Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper" Penalty Phase - Day 1

 Lonnie Franklin, Jr.,  verdict 5/5/16
(Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

UPDATE: edited for spelling, formatting
Note: This was a very difficult day of testimony to experience. Each of the witnesses memories tore at my heart. Tears ran down my cheeks as I typed their words. I had to stop many times to wipe my face. This weekend, those same emotions welled up inside me again when I relived their testimony, transcribing my poorly typed notes. Sprocket
Prior post can be found HERE.
T&T Case coverage and Media Links HERE.
Thursday May 12, 2016
9:15 AM
Judge Kennedy takes the bench. Before the jury can be called in, the prosecution and defense were again, battling over late discovery and who was going to give who, their witness list first. Defense attorney Seymour Amster indicated on Wednesday he would be turning over a witness list that day for the penalty phase of the trial. Even Judge Kennedy stated she thought that was his intention. 

After the defense and prosecution snapped back and forth, the court talked about the defense, "... deluging the prosecution with discovery. ... A deluge, it's the same as getting no discovery at all. There's no description of what it is or who it applies to. It's the same as giving a witness list of 300." [Before the start of the trial, Amster did give the prosecution a witness list with over 150 names on it.] Judge Kennedy says again, "It's the same as giving no discovery at all. It flies in the face of what discovery is all about, ... to let the other side know what your witnesses are about and the statements you've obtained from them. ... I don't think that you are acting in good faith when you do that kind of thing Mr. Amster."

As Amster tries to explain, Judge Kennedy does not hide her disbelief. It's present on her face. While Amster goes on and on, DDA Silverman leans her head back on the top of her chair, and rolls her head back and forth. I then see her nervously tap her right forefinger on her leg. 

When Amster is finished, the court asks the prosecution to "... highlight on your list, those witnesses you plan to call in the penalty phase. The defense is to do the same. Then in a separate color, those that you're are not sure about, but might call, so that both of you at least have some idea of what you are going to do. ... I just want it done in the easiest fashion."

Judge Kennedy then rules on the detective the prosecution wants to call to testify about Princess Berthomieux. He can't render expert opinions but he can render opinions and it's acceptable in the penalty phase. The defense can have a 402 hearing on that.

There is a further delay when the defense objects to one of the prosecution's slides in their PowerPoint presentation and the court rules that the jury cannot see it.  The prosecution has to reformat their presentation to delete that particular slide.

When they are almost ready, Judge Kennedy tells the parties that she is thinking about reading CALJIC 8.85 to the jury before they start. There are no objections. The bailiff sets up the audio microphone on the clerk's desk. Amster states he would like to reserve his opening statement until the defense case. The court agrees. 

9:43 AM
The jury enters the courtroom from the jury room. The court greets the jury and gives them a reminder about what part of the case this is, the penalty phase. She then reads CALJIC 8.85 instruction. Here is a summary of the instruction. 

DDA Beth Silverman steps up to address the jury.  She tells them good morning and welcomes them back.

"The second phase, the penalty phase, which we spend a significant amount of time discussing in jury selection, and this is where we've been headed for some time. It's about what punishment is appropriate for this defendant. The 10 first degree murders for which he was convicted, and based on what kind of life this defendant chose to live. The standard is based on a totality of the aggravating circumstances in comparison with the totality of the mitigating circumstances.

Amster makes an objection and counsel goes to sidebar. Behind me, I hear one of the family members say under their breath, "There we go. Circus. All day, he's going to call sidebar." Atherton argues at the sidebar. It's quickly over and DDA Silverman retakes the podium.

The slide on the ELMO says, Death Penalty verses Life Without Parole.

"You determine which penalty is justified and appropriate by considering the totality of the aggravating circumstances in comparison with the totality of the mitigation circumstances. It's based on what you feel is appropriate. ... You will receive instruction in this case just as you did in the guilt phase. ... The law provides you with a set of factors, that the judge just provided to you, A through K. ... Eleven factors in all. A, B and C are the aggravating. The rest are mitigating. The prosecution is going to present evidence in all three."

Factor A, that was the multiple murders and special circumstance ... and you get to hear what the law calls victim impact evidence. And you will hear from several members of the victims families.

Factor B, you will hear evidence of other activities, of other crimes of force or violence.

Factor C, you will hear about two prior felony convictions that the defendant has.
Factor A
The special circumstances, the allegation of multiple murders, you made a finding all in the first degree. And you found that multiple murders to be true. You will hear from the family members. It is your responsibility to assess the gravity of the case.

Up on the ELMO are photos of the ten women, as they were found.

DDA Silverman goes over the 10 victims, their ages and how they suffered. For each victim, she tells them about family members who will testify about their mother, sister, daughter.

Debra Jackson, 29. Various family members will fly in from out of state. You will hear from her children that she left behind and maybe from her grandchildren.

Henrietta Wright, 34. You will hear from her daughter and son and Irene, her niece. They will tell you how it was to grow up without her.

Barbara Ware, 23. Her father is now deceased. You will hear from Diana Ware, who raised her from the age of six, and also hear from her brother and sister.

Bernita Sparks, 26. Her mother died in October 2010, during the pendency stage of this case. You may hear from one of her brothers.

Mary Lowe, 26. Her mother also died in December 2012. You will hear from her sister and cousin. 

Lachrica Jefferson, 22. You will hear from her sister, who was older by 11 months, and the impact on her. Her mother died in April 2006 and wasn't able to see her daughters murder come to fruition in a court of law.

Alicia Alexander, 18.You'll hear from Porter Alexander, her father. Alica was his baby daughter. You will hear from Donnell Alexander, her older brother, her older sister Anita. They will tell you about the devastating impact her death had on their family.

Princess Berthomieus, 15. She was 15 years old. You are going to hear from her foster sister, who refers to her as her sister. Princess came to live with their family since the age of three.  You will hear about the horrendous abuse before being placed with them. And at age 15, Princess was someone who was easy to lure.

Valerie McCorvey, 35
. Both of her parents are dead and she was an only child. Her aunt will testify. She left behind a son who was adopted.

Janecia Peters, 25. Survived by various members of her family, her mother, sister. She also left behind a child who lost their mother at the age of 7.

Factor B
You will also get to hear victim impact  evidence. You will hear from Enietra. She was the sole surviving victim. And you will hear how, barely escaping death affected her life. She pleased with the defendant to take her to the hospital because she had two young children.

You will also hear about the murder of five other women, including Georgia Mae Thomas and Sharon Dismuke.

Georgia Mae Thomas, 43. December 28, 2000. She was found approximately one mile from the Barbara Ware crime scene. You will hear from detectives who responded to the crime scene in December 2000. The victim was lying in a parkway area, among trash. A gunshot wound to the left chest. Obviously a body dump. No ID, no cartridge cases at the scene. It appeared the victim had been undressed, cleaned up and redressed.

As DDA Silverman addresses the jury, Amster appears to smile and turn to co-counsel Atherton. He has his right hand up, covering the right side of his face.

The victim also suffered blunt force trauma to the head. Evidence found during the search warrant. There was a gun hidden behind a fake wall, a [second] Titan 25 auto. It was found behind the wall in the garage, in a box. Criminalists test fired the Titan and compared the bullets to the bullets found in her body. They matched. A fingerprint found on the magazine inside the gun was matched to the defendant.

You will hear victim impact evidence. Her sister Vivian Williams is going to testify to the impact.

Sharon Dismuke, 21. She was found dead approximately a year and a half before the first murder [Debra Jackson], on January 15, 1984. This [is actually] the first murder in the series of slayings that was committed by the defendant. She was found in an old abandoned gas station, on the floor of the men's room. She was covered by a carpet remnant. She was found naked, like Princess and Janecia. No ID, no spent cartridge casings, not bullets at the scene. And a gag was stuffed in her mouth like Henrietta Wright. Cause of death, two gunshot wounds to the left chest.

The murder weapon that was used to kill Janecia Peters, Titan 25 auto, found in the northwest bedroom dresser drawer in 2010, was also utilized to murder Sharon Dismuke. Criminalists verified that the very first and the very last murder in this series was done, utilizing this gun. Like bookends, on this series of murders. Dismuke's younger sister will testify to the impact her death had.

Inez Warren, 28. She was found in an alley on August 15, 1988.  It was a body dump. She was shot elsewhere and dumped. There was no ID. No cartridges or a fired bullet at the scene. This victim was barely alive when paramedics arrived on the scene and transported her to the hospital, where, she quickly died. Dr. Sherry performed the autopsy. Gunshot wound to the left chest, left to right, front to back and downwards. This was a through and through. The bullet went through and exited her body. No bullet was recovered. There was sooting at the entrance wound. The gun was held against the skin. Blunt force trauma to the head and bleeding under the skin. The tox screen was positive for cocaine and cocaine metabolite. Unfortunately, the sexual assault kit was destroyed. There's no potential DNA around to analyze.

You will hear from her grandfather, who will talk about the impact of the murder on the family and his life.

Rolenia Morris 29. went missing September 20, 2005. During the search warrant, her driver's license was found on the back shelf of the defendant's garage. You will hear that, again, about those photos found in the mini fridge in the garage. Two photos of her were found along with the photo of Janecia Peters. The photos are strikingly similar to Janecia Peters. The top is pulled down on the left side, exposing her left breast. The photos were taken inside of a van. No signs of her anywhere over the last decade. She left behind two children. You will hear from her sister. You may also hear from one of her two children. Rolenia Morris was murdered and never found.

Ayellah Marshall 18, went missing January 11, 2006. She was a high school senior at the time of her disappearance. An investigation was mounted trying to find her. Her high school ID card was found in the search warrant. That was also in the mini fridge with photos of Alicia Alexander and Rolenia Morris and other women. And there's been no sign of her since the last decade. You are going to hear from one of her relatives. 

The kidnap and gang rape of victim Ingrid Worner
You are going to hear about [April] 17, 1974, where the defendant, along with two men were driving in a vehicle. He and his co-conspirators grabbed the victim off the street, forced her into the vehicle. They drove to an open field, threatened her with a knife, gang raped her and took photos of her. She was 17 years old at the time. She will be traveling from Germany. She will tell how that colored and shaped her entire life ever since.

In terms of the penalty phase, you will be able, through the evidence to put the timeline of these crimes in your head, where, who the defendant is and what he has done with his life.

Another exhibit on the ELMO, tying the victims together with the three different weapons. There were a total of 10 firearms recovered in the search warrant executed on July 7, 2010.

#625 Titan 25 that killed Thomas, discovered during search warrant
#721 Titan 25 that killed Peters and Dismuke, discovered during search warrant
Unknown weapon, never recovered linked to the remaining gunshot victims

Factor C
Two prior convictions for receiving stolen property at two different times.

Up on the ELMO now, the photos of 16 charged and uncharged victims in this case.

The prosecution's opening is completed. The court asks, Mr. Amster, do you reserve your opening statement at this time? "Yes," he replies. We take the morning break and defense attorney Seymour Amster leaves for his appointment he mentioned yesterday.

Photo credit: Pool camera, Associated Press; at closing arguments.
Left to right, Lonnie Franklin, Jr.; Defense counsel: Kristen Gozawa, 
Lead counsel, Seymour Amster, partially hidden behind Dale Atherton. 
Next, LAPD Cold Case Detective Daryn Dupree, lead investigating officer.

10:54 AM
We are back on the record and the first witness is called.


DDA Silverman presents the witness.

Do you know someone by the name of Alicia Alexander?
It's my little sister.
How old are you?
Now, 53.
What was your age difference?
Seven years.
Who was older?
I was.
What type of relationship did you have prior to her death?
It was a close relationship.

There were five children in the family. She was the fifth, the youngest.

What was it like, growing up in your house?
Kind of like the Brady Bunch, sharing, laughing, having fun.

There is a bit of laughter in the courtroom, when he describes his family as the Brady Bunch.
Who had the closest relationship to Alicia?
Probably my dad.
What were some of the things that you would do together?
We had a big picture window. The sun would come in and we would trace Christmas trees, anything. I  would share that with her from time to time. ... She love sports, gymnastics. She would bring all kinds of friends to the house. She loved having people around and that was one of the things that we all miss about her. She would befriend people, any nationality, it didn't matter.

How old were you when you learned Alicia was murdered?
About 25. ... My dad paged us and signaled us to come home. I came to the house with my brother. ... I saw my dad pacing back and forth, outside in the front of the house, waiting for us to arrive.  When I approached my father, he was in tears.

What did he say?
He said, "They killed my baby girl." ... His eyes were flush with water. I'd never seen my father in that condition.
Did you know that he was referring to your sister?
Objection! Sustained.
Did you ask him what he meant?
I asked him.
What did he say?
He didn't respond.
How did you find out that she had been murdered?
We had been waiting for about five days.

So she had been missing?
For about four or five days.
Did a police officer come to the house?
When the homicide detectives came, I connected the dots.
Who was responsible for identifying the body?
She could not be identified.
Objection! Sustained.

Were you able to see your sister again?
I never got to see her again.
So at the funeral?
I never made the funeral. Officers, two days before, they arrested me for some reason. I can't even remember what.

Do you know where she is buried?
Do you go to that cemetery?
As often as I can. With my family.
Have you been attending the court sessions for the last six years?
Yes I have.
Have you also been attending the trial?
On a regular basis.
Are you employed?

He quit his job to attend the trial. Because he wanted the world to know how we his family, felt about Alicia.

When you think about your sister, what comes to mind: How she lived or how she died?
Are you ever able to think about your sister, and separate in your mind how she was killed? ... Are you ever able to think about your sister and not think about how she was killed?
It's tough. I try not to.
How did her death impact your family?
It seems like when she died, our family died also.

Since the trial, it seems like his parents, are just finally getting their feistiness  back.

In your family, did you celebrate things like her birthday?
We try to individually, not as a group.
What about the holidays, what are they like for your in your family?
Most times, we just come in and give mother a hug and reaffirm our love. There's no happy times. You don't have the running around of my sister. Didn't have kids; just so many things.

I want to show you some photographs.

There are a series of photos that the witness identifies. He tells the jury who the people are as well as when and where the photos were taken. Each photo tells a story about Alicia, her personality and what was going on in the family at that time. She had a bit of a sassy personality. When asked about one individual in a photo he replies, "I'm not sure, but I know it's a relative." There is a bit of understanding laughter in the courtroom. Another Christmas photo with everyone in bathrobes. "I think we all got robes at Christmas." The gallery laughs with the witness. Another photo of a family event.

Would it be safe to say, at least prior to your sister's murder, your family spent a lot of time together?
We always spent time together.
What is it about your sister that you miss the most? What would that one thing be?
Her eyes. Everything about her. You could look at her eyes and know what all was about her.

Direct ends. No cross examination. That's how it will go for all the witnesses who testify today. There is no cross examination. 


DDA Silverman presents the witness.
What is the relationship you have with Alicia Monique [sp?] Alexander?
Oh, she's my baby girl.
She was your youngest daughter?
Do you remember what it was like, when you first brought her into the world?
Oh yes.
Did you have a lot of hopes and things you were planning for her throughout her life?
Yes we did.
What was it like to raise Alicia?
She was a joy. Precious, lovable. Loved everybody. ... I had to tell her, everybody is not her friend. But she loved people. She would bring people home all the time. ... They would have dinner with us. She just loved people.
What kind of daughter was she? ... You have two. You also have Anita.
Yes. She was very thoughtful. She would get me things. She would lie on the sofa and we would play bike rides with our feet. ... We would put our feet together, and bike ride, bicycle ride.
How old [was she] when you started that?
About elementary. ... Up until last, that we would still do it. ... She would come down and lie down beside me. I could feel her body and sometimes I'd feel that, it would make me cry, but I feel it.

What were some of the favorite things you would enjoy doing with her?
Oh, shopping. Window shopping. And we just liked, going places together.
You heard Donnell testify does that still take place today?
Not like it was, no.
Did that change, after her death?
Oh yes. After her death, I didn't want to go anyplace. I couldn't stand to see nieces, nephews, any of her friends. I just got into a shell. I was just to the doctors and back to home.

She had various medical issues.

You've also been coming to court over the last six years or so?
Why is it so important to you to come over and over again over the course of the last several years?
Because I love her and I miss her. And I just wanted her to know that we still love her.
How is it that you learned of her death?
I came home from work one day and my house, I saw a lot of cars. And when I put my key in the lock and opened the door ... and I knew I wasn't going to have a part or anything. I just looked at their faces and knew, that something was wrong, since I hadn't seen my daughter in a few days.
She had disappeared?
Then my husband told me what had happened.

When did you learn how she had died?
Oh, I don't recall. I think, um, maybe in the paper, or magazine.
The newspaper, the media?
Was that back in the time when Porter told your, or the fact that your baby was gone?
It was a while after that, he told me that.
Who planned her funeral?
Did you participate in the planning?
I couldn't.
Did you attend?

What was it like as a parent, as ... what is it like to bury your youngest daughter?
It was hard. It was very hard. ... There were times that I didn't want to be here.
You mean, here on earth?
But you had other children and a husband?
So you had to go on?
How long did it take for you to deal with your grief?
Going back and forth to the doctor, and talking to my husband.
Did that help at all?
Oh yes, but the hurt is still there.
I want to show you some photographs as well. She identifies photos of her children, in various stages of their lives together. There are photos where Alicia was a baby, and older at Christmas time, and sitting on Santa's lap.  More photos, showing the children together.
Did your two daughters, did they have a close relationship?
Did you talk to your granddaughter as to who her aunt was and what she was like?

More photos of Alicia. A portrait photo, one of Alicia sitting on a car when she was little.

Are these the type of memories that you tried to keep?
In that photo, she would say, "Momma, I've been to Billy the Hills."

The courtroom laughs with the witness, remembering a child's attempt to say, "Beverly Hills." More photos, of when she was in elementary school. Mary would dress her daughter for school when she was little. Now a photo with six women that Mary identifies. Another photo where Alicia was a flower girl in a wedding. Another photo of Mary and her daughter, all grown.  More family photos with everyone in the photo.

Are these the types of occasions that you and your family celebrated when Alicia was still here?
Do you do anything special on her birthday?
No. We just visit her at the mausoleum.
You mean at the cemetery?

If you had the opportunity to say one last thing to her, what would that be?
I love her.
That's what you'd tell her?
Did you show her that all the time?
Yes, and she knows.

No cross examination.


Mr. Alexander, you told us in the guilt phase that Alicia was your baby daughter.
Yes, I did.

An exhibit is put up, a photo of Alicia. Alicia is very young in a pink dress.

Do you recognize what event that was?
Yes. Her birthday.
Where was that?
At home.
How old are you sir?
How old were you when Alicia was born, ... if you remember?

Laughter in the courtroom.

I believe 31 or two, somewhere in there.
Was she the youngest of all your children?
Yes, she was.
She was like your road dog?

He worked the night shift. So she went with him. They rode the streets. Whatever Porter needed to do, Alicia went along with him.

She was my road dog.
Even though she was the youngest, did you form a strong bond?
I would feel that we had one. A very close relationship.
In terms of the person that she was up to the age of 18, was she someone that you were very proud of?
I don't think that any father, not in their right mind could be. Nothing but proud of her. ... She was an outgoing person. I tried to give her that same feeling that my father showed to me. ... Do those things in a respectable manner. This was how I tried to raise my family, and just enjoy your surroundings that you tend to get involved with.
You taught her to enjoy life?
Yes I did.What type of activities would she participate in that you were proud of?
We did a lot of activities together. I got myself, somewhat involved with the King Conference League, encouraging young students to go out and participate in, small youth projects. We traveled all around the areas of Los Angeles. I made certain that they [his children] were involved in that.

Football for the boys?
Boys and girls. the girls would be cheerleaders.
Was she also acting in some plays in school that you would attend?
She would, in her ballerina types moves there ... that she was involved in.
Was she someone that you believed she would have a bright future ahead of her?
Yes. She was given an exam across the city and she came out as top of her class. We enrolled her in figure skating and horse riding. ... She got involved in ice skating and she was the one who wanted to do it. And they got involved with an instructor. And she got involved in ice skating and she was very much into it.

Another photo of Alicia, older, in a red dress. On her lap is Donnell's daughter. Photo taken at home.

Would you say that you have a close relationship with all your children and grandchildren?
I like to think I would.

He supported all their activities and what they wanted to do. Photos of Alicia as a young cheerleader. Another photo, the horse Porter purchased for her. They would go out every weekend. Porter bought the horse as a yearling. She was killed prior to her being able to take the riding lessons. Photos of Alicia with her mother, grandmother.

I understand that you were the one that planned the funeral in this case?
Yes, I was.
Can you tell how you learned about your daughter's death?
Two detectives came to my home and told me they found her body.
Did you, when you first heard the news, did you at first believe them?
Yes, I did.
What was it like to hear your youngest daughter [was dead]?
It was a devastating blow when they came and told me about my daughter.
And were you informed about how she was found?
Yes, I was.
He informed his wife.

What was it like to have to tell your wife that Alicia had been murdered?
I wouldn't want that to be experienced. To tell your wife or anyone else that your daughter had been killed.
What was your wife's reaction when you told her?
I told her, "Mary, I have to stop for a minute. I have to tell you something." She stood up. She tried to walk for a minute. She fell down. We both lost it.

Porter describes how they went about preparing for a funeral of an 18 year old daughter.

I knew that my wife couldn't do it so I knew that I would have to deal with this myself, and collectively, build the things I was going to have to put together. I got the things that she [had?] ... a nice funeral. The best that I can do.

What is the overriding feeling that you have now in 2016, is it anger? Grief? is it devastation? If you had to put your finger on it, what would be the overriding emotion when you think about this?
It's pretty hard to say. Totally, a person's emotions from losing something so dear to you as a child. If a person looses an arm or leg, you look down and see that [it's] missing.

What did you do with all of her belongings?
Well, I think a lot of it's ... stuff is home. I don't discard nothing.
Did you have to pack up her things?
Yes. It's all put away.
So you saved all of it?
Yes. She's not gone in my heart. So things that I do ... I"m somewhat, [the?] funeral, supervisor.

He didn't like the traffic that was going over her grave. She was buried in the ground and he had her moved to a crypt. Porter states, "When things are not right the way I see it I have it changed."

How has Alicia's death, and I know it was many years ago, how has that impacted your life and your families?
I think without a doubt, it impacted us so severely. My wife never came out of what happened. She was sick for quite some time. Medicine wasn't going to do it. She was going to have to find what strength she needed to continue. ... Just looking at her and watching her for some 50 odd years later, I can give some insight to the change.

And how about [the?] relationship with other children? Did that affect how you dealt with your children, how nervous you were when they walked outside the door?
The older ones were adults. After that happened so they had a life of their own at the time. But when they come home, come home to visit, really no change. They know me and I understand how they are, and how we were then and it's not much difference now ... and the family that we had then. I think it's still in place.

How do you deal with the loss and this case? You came to court almost every time for the last six years or so?
It was something that was a commitment that I had to perform. There was nothing that was going to stop me other than death. My job is 100% behind me so when I told them what I had to do, they were behind me. I'm glad to have a company where I was able to have that understanding they gave me to do whatever it takes so that I could see the outcome of it all.

How do you keep the case itself, and the trial, and everything that surrounds it from taking over your whole life?
I know that I have to continue. Life is. It goes on. Either I stop and let this total thing destroy us all. And I've got to get what I've got left to give me the strength to endure.

Thank you sir.

The court asks, "Mr. Atherton?" "No questions," he replies.

Porter is back inside the gallery, but the people want to ask him a question. Another exhibit is put up on the ELMO that Mr. Alexander is asked to identify.

It's her crypt.
Is that the location where you had her body moved to so that she wouldn't be in the ground?
That's true.
Is that the location that you and your wife visit?
Constantly. Whenever we can. I haven't been able to drive for sometime. When I was able to drive I was there all the time. When I can drive, I get there when I can.

Nothing further. The noon break is called. 

1:37 PM
Back inside Dept. 109. Amster is back at the defense table. More mainstream media is here. LA Times reporter Stephen Ceasar is here along with City News reporter Terri Keith and the Buzzfeed reporter.  The major news organizations left. The only part of the morning that was filmed was the opening statement. 

1:44 PM
Judge Kennedy takes the bench.  DDA Rizzo presents the next witness. 


Do you know someone named Mary Lowe?
Yes. She was my sister.

She was 20 when her sister died. The age difference was six years. Kenneitha has an older sister and an older brother.

Sisters often have a very special relationship.... ?
Me and Mary were very close. Like twins. .... we shared bunk beds.

With Kenneitha, and her other cousins, Mary started a dance group called The Little Emotions.

She actually made our costumes. ... Back then it was an Afro and little flower dresses. Mary was the leader of the group that taught us all the dances.  She was like the Diana Ross of the Supremes. They would perform for the family and people at the park.
You shared a bedroom?
Yes. Bunk beds.
Would you try to wear [each others?] clothes?
Not really because she was a little bigger than me. Her clothes and shoes were too big.

Kenneitha admits that she tried to stick her feet into Mary's high heels.

We did everything together. She took me to concerts. She took me to a Prince concert in 1980.
What were some of her favorite things she liked to do?
She liked to cook and bake pound cake, strawberry shortcake.
You must tell us about the Easy-Bake Oven.
I got it for Christmas. Ans she was already baking. And she was the one who would help me mix things up and taste things.
You were each others guinea pig for each others baking?

Did you share secrets?
Somewhat. She was at work all the time. She was working customer service then another job.
How would you describe her?
Very funny. She liked helping people. She was always trying to start a drill team in the neighborhood.
Would you say she wanted to empower the little girls in the neighborhood?
She was a Soul Train dancer. I used to dance on American Bandstand. When she [Mary] appeared on Soul Train , the family would sit around the TV and watch her.
When you were dancing, was she supportive?

Mary was always looking out for her, being the manager.

Did she try to manage you too much?
I liked it. She knew more about it than I did though.
Was that one of the things you miss?
Was your guiding light taken away from you?

She missed sharing her own hopes and dreams with her. Before she would go out on auditions, she would talk to Mary and that would give her the strength to forge ahead.

What types of obstacles did she face?
I didn't really see any of that.
Who would you say Mary was closest to during her life?
Mostly all the family, but mostly us.
How many years did you share a bedroom?
Since I was two.
Was Mary still living at the house when she was murdered?
I think so. I was never there. I was out pursuing my acting.

The family found out when the police came to our house. My father answered the door. He came to the door and showed us a photo of her body. He asked if that was her and we said yes. My parents were both very upset.

Do you remember that day like it was yesterday?
Yes. It will never go away.

She remembers what the funeral was like. It was cloudy. It was a great day. Kenneitha was pregnant at the same time, so she had to think about her pregnancy. She was seven months pregnant at the time.

I teach all my kids about her. To this day.
You tell them how much you miss her?
Do you also go to the cemetery?
Yes. I still go there. I was just there two weeks ago.
Do you go on special occasions?
I go when I feel like it.
When is it, like you feel like it?
When I feel I need to talk to her. ... My mother kept Mary's things.

[It was very sad listening to the Alexander's this morning. Listening to this witness my eyes start to well up again.]

Was it hard to go back into that bedroom knowing that Mary wouldn't be there?
Yes. I could feel her spirit.
You had bunk beds. Which bed did Mary sleep in?
The bottom.
She made you go up top?
Yes. She got the queen bed.
What day is Mary's birthday?
February 2nd.
Do you do something special on that day?
I go to the cemetery and say happy birthday to her.

What's it like on holidays?
It's not that good. We always remember ...
There's an emptiness since she's not there?
Oh holidays, do you try to remember the things, the good things about Mary?
Is there a particular special holiday?
Birthdays. We always threw her surprise birthday parties, but we threw them for her anyway. She didn't like surprises.
Do you do anything special to remember Mary?
I still work out and dance. I dedicate some of my dancing and working out to Mary.

DDA Rizzo has some photos she would like marked. Up on the ELMO is a beautiful picture of Mary. She was beautiful. In the photo, she has sunglasses on her head. [On the witness stand] her sister wears them on her head as well. It's a tradition to remember Mary.  A photo of the sisters at a cousins wedding. Another photo of Mary with relatives. Now a photo of Mary's headstone.

Is that her grave marker?
Is that at the cemetery you visit quite often?

Another photo of Mary at another cousin's wedding. Mary was part of the wedding party, possibly the matron of honor. And another photo taken at a friends house.

What do you remember most, when you think about Mary?
The good times that we had together and now it's gone.
How often do you think about Mary?
Often. Every time.
And what is it that you miss the most about Mary.
My loved one. A part of me is gone.
Is there anything that you would want the jury to know about Mary?
She as a very good person. A very good person, a free spirit. She was a very free spirit person.

No cross examination. 


Do you know someone named Mary Lowe?
Yes I do. ... Mary is my cousin.
How old were you when she passed away?
I'm 19, one year younger than Kenneitha.
Were you close?
I was. ... I didn't live close by. My grandmother lived close by. I called her my sister cousin. We were all very close.
How often would you say you saw her?
Ever since I could remember. Every weekend up until she was killed. ... After school, I would go over to their house. Kenneitha and I went to school together. There was always food over there.

We had a little dance group and Mary was our leader telling us what to do.
So you looked to Mary as the leader of your girl group?
Absolutely. ... We thought her dancing on Soul Train was really big at the time. ... We looked up to her as a big sister and a teacher. She taught us dance steps. ... All of our friends knew that she was a Soul Train dancer. ... They were well aware that she was on Soul Train.

Was Mary herself proud of that?
She was a real modest person. ... Just a real warm spirit, free spirit.
When you had this group, did Mary ever express that she wanted to make a career of this dancing?
I think so. ... She was always telling us that she was our manager.
Kids in the neighborhood looked up to her?
She was known in the neighborhood for her dance skills and she was looked up to in the neighborhood.
Her baking skills. You were a guinea pig for Mary's baking skills?
That's one of the things that I remember the most. ... Her mother baked as well and it was a house where you always knew you were going to get a good meal.

Would you describe your family and Mary's family as close knit?
Absolutely. We were close knit. We had another cousin that was close to Mary in age, and we were all really close. ... So this really impacted our family, more than Kenneitha can express. ... Her death took a bad toll on all of us. ... I know that spark in her eye [Kenneitha], just after school, modeling and acting, and I could see that the spark just wasn't there. ... I don't think she will ever get over Mary's death, ever. I would hope that she could go on, but it's left such an empty spot in her life. I'm sure she wishes that there was something that she could have done. ... Unfortunately, mom and dad passed away before they could see this day, and another cousin passed away before they could see this day. But fortunately, we are here. She is missed.

[What do you miss most?]
Her smile. I could never remember her frowning once. I only remember her smile.
Evidence of that in the photos we saw?
I know you tried to come out [to court] as much as possible. Was it important for you to be here?
Absolutely. I fell that some of the family members that couldn't be here, that we needed to be here to represent the family so that we could show what this has done to our family and what we've missed by Mary not being here. ... And we still don't just understand why.

She rubs her eye.

But you know, that Mary had many struggles that she shared with you?
I didn't see as much. I did see all the struggles. I never even saw her frown.

She takes a tissue fro the Kleenex box.

I know some of the struggles just from the neighborhood where we grew up but we all had those struggles. Um... [She pauses.] We had the opportunity to make some of those struggles right. She didn't.
Do you think Mary had [kept?] some struggles from you and Kenneitha because she felt she was the leader and manager and had to be strong?
Absolutely. She was older. We looked up to her. ... I can see why she would have done that.

What about the holidays that you celebrate now? How is Mary not sitting there at the table sharing the meals on Thanksgiving or Easter dinner, how did that affect you and the family?
We don't have the holidays that we used to. We've lost some people and with Mary. ... I've tried to get Kenneitha to cook. ... Kenneitha lost both her parents and Mary so for her, it's even harder. I still have my mother. It will never be the same. We just, have tried to move on, have tried to go on so that her memory stays with us.

And Tracy, do you remeber the day that you learned about Mary's murder?
[She sighs.] Yes.
What was that day like?
It was just, just never had this happen in our family before. We couldn't believe it was ... it was ... it was just like, why? Who does this? How could this happen? This is our introduction to murder, death, killing. We just couldn't understand it and I still don't understand it to this day.

Who were you with?
Kenneitha called me, and I just rushed over there and what happened. How could this happen? We all ... It happened right down the street. What if that had been me? What if that had been you? Why did it have to be Mary? It was just a shock.

Were you happy to have such a close knit family to rely on for support?
Absolutely. We came together after that. We were shocked. We came together. Had to plan her funeral. It was kind of sprinkling that day and it was really a sad day for us. It was sad. And at that time, we didn't have a lot of the details of what happened so it was really sad that a life was taken.

[Who planned the funeral?]
We didn't help plan. Mom did most of the planning, but we were there as support and to lift each other up at that time. ... This was our first introduction to this thing and just trying to figure it all out.
Do you still go to the cemetery to visit?
No. I don't go to the cemetery. I don't do cemeteries.
Is it hard for you to do that?
Absolutely. I can't. I get real nervous, I think. I get ... I just don't like them.
Do you want to keep Mary in your mind in a different way?
How is it you want to keep Mary?
I want to remember Mary's smile and I can't imagine anybody hurting her because I know her smile brightens up a room. And that's how I want to remember her. Her smile would brighten up the room.

There are more photos. The photo again of Mary with the sunglasses on her head.

That's the smile that everyday, you want to remember?

Another photo when Mary was 15 and Tracy was 8. Mary was like a mother figure to her.

Unfortunately, I start to cough and have to leave the courtroom until it passes, and I miss the rest of her testimony. 


DDA Rizzo presents the witness.

Do you know Henrietta Wright?
She's my beautiful mother.

Rochell was four when her mother was killed. Unfortunately, I start coughing again and miss some of her testimony, too. When I reenter, Rochelle is answering a question.

I just have to be here to support my mom, because she was light. ... My brothers, my sisters, my nieces, my nephews.

She did not know where her mother was buried. She didn't know where to go. She went for the first time on her birthday. She had to do research to find out where her grave was.

If only, if only she could have seen the evil in that man, she wouldn't be there.
[Asks about going to the cemetery.]
I will be going back to the cemetery because my grandmother is there also. ... I don't do something special for her.
What about holidays, do [you do?] something special?
In a way. I could help with the pies and the cakes, just things like that. ... I talk to my son about my mother all the time.
So he learns to love your mom the way you did, through you?

She identifies a photo of her mother.

I see that you have your hair in a similar style.
I might have a little bit of her in me. I know that when you see me, I have braids all the time, so I think it's in me.

Another photo of her mother. Henrietta was gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

That's my beautiful mother.
She looks like she's having a good time in that photo, is that right?

Another photo with her mother, family and friends. Rochell identifies the people in the photos. She wishes she had more photos like that of her mom. They moved a couple of times. She stayed with her aunt until she was 19.  More photos. Rochell identifies one photo, stating it's her beautiful mother with her husband Willie. She doesn't know the occasion.

How often do you think of your mom?
Often, often. I thought of her a lot this year because I'm 34 and she was 34 when she was killed. She still had a lot of life to live.
You think about how young you are?
Is there anything you'd like the jury to know about your mom?
She won't be forgotten. ... She was a workaholic, she was a good person and she deserved to be here.

No cross examination. 


DDA Silverman presents the witness.

[Who was Princess Berthomieux?]
She was my sister. ... She was a foster sister but that's not how we felt in our home. My mother and father were amazing parents.

When Samara was a senior in high school, her parents decided to be foster parents. My mother was an amazing nurse. And they were good people and everyone loved them. It made sense they wanted to be parents again.

Princess was three years old when she came to live with them. She was their second foster child. Samara was 17 almost 18. Samara's mother was asked to foster Princess.

She was in bad shape, coming out of the hospital, from all the damage she experienced. So my mom said, "Of course. Please."
What type of damage did she come to your home with?
Objection! Foundation. Hearsay.

How old was Princess?
She was 3 years old.
And when she came to live with you, that was from a hospital?
[Yes.] Well, what I observed. What I observed was when I changed her diaper. I had never heard someone have so much damage. She had burns all over her body, especially on the buttocks. Her wrists and her ankles had wounds so bad, from where she had been hog tied in the closet.

There's an objection, and the last sentence is stricken.

I personally saw the wounds on her. I took care of the wounds on her. ... The wounds on her, like I stated on her ankles and her wrists. They had to be stitched. We still had to dress them because they were still raw. ... Some burns were a little more fresh than others, the burn marks on her buttocks and legs. ... We had to be very careful handling her. ... I helped a lot with Princess especially. It was hard to watch this child go through that, especially before I became a mother.

You were a senior in high school. At that age, did you feel very maternal to her? Did you feel like a sibling or another mother?
She was like my daughter. ... My mother was older, but she had a good heart. My mom was the Kool-aid mom. ... I wanted to help because I saw someone who was so badly mistreated. In my eyes, what I saw. ... It took me completely by surprise. She was such a sweet little girl. She was more like a child. I got her ready in the morning. I learned how to braid her hair. I never had girls myself. .. I woke her up and got her ready for school.
What kind of child was she like?
She settled in immediately. ... You think that ... try to prepare you, ... your going to have a foster child. You don't know how to foster love. We loved her. She was ours. ... We sheltered her. We were determined to never let anyone else hurt her ever again.
Samara rubs her eyes and cries. Tears run down my own cheeks as I listen to her testify.

A photo is presented.

Approximately what age was Princess?
She was about 14 years old.
So about a year before her death?

More photos of Princess. This is Samara's mother, Dolores [sp?] Smart, and her father David Smart, her aunt and others. Samara holding her first son, Gavin. Samara points out the first foster child her parents adopted, Joseph, and then Princess. Then another photo. This is a delightful photo of Princess.

She's about 4. She's in the back yard, since my mother liked to dry clothes on the clothes line, for whatever reason.

Another photo of Princess at Easter with her Easter goodies. People are identified in more photos, including the third child her parents fostered. More Easter photos inside the family home. They always celebrated all the holidays. A photo of Princess in the park in San Diego. Samrara's parents liked to go to San Diego a lot. Princess is probably about five or six in this photo. A photo with Princess and Gavin, Samara's son, and David the fourth foster child her parents took care of. More photos. A day at the beach.

We'd go to the beaches. We were always somewhere, Silver Strands, Long Beach. They always went out.

More photos of her family with Princess. Samara's biological brother, David, Princess and Joseph. Princess is still a small child in these photos. More photos.

It's Christmas at the house. That's Princess. At this time, I was already out of the house. We'd come back every Christmas. And that's Princess and that's David. ... Princess opening presents. She was probably about five.

Another Christmas photo of Princess. The family photos keep coming, showing a family in happy times. Now a photo of Princess when she's older. She's really grown tall now. Samara explains that Princess is older. That this photo is close to before her mother's death. Princess was 11, going on 12. Samara explains that her father was big on taking photos. Another photo of Princess in her room. Princess had her own private room.

What kind of child was she?

She was a sweet child. ... She was haunted. She took a lot to bring to ... just to get to her personality. My mom invested a lot of time and love to let her know that she was safe.
So she was smiling?
She was very passive, almost gullible at times. If they [the foster children] were fighting over a toy, she was real easy going. She didn't want to rock the boat. ... She never fought with other kids. ... I had three sons before Princess's death. I never saw her angry or bitter. She was always such a sweet, sweet girl.

Sometime, you mentioned during your testimony, while Princess was still a young girl, your mother passed away?
My mother passed away about a year before my father suffered a heart attack. And mother had congestive heart failure. She passed in [1997?] Dad passed away in 2010. [Taking care of the foster children] His heart wasn't in it. At the time of her death, the children they had left was Princess, Ashley and Tanika [sp?]. They were in the process of adopting Ashley and Tanika. Princess's mother was schizophrenic, so it was never going to be contested [the Smart's fostering or adopting Princess?].

When my mother passed away, it was me. I pulled her out of the private school. She would ride the buss with my kids. Her social worker ... It was very, very challenging. She was [with me?] when me and my husband and I had six kids with me.

My dad would have them on the weekends. I took care of them. I fed them and I knew it [couldn't?] happen like that for ever. Ashley and Tanika's aunts wanted to reunify the kids [with their biological family]. They got the youngest kids so she wanted them. I didn't know what to do. I was estranged from my ex and I was a single mom. My dad's health was failing. He had a heart attack in their apartment. I told my dad, something has to give. I think it was for me, when, she started acting different. Princess, she seemed more withdrawn. She didn't seem to be too concerned about my mother's death. So I didn't know what was ever going on in her mind. She would go to school and her social worker assigned [another case?].

At some point, Princess was moved to another foster home. I could no longer do it and my dad could no longer do it.
How old was she when she was moved out of your home?
She was 12, going on 13.
And did you keep in touch with her after?
As a foster family, you don't have a lot of rights ... you keep in touch as best he could because, we could not infringe on the rights of the other family.
You couldn't call her? You had to wait until she contacted you?
Pretty much.

At some point, were you told that Princess was dead?
The last time I spoke to her was about November. When she ran away in December, I was concerned because she hadn't reached out any more.
So how long before you learned about her death?
Probably about another year.
Who was the one that told you?
My father was the one who told me but he did not tell me how. He did not tell me the truth.
When did you find out that, not only she had died, but that she had also been murdered?
It was after the defendant was apprehended. My son said, "Mom, they caught her killer. ... You always said it. Look at the news." And I literally lost it.

What do you mean, lost it?
What I read didn't make any sense. It wasn't the little girl I knew. I pretty much fell on the ground.
Did you feel like this was your sister?
I felt like it was my daughter who had been murdered. It was like I had an old injury that had been opened like a shotgun. It didn't make any sense. I was the one who tried to talk to her, and protect her. I told her, "When you are 18 years old, there was money waiting for you." There was a trust fund, and she could come back and we would be a family again.

Did you feel a sense of guilt that you were not able to protect her?
I still feel guilt. There's not a day that goes by that I don't feel that I wasn't protecting her. She said my biological father is trying to get custody of me. And I said, over my dead body. Because I remember the nightmares, when she would wake up.

Were you able to attend her funeral?
I didn't have any rights. What killed me, is the agency that took care of Princess, they came to my father's funeral but they couldn't tell me anything about what happened to her.

Tell us about coming to court.
She was my baby. I'm her voice and I'm her advocate. She was a sheltered, innocent girl. People need to know that she was valuable and she left a lot of family that cared about her. Her [foster?] sisters remember her.
Did your father pass away?
In January, 2010. There are still so many unanswered questions. I went to counseling. I would go to counseling often. It's like you've lost a child and you can never prepare for that. I have four sons now. There's no one that could ever be my Princess. No one could ever fill that spot, ever.

Has it given you a sense of comfort, in some manner, to attend this case, attend this trial and get some answers?
It's been very helpful to be a part of this because not only am I standing up for her, to let people know she is important. so I can close some aspect of it and understand some aspects of it. If you've never opened up your home to a child, you can never understand.

It's almost like, finding out your parents are not your parents.
It's helped me to be here for my family. I come here from Riverside. It's work. It's hard, but she's worth it.
If you had an opportunity to see her again, to talk to her one more time, what would you say? What would you do?
I'd tell her I love her and that she was never gone from my heart, even though she wasn't physically in my life. And that she was so important to me. I'm sorry I wasn't her protector.

No cross examination. The court asks to see counsel at sidebar.
All during Samara's testimony, tears were running down my face.

3:15 PM
We are now taking the afternoon break. I see some of the jurors wipe their eyes as they exit the courtroom.

3:30 PM
The court asks if we are ready for the jury.


Tell us how old you are?
And you flew out here this morning from out of town to testify in this case?
Yes mam.
Why was it important to do that?
To be here for my mother.
Who was your mother?
Henrietta Wright.

He was 17 years old when his mother was killed. He has four siblings. He's the second oldest. Older brother Ivan. Sisters, three sisters, Mochelle [sp?], Kenisha [sp?] Michelle.

How was it that you learned about your mother's death?
When I was in Fresno, [with his father] and playing football practice. And my dad was sitting on the couch. He said, "I've got something to tell you. Your mom got killed." And I passed out.
When your dad told you that, and you passed out, what does that mean?
I fell on the floor and passed out, blanked out for about five minutes.
Did your father tell you about how it was your mother was killed?
No. He just told me that she was murdered but he didn't know the details.
Who told you [about the details]?
My brother.
That was Ivan?
Yes mam.
And when was that?
It was later on that night.
Same night?
Yes mam.
Did you attend her funeral?
Yes mam.

What do you remember about that particular day?
I remember it was real hurtful that our mom would never see her little daughters grow up. She would never see her grand kids. And she missed out on a lot of things.
When you went to the funeral, did you have your siblings all with you?
Yes mam.
And how old was your youngest?
She was about 3 or 4 months.

What was it like after that, the age of 17, growing up, becoming an adult and going through everything ... without having a mother?
My mom was my angel. I would always go to her. She would always give me a hug so it was like a big hunk that was missing.
From your life?
How did you cope with going to the funeral, going with the siblings at the time?
It was real hurtful. It was like, I didn't know what was going to happen to my little sister because my mom was gone. Because my mom kept us all together. ... We all got separated.
All the kids?
Did you keep in touch with your other siblings?
Somewhat. We were in different cities so it was kind of hard.

He keeps in contact with them a lot now, that he is an adult.

So there were a lot of years because the family was split up that you didn't have the support of your brothers and sister?
Yes mam.
How was that?
I was in Fresno. And I had no family there. My dad ended up passing away and it got kind of lonely. He passed in 2002.

Are there certain times of the year where you tend to think about your mother more than others?
Yes. It was like, when she got killed, the day she got killed. Every time that month comes around I start missing her. I think, where would I be? Where would she be?

The fact that she wasn't there for everything, your high school graduation?
Maybe my life would have been different. I just wish that she could still be here on this earth.
Are there certain things about your life that you wish you had been able to share with her?
Yes mam.
You were married recently?
Yes mam.
At your marriage, you wish that your mother would have been there?
I wish that she could have been here to talk to my wife because maybe I wouldn't have gotten married.

There is laughter in the courtroom, even from Judge Kennedy. The court comments, "I guess that wasn't the answer you were expecting."

You wish that your mother had been here so that she could have given you some important advice?
Yes mam.
Do you ever talk to her in your head, or imagine conversations you could have had with her?
Ever since she was killed, I still hear her voice to tell me to come in the house. To this day.
Because you went at some point to live with your father, that you feel responsible that you weren't around when she was killed?
My brother was in LA. My dad was in Fresno, and when my dad took me to Fresno, it was kind of my fault that I wasn't there to protect her.
But you know realistically, you were just a kid at the time?
Yes mam.

When you were living with your mom and your sisters, do you remember some of the things you would do together with your mom and your family?
My mom made grilled cheese sandwiches. And I just loved that.
Did she sometimes take you guys to go swimming?
Yes. She took us to the beach and to the movies. That was her thing. She loved movies.
When you were growing up did your mother [have a?' constant struggle to keep things together for a mom?
She kept her head on straight and kept the family together.

Because of financial problems he went to stay with his father. He would keep in touch with his mother by phone

Is there something with your mom, do you wish there was something you could change, what would that be fore you? [Something that you could have done differently?]
I know I wish I could take some things back that were said. ... I wish my mother was here.
Was that something, that, since you were a teenager, [her murder] that colored your whole life?
Yes mam.

Photos of his mother.

Do you recognize the people in the photo?
That's my dad and my mom.
That's your mom, Henrietta Wright?
Prior to that it was Henrietta Bush.
You go by Bush but she went by Wright?
They never got married.

There is another photo of his beautiful mother.

She looks pretty young here. Were you around her in that time period when she looked like that?
I don't think so.

Another photo is shown to the witness.

Do you recognize her here?
Yes mam.
Is that how you remember her?&
Yes mam.
If there was something that you could say to her, and have a last conversation to her, what would you say to her?
Tell her how much I really miss her.

No cross examination.


Do you know someone named Henrietta Wright?
That's my aunt. We called her Cody. ... We had a lot of nicknames. We called her Cody or Aunt Cody.
Were you close to your Aunt?
I wasn't but 25, 24 when she died.">
Did you live in Long Beach?
I lived in Downey, California.

And where was your Aunt Cody living at that time?
I think she was in-between houses. ... I would see her a lot when I went to her mother's house. ... Her mother was the matriarch of the family. Her mother was living in Los Angeles.
How long would you see her?
On the weekends when we would go to my mother's on the weekend. ... I would see a lot of the family there.
Just on the weekends?

When was it you learned about her murder?
I got off work that morning. Detectives came to the house and they said they found her dead. We went to a mortuary to identify her body.

They had to have a closed casket.

The only way that I could tell that it was her because it was her nose and her hair. That was because of her trademark hairstyle.
How was it to do that?
I will never forget it.
And who else went with you?
Her eldest son, Ivan, myself and her oldest sister, my mother.

There was a lot of breakdown in the family. It was the normal chaos when someone dies. Lots of who should go where. No one came to live with her.

Rochell went with my mom first then went with [Aunt] Peggy.

She and Cody were pregnant at the same time.

Would your family do things together?
We did a lot of family functions back then. But now days, we've gone our own ways.

They used to do lots of [picnics?], and for Thanksgiving they rotated between the sisters [Aunts.] because it was six girls and six boys.

You're saying the family doesn't do as much together today?
Common in this life, yeah.
How do you feel on those holidays?
It's sad. Everyone is doing their own things. We're not connected like we used to be.
Do you try to get your daughter and Rochell together?
They do a lot of things together. I think about her a lot.

She calls Rochell a different name, and she explains that everyone had a nickname, but she got stuck with just Irene. No nickname.

What do you remember, the one favorite memory about your Aunt?
She used to always let me drive her car. I was probably about 13, and she took me to my first concert at the Apollo. That was like in the 70's. I was probably about 13 or so when she took me and I'll always remember that. That's one of those memories that will live with me forever.
Would you say that you had a special bond with your Aunt?
Yeah, I did. ... We were only like, 10 years apart. ... We were both pregnant with our daughters. At one time, she lost her house and would babysit [for each other?] all the time.

Would she ever talk to you about any struggles that she was having?
She lost her home to a fire and that devastated her. She thought like she had to start all over again. ... I remember her crying.
Did she talk about financial struggles?
That's why we don't have any photos of her. [The fire.] Here was a woman that would have to move in with her sister and her sister had kids. She had a tough time.

And you heard her son talk about her as a strong mother?
She was single. She worked several jobs.
Sometimes she would have three jobs so that she could provide for her family?
What do you think of how her son described her? A strong black woman?
I agree with that assessment.
Do you go to visit her at the cemetery?
Why is that?
I just don't want to think about it. ...Shes gone, but not forgotten. My mom didn't want to come but I felt it was important to be here for her.

What have you felt, seeing about the trial?
It brought back a lot of memories. Some good ones. I see a lot of Cody in her daughter Rochell.
So she's still here?
Chenell [ sp? nickname?] looks just like her. Just like her.
How old were you when you last saw her?
I was in my mid 20's. About 25.
If you knew that was the last time you were going to see her, what would you say to her?
I'd just tell her that I love her.

A photo of Henrietta is put up. Irene identifies her aunt. It's a photo we've seen before when Henrietta's son testified. Her hair is filled out in a nice style. This was before the braids.

That's Henrietta.
You know her as Cody?
That's how she was with a happy face?
For a while I hadn't thought about her for a long time, and then now coming to court all the time. I think about her from time to time. This was like it opened up a Pandora's Box for me all over again.
Do you think coming here and experiencing the heartache has helped you?
It gives me closure. Now I know the truth. I'm informing my mother, my aunties. I was there. I heard it.
So you see some sense of relief for your aunt and your mother as well?

No cross examination. Judge Kennedy gives the jury her standard admonition. Everyone is ordered back by 1:30 pm tomorrow.

At this Daily News UK article covering closing arguments, you can see photos of all the victims.

The next post in this case can be found HERE.