Friday, January 29, 2016

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 34 & Joshua Woodward Sentencing

 Michael Gargiulo, in custody, date unknown

UPDATE - edited for readability The previous post on the Gargiulo case can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
I'm on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles criminal court building. I'm waiting for Dept. 108 to open.  There's hardly anyone here on the floor.

8:35 AM
Dale Rubin is here along with his investigator Chris Nicely. They are down the hallway a ways off my left.

8:45 AM
DDA's Garret Dameron and Daniel Akemon arrive. They check the door but its' not open yet.

8:54 AM
Still waiting for the courtroom to open.  A minute later, the bailiff comes out and unlocks the front door. Everyone heads inside.

Inside Dept. 108
Judge Ohta is on the bench, no robe. He has a white shirt on today. I note that the red vines container on the clerk's counter is virtually empty. There's a new bailiff at the sheriff's desk.

Chris Nicely and I chat about the good parking lots north of the 101 freeway on Spring Street that have closed. There used to be a $10.00 lot on Spring Street right across from El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. You could pay with a credit card and it was about a 2 block walk to the courthouse. Now that lot is closed and the land will be developed. I'm hoping I can find a new lot within three blocks where I won't have to walk up hill.

9:03 AM
Gargiulo is brought out. He looks much the same as before, completely bald and muscular. If you only had his in custody photos to go by, you would not recognize him.

The court goes on the record and the parties state their appearances. The case is zero of 90 today.

Defense attorney Rubin addresses the court. "The proposition required by [a] capital case contract has been filed [with Dept. 123]." Mr. Rubin went to see [the clerk] in Dept. 123 for a time frame. Apparently the message at this time was for Judge Ohta to call Judge Gordon. Mr. Rubin recommends the court put the matter over for another 30 days. Mr. Rubin adds, "At this time there is not funding. ... There's nothing I can assign [my investigator]..."

I believe the court asks Mr. Rubin if the prior contract under which the second chair opperated is no longer valid.

Mr. Rubin tells the court that the contract with Mr. Lindner has been frozen. Ancillary services [under that contract] have not been paid. He needs to be appointed as lead counsel and funding ordered and those funds put in a trust account.

Judge Ohta clarifes for the record that he's not involved in the funding of the case, and that the pre-existing contract with Mr. Lindner is frozen.  Mr. Rubin is interim counsel but he has no funding.

Mr. Rubin adds that the lead counsel was removed and he was working under that contract. Mr. Rubin can't do anything without funding.  Judge Ohta asks Mr. Rubin, in his past experience, when appointed on a capitol case, how long before he would get funded. Mr. Rubin replies, that in the past, about 30 days. But most other cases are not like this case.

The court makes a joke that I partially miss. I believe the court states, "Sounds like psychological counseling."

Mr. Rubin states that we need to check back in 30 days. The court adds, "Looks like your hands are tied Mr. Akemon."

DDA Akemon tells the court that he's happy to talk to Judge Gordon [about the complexities of the case] if need be.

A date to return is passed around and February 29 will be the next date, and the case will be set at zero of 90 on that date.

Mr. Rubin brings up one other issue. Apparently Mr. Gargiulo is having some medical issues in Men's Central Jail. Judge Ohta comments that he knows. "Glasses, water..." Mr. Rubin continues, "He [Gargiulo] has seen a doctor that has ordered things for him [medications, etc.?], but the other doctor says he doesn't need them." Mr. Rubin asks Judge Ohta to order that he gets those items, to get the prescriptions.

Judge Ohta replies, "I can't order that." Judge Ohta can't order a doctor to give a patient medication. Judge Ohta will sign an order for Gargiulo to see a doctor.  Gargiulo speaks up and asks for an ENT [ears, nose, throat] doctor.

DDA Akemon tells the court that today, they turned over more discovery to the defense. Pages numbered 30,881 to 30,903.

And that's it. As everyone is packing up, I hear Mr. Rubin say to Gargiulo, "As soon as I hear, I'll come see you."

Next court hearing in this case is February 29.

The next hearing on this case can be found HERE.

Note From Sprocket
I wanted to update my readers on how I was doing from my fall last Saturday evening.

It was a very painful day for me to attend this hearing on Wednesday. There were a few moments where it was painful to breathe.

Oh Thursday I went to see my doctor. I did feel quite a bit better that day. My doctor believes I tore my intercostal muscles, right where the cartilage attaches to the sternum. It feels like the fall affected my third to fifth ribs on my left side. I could have even cracked a rib, but it's not really worth it to find out, because the treatment is the same: heat therapy and rest. It will probably take 4 to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. 

I decided to take it easy and not attend the Joshua Woodward sentencing in Dept. 103 Friday morning.

The previous post on the Woodward case can be found HERE.

Friday, January 29, 2016 - Joshua Woodward
From the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office:

A former national restaurateur was sentenced today to nine years in state prison for trying to induce a miscarriage of his ex-girlfriend's fetus more than six years ago, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.
On Nov. 13, defendant Joshua Woodward, 43, pleaded no contest to a felony count of attempted murder in case BA403598. At today's court appearance, Woodward was immediately remanded into custody following the sentencing by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Curtis Rappe.
Deputy District Attorneys Habib Balian of the Major Crimes Division and Marguerite Rizzo, Deputy-in-Charge of the Forensic Science Section, prosecuted the case.
Prosecutors said Woodward was a Florida resident who once co-owned the former Table 8 restaurants in Los Angeles and South Beach.
On Oct. 18, 2009, the defendant tried to induce a miscarriage on his ex-girlfriend by using misoprostol, a drug used in the medical community to induce labor and terminate early stage pregnancies.
Evidence presented at a preliminary hearing showed that Woodward attempted to induce the miscarriage on three other occasions. 
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.
 New York Daily News reports that Gail Greaves gave an impassioned victim impact statement.
From the NYDN story:
She detailed how Woodward selfishly robbed her of a rare chance to be a mom at age 39 when he secretly dosed her with the early-term abortion drug misoprostol shortly before she miscarried in October 2009.
"Do you not understand that you are a textbook psychopath?" Greaves said at the sentencing in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
“Do you really not understand what you've done to me, yourself, your family? You took my choice away.”
"I get to see you sitting there right now with no remorse. You are a sick, sick individual, and you are disgusting," she added. "You don't care who you hurt as long as you get what you want."
T&T will track when Woodward is transferred into the custody of California's Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation.

CBS Los Angeles - Ex-girlfriend Confronts Restauranteur - Restaurateur Sentenced to 9 Years


Screenshot of the LA County Sheriff's website
Inmate Locator Page for Joshua Woodward

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper" Trial, Jury Pre-Selection Process Continues

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., in custody, date unknown

Previous post on this case can be found HERE.

Monday, January 25, 2016
In Los Angeles County, it is a long process to select a jury for a high-profile, death penalty case.

Today starts the next step in the jury, pre-selection process for the Lonnie Franklin trial.  Back in December 2015, several panels of jurors went through the first stage to determine if they could serve for a several month trial. The 308 potential jurors that remained filled out an extensive jury questionnaire.  Over the past month, the defense, prosecution and court read these questionnaires.

Friday, January 22, counsel and the court went through a per-elimination process where both defense and prosecution agreed to excuse potential jurors based on their answers, or in some cases no answers, on the questionnaire. [It took five file boxes for the prosecution to bring in the 308 completed questionnaires to court.]

Throughout this week, jurors will be questioned on only one aspect of their potential service, to select a panel that will be death penalty qualified. Judge Kennedy did tell counsel that she would question all jurors herself to help ensure that potential jurors had a good command of the English language as well as death penalty qualified.

Optimistically speaking, the official voir dire process will start Friday, January 29 and take up to two weeks to pick a jury.

Additionally, there are still several motions that will need to be litigated outside the presence of the jury.

Because of the small size of the courtroom and the number of jurors that are being called in each panel, it is highly unlikely that there will be any seats left for the press. On Wednesday, there is a hearing in the Michael Gargiulo case, and I will stop in on Dept. 109 to see if I can find out how things are going. I will try to get a seat during the start of voir-dire, but there is still no guarantee a seat will open up for me.

Note from Sprocket
I apologize that I have not been able to keep you up on all the pretrial hearings in the Franklin case. I caught the flu a week ago and I'm still not back 100%. Additionally, I had a bad fall in our front yard Saturday night.

Falling... it can be exhilarating for a base jumper. It's why they do it over and over again. For must of us though, falling is downright frightening... those few seconds you unexpectedly trip in the front yard [over the long arm of the hydraulic jack under the car] ... and become airborne. Then the ground comes up and smacks you hard. Sharp numbing pain shoots through parts of your body.

I know I didn't break anything, but it feels like I bruised a few ribs. I've been trying to take extra naps on the sofa to rest up. And I'm moving pretty slow.

In other news, Mr. Sprocket starts a whole new project/direction today and we are hoping things go well.

The next post on this case can be found HERE.
Complete T&T case coverage HERE.

CBS Los Angeles - Jury Selection Gets Underway

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Case Update II

The previous post on this case can be found HERE.

UPDATE 2/19/16: edited to correct spelling error of Pelisek's last name.
January 12, 2015
I arrived on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center, only to find a notice on the door of Dept. 109 that court was 'dark' today. 'Dark' means Judge Kathleen Kennedy's courtroom would not be in session. People Magazine reporter Christine Pelisek arrived a few minutes after me and was just as puzzled as I was.

I immediately rechecked the LA County Sheriff's Inmate Locator webpage, and it did indicate that Franklin was scheduled to have a court appearance today. I've learned the hard way that the sheriff's website isn't always 100% accurate. Errors happen.

Before I headed home, I sent an inquiry to the court's Public Information Office to find out what happened. Evidently, there were additional motions filed on Monday and the new court date set for Thursday, January 14. There will also be an additional hearing the following day.

The next post on this case can be found HERE.

T&T's Exclusive coverage of the Lonnie Franklin Case.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., Pretrial Hearing 13

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., 2/6/15
Photo credit: Nick Ut, Associated Press

The previous post on this case can be found HERE.

January 5, 2016

9:11 AM
I arrive to the hearing late. I did not leave the house in time. Los Angeles is in the middle of a rain storm and I took the train to avoid the often panicked Southern California drivers who have no experience driving on slick streets. I'm originally from Ohio, where I rode my '68 BMW R60/2 on snow covered streets for years before I ever owned a car, so I'm not concerned about my own driving skills.

When I arrive, the hearing is well underway.  I quickly take a seat in the last bench row beside Arlene from the Public Information Office. Usually, I try to sit close, in the second row but since I'm late, I don't want to make a lot of noise while the court is speaking. I catch the eye of Judge Kennedy's bailiff, who is kind enough to give me a smile.

At the defense table from left to right is defendant Franklin, new bar attorney Kristen Gozawa, lead defense attorney Seymour Amster, and new second chair, defense attorney Dale Atherton. I don't know the exact date Altherton was appointed by the 987.9 Judge. It's my understanding this is his first appearance in Judge Kennedy's court.

Over at the prosecution table are DDA Marguerite Rizzo and DDA Beth Silverman. Sitting in chairs behind or beside the people's table are LAPD Detective Daryn Dupree as well as two other deputy DA's, Paul and Jamie, who are assisting with the case.

In the gallery are two journalists, one is People Magazine investigative reporter Christine Pelisek. The other young woman I've seen before, but I don't know her name. Also in the gallery are several young law clerks with the DA's office that have been on the case for some time.

As I open my laptop and try to get my cold fingers moving, it appears Amster is giving some preliminary argument to the people's opposition to his ballistics expert being allowed to testify in the defense case.

The people have filed motions opposing several defense witnesses from testifying. They were successful in blocking the defense DNA expert Dr. Lawrence Sowers from testifying. The court ruled that Dr. Sowers was not an expert in DNA analysis and his theories and analysis that he did would not be presented to the jury. That pretrial hearing took seven days. Besides their opposition the the defense ballistics expert, the people have filed motions objecting to a metallurgy expert as well as a former LAPD officer, who the defense wants to testify about police practices.

As I start taking notes, it's clear Amster has yet to formally respond to the people's opposition to his ballistics expert. It's why the case has not had a hearing to argue those points. I come in in the middle of this argument. Amster tells the court "The tactics that the people are utilizing are going on across the nation."

Judge Kennedy, with a slightly puzzled expression on her face responds, "I don't quite understand you." Amster tells the court, "Ballistic testing is being challenged in federal court and [the testimony] thrown out." Amster adds that the people are taking just bits and pieces of what the scientific community says and not the entirety of the information.

Amster argues that the defense doesn't have to present anything until the time when the defense puts on its case. I believe one of Amster's issues is, he hasn't yet obtained copies of transcripts from other cases, where his ballistics expert testified. The people have paid the fee to the various court reporters to obtain these transcripts, but from my understanding, Amster has not. Supposedly, the defense ballistics expert was barred from testifying in other cases as an expert. At the same time, Amster argues he doesn't know if the people will even use the transcript material to impeach his expert.

Jurors are not set to return for voir dire until January 25. Amster asks the court for a return date of January 11. By that time he will have filed his opposition to the people's motion.

Judge Kennedy asks Amster to clarify. "You are in [the] process of preparing a written opposition that you feel will be completed by Friday ... assuming we will go forward next week ... assuming [the expert] is available to testify?"

Amster tells the court that he is assuming his expert is available. "I haven't asked that question. I have no reason to believe he is not and certainly I will make an inquiry when we leave."

Judge Kennedy states, "Last month, the [prior pretrial hearing] took seven days of court time." Judge Kennedy goes onto explain that she never expected that hearing to take that long. "I don't want to have to be in the middle of a trial and send a jury home in the middle of trial. .... So I do prefer to handle motions that have the potential of being lengthy before we get in trial."

Judge Kennedy then goes to great length to explain how the jurors are a big part of her concern. Stopping a trial for an out of jury hearing completely disrupts a jurors life and possible work schedule, if they are in the middle of a trial and suddenly they are sent back to work for several days or a week.

The court adds, "When they don't come in for two or three days, it moves the end [of the case] further out. They don't get paid for those days and they have to go back to work. ... It creates havoc to their plans and [their] employer's plans, when all of a sudden, they show up and they [the employer] don't know in advance they go back to work. We don't pay jurors if they do not appear. ... It's [also] an issue with regards to jurors that work a graveyard shift where it's hard to go back and forth." The court states that they have had this happen in the past.

Amster replies that he is empathetic. "We have our position and we'll state our position and we'll make our ruling and go forward."

They anticipate arguing this motion next week. Amster reminds the court that they don't have copies of the [other cases] transcripts.

DDA Silverman informs the court that they still have two other motions that were filed two months ago and those need to be heard also.  Amster tells the court that in regard to the two other motions, those two witnesses are "... pure rebuttal.  [Whether those witnesses testify or not] will be based on cross examination in the people's case. ... So any ruling the court makes, it's against the defense. We are going to ask to revisit it based on the testimony presented by the people's witnesses. ... If the people's witnesses don't go in a certain direction, we're not going to go in that direction. ... I believe those other two motions are an exercise in futility..."

Judge Kennedy asks, "Other than those motions and the pending review of the jury questionnaires, there are no additional motions, correct?" Amster responds, "Not that I can think of post [sic] verdict."

DDA Rizzo informs the court that the people have a couple of motions that are going to be filed. One will be filed before penalty phase and one filed after penalty phase. The motion related to guilt will be filed by the end of the week.

Amster tells the court, "Depending on what's in those motions, we may be filing a continuance." The court responds, "We'll, we'll get to that point." Amster brings up another motion, that he may bring up before the penalty phase.

DDA Silverman tells the court that they've already identified multiple jurors that should be excused for cause, or an inability to speak and comprehend and read. The people also have a draft of their exhibits by the end of the week.

DDA Silverman tells the court, "The people are prepared to offer stipulations if the defense is."

Judge Kennedy adds, "There's a deputy DA in the panel. He should be excused. ... There are some people who are [not] illiterate, ... but they [don't have] sufficient knowledge of English language and a few people, through their comments, are so strident one way or the other ... and to remove some of them as well."

Amster states the defense will agree to stipulations, but they haven't gotten to that point yet. The court asks the people if they've sent their [jurors to excuse] list to the defense yet. DDA Silverman responds, "I sent him an email and we've identified multiple people..." I believe the people tell the court that they haven't received any response yet.

DDA Silverman comments that it doesn't look like this issue will move along outside of the court's time. The court reprimands DDA Silverman that her comments "...doesn't help move the case along." DDA Sliverman responds, "I tried."

The court makes a comment about a positive attitude. Smiling, almost joking, Amster interjects, "It's always good to remain positive."

Judge Kennedy then asks the parties for a sidebar. After a few minutes, the court states that the parties will return on January 12 regarding the pretrial motion.

And that was it for today's hearing.

The next post on the case can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mark D. Jensen, Convicted of Antifreeze Poisoning of Wife Julie, to be Retried

1/5/16 Screenshot of Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections 
web page of Inmate Mark Jensen

UPDATE 1:22 PM reporting Jensen's bail set at 1.2 million.

January 6, 2016
Mark Jensen, convicted in 2008 of killing his wife by antifreeze poisoning will get a new trial.

Do any of you remember this case? This was a trial that T&T covered, by watching it online.

Mark Jensen's wife Julie died on December 3, 1998 from antifreeze poisoning. Jensen's defense argument was Julie committed suicide.

Jensen was convicted of her murder in February 2008. The prosecutor was Robert Jambois. Jensen was defended by Craig Albee.

One of the unique pieces of evidence in this case was a letter the victim had given to neighbor Ted Wojt (along with a roll of film), instructing him to give it to police in case of her unusual demise.

That letter was the main basis for Jensen's appeal. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court's decision to overturn Jensen's conviction on the grounds that statements Julie Jensen made before her death should never have been admitted into evidence.

Jensen was scheduled to have a bond hearing today. I will update as soon as I hear any news of his custody status.

T&T Mark Jensen Quick Links Page
Our Sister Julie Website (With Timeline Information)
Mark Jensen Legal Defense - Support Website

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Michael Gargiulo, Pretrial Hearing 33

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, in custody; date unknown.

The previous post on this case can be found HERE.

December 15, 2015
8:45 AM
Inside Dept. 108, on the 9th Floor of the downtown Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center.

Defense attorney Dale Rubin is here, chatting off the record with Judge Ohta about where he [Rubin] is in the case and what he needs to present to the 987.9 judge for his case proposal. It's not in my notes, but I believe defense investigator Chris Nicely arrives soon after.

I’m sure I’ve talked about what the 987.9 judge is in the Grim Sleeper case. When a defendant is provided counsel by the court (not public defender; not alternate public defender’s offices), a judge, seperate from the trial judge, reviews and approves or denies, expenses that the defense attorney requests, to defend his case. The law that covers that is 987.9 in the California Penal Code. The 987.9 Judge in the Gargiulo case is Dept. 123, Judge Scott M. Gordon’s courtroom.

There’s more off the record chatter about whether or not Mr. Rubin needs to go in camera with the court to discuss where he is with the 987.9 judge.

Judge Ohta glances around and asks, “Where is my staff?” A moment or two later, Judge Ohta’s clerk takes her desk. There is a discussion about the LA Unified Schoold District.

At some point, DDA Akemon arrives. Judge Ohta asks DDA Akemon, ‘Where is your partner in crime?” referring to DDA Garrett Dameron, Akemon’s co-counsel on the case. Judge Ohta then asks, “How did you rope him into it?” DDA Dameron is not assigned to the same unit, Major Crimes, as DDA Akemon, but another unit.

8:47 AM
Judte Ohta’s pretty court reporter comes out and starts to set up her equipment.

There’s more off the record chatter in the well. It appears Rubin and DDA Akemon chat off the record about Rubin’s issues in front of the 987.9 judge.

Rubin may have a different strategy to defend Gargiulo than former counsel Charles Lindner did, and those costs could be more. I don’t know.

Here is a hypothetical to consider. Suppose Gargiulo is convicted and sentenced to death. Could his appellate attorney successfully argue ineffective counsel, on the grounds that the 987.9 judge did not approve adequate funds for Gargiulo’s attorney to defend the case? I’ve heard that there is such an appellate case, that argued these similar points and was successful in overturning a conviction. I just haven’t found it yet. T&T readers who know the law better than I do, if you know of such a case, please post a link to the published decision or email me privately.

Judge Ohta gets into his robes and soon after Gargiulo is brought out. Gargiulo is much the same as I last saw him. He’s completely bald and clean shaven. He appears more filled out, muscular, that his 2008 booking photos. He’s carrying a large dark green bag or sachel of some kind.

Gargiulo is handed a package of yellow lined note pads.

The court goes on the record in the Gargiulo case. I believe the court states that the last time Mr. Rubin was before the court, the case was in limbo, and he had not presented a proposal to the 987.9 judge yet.

Rubin explains that he’s having a problem getting his proposal together. A lot of the proposal is privileged. 

The court replies that it understands, and that there’s a lot for him to put together. Judge Ohta tells Mr. Rubin that he doesn’t need to hear the details. 

Rubin goes onto explain that he’s received 15 banker’s boxes from Mr. Lindner, [Gargiulo's former counsel]. He also tells the court that a lot of information is also electronically produced. I believe he tells the court he’s received that information from the DA.

Rubin adds that he’s been in trial since October. It’s been hard to work on that proposal. He  also tells the court that because of Mr. Lindner’s position he’s taken in the past, it’s made things [harder?].

Judge Ohta asks the people what has been turned over to the defense. DDA Akemon responds 30, 880 pages of discovery.

Mr. Rubin tells the court he doesn’t intend to review all of that prior to presenting his proposal to the 987.9 judge. But it will require some time.

I believe the court responds, “I don’t know all that happened outside [referring to Dept. 123] but Mr. Lindner does have some knowledge. ... It’s not as if he’s [Judge Gordon?] totally blind.”

The problem is in the past, but Judge Ohta needs a requested return date.

Rubin’s suggestion is to put the case at zero of 90 and return on January 25th. He’s hopeful that at that time, his proposal to Judge Gordon will have been submitted.

A different date is bounced around and all parties agree to January 27, 2016.  DDA Akemon offers to Rubin if there is anything he can do, he’s there to help.

Gargiulo is asked if the January 27th date is fine with him. He shrugs his shoulders and replies, “Sure. That’s fine.

The January 8 trial date that was set last year is vacated.

Before Gargiulo leaves there is a quick exchange with his counsel that indicates how markedly different his relationship with Mr. Rubin is verses Mr. Lindner. Gargiulo says to his attorney, “Happy Holidays.” Rubin replies, “You too.”

And that’s it.

The next post on this case can be found HERE.