calabia online that looked similar to the photo his mother showed me.  There's also a photo on of Teofilo Navales, aka "JoJo Burbank." I also found an Obituary page for Navales, indicating he was married and had three daughters.

July 31st, 2013
1:30 PM
I'm inside Judge Giss's courtroom, Dept. I. There is some friendly banter in the well between Detective Myers and defense attorney James Goldstein.  In the gallery are and older, petite woman and a handsome teen in a white shirt and tie.  I've seen DDA Akemon speak to them several times. I make a guess they are not victim relatives but could be friends or family of Akemon.

The defendant is brought out.  The next witness will be 'Jun' aka as Wanito Mendoza, Jr.  Mendoza will testify in his native language although he understands English.  The female interpreter joins him in the witness box.

8. WANITO MENDOZA, JR. (aka 'Jun')

Mendoza, (Jun) states he's 51 years old.

DA: Do you speak English?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: What is your first language?
WM: Tagalog.
DA: How long have you spoken English?
WM: The (medium?) language in Filipino is English.

Wanito states he spells his name "Jun."  Judge Giss states that the people's exhibit (with the photo of John Doe (Pseudonym per witness request. Sprocket) & Dandy's bedroom and the individuals who were there) has the spelling as "Joon."  The photo exhibit is corrected.

DA: Do you know a person by the name of Ka Pasasouk?
WM: Yes.

Jun is asked how many times he saw the defendant.  He pauses before he answers, as if to try to come up with a figure.  He saw the defendant "around a hundred times."

DA: What is your relationship? Is he a neighbor? A friend?
WM: I just know him.
DA: On December 1st, which was a Saturday, did you go to a residence, 17441 Devonshire St?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: (What time) Did you arrive at that location at?
WM: Approximately 9-10 PM.
DA: When you arrived, did you see Mr. Pasasouk?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: Is Mr. Pasasouk in the courtroom today?

Jun identifies the defendant.  I start to wonder if the interpreter is adding the word "sir" to the witnesses answers herself.  To me, it appears this witness and the last witness that used this same interpreter, their answers were often the same, "Yes sir."  When the male interpreter was being used, the witnesses sounded like they were using the same word for 'yes,' but the male interpreter did not add the "sir" in the English answer.

DA: Did you ever see Mr. Pasasouk with a gun?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: Where was Mr. Pasasouk when you saw him with a gun?
WM: At the second floor.
DA: Do you mean the apartment at the back on the second level?
WM: Yes sir.

Jun was visiting on that day. He knew Howard.

WM: I just know him (Howard), like an acquaintance.
DA: Did you see Mr. Alcantara with a gun?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: Where was Mr. Alcantara when you first saw him with a gun?
WM: Also on the second floor.
DA: Was Ka on the 2nd floor .....
WM: I saw them both together.

Jun is asked to describe the guns.  Jun describes Pasasouk's gun as a 45 mm, but then he wavers and says "It's a maybe 45 mm."

DA: What color was it?
WM: I don't remember.
DA: Where was Ka's gun when you saw it?
WM: In his hand.

Akemon asks about Howard's gun and what it looked like.

WM: That one, it's like a revolver.
DA: Where was Mr. Alcantara's gun?
WM: Also in his hand.
DA: When you saw them with gun, where were they?
WM: When they were on the second floor.  ... He was looking for Christina.
DA: Who was (looking for Christina)?
WM: Ka.

He understood Ka. Ka was speaking ordinary English.

WM: The first one I saw was Ka first. I only saw Ka. The second and third time I saw Howard.

The first time Jun saw Pasasouk, he came into the apartment by himself. He only saw Ka because Jun said, "I was inside the room."  Jun was in the "first room." Ka walked in the front door of the apartment.

DA: that's a living room area?
WM: Yes sir.

Now it's explained that Jun was in the first bedroom, not the living room of the apartment.

WM: The first time, I was in the first bedroom with Ronnie (Ronald) playing cards.

The first bedroom was Ronnie's bedroom. The second bedroom was where Mr. Doe and Dandy (were). The first bedroom was where he saw Ka with the gun.  The first time was when Ka was asking for Christina.

DA: Did he point the gun at you?
WM: No.
DA: Did he poin the gun at anyone?
WM: Yes. ... Ronald.
DA: What happened after ....
WM: Nothing.
DA: Nothing happened and then something was said?
WM: Yes. There was something said.
DA: Do you know what was said?
WM: I don't know exactly, but what I got was, "You also, you also." .... It was to Ronald.
DA: Did you see Ka do anything with Evelyn at that time?
WM: Yes sir. ... He pushed her from the living room.

Akemon asks if a gun was pointed at Evelyn.

WM: Yes sir. ... It was pointed at her and her back.
DA: After Mr. Pasasouk pointed the gun at her and at Ronald did he leave?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: Did he come back?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: When he came back, was he with Howard?
WM: Yes sir.

Jun explains what happened when Pasasouk and Howard came back.

WM: I said that we should get out of there, because Ronald's bedroom had no lock on the door.  .... It's better that I get in the room with a lock.

Jun left Ronald's room and Evelyn went with him. When he went to the other (bedroom) Ronald and Evelyn was with them.  Someone closed the door.  Once in Mr. Doe & Dandy's bedroom, they (Ka and Howard) arrived. Jun told them to open the door.

DA: Who opened the door?
WM: It was probably Ronald. ... I can't remember
DA: When Ronald or someone else opened the door, what did you see?
WM: Ka and Howard. ... They both had guns from before. ... He pointed the gun at Evelyn.

I believe Goldstien objects. He wants to know specifically who had the gun pointed at Evelyn.

DA: When Mr. Pasasouk was in the door, did you see Mr. Pasasouk point a gun at Evelyn?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: Please demonstrate.

Judge Giss describes what the witness does.  The witness used a left and and move it out and did a striking motion. Jun saw Ka hit Evelyn with the gun on the right side of her head.

When I look towards the back of the courtroom on my right, every seat is filled in the right side of the gallery with young Filipino men and women.

WM: Evelyn was able to evade it a bit so it didn't hit her hard.
DA: Did Mr. Pasasouk say anything at that time?
WM: I don't ... I don't know what was exactly going on.  ... Ka was blaming everyone. ... It's like, ah, he was looking for Christina and blaming everyone about it.
DA: Did he mention shooting (threatening to?) Evelyn?
WM: He mentioned that. ... He told Howard.
DA: What did he tell Howard?
WM: He said, "Shoot her. Shoot her."
DA: Did Ka say to shoot Evelyn in order to make an example of her?
WM: Yes, but he did not do it. ... The gun was pointed ... and then he hit Evelyn. ... And Evelyn was able to evade and then he left.
DA: Did Mr. Pasasouk tel Howard to shoot Evelyn?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: But Howard refused?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: Howard had his gun out. Did Evelyn say anything to Mr. Pasasouk when he was threatening her?
WM: Don't shoot me. Don't shoot me." ... Ka left after threatening Evelyn.

DA: After he left, did you hear any voices outside?
WM: No sir.
DA: Did you tell the detective when you were interviewed on January 2nd, 2013, that you heard Ka say, "Put your hands up," outside?
WM: I heard that, but I don't know who exactly.
DA: Did you tell detectives that it was Ka?
WM: I cannot say that because I did not see it. ... I heard something like, "Raise your hands." ... It's hard to say.

DA: After you heard, "Raise your hands," did you hear gunshots?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: How many did you hear?
WM: Five or six.
DA: On January 2nd, do you remember telling detectives that  it was Ka who said, "Put your hands up?"
WM: I can't recall, but I heard it.
DA: Do you recall telling the detective that, "Ka was using a really aggressive voice?"
WM: That was earlier, when he was upstairs.

Jun continues to backtrack on identifying the voice he heard outside as the defendants.

WM: But I don't know who it was really.
DA: Do you remember the detectives asking if you heard Howard's voice?
WM: It's really hard to say. ... Whomever in that position would not know.
DA: How do you feel about testifying today against Mr. Pasasouk?
WM: What do you mean? ... Nothing. ... I feel helpful. ... The truth. Nothing more, nothing less.
DA: Do you feel you know Ka's voice better then or now?

Akemon them moves to another topic.

DA: Have you had any issues in your life with substance abuse?
WM: Yes, there are issues.
DA: Please tell us about them please. ... Are you trying to get help for substance abuse?
WM: No sir.
DA: Were you using drugs on December 1st?
WM: Yes. I tasted it.
DA: What is the drug (you were using)?
WM: It's not my choice. I just tasted it.
DA: Were you doing drugs with Mr. Doe?
WM: No sir.
DA: What kind of drugs were you taking?
WM: No, I didn't take any.

Akemon asks the witness about how many times he's done drugs between the incident in 2012 and today.

WM: Around ten times.
DA: What type of drugs did you use.
WM: I don't know.

Judge Giss steps in to ask a question.

Judge Giss: Were you using drugs on the day of the shooting?
WM: Not at that very moment.
Judge Giss: Were you using drugs within the 24 hours before or after the shooting?
WM: I taste it when it's there.

I believe the court or the defense states the witness is not answering the question. The witness finally states he used meth.  Jun continues to insist that he just "tastes" the drug.  The witness is asked if he sometimes uses meth. " Jun answers, "Not now sir."

DA: Have you in your life used that drug?
WM: Yes sir. I tasted but I don't buy it.

Akemon now confronts the witness about leaving the courthouse yesterday, when he was supposed to be the next witness called.

DA: At some point yesterday did you leave (the courthouse)? ... Did you tell Detective Myers you were leaving?
WM: Yes, we talked on the phone.
DA: When you left the courthouse yesterday, did you do that with permission of Detective Myers or not?

Jun replies that he wasn't able to come back (after lunch) and he told Detective Myers he was coming back in late.

DA: Did you tell Detective Myers you didn't want to come back because you didn't want to be singled out?
WM: I was hungry. ... I was just downstairs, waiting. ... I decided to leave and I thought I would come back at 1:30.
DA: Did you tell Detective Myers that you ...
WM: I said I don't want to be singled out, but I don't know what to do. ... And I was about to be late so I called him. ... Even if I did not say that I told Detective Myers I would be there.

Jun explains that he was driving a bicycle.  He didn't want to be singled out. Judge Giss asks a question but then withdrawals it.  Akemon tries to get more answers from the witness.

DA: Do you remember speaking with Detective Dan Myers?
WM: Yes sir.
DA: When you spoke to him, were you being truthful?
WM: Yes sir.  .... Even now.

Akemon reads back to the witness the conversation he had with Detective Myers, and the statements he made.

DA: "Raise your hands."  Detective Myers asked, "Raise your hands up?" Detective Myers says, "Why says that?" (And you said,) "Ah, ah, Ka of course." Detective Myers says, "Yeah." (And you said, "I assume because I didn't see."  And Detective Myers said, "Don't assume." ... "Did it sound like Ka?" (And you answered,) "Yes. It sounded like Ka."

DA: Did you say that?
WM: But anyone could not be certain because they did not see him.
DA: Did you tell Detective Myers it sounded like Ka?
WM: What I heard was ... It was not a woman. It's not a big voice, or a (?) ... Something like that.
DA: Did you tell Detective Myers you did not hear Howard's voice?
WM: I did not hear.

Direct ends and cross begins. Judge Giss humorously asks defense attorney Goldstein, something to the effect of, "Do you feel up  to it?"  I believe Goldstien smiles in response to the court's question.

Goldstein asks why the witness is using an interpreter.  Jun answers that he's using an interpreter because he doesn't speak good English. Goldstein asks if he had an interpreter when he spoke to Detective Myers.

WM: But when I speak, they could understand me very well.
JG: Do you remember when the Judge asked if you needed an interpreter?
WM: Yes sir.

Jun explains he wanted an interpreter for "technical words."

Goldstien notes that when Jun was interviewed by detectives, it was right after the new year.

JG: Did you go out on New Years eve and do drugs?
WM: No sir. ... I'm just tasting it.
JG: Was that New Year's eve, you were just tasting it?
WM: I can't remember it. ... It's not important.

Judge Giss interrupts and directs a statement to the witness.  "It's important to us your ability to remember.

WM: I can't remember because ... I'm not a drug user.

To me, the testimony almost becomes comical.

JG: Were you using drugs that night?

Judge Giss clarifies for the witness, "He's talking about the night of the shooting."

WM: I just tasted it with Ronald. ... I saw drugs there, so I tasted it.
JG: Was that methamphetamine?
WM: Yes sir.
JG: Were you drinking alcohol?
WM: No, just playing cards.
JG: Was Ronald drinking?
WM: No sir.
JG: What about Evelyn? Was she doing drugs?
WM: I didn't see exactly.
JG: Was there a bottle of alcohol in the living room?
WM: I didn't see anything.
JG: Was there any alcohol?
WM: Maybe there was but I didn't see it.
JG: So you didn't see alcohol in the whole apartment that night?
WM: Maybe there was but I don't remember. ... I don't drink.

Jun states that he had just one interview with the detectives and that he understood the questions.

Cross is finished and there is no redirect.  Akemon and Goldstein exchange a few friendly words and Goldstein smiles.


King is an LAPD detective with the Robbery Homicide unit.  He's been with the department since 1993.  He was one of the investigating officers who assisted in this case.  King has been investigating homicides since March 2001.

King went to the crime scene. He was tasked to search a certain bedroom.  The bedroom was on the first floor to the right of the front door. The front bedroom window was being used to enter and leave the room. That was one way into the room.

King searched a hamper in the bedroom.  He dumped the clothing out and then when through every item piece by piece. He discovered a live cartridge, an unexpended round.

DA: Do you remember what caliber?
JK: 40 caliber.

King told a criminalist at the scene, Bethany Streiffert.  Streiffert photographed the item and collected it.

JK: She told me she placed it in a coin envelope and then that envelope went into an evidence envelope. The item was item number 98 The case number was12-17-21117.

King observed that the closet had two full length mirrors for doors.  Written on the mirror with something red was "Ka call Tarzana treatment" with a phone number with a 310 prefix. There were male pants, a tan color pair of male jeans located in the hamper.

DA: Located in the hamper where the bullet was located?
JK: Correct.

King became aware that items were collected outside.  He became aware that cartridge casings were collected from around the bodies. The lead criminalist, Mandel Medina, told King while processing the scene he collected four casings and booked them into evidence.  These were evidence items numbered 116, 117, 118 and 119.

It's clarified for the record that Kings testimony about the criminalist's actions are coming in under Prop. 115.  Judge Giss states, "The court will take note."

Direct ends and cross begins.

JG: Are you sure the phone number was a 310 prefix?
JK: I'm not sure. I'd have to double check to be specific.

King is asked to give the case number again, the LAPD "DR" number. The detective rattles off the number. He's then asked to explain the breakdown of the number and what it signifies.  The first two digits are the calendar year. The second two digits explain the geographical division that responded to the investigation. The last five numbers are the next number that are assigned by the units (receiving?) unit.

King is asked to give a further explanation as to how those last five digits are assigned.  A data base assigns that part of the case number.  Detective King states he arrived at the crime scene at 19:30 PM, also known as 7:30 PM. Cross ends.

Judge Giss brings up that Pasasouk's other charge/case before Judge Silver trails this case.

DDA Akemon redirects his witness.  The witness clarifies that when he was asked the DR number by Mr. Goldstein, he was one number off. He is allowed to refresh his memory and look at his notes/file. King looks at the property report.  The case number is 12-17-21118.  That's it for redirect and the witness is excused.

To be continued in Day 3, Part IV....