Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rafael Martinez, Jr., Trial - Day 7, People's Testimony Continues

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Day 6.......

UPDATED: 2/4 afternoon witnesses
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
I've updated Day 4, Part III to include the detailed testimony of the first couple of witnesses. I've got a little but more to go before that's complete. I'm also working on the detailed testimony of Francisco Santos, for the morning of Day 5.


For the past six days of trial, I've been observing Martinez at the defense table. Every time an image is put up on the screen for the jurors, he turns around to look at the photo. Oftentimes, I see him with his right elbow resting on the arm of the chair with his fingers over his mouth.  Yesterday, I noticed that he was helping his attorney look for documents during criminalist Bruce Lyle's testimony.

There is a woman who comes to court and sits in the very back row on the right, against the wall. One day, Detective Townsend went up to her and asked her who she was and why she was here. The woman said that she often just comes into the courtrooms to listen and to pray.

I remember during the Blake trial, there was a man who came in several days a week carrying a large duffel bag.  He would fall asleep in one of the back rows. It was speculated among several of the people in the gallery that he was homeless because he smelled. I remember my first day attending the Blake trial, there was a homeless man sleeping in a niche corner, near the entrance to Van Nuys West Courthouse.

9:50 AM
I'm inside Dept V. Judge Speer just finished up with other court proceedings. Defense attorney Tom Burns is here.  Once the proceedings are over, Judge Speer leaves the bench and Mr. Burns paces in the well. DDA Akemon and his investigating officer, Detective Townsend have not arrived yet. I step outside the courtroom to publish this update.

I'm at lunch at the moment. Here's what happened during the morning session.

On the record without the jury present. It's around 10 AM. Mr. Burns argues to the judge about specifics in the prosecution opening statement.

Mr. Burns argues that the prosecution's argument, as his case is unfolding, with the 1101b testimony. I believe Burns is arguing that DDA Akemon has gone outside the bounds of what was ruled on by insinuating when Martinez is "shushed" that is when he lashes out. Mr. Burns complains about DDA Akemon calling the defendant "blood thirsty" in his opening statement.

I'm surprised this was not objected to at the time of the opening statement.

Burns tells the court that he doesn't think they should be allowed to argue this, in relation to intent. That it’s in direct violation of 1101. He goes onto say that he would like to be on the record that thsi is highly prejudicial to the defendant.

Akemon responds, "That’s part of the intent argument. ... When he’s told to shush he intends to cause harm.

Judge Speer responds, "The jurors have a responsibility to compare the similarities of the 1101 b evidence and the charged crimes. So any similarities between the two crimes should be considered by the jurors, ... and what sets him off, what his motive is."

Burns counters, "So, we’re adding now some type of motive on his part?"

I believe Judge Speer reponds, "It is showing motive. .. The 1101b isnt offered to show motive. .... They will be instructed to that proposition. ... But they will be able to compare."

Burns replies, "I understand that your honor. ... Were tyring to have them unring the bell for anything but intent. ... But counsel calls my client blood thristy, as a propensity to do something and he's going anginst the instrcution."

Judge Speer offers, "They can't decide what the intent is unless you know the facts and the details of each of the crimes."

Burns argues, "I have no problem with that your honor. ... My problem is the prosecuiton arguing a propensity argument."

Judge Speer assures the defense, "I won’t let the pople aruges propensity in that [way? context?]."

I'm not sure who says this next sentence. "Not that the defendant has the propensity to kill, when people shush him."

Judge Speer mentions the motive is when he's high or when he wants drugs.

Burns continues to argue, "I don’ think that argument is proper."

Judge Speer says she won't let the people argue in those terms, but [argue?] the similarity between both crimes.

Argument is finished. I have in my mind that DDA Akemon responded but I missed getting his counter.

The jury is brought in. A witness is taken out of order. People's witness, Bruce Lyle retakes the stand to reopen cross examination.  Lyle tells the jury and the court that he was mistaken how he packaged the fingernail clippings and the fingernail scrapings. Lyle now states that all the fingernails for the left hand were put in a single bindle. The same for the right hand. He doesn't remember how he packaged the fingernail scrapings. Judge Speer is not confused as to how this evidence was collected.

The witness explains that at some point in time, he knows he collected evidence in the manner he originally testified but he's not sure when that change in procedure happened.

The defense asks him if 1997 was a long, long time ago. The witness agrees. The defense asks if DNA testing back then was different than it is today. The witness agrees. DNA testing is more sensitive now. The witness agrees that there is more concern today about contamination.

DDA Akemon recrosses the witness.

DA: When you collect scrapings and clippings, even back in 1997, you maintain a chain of custody? Even with blood type evidence, etc?
BL: Correct.

The witness is excused.

Two more witness were called in the morning session.

STEVEN KORDAK, was a friend of the Boehms. He grew up in the Boehm neighborhood and knew Shawn all throughout his childhood. He testified that around 11:00 am on September 19th, 1997, he saw Shawn on the street and they exchanged greetings.

SUSAN RINEHART, LAPD Criminalist, who testified yesterday afternoon retakes the stand on direct.  When we broke for lunch, she was under cross examination.

UPDATE: 2/4 -Afternoon session witnesses
SUSAN RINEHART - LAPD criminalist retakes the stand. The defense introduces over 50 crime scene photos to document the messy home as well as what was found in the back room where Nancy conducted her drug transactions.

JESSICA STOCKTON - 36 year old, Friend of victims Nancy and Shawn and former heroin addict. She's been clean for 7-8 years. Knew Nancy through her father, who worked at the Palimono night club. Lived at the residence for a few months in 1997 just prior to their deaths. Nancy was like a mother figure to her. Testified about Nancy's personality, Shawn's mental capacity, the security procedures of the house and what she observedas far as customers coming and going. When talking about Nancy and Shawn, she became emotional on the stand. On cross examination she stated that at that time she was a dancer. Defense also asked if the work was strenuous.

At the end of the court day, the jury was ordered back for 9:30 AM.

More detailed testimony will come....
Day 8.....