Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rafael Martinez, Jr. Trial - Witness List Quick Links

 This page will be periodically updated. Sprocket

Witnesses who testified in the Rafael Martinez, Jr. Trial.
Rafael Martinez QUICK LINKS Page

May 2001stabbings:
Luz Nieves and Francisco Santos victims. Nieves murdered, Santos survived.
September 1997 stabbings:
Shawn and Nancy Boehm, murdered.

Day 4
Prosecution Witnesses
1. HUGH MARTIN - LAPD - Firefighter-Paramedic. Responded to the scene of a stabbing in May 2001. Victims Luz Nieves and Francisco Santos. Translated victim's statement in the ambulance for officer Anderson. Victim stated "Junebug" when asked who did this.

2. RAFFI DJABOURIAN, MD - Senior Deputy Medical Examiner for Los Angeles County Coroner. Performed the post-mortem on victim Luz Nieves in 2001.

3. SEAN ANDERSON - LAPD Officer. Responded to the 2001 stabbing scene. Rode in the ambulance with victim Nieves to the hospital. Asked victim who did this to her.

Day 5
4. GABRIEL COLON - LAPD Officer. Responded to the 2001 event where Nieves and Santos were stabbed.

Day 5, Part II & Day 5, Part III
5. FRANCISO SANTOS - Surviving victim of May 2001 knife attack. Testified as to what he remembers happened to him and Luz Nieves.

Day 5, Part III

6 RICHARD HOUSEHOLDER - Retired LAPD Detective. Part of the investigation of the September 1997 stabbing deaths of Nancy and Shawn Boehm. Interviewed Martinez at the North Hollywood Police Station. Martinez told Householder he had known the victim Nancy Boehm his whole life. He said he went to school with Shawn and his sister Leticia. He said the last time he saw Nancy was over a week ago. Told Householder he spoke to Nancy every day.

7 MARTIN PINNER - LAPD Detective. Investigated the Nieves and Santos stabbings in May 2001. Interviewed Martinez after the attack on Nieves and Santos. The audio recording of that interview is introduced through this witness.

Day 6
7 MARTIN PINNER - Playing of the interview tape continued. Detective Pinner testifies that no weapon was recovered in that case.

8 DAVID RIEMEN - LAPD Detective, tesifying in uniform. Reimen was a patrol officer in 1997. He responded to the Boehm murder scene. Reimen filled out a field interview card on Martinez. Reimen was assigned the task of going door to door and interviewing potential witnesses. Reimen has no independent memory of that day.

9 BRUCE LYLE - Former LA County Coroner Investigator. Responded to the Boehm murder scene. Collected Shawn and Nancy's bodies and transported them to the Coroner's. Collected fingernail scrapings and fingernail clippings from the bodies of Shawn and Nancy Boehm.

10 SUSAN RINEHART - LAPD Criminalist - Responded to the 1997 Boehm murder scene. Introduces many crime scene photos that were taken at the scene. Collected numerous pieces of evidence. Meticulously recovered/uncovered the several layers of papers, bags, purses and other items that were on top of Nancy Boehm.

Day 7
9 BRUCE LYLE - Recalled to clarify he was mistaken on how he collected the fingernail evidence.

11 STEVEN KORDAK - Neighbor and friend of Nancy and Shawn Boehm. Kordak grew up in the neighborhood. Spoke to Shawn Boehm on the street around 11 AM, Friday September 19, 1997, the day before Shawn and Nancy's bodies were found. Testified to what he knew about Shawn's capabilities.

10 SUSAN RINEHART - testimony continued. Under cross examination, introduced over 50 photographs from the Boehm murder scene.

12 JESSICA STOCKTON - Lived with Nancy Boehm for approximately two months before the murders. Testifies to Nancy's security procedures at the house. Describes what she knew of Shawn's capabilities.

Day 8
13 MELISSA POPOVIC - LAPD Criminalist. Forensic print specialist, latent print unit. Popovic collected evidence in the 2001 case. Collected a partial bloody palm print left on the door jam or door, of Nieves bedroom door. On Monday, 2/4, she printed the defendant's palms. She matched the bloody palm print she found on the door to the defendant.

14 CHRISTINE SALMAS - Friend and former customer of Nancy Boehm. Knew Nancy from around 1995-6 to around the time of her death. Knew the security procedures at Nancy's house. Testified about Nancy's procedures and how Nancy conducted business in her home. Testified about an incident where there were many people in the home, waiting for a "runner" to deliver drugs. Martinez was there and she overheard Nancy say something to the defendant. When detectives showed her a photo of Martinez, she gave the following statement: "I’m almost sure this is the guy that I saw once in her house. She had to tell him to calm down and be quiet. She shushed him. He must have been coked up and I only saw him once."

- Friend of Nancy Boehm. Callahan testifies that Nancy was pretty much his best friend from the time he met her in 1991 until her death. He knew Shawn and mentored him. took him to the Special Olympics, carnivals, etc. Shawn was a fun kid to be around. He knew about Nancy's security procedures and observed her business transactions. Stated that Nancy did sell drugs on credit. Knew Martinez and identifies him. Believes he saw Nancy refuse credit to Martinez once and make him leave her home. Observed Martinez angry and screaming at Nancy a few times.

Day 9 & Short Update II
Defense Witness taken out of order
1. JEFFREY BECK - LAPD Sargent, Watch Command. In 2001 was a patrol officer. He responded to the Nieves and Santos crime scene. He interviewed Mr. Santos with Officer Guthrie. At some point during the interview, Mr. Santos became uncooperative and threatened to "fuck up" the defendant. Officer Beck verifies that Mr. Santos gave the same story to him that he testified to on the stand.

Prosecution Witnesses
16 BARBARA LEAL - Criminalist; Senior DNA Analyst for Cellmark Forensics. Explains STR testing and Y-STR testing and the purpose of each test. Explains the four steps of developing an DNA profile from a sample. (more to come)

17 PATRICIA HUCK - LAPD Criminialist since 1984. DNA Analyst since 2008. Performed DNA analysis in the Boehm's case. Received the partial male profile developed by Cellmark and submitted it into CODIS. Identified through CODIS a potential suspect in the Boehm murders, Rafael Martinez, Jr. Performed two different analysis, a "likelihood ratio" and a "combined probability of inclusion" analysis on the two DNA profiles found under Nancy's fingernails. For the first test, she did a calculation where she assumed one profile was Nancy's. She then performed a calculation which tells her what is the probability that Rafael Martinez' DNA is the second part of that mixture. It is 3.297 billion times more likely to get the profile of Rafael Martinez, than if it was someone else's profile. The second analysis test gives a lower number. It tells how many different people could possibly be in that mixture. 1 in 123,900 individual's could be included in that mixture. Rafael Martinez could not be excluded as a contributor to the DNA mixture found under Nancy's fingernails.

Prosecution witness taken out of order
18 THOMAS TOWNSEND - LAPD Detective. Investigating Officer on the Boehm murders. Explains the murder book and the various sections it contains. Collected a DNA sample from the defendant after there was a CODIS hit.

17 PATRICIA HUCK - testimony resumed

19 VINCENT BANCROFT - LAPD Detective. Joined the investigation into Nancy and Shawn Boehm's deaths about two days after they were found. Collected the fingernail kits and blood samples for Nancy and Shawn from the Coroner's office and booked them into LAPD evidence. Interviewed potential witnesses.

Day 10
20 PATRICIA ROBBINS - Family friend and neighbor of Nancy and Shawn Boehm. When Shawn was little, occasionally babysit for Nancy.

21 TERESA FIERRO - Family friend and neighbor ot Nancy and Shawn Boehm. Sister to Patricia Robbins. Was Shawn's babysitter when Shawn was little. Visited Nancy at her home on September 16, 1997 at around 11 PM until 3 AM the next morning when she left the residence.

22 DR. IRWIN GOLDEN - Retired Deputy Medical Coroner with Los Angeles County. Performed the autopsy on Nancy Boehm.

23 DR. LOUIS PENA - Deputy Medical Coroner with Los Angeles County. Reviewed the autopsy on Shawn Boehm performed by Dr. Bockhacker.

19 VINCENT BANCROFT - testimony resumed

18 THOMAS TOWNSEND - testimony resumed

Day 11
24 JODY HYNDS - DNA Analyst; worked at Cellmark 2002-2008. Currently employed by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Defense Witness taken out of order
2 FRANK KRYSHAK - LAPD Officer; responded to the 2001 crime scene where Luz Nieves was murdered and Francisco Santos survived his injuries. Collected bullet, 6.68 grams of cocaine and a bloody, ten dollar bill from the crime scene. Sargent Kryshak did not have an independent recollection of events.

18 THOMAS TOWNSEND - testimony resumed

Defense Witnesses
3 TAMI MAYNARD - Friend of Nancy and Shawn Boehm for about ten years. Occasionally saw the defendant at Nancy's.

She was a friend and customer and knew Nancy sold drugs on credit. The name she knew Martinez by was "Junior." Saw Martinez at Nancy's house occasionally. Testified about what she knew of Nancy, her habits, the different groups of friends, the bars Nancy frequented, the security procedures at the house, how many different people she saw at the house, etc. Testified about Shawn and his capabilities. Stated the last time she spoke/saw Martinez was several months before Nancy's death.

4  ANTHONY GOBEA - Witness at the 2001 crime event when Nieves and Santos were attacked. He was in a building next door. At 1:15 AM in the morning of May 10, 2001, he heard two people arguing. He couldn't understand what they were saying. It was two males. It continued for a bit, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying. He hear a door shut, a loud scream and then a bang. When he heard tires squealing, he and a friend stepped outside and saw Mr. Santos in the street, bleeding. They called 911. He remembers the man saying, "Help me, please, help me, please." Gobea and his friend told Santos to stay put.

5 STEPHANIE MARTINEZ - Rafael Martinez' aunt by marriage. The defendant is her nephew and David Martinez [Jr.] is her stepson.

6 DAVID MARTINEZ [Sr.] - Rafael's uncle.

7 RAFAEL MARTINEZ - Defendant. Direct testimony complete. No cross examination yet.

Day 12
8 Marc Taylor, President and Laboratory Director of Technical Associates, Inc.  Mr. Tayor is detailing his CV when I arrive. Technical Associates performed DNA testing on Shawn and Nancy Boehm's fingernails as well as the fingernail scrapings. The results of their testing is presented to the jury.

Rafael Martinez, Jr., QUICK LINKS

This page will be periodically updated. Sprocket

Case Number: LA063599

Defendant: Rafael Enrique Martinez, Jr.

Prosecution: DDA Daniel Akemon
Defense: Tom Burns, Alternate Public Defender's Office

Nancy Boehm - September 1997
Shawn Boehm, 23 - September 1997

Nancy Boehm was unemployed and supplementing her income at the time of her death by selling cocaine out of her North Hollywood home. Her son Shawn, 23, has been described as having the mental capacity of a 12 or 13 year old. The Los Angeles Times reported that he participated in the Special Olympics.

Nancy's property was gated and friends described her as very concerned about security. Nancy's friends knew to call first before they came over.  Nancy and Shawn's bodies were found with multiple stab wounds. Nancy was found in a back bedroom where she transacted business. Shawn was found in another bedroom. DNA evidence linked to the defendant was found underneath Nancy's fingernails.


1/20/15 T&T Update on Several Cases
1/26/15 Martinez, Jr., Trial Day 1, Jury Selection
1/27/15 Martinez, Jr., Trial Day 2, Jury Selection
1/28/15 Martinez, Jr., Trial Day 3, Jury Selection
1/29/15 Martinez, Jr., Trial Day 4, Opening Statements
1/29/15 Martinez, Jr., Trial Day 4, Opening Statements, Part II 
1/29/15 Martinez, Jr., Trial Day 4, Opening Statements, Part III UPDATED!
1/30/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Day 5, Testimony Continues 
1/30/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Day 5, Part II   --NEW--
2/02/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Day 6, People's Testimony Continues
2/03/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Day 7, People's Testimony Continues
2/04/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Day 8, People's Testimony Continues
2/05/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Day 9, People's Testimony Continues
2/09/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Short Update
2/10/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Update II
2/11/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Update III 
2/23/15 Martinez Jr., Trial Update IV

Other Media
Photo of Shawn via search engine
Photos of Nancy & Defendant at NewsSpy Flicker
11/06/09 LA Times Article about the Boehm murders
11/05/09 ABC 7 Local Story
11/05/09 LAPD Online
11/06/09 LAist Story
11/05/09 San Gabriel Valley Tribune
06/14/11 Local PATCH Story
09/22/97 Daily News Story via FreeLibrary
09/22/97 LA Times Story

Nancy & Shawn Boehm at Find A Grave

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, from the Sprocket Household

Mr. Sprocket called me into our bedroom. He told me it was a "photo op" moment.

From left to right:  

Rocket, our new 8 month old addition, adopted from the Baldwin Park Shelter, named in honor of Sprocket; Jumpy 12, who usually chases Rocket off the bed is in the comfy spot, on the kitty heating pad, and Scout, age unknown, who adopted us in 2006, finally turned to check out the camera.

Merry Christmas from our fur family to yours.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Here's What Happened to "Punkin Pie," Lana Clarkson's Former "Friend"

 Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin, aka "Pie"
testifying for the defense in Spector 1, 2007.

Back in 2007, over a period of about six months, I attended the first Phil Spector murder trial. It's also when I started Trials & Tribulations. 

Spector was on trial for second degree murder in the death of Lana Clarkson. Clarkson died in the early morning hours of February 3, 2003. Clarkson had met Spector at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, where she was working security in the exclusive V.I.P. Foundation Room. After the club closed, Spector convinced Clarkson to come back to his Alhambra mansion for a drink. Just a few hours later, she ended up dead. She was shot through the mouth while sitting in a chair in the foyer, her purse on her shoulder, as if she was waiting to leave.

Clarkson, an actress and model in the 80s, was just starting to get back on her feet after breaking both her wrists in a freak accident a year earlier when her life tragically intersected Spector's.

Witnesses testified that Lana had a "best friend" who called herself Punkin' Pie, or just Pie, although her legal name was Irene Elizabeth Laughlin.  In December 2000, the LA Weekly featured a story about Pie, a self-made music promoter who helped struggling artists get their start.

Lana's "best friend" didn't testify for the prosecution. She did what any best friend would do. She testified for the defense, telling the jury that best friend Lana was so despondent, that days before her murder, Lana told Pie she was going to get a gun and kill herself.

I'll never forget the above image of "Pie" on the witness stand, with that big gold necklace bouncing back and forth between her large ta-ta's. 

The first trial ended in a hung jury. Pie was conspicuously absent from the second trial, although many witnesses did talk about Pie and how she and Lana were "best friends." At the end of the retrial, Spector was convicted of Clarkson's murder on April 13, 2009.

A couple of years ago, there was a short blurb in Screen Daily that a company, Vesuvio Entertainment was making a movie All Six Feet, about the relationship between Pie and Lana Clarkson. A few days later, The Daily Beast had a longer piece about the upcoming movie and Pie's spin on her friend's death.

It's interesting that Vesuvio Entertainment was started by Greg H. Sims, another supposed "friend" of Lana Clarkson who also testified for the defense.  Back in March 2013, Sims spoke with radio host Larry Elder about the film project that was coming out in six weeks. If the film was ever released under that name, I can't find it at IMDb.

Fast forward to December 10, 2014. I'm on Facebook, and I get an instant message from my friend Toni, who tells me that Pie is on the Dr. Phil show, presenting herself as a "cougar." Although the show had already started, I immediately hit record on my DVR. 

I watched the episode a few days later. It was quite sad. There was 58 year old Pie, her plump body splayed out on her bed like ... (words escape me), extolling the benefits of being a "cougar" and dating a man 34 years her junior. 'Nuff said. 

Phil Spector Wikipedia Page
Lana Clarkson Website
Lana Jean Clarkson Wikipedia Page
Punkin Pie Facebook Page

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christinan Newsom Case - Vanessa Coleman Denied Parole


David brings us updates on two events related to Vanessa Coleman's second trial. Sprocket

Vanessa Coleman Denied Parole
David In Tennessee

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, Vanessa Coleman was denied parole for Facilitation of the rape-murder of Channon Christian. The torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom took place on the night of January 6-7, 2007. Coleman was convicted a second time in a retrial on November 20, 2012. Judge Blackwood sentenced her to 35 years in prison on February 1, 2013.

Why was she up for parole so soon? Vanessa Coleman was convicted of facilitation, not murder. Since she was arrested in January 2007 and remained in custody, Coleman is credited with nearly eight years in prison and is eligible for parole under Tennessee law. 

In a unanimous vote after a hearing lasting 90 minutes, five members of the panel rejected the application. One member was absent. Another was too new to the panel to vote. 

Vanessa Coleman's defense at both trials was she was afraid of the others, one of whom was her boyfriend, and was herself a prisoner in the death house. 

A major question throughout is why Coleman did not free Christian and flee on two occasions when she was alone with her inside ringleader Lemaricus Davidson's house. When questioned at the hearing, Coleman said; "I'm currently in the appeal process, and I have spoken to my lawyer, and it was wise for me not to speak."

Coleman's appeal was rejected by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals a few days before and the Tennessee Supreme Court is unlikely to even look at the case after two trials. 

The main evidence against Coleman was a diary entry a few days after Christian and Newsom were tortured, raped (both of them), and murdered. Coleman wrote of her "adventure in the Big T.N," and how much "she loved her life." When questioned about this at the hearing, Coleman answered "That statement had nothing to do with the case, sir, and that's all I can say."

Davidson was sentenced to death. His brother and Coleman's boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins, was sentenced to life without parole. Cobbins' friend, George Thomas was sentenced to life with possible parole after 50 years. 

Here is a report from WATE, Knoxville's ABC affiliate.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"December 7, 1941, A Date Which Will Live In Infamy..."

American Experience Facebook Photo

Monday, December 1, 2014

Robert Durst Case - QUICK LINKS

This page was last updated on 1/8/17 at 4:45 pm PT. Sprocket 

CASE NO: SA089983 (Filed at Airport Courthouse)

Defendant - Robert Durst (DOB 4/12/43)
Victim - Susan Berman

Prosecution - DDA's John Lewin & Habib Balian
Defense - Dick DeGuerin
Documentary Filmmaker: Director Andrew Jarecki

3/16/15 Robert Durst Case - Felony Complaint
11/07/16 Robert Durst - Arraignment at Airport Courthouse Today
01/10/17 Robert Durst Pretrial Hearing 1
02/08/17 Robert Durst People's Motions
03/01/17 Robert Durst 3/15/15 Interview with LA Co. DA John Lewin

People's Motions/Documents
Felony Complaint
12/05/16 Motion to Admit Special Master12/16/16 Supplemental Declaration
12/19/16 Special Master Reply
12/29/16 Response to Defense Motion01/05/17 Motion to Admit Defense Mirandized Statements
01/17/17 Collateral Estoppel

Defense Motions/Documents

Mainstream Media Articles

OLDER Mainstream Media Articles 
02/2002 VF - The Fugitive Heir
04/2002 GQ - Robert Draper Investigates Robert Durst
01/01/15  NY Times - Douglas Durst on Robert Durst
Current - March 2015
03/16/15 LA Weekly - Durst Says He "Killed Them All"
03/16/2015 NY Times - Interview with Andrew Jarecki, Director of THE JINX
03/16/15 LA Times Extradition Delayed
03/16/14 Buzzfeed - Questions We have for Jinx Filmmakers
03/16/15 Gawker Durst Formally Charged With Murder
03/16/15 LA Times - Durst Documentary Reminds Us Of the Narative Power of Crime Dramas
03/16/15 Buzzfeed - How Did "The Jinx" Narratively Manipulate Its Viewers?
03/16/15 Mashable - How "The Jinx" Came Out of Nowhere to Become Part of a Murder Case
03/16/15 The Wrap - Robert Durst Charged with Murder of Susan Berman
03/16/15 Arts Beat - Why The Timeline of The Jinx is so Confusing
03/16/15 Slate - The Jinx Timeline 
03/17/15 CNN - Durst Charges with 1st Degree Murder
03/18/15 CNN - Who is Robert Durst's Wife, Deborah Lee Charatan?
03/18/15 Salon - Robert Durst is not a true psychopath...
03/18/15 LA Times - False Starts Dodged the LAPD's Murder Case Against Durst
04/03/15 USA Today - Trial Postponed, Witnesses Failed to Show
04/09/15 LA Times - Durst Writes to the LA Times
04/14/15 NBC- Durst: I'm Still Not Guilty (Federal Court)
04/16/15 Salon - Durst Biographer on what Jinx Got Wrong
04/20/14 Houston Chron. - Judge Postpones Trial Until Sept.
04/21/15 NOLA - Durst Federal Charges Trial Moved to Sept. 04/22/15 Boston Globe - Did Robert Durst Murder My Friend Susan?
04/23/15 Huff Post - Gun & Drug Charges Dropped
04/27/15 NOLA - Durst to be Transferred to St. Charles Parrish Jail
05/01/15 NY Curbed - Durst's Brother Could Freeze $74 Mil Fortune
05/08/15 KHOU - Newly Released Video Show's Durst Public Urination
05/08/15 Click2Houston - A Look at Durst's Time in Houston
06/04/14 NOLA - LA Cops Arrest Millionaire Because of "The Jinx"
06/10/15 THR - The Jinx Reporters Break Their Silence
06/23/15 LA Times - Jeanine Pirro Writing Robert Durst Book
06/25/15 ESQ - Robert Durst Took Me To Lunch, 2 Wks Before Murder
07/24/15 PgSix - Durst's Brother Threatens to Sue Pirro over Book

HBO Documentary: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Book: A Deadly Secret: The Bizarre and Chilling Story of Robert Durst, by Matt Birkbeck

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Today, our nation gives thanks. Wikipedia has interesting information about the roots of Thanksgiving in the US, Canada and other countries.

Six months ago, I did not know if my husband, "Mr. Sprocket" would survive his heart attack. Today, Mr. Sprocket (the head cook at our house) will be fixing an organic turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, string beans and a "no corn," cornbread. I am very thankful that he is doing well, back to work and healthier than he's ever been.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of T&T's readers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Michael Thomas Gargiulo Preliminary Hearing - June 21, 2010, Day 1, Part I

Michael Thomas Gargiulo

UPDATE 11/26: edited for spelling, formatting, clarity; added referenced case links

This is a synopsis of the preliminary hearing conducted in the Michael Gargiulo case on Monday, June 21, 2010. Since I only started covering the case since 2012, I did not attend the prelim. Over the next two months, I will be posting an abbreviated account of the testimony and evidence presented against Gargiulo. Sprocket

Gargiulo Case QUICK LINKS
Preliminary Hearing QUICK LINKS

Monday, June 21, 2010
The Michael Thomas Gargiulo preliminary hearing begins in Dept. 108, Judge Michael Johnson presiding.

The parties state their appearances for the record. DDA Marna Miller for the people. Defense attorney Charles L. Linder for the defendant. He is assisted by Abraham C. Linder, law clerk. Also representing Mr. Gargiulo is defense attorney Dale Rubin.

Before the first witness is called, there is subpoenaed record response that was taken care of. Next, the court outlines how the scheduling will go: Day by day, and a full a day as possible. Court will be dark Wednesday afternoon, June 23.

The court asks if there are any other issues. Dale Rubin (who is assigned the penalty phase of the potential trial) tells the court that he will not be present every day. However, he is here to address the issue of the people’s 1101(b). The parties/court will be working off of the amended felony complaint filed November 12, 2009. The court is ready to proceed. The court reviewed the 1101(b) motion. There was no written response to the motion by the defense.

Rubin tells the court that he has been in contact with the DA, but that it has been difficult for him to get a response together. He did not know that some witnesses would be called today.  He had asked for additional time to respond. The defense objects to the 1101(b) evidence coming in. Rubin asks the court to look at People vs. King, a 2010 ruling where there are prior uncharged acts in which the defendant denies that they occurred or that he’s involved.  Rubin also states that he spent many hours trying to find if there was case law about submitting 1101(b) evidence in a prelim. In his 35 years in practice, Rubin tells the court he’s “... never had it happen where it’s been asked to do it at a prelim.” Rubin argues that the problem is the DA’s burden is just probable cause. Rubin continues to argue several other points. Rubin admits that the defense is not prepared to cross examine these witnesses if they take the stand today. They have not done the necessary investigation into the 1101(b) (uncharged crimes).

DDA Miller responds. She points out that discovery for the 1101(b) was provided to the defense over a year ago.  In May, DDA Miller notified the defense she would be presenting the 1101(b) evidence at the preliminary hearing. She filed her motion well in advance of the prelim hearing date and served both counsel on June 9 via email. Although Mr. Rubin states he has been in contact with her, she never received a response from either counsel. “Based on my moving papers and based on the facts and the law as I have stated in my moving papers, this is exactly the type of case that 1101(b) does come in. It does show motive. It does show a common plan or scheme.”

The court asks the people the names of the specific 1101(b) witnesses.

Ashley Green, Dorothy Hass, and Maria Gurrola, a DNA representative from Chicago.  The people will also be Prop 115‘ing some of the officers on the scene at that (Chicago) murder. There is a bit more discussion about which witnesses will be Prop 115‘ing.

The court asks, “Why is it necessary to present these witnesses at the preliminary hearing? What’s the purpose? Is it to establish probably cause? Is it to memorialize their testimony or what?”

DDA Miller replies, “Well, I think it’s part and parcel for both the memorialization of their testimony. ..I think their testimony is extremely helpful to the trier of fact, whether it’s you or a jury at the future date. I think it’s very important to hear in terms of context.”

DDA Miller is not sure how much the court wants regarding what they have on the LAPD case, but she feels it’s important for the court to know the events surrounding that case, since there is a time period between the LAPD murder and the LASD murder.

The court asks if there’s anything else from either the people or defense. Mr. Rubin has one last argument to present. Mr. Rubin explains that when he learned that there was going to be 1101(b) evidence presented he immediately contacted DDA Miller. Rubin states, “... I’m sorry. I have a life. I had three graduations and children moving back from college in this time period, beginning of June, very busy. I wanted to get started on it. ... The response that I got was, ‘You’ll get that information when you get the motion.’“

Rubin states that he researched case law to see if this type of evidence could even be admitted at a preliminary hearing. Rubin could not find a case on point, whether this type of evidence is or is not admissible at a prelim.  Rubin adds that they did not get the 10 court days notice on the motion.

Judge Johnson rules. ‘I am not aware of any authority that precludes the introduction of 1101(b) evidence at a preliminary hearing, so I will permit it.”  The court points out that the admission of this kind of evidence at the prelim is not a binding ruling as to trial, so it’s not a final resolution of the issue for trial. Judge Johnson rules that an adequate showing has been made for some of the proffered evidence for the preliminary hearing. The court then outlines, the specific testimony that will be allowed and what will be excluded.

 The burglary and murder of Tricia Pacaccio, that’s admitted as to identity, common modus operandi and common motive with counts 5, 3, and 1.

The assault with a taser upon Dorothy Hass from December 2001, not charged, exclude the conduct in part as dissimilar. Not the same kind of motive; not the same kind of modus operandi. It appeared to be some kind of disagreement about taking care of animals. Quite different from the charged crimes.   However, admit the defendant’s admission to Dorothy Hass regarding the Ellerin and Pacaccio crimes.

Incident regarding Ashley Green in 2002. Court admits it regarding identity, modus operandi and motive because of similarities with counts 1, 3, and 5.

Conduct attributed to the defendant regarding use of a van that is similar to counts 1, 3, and 5.
The stalking and assault upon Maria Gurrola from 2004, only that portion of the evidence regarding the defendant’s use of a van, the defendant being seen in a white van that was similar to one described in counts 1, 3, and 5. Also admit the evidence of the relationship between the defendant and Maria Gurrola by way of background to explain why the defendant was in the vicinity and why she had an eye on him. Things of the fact that they dated each other, that he asked to marry her, that he followed her, that sort of thing.  The issue of the defendant breaking into her house and Gurrola getting a protective order, that is not similar.

Admissions that the defendant made about knowing forensics, that he knew how to kill people and cover it up, that if Gurrola tried to leave him, he would make it personal, that can come in.  All of that is relevant to counts 1, 3 and 5 as well as the Paccaccio uncharged incident.

Those are the courts tentative rulings. The court offers each side to address his rulings. DDA Miller addresses the 2004 Maria Gurrola, stalking and assault incident. She argues that the defendant, during the Perkin’s Operation, made comments that these women didn’t have protective orders.  Judge Johnson replies, “All right.”

Charles Lindner asks, “Is the court inclined to change its mind?” Judge Johnson replies, “Well, it depends on what you say.”  Lindner then begins to argue that this evidence should not come in at the prelim.

“With respect to the comments allegedly made by the defendant, these were after he was represented by counsel. He was taken to the EL Monte Jail surreptitiously by sheriffs and put in a cell with a couple of deputy sheriffs pretending to be prisoners; did not receive Miranda. There are 5th and 6th amendment issues of serious substance with the conduct of law enforcement on this particular occasion.”

Lindner continues to argue that the defendant’s 5th amendment rights were violated. “I think the court has to hear the constitutional proffer first as to why this should come in, before it comes in at all. We’re very vehement about obeying the constitution. I would ask the court to keep its former ruling.  As far as the defendant being impeached in one of his statements, the defendant isn’t going to be called at this preliminary hearing, so the fact that this woman had a restraining order against him when he said there were no restraining orders against him has no evidentiary weight at all.”

Judge Johnson replies, “All right. Well, the tentative ruling stands; again, excluding the issue concerning Maria Gurrola.” Judge Johnson explains further his ruling on other testimony, stating it’s not really an admission but it’s conduct that he was seen driving a van.  Judge Johnson closes this issue by adding, “That’s the ruling. We’ll proceed on that basis. Is it clear to everyone?”

Then Judge Johnson reiterates his previous statement that these rulings are not binding for trial. “I just don’t see that there’s a sufficient showing at this point of the preliminary." Judge Johnson then asks about the Perkin’s Operation and if there would be such evidence presented. DDA Miller informs the court that there will be, and presents the case law, Illinois v. Perkins, and that it allows for this exact kind of situation.

DDA Miller adds, “While defense claims that it’s a violation of his 5th amendment right. Number one, he had only been arrested at that point on the Santa Monica case. The El Monte case and the LAPD case were not filed until much later on. Almost two months later he was arraigned on other additional charges.” DDA Miller asks the court and counsel to look at Illinois v Perkins, as well as People v. Plyer, which references Massiah in situations like this and how it’s offense specific. DDA Miller adds that the seminal case would be Maine v. Moulton.

The court instructs the prosecution to give the defense a list of witnesses that they expect to call the following day by the end of each day. If there are issues of this kind, like the admissibility of a statement, it should be addressed before the witnesses are called on that day.

Lindner tells the court that he and his co counsel Mr. Rubin, need to make a record regarding confrontation. Confrontation is not a preliminary hearing right. The court ruled on that previously when it denied the defense the ability to find witnesses. The defense has had no opportunity whatsoever to see any of these witnesses to conduct investigations.

Lindner continues, “My fear, and I’m anticipating this, in case this case eventually does reach the U.S. Supreme Court, is that the justices will consider our essentially ineffectual cross-examination at this stage to have supplied the opportunity to cross-examine, when in fact we were not allowed by the people or the ... and because of the court’s ruling, to investigate the very issues on which we have to cross examine.”  Lindner wanted to preserve that issue.

Lindner moves to exclude witnesses from being inside the courtroom. Potential witnesses are excluded.

The first witness is called.

To be continued.....

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beth Karas Launches

 Beth Karas

In mid October 2014, right before the start of the Jodi Arias penalty phase retrial, former CourtTv/TruTv reporter and legal analyst Beth Karas launched a new website,, a monthly subscription based website.

On her new site, Karas explains why:
For the duration of Jodi Arias’s penalty phase retrial in Phoenix, Arizona, I’ll bring you updates and analysis through videos on this site. Why did I launch this? Because the judge is not allowing the trial to be televised live, and many of you who followed last year’s trial want to know the details of the retrial and how it ends. I was there every day last year, and I, too, want to see the final chapter. 
Here’s the plan: I will file a video report on the BK Live link on the site to talk about the entire day’s events—who testified, reaction from the players and jurors, and other observations. I’ll also answer your questions.
The access fee to KarasOnCrime is $5.99 per month. I believe this is the exact amount that CourtTv offered, back in 2004-2007, for online access to their accumulated video library of trial coverage.

There are several other journalists who are live-tweeting the Arias penalty phase retrial, but they don't bring to the table the experience and insight that Karas provides in her live blogging and her nightly wrap-ups. T&T co-contributor ritanita tells me, "Beth's site is excellent."

I don't have any personal insight, but I would not be surprised if there is a book in Beth's future. A book from Beth, detailing her experience as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, as well as the many high profile trials she attended and reported on would be a fantastic read. I hope my wishful thinking comes true.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 24

 Michael Thomas Gargiulo, in custody, date unknown

UPDATE 11/10 2:30 PM spelling, clarity
UPDATED 11/10/14 11:45 AM November 7, 2014

November 7, 2014
Michael Gargiulo relinquishes his pro per status and standby counsel Charles Lindner has been reinstated as attorney of record.

Next pretrial hearing is January 9th, 2015.

I'll have an update on the proceedings later tonight.

UPDATE 11/10/14 
November 7, 2014
There are three cases I'm following that have hearings this morning. Gargiulo, Brown and Woodward. I decide to cover Gargiulo since Brown's hearing is just a status conference and I haven't been to any Woodward hearings since the prelim.

I get to my regular parking lot around 8:10 AM.  I keep the car running for another five minutes to charge up my cell phone.  While I’m sitting there, Cameron Brown’s defense attorney, Aron Laub, parks his vehicle beside mine. After he exits his car, he paces a bit in the parking lot while on a phone call. When he does see me, he smiles and waves.  He then takes off for the courthouse will his rolling cart.  I leave a few minutes later.

I finally catch up to him at the corner of Temple and Broadway. Since I decided I’m going to cover Gargiulo today, I told him that I would miss his hearing. Laub tells me that an associate will be standing in for him since he is in trial in Dept. 102. I tell him that I’m also stopping by 102 first, to drop off a bakery gift for Judge Marcus and his staff.

The Ninth Floor
Up on the ninth floor, I see defense investigator Chris Nicely, already here in his usual spot. I stop to say hello and look around the floor to see who else is here. Cameron Brown’s wife Patty is here. I tell her I saw Mr. Laub earlier and what he communicated to me about his schedule. Laub also said that nothing would happen today in her husband's case, except setting a return date.

In the center of the hallway, I see Janet Levine (and I believe Kelly T. Currie) the lead defense attorney’s for Joshua Woodward. Not long afterwards, DDA’s Habib Balian and Marguerite Rizzo who are prosecuting the case, are deep in conversation with them.

I walk down to the other end of the hallway and wait outside Dept. 102 until the bailiff opens the door. I hand my box to the bailiff and head back to the other end of the hall. Walking back, I see defendant Joshua Woodward sitting on a bench in-between two suited gentlemen, obviously attorneys.  I try to catch his eye but he’s totally engrossed in his cell phone.  I pass DDA Balian and DDA Rizzo again. I really wanted to stop and congratulate Ms. Rizzo on another fantastic Forensic Science Conference back on September 11, but she and Balian were still engaged with Woodward's counsel.

At Dept. 108, DDA's Daniel Akemon and Garrett Dameron arrive. They greet me and Nicely.  Just as we are entering the courtroom, DDA Craig Hum is beside the door to Dept. 107. He asks me if I've seen Mr. Laub.  I tell him he's in trial in Dept. 102.  Hum replies, "He's not there." Unfortunately, I don't have any additional information on Mr. Laub's whereabouts.

As far as attending Brown's hearing, the DA's calendar indicated that Dept. 107 would have a sentencing hearing, but I don't know if that would happen before or after Brown's hearing. I'm hoping that the sentencing would be first, Brown would be second and then I could attend the Brown hearing.  (The next hearing in the Cameron Brown case is November 24, 2014. Sprocket)

Inside Dept. 108
As I entered Dept. 108 behind DDA’s Akemon and Dameron, Judge Ohta slips by us and enters the well.  Judge Ohta looks sharp in a crisp white shirt and blue bow tie.

Defense attorney Charles Lindner is wheeled in by his son, (Abe?).  In the gallery, Lindner and Nicely chat for a moment.  I’m not sure if I hear correctly or who is being referenced, but I believe it’s Lindner who says, “They moved him in with four people.” 

Judge Ohta is at the bench. Lindner and Judge Ohta are have an engaging chat about “model citizens” and what that might be.

Judge Ohta directs his deputy to bring Gargiulo out. There is a bit of a wait while a Sargent Deputy arrives.

Lindner introduces his son to Judge Ohta. Lindner tells the court that his son [has], “...worked for me for eight years ... worked on several murder cases...” Lindner shares with the court where his son went to school and where he is thinking about attending law school. I believe Judge Ohta responds, “If you can get into Irvine, that would be great. ... That’s a good school.”  The discussion then moves onto what I often hear judges talk about with counsel in the well, recent appellate court rulings. Judge Ohta brings up the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals  decision on gay marriage, and discusses the merits of the majority decision.

Two casually dressed young men enter Dept. 108 and sit in the third bench row. I don’t know if they are reporters, or interested parties to Judge Ohta’s current case, that may have already gone to the jury.  Judge Ohta and Lindner now discuss rulings by the Supreme Court. Another prosecutor enters the well and begins chatting with DDA's Akemon and Dameron.  A Latino family of four enters and sits in the back row.

Gargiulo Hearing

Gargiulo is brought out. He sits in the end chair at the defense table. He is still completely clean shaven and bald. Lindner greets his client by asking, “How are you this morning?”  Lindner and his son Abe switch positions so that Lindner can speak directly to Gargiulo.  Investigator Nicely moves up from the gallery to sit a chair along the low wall of the well.  More people arrive and sit in the gallery.

Gargiulo speaks to the bailiff. He hands him some papers that appear to be hand written. The bailiff hands them to the clerk.

Judge Ohta calls the Gargiulo case and indicates the parties present for the record. He adds, “Also Mr. Lindner, standby counsel.”

Gargiulo tells the court, “I just filed a motion ... relinquishing my pro per status ..." The court reads Gargiulo’s motion. It appears to be the lined pages of paper Gargiulo handed to the bailiff earlier.  After reviewing what Gargiulo filed, the court responds, “Before I [discuss?] ruling on this request ... Are you making your [request?] ... contingent on your being able to keep your books and discovery? ... And for [defense? defendant?] to be able to keep discovery and legal books?”

The court asks again if relinquishing his pro per status is contingent upon those other requests.  Gargiulo responds, “No, it’s not. ... I’m relinquishing my status.  But it’s an updated ....” I miss getting the rest of Gargiulo’s explanation.

Judge Ohta responds, “But let's separate these two things. ... You’ve been pro per, and you understand what it is to be pro per. ... you made ..." I believe Gargiulo interrupts the court and states that at the time he chose the pro per route, it wasn’t made clear to him that he could lose privileges.  He goes on to state that, “Because the court has hampered my ability to represent myself. ... The Sheriff’s violated [my rights]....”

Gargiulo mentions a few other things that he feels have been a violation of his rights.  Judge Ohta interrupts him and states, “We’re not going to get into that [again?]. ... I’ve gone over it several times.”

Lindner asks the court if he may speak to Gargiulo.  It’s my interpretation that Lindner explains to Gargiulo in simple terms what his choices are. 

The court continues, “If you feel, Mr. Gargiulo that there’s some [?] ... a violation has occurred that’s impeded your right to self represent in this case ... [it] makes sense to me for you to file a motion. ... I’m not going to sit back and let you just accuse me [the court]...”  Judge Ohta tells him to communicate with the Sheriff’s and file a motion.

Gargiulo replies, “I’ve tried that a few times and there’s no going back and forth. ... I’m fighting for my life. ... I have no access [to legal research/law library]....”

Judge Ohta responds, “If that’s true .... you filed this motion [at the last court hearing]...” Judge Ohta is referencing the 60+ page typed document Gargiulo filed.

Gargiulo replies, “That was written six months ago.”  Judge Ohta has an interesting look on his face and tone in his voice when he asks, “So you held back for six months and delayed this for six months?”  Gargiulo quickly replies, “But that’s because I was working on my 995 motion.”

(I may be wrong, but I thought at the last hearing Gargiulo said he was working on the motion he filed 11/7, and then he told the court he was going to work on the 995 motion. Sprocket.)

Lindner speaks to the prior issues of the court ruling regarding the pro per status and prior Faretta motion.

Judge Ohta, explains again to Gargiulo that, “It’s in your realm of domain as a pro per to litigate that.  If you think [there's been a violation of your rights]...” Gargiulo insists that he has no access to do something, to do the research to file that type of motion. Judge Ohta replies, “You acknowledge you have the right to put forward a complaint ... but you are putting that aside?”

Judge Ohta states for the record that Gargiulo would like to relinquish his pro per status. Gargiulo’s request is granted. Lindner is reassigned as Gargiulo’s attorney.

Lindner addresses the court and talks about discovery since he was removed from the case. “Apparently the amount of discovery ... is five-fold ... since [I was] relieved two and a half years ago.  ... 30,000 pages. ... It’s going to take me time to re-prepare.”

The court asks the prosecution if they have been updating Mr. Lindner as to discovery. DDA Akemon responds, “I have your honor. A hard drive of 29,000+ pages, ... except for about 20 to 30 pages.”

 Lindner tells the court, “I was told by the DA, ...[I] needed to purchase a two-terabyte hard drive.”

Counsel and the court then discuss what a terabyte is, since DDA Akemon adds, “Not sure what a terabyte is.” Someone adds that a terabyte is one-thousand gigabytes.

There is then a discussion as to whether it makes sense to come back in December or to come back next year.   Lindner’s phone goes off and he apologizes to the court.

The second week of January 2015, specifically January 9th is selected.  Gargiulo, Lindner and the prosecution team agree to the date.  The court informs Lindner that the case is working under a general time waiver. But that can be changed if so needed. 

Lindner tells the court that at a prior court hearing, Gargiulo got his foot caught in an elevator and needs to see a podiatrist.

The next issue that’s discussed is whether or not Gargiulo will for the time being, be able to keep his court materials.  Lindner is asking for a court minute order for Gargiulo, at least until January 9, be able to keep his trial documents. While Lindner gets up to speed on the case, it would make things easier if Gargiulo had access to his court documents.  The court replies, “I don’t see a need to take it away from him [at this point].” Judge Ohta asks the prosecution, “If you see a need that he not have it...”

 DDA Akemon and Lindner confer.  Nicely gets up to speak to Gargiulo. Afterwards, Lindner speaks to the court about the DA, but he mistakenly calls DDA Akemon, John Lewin. Someone jokingly says something about DDA Akemon and DDA Lewin looking alike, and it being a slip of the tongue. (They don’t look anything like to me. Sprocket.)  Judge Ohta responds, “We all have slips of the tongue.”

It's either Lindner or Gargiulo who states that Gargiulo currently has access to 14 boxes of books and papers. There’s more discussion as to whether or not Gargiulo, since he relinquished his pro per status, has a right to keep his papers until January 9. I believe the prosecution states they don’t believe he’s entitled to them.

 The issue isn’t really whether the DA agrees, it’s what the Sheriff’s will do, to ensure the safety of the jail. The Sheriff could just take his documents and books away from him. Lindner tells the court that, “I’d like to start over with Mr. Gargiulo.” 

DDA Akemon tells the court that he believes there are two issues. “Mr. Gargiulo is in possession of attorney work product. ... there needs to be [?] ... a need to protect that.” The court replies, “I can’t control [this] issue in the jail....”

Judge Ohta replies, “You can ask me to issue a temporary order.”  Judge Ohta asks his clerk to do that by “minute order.” The parties discuss how the minute order will be worded. Lindner asks that it state that all papers be preserved until January 9.

Gargiulo addresses the court. He mentions that the documents could be put on a hard drive that’s just plugged in, and then he would be able to access them. I’m not sure exactly what he’s talking about.  Judge Ohta rules, “For now, ... issue an [interim] order [that] your documents not be disturbed until January 9.”

And that’s it. Nothing on the case until next year.

When I exit Dept. 102, I peek into Dept. 107 to see if the sentencing hearing was still on. The courtroom is empty so I missed the sentencing and Brown's pretrial hearing.  I then stop by and peek into Dept. 103, where Woodward's pretrial hearing was held, and that courtroom is empty, too. 

I checked with the Superior Court's Public Information Office. Woodward's next court date is January 30, 2015.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

VOTE 2014

November 4, 2014

We enjoy great freedoms in the United States, and one of those is the ability to vote who we want to represent us in city, county, state, and national offices. We are also able to vote for county and state judges. Get to the polls and exercise your right to vote today.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


 Mary O'Callaghan, left and counsel Robert Rico,
at a pretrial hearing. Photo courtesy KTLA website.

Case: BA417095
Defendant: Mary O'Callaghan, LAPD Officer
Victim: Alesia Thomas, 35
Prosecution: DDA Shannon Presby
Defense: Robert Rico 
Event: July 22, 2012

Short Synopsis:
Mary O'Callaghan, an LAPD officer with over 18 years on the force and a former marine has been charged with assault under color of authority.

Media reports indicate the victim, Alesia Thomas abandoned her children ages 12 and 3 years old at a police station. Officers tracked Thomas back to her home and arrested her for child abandonment. One media report indicated the children told police that their grandmother would be picking them up.

O'Callaghan is alledged to have kicked a handcuffed Thomas seven times in her lower body area while in the backseat of a police car before she lost conciousness. Thomas died in police custody. The autopsy revealed Thomas had cocaine in her system. The cause of death was ruled "undetermined." The coroner could not rule out the assault as a factor in Thomas' death.

The Police Commission, a civilian oversight board, reviewed the July 22, 2012, incident and issued a report concluding that O'Callaghan used unreasonable force on Alesia Thomas, 35, when she was restrained and in the backseat of a cruiser.

10/10/13 Charges filed on Thursday
10/15/13 Arraignment on Tuesday
02/25/15 Trial begins with jury selection
02/26/15 Judge Bork rules mistrial due to potential new evidence

T&T TRIAL COVERAGE (Initial Trial- case continued)
02/25/15 Mary O'Callaghan Trial - Day 1, Jury Selection
02/26/15 Mary O'Callaghan Trial -  Day 2 Jury Selection Continues

T&T TRIAL COVERAGE  (Second Trial)

06/05/15 Mary O'Callaghan Verdict Reached
07/23/15 Mary O'Callaghan Sentencing 
10/15/15 2.5 Million Settlement Reached With Children of Alesia Thomas

DA's JSID Investigation Report

@idabeewells (Ida B. Wells) is live tweeting the trial

Mainstream Media Reports
LAPD Online Incident Report
10/10/13 LA Times - Video of LAPD Officer Kicking Woman should be public
10/11/13 HuffPost - LAPD Officer Charged 10/15/13 KPCC Officer Pleads Not Guilty to Assault 10/10/13 LA Times - LAPD Officer Charged With Assault
02/26/15 LA Times -Mistrial in LAPD Officer Assault Case
05/20/15 LA Times - Trial to Start for LAPD Officer Accused of Kicking Woman who Later Died

Monday, October 27, 2014

Javier Bolden Convicted of Murder of Chinese USC Grad Students

Javier Bolden, October 16, 2012, during opening statements
Photo: NBC pool video camera

Today, a jury in a Los Angeles downtown courtroom convicted Javier Bolden of two counts of first degree murder in the death of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, two Chinese USC Graduate Students. Wu and Qu were gunned down in Qu's BMW during a robbery attempt in the early morning hours of April 11, 2012.  The jury deliberated less than a day and a half.

Bolden was also convicted of one count of attempted murder of Deionce Davance and one count of assault on Zanae Flowers on February 12, 2014.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Akemon prosecuted the case.

After his arrest, Bolden was placed in a cell with an undercover informant who secretly video taped and recorded their conversations. Bolden could be heard on the tape admitting to the details of the attempted robbery of the BMW and the murders. 

This NBC report states, "Defense attorney Andrew Goldman said his client lied to the informant to appear tough."

Bolden will be sentenced on November 17, 2014 in Department 102 in front of Judge Marcus. Bolden is facing life without parole.

Bryan Barnes, Bolden's accomplice in the grad students murders, pled guilty, admitted to being the shooter and was sentenced on February 5, 2014. Barnes sentence was life without the possibility of parole.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Javier Bolden Trial: Verdict Watch

Javier Bolden, during opening statements on Oct. 16.
Photo: NBC Pool video camera

UPDATE 6:30 PM spelling, clarity, update after court below
Friday, October 24, 2014
1:30 PM

The Ninth Floor
I'm in the center of the hallway of the ninth floor of the downtown Criminal Justice Center. According th the DA's calendar yesterday, jurors in the Javier Bolden trial received jury instructions at 10 AM this morning.  I believe I see Bolden's mother sitting at the far end of the right wing, near Dept. 102.

Jurors file into the courtroom and I enter last.

Verdict Watch in Dept. 102
Bolden's mother takes a seat beside the aisle in the second gallery row. There are two young women with her. They could also be her children. I don't know.

The courtroom is quiet. The clerk is at her desk and the bailiff is there. There is a young Asian reporter who was here earlier, asking Judge Marcus' clerk about using his laptop inside the courtroom.

1:38 PM
I just checked with the clerk. The jurors started deliberations at 11:45 AM and took lunch at 12:06 PM.  The alternate jurors checked in with the clerk and let them know where they could be located.

1:39 PM
I will step outside the courtroom every 10 or 15 minutes to post an update.

1:42 PM
One of the young women with Bolden's mother leaves the courtroom.

Bolden's mother fidgets a bit in her seat. She's either bouncing a leg up and down, or ever so slightly swinging it. It's the same nervous energy I observed during the preliminary hearing.

A few minutes earlier, when the clerk stopped by to let them know nothing was going to happen, she said she just wanted to be here for her son.

Bolden's mother leaves the courtroom and the young woman who left earlier is back.  After sitting for about two minutes, she's out the courtroom door again.

I can hear the clerk typing quite fast at her desk. I can't be certain from where I'm sitting, but the bailiff appears to be reading something.

1:53 PM
I'm sitting in a chair against the back wall, so I can use the only outlet at this end of the room. Every time I move, it squeaks.

Each time I look up, my eyes are drawn to the candy jars on the clerk's counter.

1:57 PM
Bolden's mother returns. She stops to ask the bailiff something.  She then speaks to the young woman in the courtroom. I believe she states that she wants to check on someone. She then asks the young woman, "Do you want to stay or do you want to go?"  They leave the courtroom.

1:59 PM

I'm the only one in the gallery.

2:00 PM
While I'm sitting here, I'm trying to work on getting my notes up on Tuesday morning's testimony.

An attorney I don't recognize enters, picks up a piece of paper from a chair in the well and then stops to chat with the clerk. Before the attorney leaves, he picks up a big file from a chair in the well of the court.

2:04 PM
Judge Marcus comes out from the back chambers. He's wearing a suit jacket with a red tie and light blue shirt. He asks his clerk, "Heard anything from the jury?"  I believe she answered, "No." Judge Marcus goes back into the back chamber area.

2:06 PM
Judge Marcus comes out again, and chats with his clerk. He's looking at the calendars on the wall behind his clerks desk.  Judge Marcus speaks to his clerk about possibly sending in a master copy of the jury instructions.

2:08 PM
Before he goes back into the back chambers, Judge Marcus asks, "Is the jury okay? ... Do they have everything they need?"  The clerk answers, "As far as I know."

2:13 PM

The jurors possibly have a question. The bailiff goes to inquire.

2:15 PM
The bailiff comes out and tells the clerk, "You know how there's those blackboards in there? They want to know if they can write on them ... or if there's any paper [they can use]."

2:17 PM
The clerk went to the back room and came back out. And the bailiff went back to speak to the jury. When he came back out, I heard him say, "Okay. Alright."

2:18 PM
I have no inside information, but I'm guessing the issue was quickly resolved.

The DA's clerk intern enters Dept. 102 and asks something of the clerk. I can't really get the gist of the conversation. It's quick. There is a short conversation about the clerk being in law school, and then she leaves with the papers she was requesting.

2:24 PM
The young reporter who has never reported on a courtroom trial before, comes in to ask the clerk what to expect. She gives him a quick primer on what to expect. He thanks her and leaves.

2:29 PM
Judge Marcus comes out and gives the clerk a corrected version of the jury instructions. I'm not positive, but I think she tells Judge Marcus the jurors have that already, so it's an extra copy. I think there was maybe a bit of befuddlement, but since I saw smiles and heard a bit of laughter, it appears it was all good.

2:39 PM
Verdict watch is like watching paint dry. It's a slow wait for something to happen.

2:43 PM
Judge Marcus comes out again with some papers for his clerk. His voice is quite low, so I can't hear him. I think he was talking about an appellate decision in another case, because all I heard before he went back into his chambers was, "They reversed it." That's my non-insider guess, from only hearing a few words of the conversation.

2:57 PM
The only interruption in the silence is a phone call the clerk answers. She obtains the information the individual asked for and the phone call ends.

3:30 PM
Judge Marcus comes out. There is something about "special circumstance." There may be some error in the jury instructions or the verdict forms. I hear that they are going to call Mr. Goldman and he wants to notify both sides.

Judge Marcus talks to his bailiff about a case in another courtroom, where the judge misspoke about the defendant's guilt, a slip of the tongue, and a case was reversed 10 years later by the 9th circuit.

3:06 PM
Judge Marcus states that he will want the defendant out and want him dressed, in about five minutes.

3:08 PM
Judge Marcus asks what I'm doing. I explain that I'm live blogging. Judge Marcus states he will be more careful as to what he says.  It appears that they are going to go on the record and correct the wording in one document the jury has received.

3:10 PM
I step out into the hallway.
Judge Marcus appears to be upset that I was writing what was going on in his courtroom while court was not in session. He wants me to stop writing on my laptop.  He says that while court is not in session, it is not a public courtroom and that I'm not allowed to be doing what I'm doing.

Judge Marcus is in charge of what happens in his courtroom.  He has ever right to tell me to stop using my computer.

This will be the end of my verdict watch coverage in this case.

6:30 PM
I'm home now. After I left the courtroom, I waited in the hallway to speak to DDA Daniel Akemon and defense attorney Andrew Goldman.

It's my understanding that all the jurors were brought back into court and they went on the record. The purpose was to change one word in a document and give that new document to the jury. And that was it.

Out in the hallway after court, DDA Akemon and Mr. Goldman told me that Judge Marcus said that I was invited back to his courtroom, so I'm guessing the Judge is not that upset with me. I'm still not sure however, if I will be able to record what I observe and hear during verdict watch.

I'll decide over the weekend if I will return to court on Monday.  I'll have my notes on Tuesday's testimony up over the weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 21

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, in custody; date unknown

I am trying to get caught up on some of my notes from older pretrial hearings that have not been transcribed yet. Below are my notes on what happened on July 18, 2014 in the Gargiulo case. Sprocket

Friday, July 18, 2014
7:39 AM
Red Line Train

I’m on the Red Line train into downtown for the next Gargiulo hearing. Mr. Sprocket needed the car this morning. He has to visit several supply houses to pick up parts for a difficult job this Sunday. The car is more economical to drive for a parts run than his White Whale Work Truck.

I know I promised to work on my older hearing notes, but it just hasn’t worked out. One of my jobs is to help to manage Mr. Sprocket’s business, or lend a hand on a job if needed. This past week, I’ve been helping Mr. Sprocket with several repair proposals for one of his long-time clients.

I’ve also been very busy with other responsibilities. We’ve adopted a new 10-week-old kitten from a local shelter, and one of our older kitties, Scout, has not been feeling well. (Adopt your next pet from a shelter and save a life.) Scout appears to be on the mend, but we still don’t know what’s wrong yet.

New family member Rocket, left and Scout, right, 
in a battle of wills over their favorite chair.

A little heart raising excitement a moment ago. Stopping at the Vermont/Sunset station, a fight between two black men erupted right in front of our open train car door.  They were arguing and one man lunged at the other, both man falling to the ground. They got up and separated, but the argument, one party had his cell phone and was filming the altercation. People on the train were calling out, “Close the door!” They did not want the fight to spill into our train car.  A few moments later, the doors closed and our train took off.


It will be interesting to see if Gargiulo has been to see a doctor, and that doctor agreed to refer him to a specialist. At the July 11 hearing, Gargiulo told Judge Lomeli that the doctor’s at the jail were over medicating him and he needed to see an orthopedic.

8:19 AM

I’m on the 9th floor of the downtown criminal court building. Defense investigator Chris Nicely is already here. He's wearing a nice suede suit jacket. On the elevator ride, DDA Craig Hum got on at the 3rd floor. He gave me a smile when he saw me. I said goodbye when I got off on the 9th floor.

As I rounded through security, I saw Joshua Woodward’s defense team waiting outside Dept. 103. There's a hearing in that case today. Janet Levine saw me clear security. If there is time, I will drop into Judge Curtis Rappe’s courtroom to see if that hearing is still on.

The hallway is very busy this morning.  Lots of counsel greeting each other, along with people from the general public.

8:27 AM
I learn forward to look down the hall. I see that Woodward's defense team either moved to another floor or went into their courtroom already. I see DDA Bobby Grace clear security and shake someone's hand. I believe he headed down to the other end of the hallway.

8:32 AM
DDA Akemon arrives with two law clerks. They stop to chat with investigator Nicely. I’m thinking I might wait in the hallway to see if Gargiulo is brought in via a wheelchair again. It gets a bit late, so I decide to go into Dept. 108.

There is a full tin of Red Vines on the clerks desk. DDA Akemon hands investigator Nicely something from a stack of papers at the clerk's desk. It appears to be pages of lined paper. Judge Ohta looks like he has a new haircut/style. It looks good.

8:50 AM
Judge Ohta's pretty court reporter comes out and starts to set up her equipment. I notice that the little, low door/gate between the gallery and the well has been left open.   We wait for Gargiulo's arrival.

The DDA who is currently in trial in Judge Ohta's courtroom arrives. Now more counsel arrive as well as a deputy sheriff with three stripes on his sleeve. The deputy Sargent and Judge Ohta's bailiff go back into the custody area. The DDA in the well and Judge Ohta are having a conversation. Judge Ohta is wearing a dark navy shirt with a white tie. Now the court and DDA Akemon are discussing 'budget shopping.'  The prosecution team in trial start to set up their files and equipment. The clerk tells the DDA in trial that he has a phone call. I believe someone says, "This can't be good Mr. Knowles (sp?)."

My eyes keep going back to the Red Vine container on the edge of the clerks' counter.  I overhear someone say that Gargiulo requested a wheelchair again. Judge Ohta and the deputies chat.

9:00 AM
Detective Lillienfeld arrives.

Judge Ohta asks all parties to approach. I hear Judge Ohta mention Gargiulo. From the snatches of conversation I'm able to overhear, it appears Gargiulo doesn't want to come to court today. Counsel at the bench nod. It appears Judge Ohta is not agreeing to Gargiulo's request to be brought into court via a wheelchair. The parties step away from the bench.

Detective Lillienfeld introduces DDA Akemon to another detective who is in the well. I believe the other detective is attached to the case currently in trial.

I hear sounds coming from the custody area. Gargiulo is brought out. His walk is an exaggerated limp. Gargiulo is still bald. The only facial hair he has is his eyebrows. He's wearing his glasses today and his usual white, long-john type undershirt beneath the orange jumpsuit. Gargiulo is handcuffed to the chair.  Investigator Nicely is going over papers with Gargiulo.  The DDA's in the other case leave the well.

9:10 AM
On the record with People v. Gargiulo, SA068002.

Judge Ohta starts out by talking about, getting an idea, a rough estimate of the timeline of things to accomplish. Judge Ohta wants to identify potential trial dates. "I said last time, we would work off the prosecution's proposed timeline."

Judge Ohta asks the prosecution about their discovery. He wants to know if they are basically done. The prosecution tells the court that discovery is done and there's nothing else pending.

Gargiulo tells the court that the DA filed an in limine motion, something about "statements." Gargiulo states it's extremely prejudicial. Maybe he's referencing the Perkin's Operation, because he adds, "So many consistent violations happened during that...." I think Gargiulo mentions that he's working on a "... 50 page motion..." I believe Judge Ohta is asking about the status of Gargiulo filing a 995 motion.  Gargiulo responds by talking about what happened in the preliminary hearing, before DDA Akemon was on the case.

Gargiulo tells the court, "There are audio tapes that exonerated the defendant, yet they put on witnesses that contradicted those [statements in the cell?) ... The prosecution has hidden that."

Judge Ohta tries to bring things back on track. "Right now, what I'm trying to ascertain is schedules. ... I don't need an in depth explanation on the type of motion you are going to file. ... What I'm trying to do is begin to set markers."

Gargiulo replies, 'You mentioned 995 motion. ... The thing that stumbles me ... If that ... if [my? the?] ruling on motion..."  I believe Judge Ohta interrupts Gargiulo and tells him, "Whatever motion you need to file is completely up to you. ... Next step is to file 995 motion. ... Motion in limine is not a motion to dismiss the case, ... just a motion to determine evidence admitted in the case."

Judge Ohta explains pretrial motions a bit more. Gargiulo responds, "Because I have to file a 995 ... I have to do a thorough investigation ... and introduce evidence outside of the preliminary hearing."  Gargiulo goes off on a tangent and Judge Ohta responds, "Mr. Gargiulo, what you're saying now is not making sense to me. ... I don't need to know what that is at this point."

There is a bit more back and forth discussion between Gargiulo and the court.  Judge Ohta continues, "Mr. Akemon would like to start trial next year, in April. ... Mr. Gargiulo, [do?] you see that? ... Do you think that's a realistic date? ... Tell me how much time you need to get that done [995 motion]."

I believe Gargiulo replies, "That's too hard..." Judge Ohta replies, "It may be that you can't turn over every stone. ... but at some point, we must move forward. ... I will say at this point, I will give you two months to do the filing."

A date of September 18th is picked and the court adds, "These are not hard and fast dates. ... If they need to be changed, they can be."

There is a bit more back and forth between the court and Gargiulo. Judge Ohta tells the defendant he is going to set a date for the time the trial should occur around.  For now, the April 2015 date is in pencil. September 18th for the filing of the 995 motion.

Lastly, Judge Ohta asks the parties if there is anything we need to do before that date. Gargiulo answers, "Just, not that I can think of..."

After looking at his calendar, Judge Ohta tells the parties that they will have to move the September 18 date to September 25th, for Gargiulo's filing of his 995 motion.

And that's it.

T&T's September 25th pretrial hearing notes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 19, Part II

 Michael Thomas Gargiulo in custody; date unknown.

I am trying to get caught up on some of my notes on older pretrial hearings that have not been transcribed yet. Below are my notes on what happened on June 27, 2014 in the Gargiulo case. Sprocket

Continued from Part I .....

June 27, 2014
8:45 AM

I’m on the 9th floor of the downtown Criminal Justice Center. Mr. Sprocket, who just got out of the hospital on June 16, came with me today. He is going to try to take notes on the Cameron Brown hearing in Dept. 107, while I attend the Michael Gargiulo hearing.

I got to introduce Mr. Sprocket to DDA Daniel Akemon and DDA Garrett Dameron. Mr. Sprocket had to tell them all about his ICU psychosis that he experienced while recovering from his heart attack. It took Mr. Sprocket quite some time before he realized that some of his experiences in the Telemetry Unit were hallucinations and didn't really happen.

8:55 AM

Inside Dept. 108, Judge Ohta’s courtroom. I can tell from the well of the court and the jury box that Judge Ohta is currently in trial. There is also a pretrial hearing in another case.

  Defense Investigator Chris Nicely was in the hallway when I arrived. Stand-by counsel for Gargiulo, Charles Lindner is here. It's my understanding that Mr. Lindner is here for the other pretrial hearing this morning. I believe DDA Daniel Akemon is in the hallway, chatting with someone about the USC Chinese Grad Student murders.

I note that Judge Ohta's hair appears a bit disheveled.  Mr. Lindner greets someone in the gallery. Nicely leaves the courtroom with Lindner.  LA County Sheriff's Detective Mark Lillienfeld is here. I've been a big fan of Detective Lillienfeld ever since I saw him testify in both Phil Spector trials. I've also seen Detective Lillienfeld testify in the Cameron Brown case, second trial. Detective Lillienfeld solved the murders of Mickey Thompson and his wife by Thompson's former business partner (that former DDA Alan Jackson successfully prosecuted) and has also interviewed Charles Manson.

Now the counsel in the other pretrial hearing are at the bench.  DDA Akemon arrives and the other case defendant is brought out. That case goes on the record.

The defendant is to be sentenced. The sister of one of the two victims begins her victim impact statement. She talks about her turmoil. The defendant fidgets in his seat. He does not look at the sister. The woman states that her brother and his girlfriend are dead.  Her words bring tears to my eyes and I have difficulty composing myself.  I take some deep breaths.   Mr. Sprocket is beside me and is listening intently to the victim impact statements.

Next, an older gentleman gives his victim impact statement.  "I do not know what the motive was. ... This young man took the life of my son, Michael. ... He was only 21 years old. ... He was going to school to be a chef."

Another older man gives his impact statement next. He is a pastor, and victim Nicole (sp?) was his niece. "One of the hardest things for me to do as a minister was to conduct Nicole's funeral services."

The pastor quoted Luke, from the Bible. I believe he said, Judge not less ye be judged. Mr. Sprocket tells me the pastor did not quote the King James version, but a new version. Mr. Sprocket tells me the quoted text is what Luke has, for Matthew 7. 

The defendant stares straight ahead.  Nicole's mother speaks next.

"She was nineteen. ... Michael was her first love. He was her Romeo and she was his Juliet. ... All I ask is that ... [for?] God to have compassion for him. ... We don't hate, but we don't forget."

The victim impact statements did not have one negative word directed towards the defendant.

Judge Ohta comments after the victim impact statements. "I've have done many serious cases ... Had many families make [statements]. ...  But [of?] all I've [heard?] here .... Your family, your victim impact statements were the most beautiful ... and they really touched me."

They are now at the point of sentencing. The defendant receives two life sentences, to be served consecutively for first degree murder. Life term, 25 years minimum. Life term plus 25 years consecutive. Fifty years minimum followed by two life sentences. There is more to the sentencing (providing DNA, court costs, over $30,000.00 in restitution settlement to the families, etc.,) but I don't transcribe it all.

Judge Ohta is now ready for Gargiulo. Mr. Sprocket goes over to Dept. 107 to cover the Cameron Brown hearing for me. DDA's Akemon and Dameron along with Detective Lillienfeld enter the well. They're having a chat. Investigator Nicely is in the back row of the courtroom gallery.

When I had entered Dept. 108, a pretty, slender reporter entered. I note that she's left handed, like me. There are four sheriff's deputies in the well to watch Gargiulo. The pretty reporter is now chatting with a defense attorney sitting behind her.

Judge Ohta is still on the bench, waiting for the defendant to be brought out. Judge Ohta addresses a question to Detective Lillienfeld. It's something about getting tired of what [he? one?] does. Detective Lillienfeld says something to the effect of being on the job for 34 years, and that he might be "... toward the end of my journey."

Another suited gentleman enters, greets the DDA's and Lillenfeld. He chats with DDA Dameron and then leaves.

9:48 AM
Michael Gargiulo Case

Several people from the general public are still in the gallery.  Gargiluo is brought out. His head is completely shaved. No mustache. No long sideburns. It's a completely different look. Gargiulo's left hand is chained at his waist. 

Judge Ohta goes on the record with People v. Gargiulo SA068002. Investigator Nicely is sitting with Gargiulo.

Judge Otha gives a quick review of what happened at the last pretrial hearing. There was a review of the Wilson hearing. The court reviewed modifying the defendants pro per privliges. Judge Ohta states that he did not agree with everything and that he modified some of the defendants pro per privileges in the jail system.

Judge Ohta asks Gargiulo if he still is determined to represent himself. "Are you still of that mind, Mr. Gargiulo?" "Yes, your honor," Gargiulo responds.  Judge Ohta then wants to make sure, "That you still understand the circumstances you are under."

A general time waiver is discussed.

The people present a motion in limine to introduce crime scene evidence and expert testimony of retired FBI Agent Mary Ellen O'Toole. The people also prepared a response to the defendant's informal discovery request. I believe the prosecution states that neither of these documents need to be dealt with and that it's just alerting the court. The people turned over pages 29,061 - 29,098 to the defense. With this report, discovery is essentially turned over to the defense.

The defendant asks the court if he can have a hand free, since both of his hands are shackled to either his waist or the chair. He cannot write anything.  The court asks, "Which hand are you, left or right? ... I can certainly honor a request ot have a hand free so you can write." There is some confusion as to whether or not Gargiulo is left or right handed, and it doesn't appear that Gargiulo cares which hand is uncuffed.  The bailiff unhooks Gargiulo's right hand.  Gargiulo apologizes to the court. Judge Ohta responds, "You don't need to apologize to me."

I believe it's the court who continues with the fact that most if not all the people's discovery has been turned over.  The people launched a timeline. The court doesn't feel they've fully discussed that, but the court does want to set time frames. The DA doesn't appear to have that timeline with them today. Judge Ohta mentions an approximate trial date of April 2015.  Judge Ohta won't say that will be the date, but if there isn't a date, there is a free flowing tendency and things don't get done.

Gargiulo tells the court that he can't do anything because he has no access to the jail law library or case law books.  I believe Gargiulo mentions something about "Wilson 1978." He's also asking Judge Ohta to reinstate access to the law books. I believe Judge Ohta tells the defendant that if he wishes to request a modification to his pro per privileges, he needs to make a motion. The court tells Gargiulo that his remedy was to challenge by writing. Since he represents himself, he needs to figure out what the issues are. "If you're asking off the cuff to modify [the pro per privileges] ... I already conducted the review [of the Wilson hearing]  and I agree with the Sheriffs."

Gargiulo tells the court that there are so many witnesses that he can't contact and so many witnesses that have passed away.

Judge Ohta tells Gargiulo to sit down and take a look at the timeline and benchmarks, and the things that he needs to get done. That there are things he needs to achieve with those benchmarks.

Gargiulo doesn't know how those things are going to get done.

Judge Ohta mentions something about the Wilson hearing, but I miss getting all of what he said. He also asks Gargiulo if he is certain he still wants to represent himself.  I believe Gargiulo responds that the court has taken away his ability to represent himself.

The court responds, "You're telling me you want to stay pro per, but hampered because your privileges are restricted.  ... Knowing that, do you still want to go forward? ... But you also say to me, I don't have access. I need clarity so [your?] state of mind is clear."

Gargiulo replies, "I'm definitely going pro per. ... I've no way of getting law books. ... I should be able to have law books. ... but all my privileges to prepare a defense have been taken away." Gargiulo adds that he only is able to see his investigators.

The court responds that, knowing those things, Gargiulo has to decide if he wants to remain pro per.

Gargiulo replies, "I definitely want to remain pro per."

Judge Ohta responds, "Once discovery from the prosecution is given to the defense, in most cases ... the defense begins to provide discovery." Pretrial motion filings are mentioned.   Judge Ohta reminds Gargiulo that along the way, the prosecution filed in limine motions. "Those are for trial. ... Motions in limine don't bind other judges, so I don't do motions in limine pretrial." Judge Ohta has those motions argued right before trial is to start. "So usually, defense will file pretrial motions [to be handled before trial]."

Gargiulo has a question for the court. "The prosecution filed a motion in limine and they allowed in Perkins motion and they did that at the prelim."  Judge Ohta responds, "I don't really know what you are talking about. ... Put it on paper and I'll look at it. ... You need to figure out defense discovery and pretrial motions ... it can be soon."

The court and DDA's Akemon and Dameron discuss the best time to come back. DDA Dameron states they could come back and iron out timelines, and then come back again.

Judge Ohta states he would like to come back in July. July 11th is selected. It's noted for the record that Gargiulo signed for the DA's discovery pages.

And that's it. I note that the pretty reporter speaks to Detective Lillienfeld before she leaves.  (I later learn the woman is respected reporter, Christine Pelisek who writes for The Daily Beast. Sprocket)

T&T's pretrial hearing notes for July 11.