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.