Monday, February 29, 2016

Lonnie Franklin Trial Update & Notes From Sprocket

February 29, 2016
Over a week ago, I came down down with a bad case of the flu. Ten days later, I'm still battling with debilitating congestion in my lungs. I've been left with a chronic, deep cough that is not compatible to sitting in a courtroom while testimony is being presented.

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Trial

The only other reporter I know that has been at the trial every day is LA Times reporter Stephen Ceasar, who has produced several stories already covering the trial.

During the past week, several criminalists, DNA analysts and at least one detective testified. On Monday February 22, I know that Dr. Lynne Herold completed her testimony about the evidence she collected from victim Bernita Sparks.

On Tuesday, February 23, Stephen Ceasar of the LA Times reported that Supria Rosner, a criminalist with the LAPD testified that DNA found on victims Barbara Ware and Bernita Sparks matched the defendant. Additionally, Cristina Gonzalez, a criminalist with the LA County Sheriff's Department, also testified that DNA evidence recovered from the body of fifteen-year-old victim Princess Berthomieux matched the defendant.

On Wednesday, February 24, the LA Times reported that criminalist Gonzalez continued her testimony to the jury, stating that DNA recovered from the body of victim Lachrica Jefferson matched the defendant. Additionally, LAPD Detective Donald Hrycyk took the stand to recount responding to an alleyway crime scene on August 12, 1986. The victim was later identified as Henrietta Wright.

According to the LA Times article:
About a year later, he began investigating the death of Bernita Sparks, whose body was found in a trash bin in the 9400 block of South Western Avenue.
He noticed similarities between the two victims, he told the court. Both were young African American women who were shot in the chest and apparently dumped in or near South Los Angeles alleys, he said. Neither was found with identification, and both seemed to be intentionally hidden.
 There may be some T&T readers who recognize Detective Hrycyk's name. Hrycyk was Stephanie Lazarus's senior partner in the LAPD's Art Theft Detail unit when she was arrested for murdering Sherri Rae Rasmussen.

Thursday, February 25, Hrycyk continued his testimony. Then the sole surviving victim of alleged serial killer Franklin took the stand to testify. KFI's Eric Leonard reported:
A woman who survived an encounter with the serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper said Thursday she heard and felt nothing when she was shot.
“Everything just went eerily quiet,” Enietra Washington told jurors. 
“Then I saw the blood on my shirt and I thought, he did shoot me,” and said she remembered trying to figure out how to get away.
“When I got ready to reach for the door, he said don’t touch that door bitch or I’ll shoot you again,” she said.
Washington said she was in and out of consciousness after she was shot once in the chest in the front seat of a customized orange Ford Pinto in South L.A. in 1988. 
Below are the reports from several other media outlets that covered Enietra Washington's testimony.

February 25, 2016 LA Times article
February 26, 2015 Washington Post article
February 26, 2016. People Magazine
February 26, 2016 Inquisitor
February 25, 2016 ABC 7
February 26, 2016. KFI's Eric Leonard

T&T readers, I am trying to get well as fast as I can so I can return to court. I'm hopeful I'll get a handle on this cough this week and can return to cover the trial before the end of the prosecution's case-in-chief. That's my goal.

A Sprocket Note
While I'm recovering, I've been watching Mrs. Ficus, a female Allen's hummingbird who built a nest in my potted ficus tree on my back patio. Hummingbirds are amazing creatures that live on the edge of life's existence. The average hummingbird weighs less than a dime.

Four years ago in 2012, a hummingbird built a nest in the same trees, right before the start of the Lazarus trial. An Anna's hummingbird built a nest in the trees in 2013 and now after a several year hiatus, an Allen's has returned to nest again.  Hummingbird nests are tiny. They measure about 1.5 inches by two inches. They are built from plant materials, lichen, dandelion fluff (special, raw cotton that I put out for them) and held together with spider webbing.

I can see her nest from my bedroom patio doors. I discovered her nest on February 6, and watched her put the finishing touches on it.  Can you see the nest in the photo below? It's up high, directly over the edge of the left window.

On February 10, Mrs. Ficus laid her first egg. The eggs are less than 1/2 inch long.

Hummingbird hens will rest one or two days before laying their second egg. Mrs. Ficus laid her second egg on February 12 and egg sitting begins. Hummingbird incubation can take anywhere from 15 to 18 days, depending on temperature and conditions.

February 24, 2016, Mrs. Ficus on her nest.

February 28, I climbed a ladder and checked the nest. One of the eggs had hatched, probably the day before. The other egg looked strange.  It looked like it was cracked on the bottom, but it wasn't moving.

I couldn't see inside the nest very well so I got down off the ladder and got a flashlight. When I came back, the second egg, the nestling was shaking his head back and forth until the eggshell came off his head. That's him, that little black dash just to the right of the broken eggshell.

I put on one of Mr. Sprocket's headlamps and finally got a good light on the nest. The older nestling, Leaf, is on the left. Twig, who just hatched, is on the right.

From hatching, hummingbirds will take about 21 to 25 days to fully fledge and leave the nest.

I hope you enjoyed the hummingbird photo essay. Below are links to two live webcams on hummingbird nests.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sherri Rae Rasmussen 2/7/1957 - 2/24/1986

Sherri at home, December 1985.


Matthew McGough is writing a book about Sherri's life and murder.

Sherri Rasmussen was an exceptional person.

Over the last several years I have interviewed many of Sherri’s family members, friends, and colleagues. Thirty years after Sherri’s tragic death, her absence continues to reverberate in their lives.

Sherri’s life was remarkable for how much she accomplished in her twenty-nine years, and for how humble she was. Sherri was a high achiever from the time she was a little girl. Sherri graduated from high school at age sixteen, college at twenty, and became a nurse the same year. At twenty-three, she earned her master’s degree in nursing from UCLA.

Despite being younger than many of her nursing colleagues, first at UCLA Medical Center and later at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Sherri’s personal nature commanded trust and respect. Those who worked with Sherri remember her as an extremely competent nurse, always calm under pressure, and a natural leader. Sherri cared deeply about her patients and about the profession of nursing, to which she dedicated her adult life.

Sherri loved her family and friends and was beloved by them. Many people have told me about the profound impact Sherri had on their lives, how she encouraged them to do their best, and how her example continues to inspire them, even all these years later.

Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.” By this measure, it makes perfect sense that Sherri is remembered so fondly by so many.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Trial - Day 14, Afternoon Session

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. 2/16/16, Opening Statements
Pool camera: Al Seib, LA Times

Friday, February 19, 2016
Note From Sprocket
Other cases were heard in the morning session. The Franklin trial resumed in the afternoon session. I was barely able to get these notes transcribed on Sunday. On Saturday evening, I came down with a bad flu. It smacked me flat on my back and laid me out. I would type a bit editing my notes and then go lie down for an hour or so. I don't believe I will be well enough to go to court tomorrow or all this week.

The 9th Floor
1:35 PM - Inside Dept. 109
When DDA Beth Silverman arrives she goes over to the family members in the gallery and talks to them about the defense challenging the coroner that some victims may not be the actual individual's autopsied. She informs them of the remedy she has for the defense challenging victim identity.

1:41 PM - Judge Kennedy takes the bench

On the record. Call the jurors.

During the morning court session with other cases, Dale Atherton tried to copy with his own scanner all the prosecution's exhibits. Atherton tells the court he was not able to copy all the exhibits during the morning session because there was not enough memory on his laptop. He asks if the exhibits would be released to the defense to copy. The court is not willing to release the exhibits for the defense to copy. The people state they went well and above what was required. The court tells Atherton that the defense needs to "... figure this out ..." on their own.

The last prosecution witness from yestertday retakes the stand.



It is taking several minutes. We are waiting for Amster because he is not ready to go. He needs to get set up and ready.

Amster nervously jokes this is the first time he's had someone not hear his voice and he laughs about that.

Do you have a personal recollection of remembering going out to the scene?

I do.
You were notified there would be a dead body for you to look at?
It was your job to go out to a place like that to look at a dead body?
Did you receive training on what to do?
That’s right.
Was this out of the ordinary?
This wasn’t extra ordinary. ... I had lots of cases of bodies dumped in alleys.
Police were already there, right?

How many were there?

I think there were two police officers and I think two detectives.
What about citizens?
I think there were citizens but they were blocked by police not to go near the scene of the crime.
Okay. ... 

Amster has the witness open the exhibit book at the witness stand to a particular exhibit.

Amster instructs the witness, "Wait until I ask you questions." Amster smiles, and then gives what I interpret is a nervous laugh again. Amster shows him a photo and asks the witness if that was what it was like. Mr. Lorca replies “It is exactly the same picture as to what it was like.”

Defense presents exhibits C1 and C2.
Court: Are they photographs?
SA: They are.

Another photo of the crime scene.

DDA Silverman tells the court,  "Just for the  record your honor, this is the same [photo] as people’s 11B."

Now going to put defense C2 up on the screen. Another photo.
Asks the witness about the white painting, the graffiti on the fence. The witness replies, "I don’t get the question."

Seymor tells the witness to wait for a question and then laughs. Again it appears to be nervous laughter. DDA Silverman tells the court, "For the record your honor, defense C2 is the same as People’s exhibit 12." Amster asks, "Your honor, may we approach?"

1:56 PM Sidebar

I note Franklin is wearing the light gray shirt again.

2:04 PM Sidebar Over

Do you see this white writing that I’m pointing to in this photograph?
Are you referring to the writing on the fence?
I did not pay any attention to that because I was focused on the body.
It was not part of your duties?
It looked like old writing. ... Yes, I saw lots of graffiti like that on the fence.
Is it an accurate photograph of what the scene looked like when you viewed the body?

When your attention was focused on what you had to do, you removed the carpet that was covering the body?
I did.
Did you remove the yellow dress that was on top of the body?
I did.
Do you remember removing a yellow dress that was on top of the body?
Yes, I did.
Do you remember if the yellow dress had blood on it?
I don’t remember.
Would it refresh your memory to review a report you prepared?

Does that document refresh your memory if you saw blood on the yellow dress?
Yes. ... I saw blood that was on clothes that was on top of the body.

Were you trained to determined if blood was fresh, or was around for a while?
The court interjects that they did not understand the question, but I believe the witness does.
The blood is no longer fresh. It had been around for awhile.
And you were trained to recognize something like that?

Did you see two holes on the body, located around the left chest?
Did you see two holes on the blouse covering the body?
After you saw the two bullet holes on the body, you did not do any other examination of the body?
I said probable bullet holes. It could have been caused by a sharp instrument.

He turned the body over to look for additional holes in the body.

And after that, your job was finished?

The witness goes into great detail as to what he did after. Collecting the body and his other duties back at the coroner’s office.

2:14 PM
Now you caused the clothing to be returned to the coroner’s office as well?
Objection, vague.
Court: Try your question again.
The clothing was found on the body was brought into the office by you?
Yes, I did.
You did not know the exact age of the decedent before she died, and approximated her age to be 35 years of age, right?

Defense exhibit C3 on the overhead. DDA Silverman informs the court, "As before, this is a duplicate of people’s 16."

Do you see a purse in that picture?
Can you write purse on it and put an arrow to the purse?
[Writes on exhibit.]

Does that picture C3 show how you first saw the purse with the head lying on it?
It’s exactly what I saw when I was there.

No further questions. Cross ends and redirect begins.

Just one question.

Mr. Lorca, was the victim transported to the forensic science center with her clothes on?

The prosecution is finished with redirect and the court asks their own question.

Court: Mr. Lorca how old are you?
The witness gives a smile and waits a moment, almost hesitant to give his age.
79 years old. I will turn 80 in the next two months.
Court: Well thank you very much for coming into court.

The people call their next witness, Detective Adrian Soler.


DDA Beth Silverman presents the witness.

The witness is employed as a senior investigator for the Riverside County DA's office. He's been there 9 years. Prior to that, he was 25 years with the LAPD. He was a patrol officer then 19 years as a detective.

Were any of those years assigned to a homicide unit?
18 years. I worked the Rampart [Division] then later went onto Robbery Homicide in Parker Center.
What year did you retire from LAPD?

How many investigations, as primary or co-[detective]? 
Approximately 200 and assisted on hundreds of other homicides, suicides and death investigations.

Let me take you back to when you were on patrol. Where were you assigned?
77th Division.
Did you have a partner?
Robert Kein.
Were you called to an alleyway location?

Exhibit 8. Outline diagram schematic. The witness is asked if they are familiar with that diagram.

It appears to be a schematic, crime scene drawing. It was where he was called out to.
Points out a stick figure that I can’t see, that is supposed to represent the victim with a piece of carpet on top. The witness describes what he remembers. Photo put up of the scene. Clearly identifies the scene of the alley and knows it’s  a “T” shaped alley.

What was the ground area? Was it asphalt, was it dirt?
The North to South section was asphalt and the other portion of the T was dirt.

Person in the photo, and identifies the carpet. He recognizes the up close photo of the body covered by the carpet. People exhibit 12, another view of the body under the carpet. People’s exhibit 13, close up of the victim's right hand leaning up against the wood fence.

The witness points out in the photo: "This area here you can see slippage of the skin, which is a sign of decomposing bodies."

People’s 13B. Another photo of the right hand and leg. Another photo of a view of the alley. He is asked if he recognizes the people in the photo. He is certain the individuals are officers. Describes how the scene was blocked off from the public. More photos, different views of the crime scene that the witness identifies.

This particular location is this business or residential or a combination of both?
It’s a combination of both.

Close up photo of the face of the victim. Tears start to well up in my eyes. I can’t look at the photo for long.

The face was bloated. The lips swollen. The right eye was swollen.
Was there any odor?

Did you see any insect activity?

From the way that we saw here, and the fact that the victim was supine, lying on the back?
Could you tell if the female was wearing any clothing?
Yes. White ennis shoes, blue denim pants and some kind of light colored top. There appeared to be a black and white purse under her head.

He pulled the carpet back over the body. He did not look in the purse and did not see any identification in the area.

Is it standard procedure to wait for a rep from coroners office before touching the body at all?

Did not notice any weapons or bullets. Did not find any identification anywhere in the alley.

Looking back on this scene, was there any significance in respect to this scene given the location of the body?
Objection sustained.
Did it appear to you to be a location that would be considered a body dump?
Why is that?
Because it was a location where the body could be hidden. ... It was a suspicious death, where someone had placed a carpet over a body to conceal or hide the body from view.

What is a body dump? Have you heard that term over the course of your career?

Yes. ... It’s where a person was killed at one location and then moved to another from the scene of the crime.
At some point while you were at this crime scene, did other personnel come to this crime scene?
Did that include other patrol officers?

Then he left the scene and didn’t conduct anything else in the case.
He was not present when the coroner’s investigator came to the scene.


You said this was an area where an alleyway that could be hidden from view?
If some were to walk in the alley, they could view it, but generally, people would walk on the sidewalk.
Was this an alley that you felt the public would not use?


But this is an alley that law enforcement that didn’t go to? Correct?
[Miss answer.]
Was this an area that you patrol ?
[Miss answer.}

Why was it your unit and not another unit?
Because I was assigned to 77th.
And was this alleyway was in your [division?]
[Miss answer.]
There was nothing preventing residents from using this alley?
You felt this because you knew this wasn’t regularly being patroled?

He does not know if that alley would regularly be patrolled.

So you rendered an opinion that this alley would be a good location to hide a body?

DDA Silverman interjects, "I’m going to object. And to the tone .He’s yelling at the witness."
Court: Overruled.

Typically, body dumps occur in an area other than where the incident took place?
In my opinion, that is the fact that someone is trying to conceal a body there.
Give me all the reasons why you rendered that opinion. ... Why do you feel this was a good location to hide a body?
In my opinion it was out of view, general public view, and the carpet was placed on the body to hide it at that location.
Besides the carpet, was there anything else?
It was a factor. Alleys, in conjunction with the carpet made it a good location.
Why do you think [that location was better?]?
Well, it would be better than placing the body on a sidewalk.

Laughter in courtroom after that answer.

Questions about whether he regularly patrolled [that alleyway].
He doesn’t recall.

More confrontational questions about “why” this alley was a “good body dump location.”
And why he came to that conclusion.

Exhibit 12 close up of photo. Amster points to a hole in the carpet.

Do you remember looking at those holes?
I remember looking at the carpet and thinking those were bullet holes.
Do you know if the carpet was seized by the police?
I do not know.

I count 13 family members in court today. I speculate that the cross examination about the items with the body are to document that some potential evidence was never collected, and some was collected and destroyed. For whatever reason, intentional, accidental error, etc., some evidence in this case was lost or destroyed.

Defense exhibits C4 through C20.

Asks the witness about photos, identifying clothing, other items. Photo of miscellaneous papers on top of the carpet. He did not see that.

Defense exhibit C8 on the overhead screen.
Do you see a pair of keys depicted in the photo?
Doesn’t remember seeing keys at the scene.

Photo of the alleyway where the body was found.
Do you see what’s written on the walls?
Do you recognize that as gang graffiti?
Yes I do.

Another photo, where a detective is holding up the evidence. Looking over at the inner door to the court, I see Judge Marcus is here. He's dropping of his externs to observe the trial then he leaves.

More questions about the graffiti. Objection. The court asks a quesiton. The witness is not familiar with the area being related to gang activity.

C14 more photos of graffiti written on a cement wall. Photo after photo of graffiti on an area of the fence. Franklin is staring straight ahead through all these photos. One of the jurors leans her head over and rests it on her left hand. Most jurors are not taking notes.


A defense exhibit, close up of earrings. He did not note or see the two earrings that were placed on or near the body at the scene. This was an observation that he never made at the scene, that’s because when he saw it, it was never uncovered. A question about several defense exhibits presented. He was not present and he would not have made those observations when the coroner’s office came.

3:07 PM 15 minute break. 

Judge Kennedy tells the jurors to come back at just past 3:20.
A discussion about exhibits then the jury is brought back in.

3:29 PM On the record with jury.

At the time that you were called out to this crime scene in August of 1985, you indicated you were a patrol officer?
What was your job?
To secure the scene and canvas the area for witnesses and make the notification to roll to the scene.
So your job was not to investigate?

You said your job was to canvas the area?

And some of the ground in this area was dirt?

DDA Silverman objects that these questions are beyond the scope of rebuttal.

Did you see any footprints around the body?
I don’t recall.
Did you see any tire tracks around the body?
I don’t recall
Same for footprints?

DDA Beth Silverman presents the witness. I adore Dr. Herold. She’s walking with a cane now. I don’t remember that the last time I saw her at the Crime Lab for a lecture.

Dr. Herold is sworn in to tell the truth.
"Yes, I so state," she replies.

[Are you employed?]
No. I am retired from LA County in July 2014.
Where did you work prior to [retirement]?
From 1982 until retirement, I was first assigned to Coroner's Dept. from 1982 to 1989. Then in 1989 to the Sheriffs Dept., Forensic Science Center, also known as the crime lab, particularly the trace evidence department.

Herold is asked to explain trace evidence. Trace is any physical item that could be evidence in a case, other than drugs, fingerprints or firearms or DNA analysis. It could be anything such as hairs, fibers paint, cosmetic traces, polen, soil, anything that could be associated with a case.  Dr. Herold also had a specialty in bloodstain pattern examination and crime scene [re]construciton.

Dr. Herold gives her Ciriculm Vitiate. She received her Bachelor's from Kent State, Ohio. She received her Ph.D. in the biological sciences from Southern. Calif. She used that for the basics for beginning in forensic sciences. She attended FBI training school for hair examination and tested for competency in that examination. And [an expert] in eleven other sub-disciplines. She has lectured and taught. Lectured at Cal State University in Forensic Science program. Lectured at UCLA in chemistry program also in a program for mystery writers, ultimately for their careers. And also for those for people deciding to move from medical school, thinking it might not be for them to the forensic sciences.

She also taught.
When I was a graduate student in the biological sciences I worked my way through school by being a teaching assistant. One of those that is relevant to this case, is histology, or the identification of animal tissue. Taught that to dental and medical students and nurses, that had trouble passing their exams.

Testified in cases throughout her career in the local level, at the Supreme Court level and and testified in homicides in Canada and Austria.

What was your job title when you were employed in 1982 at Coroner's office?
When I was first employed as a forensic science specialist. Then promoted to criminalist.

What is a forensic scientist?
Someone who is educated in one of the hard scientists, as apposed to a social sciences. Educated in hard science as a basic education then use that basic education for additional specialty training. and apply that to analyze pieces of evidence to be used in a court of law.

What does that mean that you did on a daily basis?
When I was with the coroners office my job was to retrieve cases that came in for physical evidence associated with the body or clothing attached to the body. Recognize it, collect it, preserve it and document chain of custody evidence. Collected intimate samples if there had been sexual activity.

Did you work with anyone particular who was also a criminalist?
Worked with Ron Lindhart [sp?]. Worked with Lloyd Mahaney. Ron Lindhart was the supervising criminalist who worked at Sheriffs and transferred to Coroner's Office.
Did both of those gentleman pass away?
Yes they have.
Did you work together to develop some type of a formalized program in evidence collection?
Tell us what you did.
At that time, we wrote an appropriate scientific protocol and trained others in the division to meet a standard under that correct scientific protocol, because Coroner's Office worked with different agencies. Had protocols to properly collect evidence between those agencies.

She and Lindhart wrote a manual protocol. There was already a standard sexual assault kit.
They made that kit more comprehensive. Along with other people, reviewed what was in place and then augmented with some additional collection supplies and wrote the protocol for the creation of the kit, the maintenance of the kit and the collection of the kit and chain of custody while at the Coroner’s Office.

Date April 16 1987. Did you review a case, to that particular case. 87-3919, this Bernita Sparks?
Was this a case where, it was requested that there was some type of special processing?
Yes. Special processing refers to in the coroners office that special procedures that were followed on the case. [It] required for full photography, review for physical evidence, clothing be kept and available to the medical examiner.

The Corner's office deals in may kinds of cases not just homicides. In the case like that, they may not necessarily keep clothing as an idem of evidence as to [say,] what was happened in a traffic accident or natural death.

[In the Sparks case] they handle the case as if it was a homicide, until it is known NOT to be a homicide. If you destroy clothing before the fact, it can not be [recovered]. It also required the collection of a sexual assault kit. If there was the possibility of sex assault, then that would require a sexual assault kit.

Dr. Herold explains unique coroner’s case number in great detail. Lots of objection that her response is non-responsive on her testimony.

Was this a special processing made as a request to you by an investigator at a crime scene?
Did you go out to the crime scene?
I would wait at the Science Center for the body to come in. The body was found in a dumpster.
Was she identified other than by a Jane Doe number?
the time I handled the case she was identified as Jane Doe #25.
Did at some time did your reports reflect the name of Bernita Sparks.
I only knew the case as Jane Doe #25. At some way that I don’t know, she was identified as Jane Doe.

Was this decedent photographed at the Science Center?
Exhibit 84. Photo A and B
. Herold identifies items in the photo.
That is Coroner's case number 87-3919. That is the decedent, lying on transport plastic. That is how I would have received her in upon arrival. Clothing would be placed as it was found at the scene. The decedent is wrapped as is, and brought to the coroner’s office.

They secure the dead person in plastic wrapping so that lose evidence [doesn't] fall off, nor can anything else fall on them to contaminate them.

This was a clear, frosted plastic that was purchased from a company in large roles and then they were cut to different sizes. The plastic sheeting would be standard supply.

DDA Silverman asks a question several ways, as whether or not this decedent came in to the Coroner's Office, the same way she was found. Amster objects every time. Dr. Herold comments.

I did go to crime scenes. I know what the problem is with the question. [Referring to the photo of the body up on the overhead screen.] This would have been an accurate representation of how I received the case at the Coroner's Office. I was not at the scene so I can't tell you for a fact personally, how she was at the scene.

This is classic Dr. Herold!

Showing you exhibit 85.
This is a standard pose of a decedent. ... After processed for physical evidence, the clothing removed, it was the job of the investigator, to wash the body and remove blood, and they would be put [the body] in a series of standard poses to show the front back and sides, to show the wounds. This is one of the poses. [What] is under her head, is a wooden head rest. The other photo, I can tell is, what's on the edge of the gurney is fingerprint ink. So it [the photo] was taken after they were washed and fingerprints taken. If you look at the actually exhibit, you can see the ink on the fingers.

Once the body was undressed and washed is that when you would begin the collection process of the sexual assault evidence?
Collect the SAK before it was undressed?
Before even collected sexual assault kit, you would look over the body for evidence?
Yes. You would examine the body from head to toe, and look for things under lighting conditions fluorescent. Specifically, semen, also many types of fibers and biological materials and cosmetics that will fluoresce under ultraviolet light.
Also, have the body X-rayed?
At some point you do. You can when evidence of gunshot wound, when that happens depends on case situation. ... Sometimes do it first, because you want to know where [it is in] the body and if it’s a through and through.

The court explains through and through to the jury.

Did not have a through and through in this case. I personally did not X-ray the body. The photographer X-rayed the body.
What is this mid-line object, center of the chest?
I know from the review of the record.
Can you descibe what that is?
If I just had that picture, I would call it a tool mark.
Did you review documentation that led you to believe that this was a gunshot wound? ... In terms of the projectile in this case, you knew there was a projectile?
Objection. Sustained.

Lets talk about the collection of the sexual assault kit in this case.
I used a standard kit and used a standard form. The kit is, consists of a square cardboard box and inside that box, are a series of collection devices that were used for the purposes of collecting sexual assault evidence as well as other types of loose trace evidence. ... The kits are made by hand, and each kit had a unique number on it. And all the parts inside the kit contained that unique number outside the kit. ... Would be sealed to show that it was an unused kit.

She would have to break the seal in order to use the kit. [They are] largely pre-labeled, unique kit number as well as some of the location samples.

People's Exhibit 99.
How do you recognize this?
Because my handwriting is on the label.

4:07 PM The court calls the end of the court day. 
Judge Kennedy addresses the jurors. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have survived the first week of trial.
And I commend you for following my instructions and remind you not to form an opinion about this case."

Judge Kennedy gives the jurors more language about not doing any research on the case, watch anything on the news, etc., and then ends with, "I wish you a wonderful and safe weekeend. [Return Monday morning at 9:00 am."

The court verifies that they will continue Monday with Dr. Herold and asks what other witnesses on Monday. The people mention two names, one of which I recognize, Detective Don Hrycyk. Detective Hrycyk was former LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus's partner in the Art/Theft Detail Division when she was arrested for first degree murder.

And that's it for today.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kelly Soo Park [Uwaydah et. al] Fraud Case, Pretrial Hearing 5

Kelly Soo Park, in custody, 2015

UPDATE 7/13 Label: Corrected DDA Ma's first name to Kennes
UPDATE 7:45 PM edited for clarity, spelling, grammar
Friday, February 19, 2016

8:24 AM
I drove into downtown today, parking in an affordable lot in Chinatown. I feel I’m needing the exercise of an extra block walk to court. Besides, all the parking close to court, costs about $20.00 per day. I'm starting to feel a little more like myself since my graceful trip and fall four weeks ago.

On my walk towards the criminal court building, I see Lonce LaMon from and I wait for her to finish parking to walk in with her. On the Temple Street Plaza one of Park's defense attorneys, Mark Kassabian enters the courthouse right when I do.

8:30 AM - The 9th Floor
In the elevator up to 9, I saw Michael Gargiulo’s new counsel Dale Rubin.

 Ariel Newman, who is co-representing Paul Turley is already here. The court clerk unlocks the door for counsel to enter but the general public and press are not allowed in yet. 

Also on the floor is DDA Amy Ashvanian who is prosecuting the "Little Armenian" murders. Albert Harutyunyan [aka Alberd Tersargyan] is charged with four counts of first degree murder. It looks like there will be a hearing in that case also this morning.

8:35 AM - Arrivals
More defense counsel for the Park case arrive and try the door. It’s still locked. A set of prosecutors I’ve never seen before arrives and tries the door. There may be a slew of cases this morning.

8:50 AM - Inside Dept. 109
There are several cases being heard this morning.

Two of the prosecutors on the Uwaydah et. all /Park Fraud case are here. DDA’s Catherine Chon and Karen Nishita. I see the bailiff is letting defense attorneys [on another case] back into the custody area to speak to their client[s].

First Case
The first case is called. No resolution has been made between the parties.  A return date is picked and the hearing is over very quickly.

Lonnie Franklin, Jr.'s co-counsel Dale Atherton arrives with a scanner to scan the people’s Franklin exhibits in the jury room.

I see Harutyunyan's two defense counsel in the courtroom, Pete Warmin and Greg Apt with the Alternate Public Defender's Office.

DDA Dynan Mathai, [who I believe is lead prosecutor on the Uwaydah/Park] case arrives.

Second case - Little Armenia murders, Albert Harutyunyan
On the record in the second case. The interpreter is sworn in to translate English to Eastern and Western Armenian for the defendant.

The court asks about reports being prepared. They are not back in from the medical doctors.

The court states that the proceedings are going to remain suspended. When I hear that, I'm thinking California Penal Code section 1368.  This section of the code has to do with mental competency of the defendant. Section 1368(c) states that court proceedings are suspended until the defendant's competency to stand trial can be determined. There may be some other reason the proceedings are suspended, but in my mind, this is the most likely cause.

The court asks the parties if they have a date [to return]. Judge Kennedy tells the parties, "I do need it to be on a Friday." March 18 for court and counsel. Further proceedings for March 18. And that’s it.

Third Case - First Defendant

I remember seeing these two defendants last Friday. One of the defendants in a two defendant case is going to plead. When Judge Kennedy hears that she asks the bailiff, “Can we get [defendant’s name] out right away?” Then the court says to counsel, “When I hear those magic words, I want to get it done right away.”

The defendant will plead to voluntary manslaughter. The court is asking for the specific counts and what would the defendant get on those counts. The high term of 11 years for the gang allegation and an additional 10 consecutively for the gun. The defendant was arrested in 2010.

The judge reads through all the specific language of the individual’s rights, that the defendant must say on the record that he is giving up. The court makes sure that the defendant understands each and every right he has that he is giving up. The defendant pleads no contest to the charges.

 2,320 days credit. So, about six and a half years credit on a 21 year sentence.

Fourth Case
There is a probation violation case. The DDA from the prior case is asked by the court to stand in for the people. It's over pretty quick.

Third Case - Second Defendant
Second defendant in the third case. This defendant is also taking advantage of the people’s offer. The court asks the people to outline the amended charges. Amended count two for voluntary manslaughter. Gang allegation and firearms allegation. This defendant would also get 21 years.

We have a repeat of the first defendant giving up each and every right before the court will accept the plea agreement. The defendant waives time for sentencing. They are about to conclude when the court realizes they don't have the original date the defendant was arrested. That needs to be tracked down before the court can rule on the number of days credited in custody. The court interrupts this case to hear the Uwaydah et. al / Park case.

Fifth Case - Uwaydah et. al / Park Fraud Case BA425397 & BA
The court starts calling out the names of the many defendants. Matter of people vs. Paul Turley and Peter Nelson, Marisa Nelson and David Johnson....

DDA Chon informs the court that the hearing is only for defendants Forgar, Park and Arnold.

Defense attorney Ellyn Garofalo for defendant Tatiana Arnold [the attorney]. Defense atttorneys Jeffrey Isaacs and Akili Nickson for defendant Tony Folgar. Defense attorney Mark Kassabian for defendant Park, and standing in for counsel [named] for defendants Case and Maria Turley. Defense counsel Ariel Newman for defendant Paul Turley. The people state their appearances. There's also a counsel here for a Mark Engle [an uncharged, alleged co-conspirator].

The court asks, "What are we doing today?"DDA Chon replies the [parties filed] two proposals. There are some issues that the defense and people do not agree on. 

I believe Chon states there is a 1050 filing for the people’s [response to defense] 995. The people have heard from all but one defense attorney.

Judge Kennedy asks, "Can we take up the order first and what the parties can't agree on?"

DDA Dayan Mathai updates the court. [First] the deadline set for defense mid March for privileged docs to be produced, people [still say it will be] 10-15 weeks for them to be produced. Seems they should be ordered to produce it.

Second, the defense proposal as is, paragraph 9 in it, meant to include understood agreement by DA’s office not to argue, is any party has waived privilege as described in the order.

Other than that the two orders are essentially identical. There's one issue about cell phones. Those are the two main issues.

The timeline [for turning over discovery and privilege discovery] when proposed in Jan, we said it would take 12-15 weeks. It’s still going to take us 12 to 15 weeks.

The court asks, "Why would you not do anything between Jan and now?" DDA Mathai replies, "Your honor, we have been." It’s not fair. ... We’ve said 12 to 15 weeks. The people have to process this. DDA Mathai continues, "They [the defense] want the court to put on paper a deadline for us. We are putting a deadline. It’s going to take 12 to 15 weeks. ... We’re telling you up front. The people who are doing the work, they started within the last week. Because we [had? didn't have?] a written email from the defense to start. ... The difference that we're talking about is about two weeks. "All we’re asking is that the court says, not be put on paper. ... To give us a hard deadline, it’s impossible. It’s binding our hands just seems unnecessary to include that deadline."

"Second issue. ... When we were here originally the [order the] court is now signing is very different. The original protocol, Both Ms. Garofalo and Mr. Gluck's firm getting all the discovery, whether it pertains to Ms. Arnold or Mr. Turley ... In that structure we were talking about .... look, Mr. Gluck may see items that relate to Ms. Arnold that he doesn't represent. ... If the people are going to be asked to produce that, two separate lawyers, that may violate privilege. ... that [they?] acknowledge that [they're] going to be seeing some other counsel's stuff."

There is further explanation from the people. On this point of privilege, Ms. Arnold may represent privilege, her clients hold the privilege. The court asks, "Wasn’t that the whole point of this thing?"

Ms. Garofalo will only receive items from the search of Ms. Arnold. Mr. Gluck will only receive things related to Paul Turley.

The people continue to argue, "Now there’s not an overlap, we’re not asking for that issue on the record. Now they want to have the court say, on the record, to limit the people from ever arguing in the future about this privilege. ... [I] don’t think the court should give a written order that I’m prevented from an argument."

The court asks, "What paragraph?" Mr. Newman answers, "Paragraph 9." After looking over the defense's proposal for the court order, Judge Kennedy rules, "In terms of paragraph 9, I don’t like the language the DA should not argue. I think that I like better, following the protocol outlined in this order does not constitute a waiver of privilege."

DDA Mathai replies, "That’s fine your honor. ... That’s more acceptable to us. Implicit in this idea, if they see their things they’re not waving." DDA Chon, tells the court there is another attached protective order. The court replies, "I’m not signing any [other?] order today."

I believe DDA Mathai continues, "With location 13, we did have extensive arguments as to what that will mean. Our position [still is?] ... has not established as a threshold issue, whose items are in there. ... That we still have our arguments that other people's privilege that knowingly .. that haven’t asserted at this point. ... And [they?] have argued that the court should turn them over to them."

The court decides. "What I’m going to order in the revised order that complying with this protocol does not constitute a waiver of privilege. If you have other arguments then your going to make those arguments."

There is a bit more back and forth between the court and DDA Mathai about removing specific language. Since the date to come back in two weeks doesn't work for Newman's firm, they are asking to come back in three weeks, on March 11.

The next issue is for defendants on the smaller indictment [Arnold et. al BA435339].

Attorney Issacs on Folgar. [The court] gave us permission to file [995?] motion just to the tax charges in the Arnold indictment. Would [like to put up?] a briefing schedule in the morning. We will come to an agreement, so I hope we will come to an agreement.

The court asks, "Ms. Garofalo you’ve filed something? "It’s about the mayhem  charge only for Arnold." The court informs Garofalo that she has now read all of the transcripts on the smaller indictment.

The court asks about the 995 scheduling. There's back and forth about when the replies will be filed and when they will argue. It appears argument for 995 will be set for March 25.

Mark Kassabian brings up a housekeeping matter having to do with the February 26 date. Kassabian wants that date vacated for his client to come to court because now there's no appearance set. The new date for defendant's to appear is March 25.

DDA Chon believes there might be other clients that still need to waive. She requests the court that, before they waive that date, the people will check and inform the court. If they need anyone on the 26th, they will let the court know.

Ariel Newman tells the court the 1050 issue is just about the defense reply. Judge Kennedy tells the parties, "I think we are finished."

Attorney for Mr. Engle approaches on the motion to squash the people's subpoena on his client, Mark Engle.

The court states, "I have no idea who Mark Ingle or who he is to the case. ... I don’t have [a] copy to the subpoena."

Mr. Engle is a third party. DDA's Mathai and Chon for the people. 

Counsel for Mr. Engle speaks. Mr. Engle had invested in a Venture Business bank. There was a lawsuit against the bank for, one, cooking the books and [two?] the investment for all those people. I don’t know if he’s involved in the case at all, so that’s why we’re moving to quash the bank records for that period.

I believe DDA Mathai explains to the court. "He is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator. ... Part of our conspiracy [theory] and several overt acts. And essentially the overt acts are alleged to have been part of an overall scheme for Uwaydah and Associates to get a controlling interest in this bank. ... What we plan to prove at trial, not only the charged conspiracies, but other[s] joining in [on] that scheme, include Mr. Engle, an associate of Mr. Uwaydah, to get a controlling share of the bank and make it easier to move money. ... That's the background of Mr. Engles. ... The court has heard his name. ... He supplied a letter to the court of behalf of Ron Case, to reduce his bail and give consideration. ... He is connected to the group and not formally charged."

The court considers, "I wasn’t there so I don’t know. Defense?"

Mr. Engle's counsel: "I don’t know if he asked for an indictment against Mr. Engle or not. But in any event, all I've heard so far is speculation on the peoples part that there may be something in these [bank] records that may tie him to the group. That [does? doesn't?] get him past the search warrant. ... If they want to drag him in as a defendant ... they just don’t subpoena third party records. ... Hey if you bank with that bank, they are trying ..." [I miss the last of counsel's argument. It's something about if individuals bank at the same bank, then there must be a conspiracy.

DDA Mathai counters. "The SDT is very limited. ... It’s only covering the time of 2009 and 2010. I have it laid out in court [documents]. ... I have told the court that he is considered part of the scheme. He does have a connection to the conspirators and the court has gotten notice of that. ... Unsolicited from any of us. He volunteered a letter, of his relationship to Mr. Case. ... He said in a letter, [he was a] very close friend of Ron case for, I think, he said for 19 years. [They] spent a lot of time together. ... All of that is in sharp contrast to statements he provided to state regulators that he doesn’t have any relationship to all the other defendants. ... [We] also have his statement to investigators about Ron Case that are in sharp contrast to his letter to the court."

There's a bit more back and forth about who has a copy of what and if DDA Mathai got a copy of the motion to squash the subpoena.

Judge Kennedy states, "I think he’s has read it."

Engles's counsel continues to argue to squash the subpoena. "Mr. Engles is not in the indictment. He's not in either one that’s of the charged defendants. ... [This has]nothing to do with Mr. Engle. ... When a family member comes to Dept. 30 [arraignment court] for ten years ..." The court interrupts his soliloquy and asks, "Are you saying he’s a family member?"

Counsel continues, "No. When someone is vouching to set bail ... now Mr. Mathai says he can now look at their bank records. ... It’s different if they filed under penalty of perjury that they didn’t know each other. ...That’s fine if they plan on prosecuting. ..."

I believe the court asks, "How does subpoenaing these records advance the prosecution of this case?"

DDA Mathai tells the court, "As I said, we have a very large conspiracy. I put in every brief that I field in this court, the defendants charged are just a portion of the conspirators." Judge Kennedy counters, "That doesn't answer my question."

DDA Mathai continues his argument to deny squashing the subpoena. "There are connections between other non-indicted conspirators that it’s still continuing. By showing the pattern of investment and the relation of these other unindicted co-conspirators. The actions of Mr. Engle ... If Mr. Case is in trial, and one of the charge is, he [Engle?] doesn’t know anyone."

What he [Engle] said to the FDIC [was] how much he invested and [the people would ask?] where did he get his funds, I’m going to prove all of that to the jury . It’s very narrow [the subpoena]. It’s a distinct portion of time. 

It’s one group of individuals ... about half of them are before this court."

The court rules. "I think that the people have articulated a reasonable [argument] for action for the subpoena so the motion to quash is denied."

Mr. Engle's counsel makes a request of the court. "When documents are delivered to the court, what I’d like is to come back with the people and go through those documents with the court. There's nothing in those documents. ... When were here and the court has a chance to see it, that what [was] just presented in court is not what actually the reality is. ... We’re not going to keep subpoena records from Mr. Engle from eight years ago."

The court doesn't appear to agree with that. "I’ve made my ruling so I don’t intend to go through those records."

And that's it for the Uwaydah et. al /Park Fraud Case hearing. They return on March 11 for more pretrial.

Note from Sprocket
Lonce LaMon has graciously agreed to share some of the motions filed by the defense that she's purchased from the court. Most interesting are the letters of support that were written for Park and other defendants to get their bail reduced. As soon as I receive copies, I will upload to T&T's SCRIBD account and post links.

Cameron Brown Appeal Status

Cameron Brown, at sentencing 9/17/15

UPDATE 3/2/16 Checking the docket of Brown's appeal, it appears Brown's counsel filed for an extension, which was granted. The opening brief is now due by April 1, 2016.

Saturday Feb 20, 2016

Back on September 17, 2015, Cameron Brown was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first degree murder in the death of his 4 year old daughter, Lauren Sarene Key. After three trials spanning over nine years, a jury found Brown guilty of throwing Lauren off a 120 ft cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes on November 8, 2000. They also found true the special allegations of lying in wait and murder for financial gain. Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum prosecuted all three trials.

Brown's appeal is slowly winding through the California Courts of Appeal. Below is a screen shot of the docket for Brown's appeal. As you can see, his appeal was logged October 7, 2015 and his attorney, John Steinberg was appointed December 28, 2015. Brown's opening brief is due by March 21, 2016.

I will keep T&T readers updated on the status of Brown's appeal. 

Brown is still located at WASCO, State Prison in Kern County, California.

The next post on this case can be found HERE.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Trial, Day 13 - Part II

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. left; Atty Kristen Gozawa, center back;
Lead Defense Atty Seymour Amster, center front.
Pool Photo: Al Seib, LA Times.

Continued from Part I....UPDATE Note: To accommodate her calendar of other cases, Judge Kennedy will be reserving Friday mornings for pretrial motions in other cases. The Franklin trial resumes at 1:30 pm Friday, 2/19. Sprocket.
UPDATE 2/19 5:30 AM edited for spelling, clarity, grammar
UPDATE 10:50 PM added some afternoon testimony

12:58 PM
I apologize to T&T readers. I have less that 15% battery left and no power chargers. My next update on the afternoon session will be later tonight.

1:30 PM
When the morning session ended, defense attorney Seymour Amster was starting to question LA County Chief Coroner about the fourth case he reviewed. At that rate, I guessed that the Chief Medical Examiner would be on the stand under cross for the rest of the afternoon.

Since my laptop was dead and I would have to take hand notes, I decided to cover the arraignment of the two LAPD officers who have been charged with "...repeatedly assaulting four women often while the pair were on duty." You can see an initial copy of the counts [I understand there will be more] HERE. It takes about an hour and a half for the court to call the case and the defendants to plead not guilty. Both defendants are being held on bail totaling almost 4 million dollars each.

I will try to have a post up about the arraignment over the weekend.

3:20 PM -The 9th Floor
When I get on the 9th floor, the Franklin case is on the afternoon break. People Magazine's Christine Pelesik is here for the afternoon session along with LA Times journalist Stephen Ceasar. Stephen has been covering the trial every day for the LA Times.

I learn that the examination of the coroner is farther along than I expected. The initial cross is finished and DDA Beth Silverman is almost finished with her initial redirect.

3:35 PM - Inside Dept. 109

#4 Dr. Mark Fajardo 

There are questions about Alecia Alexander, the seventh victim's autopsy review.  There are questions about the ligature around her neck and the gunshot wounds to her chest.

It's likely the two things were related?
It's a possibility, you bet.

Was unmetabolized cocaine also found in her system?

DDA Silverman switches to victim Valerie McCorvey, the last autopsy the coroner reviewed.

Regarding an injury to the victim's knee:

Could it have been that, she could have been trying to get away and banging her knee against the car door?

REDIRECT ENDS and recross begins.

There are questions about cocaine metabolizing in the body. Then Mr. Amster wants to switch back to the very first case, Debra Jackson. The people object that this is beyond rebuttal. The court asks Amster if he would like to reopen cross examination. He replies that he does. The court obliges.

The defense puts up a coroner's diagram and asks about the "degree angle" of the bullets trajectory. The coroner doesn't know the degree of angle, but in generalities can say that the bullet track was left to right, downward and from front to back. The coroner agrees there are other scenarios that would fit that pattern including the one that Amster proposed [earlier].  The coroner cannot give a number of cases, for any particular year ['85, '86, '87], that had the same track/path, or a different track/path.

The defense then puts up on the overhead, one of the coroner's diagrams from Jackson's autopsy as defense exhibit A. He asks the coroner to mark on the body in the diagram where the 11th vertebrae is. [The 11th vertebrae is where one or more of the bullets ended up.] The coroner stated that he can't do this. The drawings are just diagrams. They are not to scale. Bodies are different. The defense then asks the witness to mark on the diagram the general area with a circle.

RECROSS ENDS and there is no redirect.

Before Dr. Fajardo leaves the stand, Judge Kennedy jokingly addresses him, "Dr. Fajardo, I suggest you make a clean get away while you can." The jury has a good laugh at that. Smiling, Dr. Farjardo responds, "Your Honor, It's been a pleasure."

3:50 PM 
The people call their next witness.

DDA Marguerite Rizzo presents the witness. When the witness takes the stand, he informs the court and DDA Rizzo that he is hard of hearing. The court asks if he would like the assistance of a listening device. He says no. We soon find out that he's really hard of hearing. DDA Rizzo has to raise her voice quite loud to communicate with the witness.

The witness has been retired 18 years. Prior to that, he was a coroner's investigator for 28 years. He retired in March 1997.  He briefly describes his duties as a coroner's investigator.

His duties included being dispatched to the scene of a deceased body. He would speak to the officer in charge to be apprised of the situation. He would take photos of the scene and of the body. He would search bodies for identification and personal effects. He would take custody of the body. He attached the toe tag. He would measure and weigh the body and document that information along with the eye color. He would try to get an identification of the body. He would write a report with all the information he obtained and submit that report to the medical examiner before the autopsy.

Some duties were done at the scene?
And some done at the Forensic Science Center?
Yes. ... In this case, I ... no ID was found on the body or other ID.
If there is no ID on the body, how is it you make and ID?
If there is no ID, I call the coroner's and ask for a Jane Doe or John Doe number.

How many crime scenes did you respond to in your years as an investigator?
Criminal cases, probably around a thousand.
Saturday, August 10, 1985 around 10:00 am, did you respond to [address]?
Court: Let the jury know which one this is.
DDA: Victim number 1, Debra Jackson.

Photos of the scene are put on the overhead. These are new photos.

Now the witness states he needs his reading glasses, to read the image on the overhead screen. The court offers a set of reading glasses and a couple members of the jury also offer reading glasses. It's a bit comical. Even DDA Rizzo offers her own reading glasses saying, "Here's some, they're blue and will match perfectly with your suit."

The witness verifies he went to the scene depicted on the overhead screen. He identifies how the body was found, covered by a red carpet when he arrived. 

Please describe what you saw when you arrived.
I could see the right hand and right leg protruding out from under the carpet.

The next photo shows the victim with the rug removed. She's on her back, her limbs askew. The investigator testifies that he removed the carpet.

Does [the photo] reflect how the body looked once he removed the carpet?

Another photo, this time a different angle. It's a side view of the victim.

Could you describe the condition of the body?
It was badly decomposed. ... There was discoloration. It smelled. I noted swelling, [distention?] on the upper part of her body. ... There were fluids near her body.

More photos of the body and the fluids on the ground around her. The witness identifies the decomposition fluids surrounding the victim in the photo. The witness describes what the victim was wearing. A blouse, blue pants and white tennis shoes. The victim had draped over her body a tunic type shirt that she wasn't wearing.

More photos, including a close up of the victim's face and then photos of the shirt the victim was wearing. The investigator noticed two holes in the left, upper part of the shirt. It wasn't until he pulled up the victim's shirt that he saw the holes in her body. Then he had an opinion the holes were gunshot wounds.

Did you notice any loose skin-slip on the body?
Yes I did.
What is that?
It's part of decomposition. The skin starts to slip.

The investigator did find a purse and papers inside the purse, but nothing on them to indicate the decedent's name. The victim was assigned Jane Doe number 59. Later he learned her name was Debra Jackson.

DIRECT EXAMINATION ends, and the court calls the end of the court day. The witness is ordered back for the afternoon session tomorrow.

The jury is ordered back at 1:30 pm tomorrow. And that's it.

Besides the cross examination of this witness, the prosecution listed three additional potential witnesses. One is Dr. Lynne Herold. Long-time T&T readers know I've been a fan of Dr. Herold ever since I saw her testify in the first Spector trial.


Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Trial Day 13 Part I

Thursday, February 18, 2016
I'm on the Red Line train into downtown. There is a loud young man complaining about having to pay tickets all the time, as if getting the ticket in the first place was not his fault. He goes on and on about his fate. His continual whining is amusing and exasperating at the same time. Taking the train gives me an extra 20 minutes to write in the morning.

2/17/16 - Recap

Yesterday, the jury sat through over five hours of depressing testimony from coroners about the deaths of nine women. Of the autopsies described so far, all but one victim sustained eerily similar gunshot wounds to the left side of the chest. Each and every time, the trajectory of the bullets were described as entering the victim's bodies from left to right, downward and front to back.

With every gunshot victim, DDA Beth Silverman asked LA County Chief Coroner, Dr. Mark Farjardo a hypothetical question. Would the trajectory of the bullets support a scenario where, the victim was seated in the front passenger seat of a car when they were shot, with the killer next to her in the driver's seat. Each time, Dr. Farjardo answered, "Yes."

This hypothetical scenario is exactly what happened to the sole surviving victim, Enitera Washington on November 20, 1988.

There were barely a handful of journalists covering the coroner's testimony and about 10 to 14 family members in the gallery. I expect the level of media interest will pick back up when detectives outline for the jury how the investigation progressed, stalled then picked up again. When Prosecution star witness Enitera Washington takes the stand to recount her terrifying ordeal, it should be a packed courtroom.

2/18/16 - 8:50 AM The 9th Floor
Up on the 9th floor of the downtown Los Angeles criminal court building, I'm the first journalist to arrive. There are a few jurors in the hallway from our case and from a trial in progress in Dept. 102.

Also here are Detective Daryn Dupree and his partner, Detective Dave Holmes. Detective Dupree is the prosecution's "IO" [investigating officer] that sits with them at the prosecution table. The prosecution's witness, Dr. Farjardo is in the hallway. I complement him on his black and white abstract tie.

8:58 AM
Defense attorney Dale Atherton arrives and enters Dept. 109. A few minutes later Amster arrives.

9:05 AM - Potential Disaster
When I get inside Dept 109, I realize I don't have my power cord to my back-up power supply, and I don't have the power cord to my laptop. My laptop will barely last the morning. LA Times reporter Ceasar has offered to loan my his power supply, but I'm going to leave now and go to CVS and pick up a notepad.

I will miss the initial cross examination of Dr. Farjardo. I will post when I get back, but save my battery for later.

9:38 AM

I went to CVS and picked up a notebook and got back inside the courtroom at 9:38 am. I'm taking limited handwritten notes.

Dr. Farjardo is under cross examination about the first victim he testified about.  KFI's Eric Leonard is in the courtroom until the afternoon break. Read Eric's report on the morning session.

10:30 AM - Morning Break
The morning break is called and the deputies call for the courtroom to be cleared. The return time is 10:45. I have 60% battery left on my laptop. I'm going to save my laptop for the afternoon session.

12:05 PM
I left the courtroom about five minutes before the noon break would be called. Around 11:45 am, Mr. Amster had just started his cross on victim Bernita Sparks.

Under cross, Dr. Farjardo stated that he did not review any of the victim's clothing or in one case, a trash bag that covered a victim, as part of his autopsy review. Two of the files did not have a written notation that the examining coroner checked the "toe tag" before performing the autopsy. In one case, it did not appear that a gag covering the victim's mouth was logged in the coroner's evidence log for that case.

Towards the end of the morning session, fewer and fewer jurors appeared to be taking notes. I only observed a couple of the alternates taking notes towards the end of the morning.  As the cross examination dragged on, several of the jurors were fidgeting some looked bored.

Not once, did Amster refer to any victims by their name. He only referred to them by their coroner case number.

Continued in Part II.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., Trial, Day 12, Part II

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., 2/16/16 Opening Statements
Photo Credit: Pool Camera: Al Seib, LA Times

Continued from Part I,
1:32 PM Inside Dept. 109
The LA Times reporter is here along with family members.  A minute later, the prosecution team enters. There’s a bit of jovial laughter between the gallery ladies, female bailiff and the sketch artist, Bill Robles.

The courtroom is a bit too cold today. Unfortunately, the sweater I brought is too thick for me to be comfortable for too long.

The LA County coroner is back on the stand, waiting to start.

1:36 PM
The defendant is brought back out. I s he wearing the same blue shirt and tie as yesterday? It looks like it.

Judge Kennedy comes out, court is in session. On the record.

Atherton brings up an objection he filed in the morning about the witness testifying about the original conclusions by the original coroner. He talks about that there is no case law on the issue. In one of the prior autopsies, Alterton states he did not make an objection. Judge Kennedy states that he needs to make an objection at the time of the testimony. She’s not going to go back in time with an objection.

1:40 PM
On the record. All jurors and parties present. Continuing with the witness.


Now going back to the ballistics evidence recovered in Henrietta Wright, and that they were copper jacketed.

Did you come to an independent determination as to cause of death?
Gunshot wound to the chest.
Did you look at the toxicology to see if there was anything relevant?

States the numbers of the byproduct that was present for cocaine.

The victim, after shot, would be at the most, still conscious for about two minutes before succumbing to her injuries.

Now another Coroner Evidence Log, for Henrietta Wright, and the bullets being recovered and transferred to LE custody, and the taking of a blood sample.

Victim Barbara Ware
He also reviewed a coroner’s protocol, coroner's case number 88-00385. Autopsy preformed by a Dr. Sherry, on a Jane Doe #2, subsequently identified as Barbara Ware.

Age, weight and height?
22, 120 lbs 64 inches in length or 5 ft 4.
Autopsy photo, taken at the coroner’s office and the coroner’s placards in the photo. She’s partially clothed.

Now photos of the body, after the victim was washed.
Do you notice anything noteworthy?
Yes, she also sustained a gunshot wound, right in the center of the chest.

Now, a close up photo of the gunshot wound, directly between her breasts.

Like the other victims, now going over the diagram 20 page, showing the documentation of the gunshot wound, it’s location and dimensions.

Were you able to determine the trajectory?
Left to right, downward, front to back.
Would that be consistent with the same hypothetical I gave earlier, with the victim being in the passenger seat, the shooter in the driver’s seat?


Just like the previous cases, this bullet goes through the heart. There was stippling on the clothing. There are no defensive wounds. He did not see any evidence of liver mortis or rigor mortis.

Toxicology report 0.580 mg of cocaine and also a metabolite of cocaine in the blood. From blood samples taken at time of autopsy.

Cause of death was gunshot wound perforating the heart. The toxicology had nothing to do with the cause of death. Would have taken her about two minutes to expire after being shot. There was a projectile removed from the body at the time of autopsy.

 Exhibit 66, A photo of several envelopes, and close up, showing the bullet. Documenting what is written on the coin envelope that contained the bullet that was removed from the body by Dr. Sherry.

Exhibit 68 Coroner’s Evidence Log, specific to Barbara Ware. The document indicates a bullet logged and blood sample taken from the decedent.

DDA Silverman now takes out the envelope that contains the several inner envelopes that eventually contain the coin envelope with the projectile. The witness opens the envelope, and tells the jury what he’s doing every step of the way. Tells the jury what the writing is on the outside of the coin envelope. Unseals the coin envelope. A projectile. It’s a medium caliber partially copper jacketed and mildly deformed. Now returning the item to the envelope and the envelopes inside of envelopes.

How long would it have taken this particular victim to expire?
Two minutes.
Same as the others?

Victim Bernita Sparks
87-3919 Originally brought in as a Jane Doe, autopsy performed by Dr. Golden.

Age, weight, height?
26 165 70 inches or 5’ 10

Photos of the decedent at the coroner’s. She’s lying on her back. She has pants on, but her shirt is open in the front, exposing her breasts. Now a photo of the decedent after the clothing removed. There’s a gunshot wound, almost right in the center of the chest. Next photos, a closer up view of the gunshot wound right between her breasts.

Exhibit 87, a photo of the victim’s face. Trying to illustrate, there are injuries to the neck, and we can see what appears to be a ligature mark. The second photo, the ligature mark appears better. Those are linear abrasions, and other stigmata, supporting evidence, that strangulation was involved. Cause of death gunshot wound to the chest. Supporting conditions, a ligature involved.

The gunshot track was left to right, slightly downward and front to back. The trajectory would support the hypothetical as presented before in the other cases.

As to the strangulation, were there any other medical findings that were significant to you besides the marks to the neck?
She had petechiae in the eyes.

Explains head pressure, and how it often pops the small capillaries. She has internal injuries that correspond to the external injuries. She had bleeding into the muscles in her neck, which would comport with ligature strangulation.

New photos, documenting the petechiae in the eyes. Both eyes have it. The right eye also has a large, reddish discoloration. To him, these injuries would be classic signs of strangulation when you put it together with the other evidence in this case.

Going over Dr. Golden’s diagram drawings documenting the wounds.

Now with this victim, going over the evidence envelopes, and the Coroner’s Evidence Log for this victim where the bullet was logged as well as a blood sample.

Now opening the evidence item envelope and verifying the documentation on the outside of the coin envelope. Opening the envelope. It is a projectile, medium size, partially copper jacketed and slightly dented.

In terms of cause of death in this case, the bullet lodged in the right plural cavity, how long would she have survived?

With the injury to the heart, about two minutes.
Did the bullet go through the heart sac?
The heart itself.
Regarding to the clothing, referring you back to exhibit, anything that was relevant?

Not that I could see.

The victim had on a black jacket/blouse. Would it have blocked stippling?
If it was normally positioned, yes.
Now talking about cause of death.

Did the strangulation occur while the victim was alive?
Yes. She had to be alive, during the time those injuries were inflicted.

Was there any other injury on this body beside the gunshot wound and the evidence of strangulation?
There was injury to the head, blunt force trauma, with sub-dural hemorrhage. Nothing too obvious on the outside of the body, but once the brain was removed it could be seen.
Did this injury occur when the victim was still alive?
Yes. ... Any blow to the head that leaves damage underneath, could have caused a concussion.  

There were at least three separate blows to the head. None of them caused death and they all occurred pre-mortem.

How rapidly would you have expected the victim to expire?
With that gunshot to the heart, we’re talking two minutes at the most.
Did you also consider the toxicology in this case?
Yes. ...The toxicology screen did not contribute to the cause of death. ... It showed cocaine and the metabolite of cocaine.
That was the result of the blood samples taken by Dr. Golden in 1987?

A question about the injuries. All they can tell is that she had blood pressure to sustain the injuries she had, so they were pre-mortem.

More discussion testimony about strangulation and if constant pressure would be needed the full 2 minutes before the individual expired from strangulation.

Victim Mary Lowe
Reviewed a coroner’s protocol by Dr. Sarah [Reddy? Redding?], now deceased on victim Mary Lowe. Reviewed diagrams and photographs to render his opinion. 87-10489 coroner’s case number. Now photos of the victim right after she was brought into the coroner’s office, and then a facial shot, after the body had been undressed and washed.

Photo of a gunshot wound to the left breast.

What is unique about this one?here are red dots, on the skin around the entrance wound, which gives us an idea of range of fire. Rule of thumb is about two feet. Beyond that, you don’t see it.

Could have been closer since the decedent was dressed in a shirt and jacket.

Going over the diagrams from the autopsy report.

He did autopsies involving gunshot wounds, around 300. Trajectory in this case, left to right, downward and front to back. Consistent with Debra Jackson’s case, and the same hypothetical as before.

Age, height, weight of decedent?
26, 115, 64 inches or 5 foot 4.

Now going through the evidence envelopes of the bullet.

Now going over the coin envelope, the bullet recovered by Dr. Redding (Reddy?).

Opening the smaller envelope. It’s a projectile.
How would you characterize it?
Your honor, may I use my flashlight again?
The reason I’m hesitating, it is a full metal jacket, medium caliber, that is moderately deformed.

Same as with the other victims, it would have taken up to two minutes for the victim to succumb. She had alcohol and cocaine and metabolites of cocaine in her system. This was from blood evidence take at the time the body entered the coroner’s department.

She had multiple abrasions on the abdomen and back, from one two two inches. The all occurred before death. They could have been sustained from being dragged; that is a possibility.

Based on his review of the evidence, what was the cause of death?
Cause of death was gunshot wound to chest.
Which punctured the heart?

2:53 PM Call the afternoon break
The female, two stripe bailiff is making everyone exit the courtroom. That's unusual. The reason given is, the staff needs a break also.

3:10 PM Break is over
The court goes back on the record.

3:13 PM

Victim Lachrica Jefferson
Did you review a coroner’s case file number 88-1185 performed by Dr. Selser, subsequently identified at Lachrica Jefferson. 


Age, height and weight?
25, 64 inches, 5 feet 4, 99lbs.

Photo of the decedent. The clothing, in the documentation, although that she had this wrap, she didn’t have any underwear? I don’t recall that.

He looked at the diagrams related to this particular case number. Now photo of the body cleaned and washed. Two gunshot wounds. One is to the left breast, the second is to a lower area. This trajectory, the second, goes not just across, goes sharply downward.

The first follows the same trajectory as all the others. They were all front to back, left to right and one more downward than the other?

Confirms the same hypothetical, that the trajectory of the bullets would fit if she was seated in the passenger seat of a car and the shooter was in the driver's seat.

Each bullet would have been fatal. No sooting or stipling on the skin itself that would give information as to range of fire.

She had on a green dress, the clothing would potentially, a probability, block the sooting from being deposited. Now going over the coroner’s diagram, documenting the injuries and the trajectory.

Next is the evidence envelopes and the Coroner’s Evidence Log, documenting the bullets that were recovered and the blood collected for testing and forwarding to LE.  These evidence envelopes are from the LA County Sheriff’s. There are two projectile envelopes inside the larger envelope.

What’s inside?

It is paper wadding of some type, that contains a projectile.
How would you describe it?

This is like the previous, full metal jacket. medium caliber and mildly deformed. It’s a little dented up.

The second projectile is medium in size and only minimally deformed.

Cause of death?
Multiple gunshot wounds.
Did they go through the heart?
Both did. One also went through the liver.
How long would she have survived?

Upwards of 2 minutes at most.
Did you review the toxicology screen in this case?
She also had alcohol. Some of the percentage of alcohol,could have been due to decomposition, but not all of it. She also had cocaine and cocaine metabolite. 
The toxicology screen isn’t able to determine the “type” of cocaine, only that it’s in the body.

The coroner did not notice any documentation of needle tracks. He did not see any bullet wounds in the clothing. [He may not have looked at the clothing; it’s not clear from the question.]

Victim Alecia Alexander
The witness reviewed coroner’s case number 88-9057, autopsy performed by a Dr. Riley. The victim came in as a Jane Doe and subsequently identified as Alecia Alexander.

Age, height, weight?
17, 64 inches, 5 feet 4, 108 lbs.

New exhibit. Photo of her body. How sad. She appears to be in very advanced state of decomposition. There is a greenish discoloration. Her scalp hair is has slogged off. There is insect activity. Dark green to brown discoloration of the skin. The eyes are no longer existent. The gunshot does display a muzzle imprint. Even with the degree of decomposition, there is that contact wound pattern.

In this photo, anything significant to you?
Dr. Riley did document a ligature mark around the neck, but no vital reaction. Meaning there was a mark on the skin, but no vital reaction. It’s possible that it occured post-mortem but could be decompositon.
The body did come in with a ligature around the neck?

There were maggots feeding on the body. Through the diagram, the witness details the gunshot wound and trajectory. Details a circumference ligature mark around the neck.

There could be obscuring decomposition change, so it can be hard to read through that.
Because of the level of decomposition of the body?

The trajectory of the path of the bullet?
Downward, left to right, front to back. This one involves the liver.
What do you mean?
The liver is the largest organ and it clips the edge of the liver.
[The trajectory] consistent with that same hypothetical?
Any other items damaged?
This bullet goes through the aorta.
How about the diaphragm?

Now going over exhibit photos of  evidence envelopes and the information written on the envelopes. Also going over the Coroner’s Evidence Log for this case and where the bullet was logged into evidence as well as the blood sample. After viewing the photos of the envelop exhibits, now switching to the actual items. Witness opens the envelope. Going over the writing and what’s inside. Inside is a coroner’s projectile envelope that contains this unique case number.  There is a projectile inside that envelope.

This is a partially copper jacketed, medium caliber, partially deformed. In his opinion, a medium caliber would be consistent with 25 caliber. Items now returned to the envelope and the envelopes back inside the other envelopes.

3:50 PM
Were you able to determine cause of death in this case?
Gunshot wound to the chest.
How long would it taken this particular decedent to succumb, given that gunshot wound to the chest?
Given, about two minutes. ...There was damage to the abdomen, as opposed to the heart, but involving the aorta. So it’s not as bad as the heart, but almost.

Toxicology showed alcohol, more than would be just from decomposition and cocaine.

In addition to gunshot wound to the chest that perforated the aorta, what about the ligature to the neck?
Without being able to determine if it happened when she had a heartbeat, cannot determine if it was part of the cause of death.

Victim Valerie McCorvey
The witness reviewed coroner's case number 03-5199, autopsy performed by Dr. McGarvey, whom he knew personally.

The witness explains that, "This is different than all the cases we talked about today. This is a strangulation. The strangulation, ligature mark, goes almost completely around the neck."

Petechaie present. Right underneath her chin, is a wide, abrasion. There’s almost somewhat of a scalloped appearance to the abrasion, to the bottom part of the ligature mark. Shoulder abrasion and other injuries.

 The ligature mark goes all the way to the back. There is a small area where it almost terminates. In this case, the ligature is almost complete horizontal appearance.

Exhibit 200 [photo] scattered abrasions throughout. Also other neck abrasions. Don’t see fingernail scratches, but the areas of scalloping, that may be what occurred.

There scalloping on the left side of the neck could be, finger scratching trying to remove the ligature.

I can see in the photo, an injury to the left shoulder.

Now going over the drawing documentation of the injuries. The original coroner looked underneath the skin and documented the injuries underneath. There were several injuries to the muscles and cartilage, and strap muscles. 

And that would be classic for strangulation correct?

Question about the "Pucca" shell necklace and if it could have caused the ligature. 
Pucca shells are fragile, these may not be true shells, but we do see scalloping in the necklace.
We don’t know if it’s the true Pucca shells, [that were used as the ligature] or whether it’s wire or string or something else that caused the ligature strangulation?

Now presenting the Coroner’s Evidence Log, and the documentation that blood was booked along with other items of evidence.

Age, weight, height?
35, 134 lbs 58 inches or, 5 ft 8.
Cause of death?
How long would it take for this decedent to succumb?
We’ve talked about this before. Some would say up to a minute, some would say two.
And that would be with constant pressure?

They look for the internal injuries under the skin to support the conclusion of manual strangulation.

Did she have injuries to her tongue, such as tongue biting?
There is a 3/8’ diameter protrusion of the tongue.
Is that something that you see commonly with this type of injury?
Toxicology similar to others. She has alcohol, cocaine, cocaine metabolite. She had both when she died.
Was there recent use of cocaine, prior to death?
We can say within a few hours, prior to death.

Now does a summary on all the victims, and did there appear to be a pattern or a significant similarities between all the victims.

Particularly with the gunshot, they all involved the heart, the aorta, downward, left to right front to back.

The victims were all African American; [the same neighborhood?] the weight of the bullets.

4:08 PM
Direct is finished for this witness.

The court addresses the jurors.
I want to talk to the jurors, compliment them on paying close attention to the evidence. I know it’s difficult to listen to. Friday morning I have other cases.

 One case that involves 15 defendants, and each defendant has two lawyers, so on Friday, we will not start until 1:30 PM.

If it’s raining tomorrow morning, people do not drive well in the rain, it will take you twice as long to get here. If it’s raining, leave early.

The court reminds the jurors of the admonition not to express opinions about the case, not to talk to anyone, etc.

And that's it for the second day of testimony. Court resumes at 9:00 am tomorrow.