Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper," Penalty Phase, Day 7

Lonnie Franklin, Jr. pretrial hearing
Associated Press Pool Camera, date unknown

This post has not yet been fully edited for spelling and clarity. Sprocket
Prior post can be found HERE.
T&T Case coverage and Media Links HERE.

Friday, May 20, 2016
8:45 AM
Defense attorneys Seymour Amster and Dale Atherton arrive. There are two attorneys here sitting at the defense table. Over at the deputy's desk, Judge Kennedy's bailiff is giving his two new assistants what their duties are for the day. He tells them when they are required to stand, what to watch out for and the zero tolerance regarding cell phones in the courtroom. I like Judge Kennedy's current bailiff. He's actually a funny guy and from what I have heard, a good jokster.

Judge Kennedy comes out from her chambers. Shes' wearing a beautiful red sleeveless dress. Judge Kennedy, known for her love of the Dodger and "Dodger Blue," is asked, "Why are you wearing red?" Smiling she replies, "I have to give credit where credit is due." There's laughter with her reply. I take it from her comment, the Dodgers did not win last nights game.

The other counsel in the well were waiting for someone to arrive. When he does, all three go into chambers with counsel.

8:54 AM
The defense team's investigator arrives. A woman in a red dress and a much younger woman, possibly her daughter sits in the gallery.  About ten minutes later, the courtroom starts to fill up. The people arrive with their support staff.

9:10 AM

Amster is ecstatic. He says out loud to the room, "The 9th circuit just came down and reversed in our favor." He says it out loud enough that everyone in the courtroom hears. He's quite happy, joyful. Smiling from ear to ear, he goes up to a few people and whispers in their ears. I know this can't be about the Franklin case, but what kind of message does that send to the victim's families that are sitting in the gallery? Amster leaves the courtroom to make a phone call. Dale Atherton, sitting at the defense table, continues to rock in his chair. When Amster returns, he continues to laugh and smile over his good news with his co-counsel at the defense table.

9:19 AM
Franklin is brought out. Amster brings up the witness from Germany again. He tells the court, "The people have implied that they have not had any communications themselves with the witness. Yet yesterday, they've represented the witness has refused an interview. And if they've had some type of communication..."

DDA Silverman interrupts. "That's inaccurate. ... We haven't take any statements that deal with the schedule of detail of her testimony."

Amster continues. He's very concerned about the fact that the prosecution is going to feel that way. It doesn't not mean that she [the witness] doesn't want to be fair and the material facts to her. He adds, "I don't think it's up to the prosecution what should be the type of communication that should be turned over or not." Amster is requesting an in-camera hearing and [the prosecution?] telling the court why [their communications with the witness?] should not be turned over. "At this point, I'm extremely concerned that any discussion the prosecution or law enforcement is going to be presented in a manner or implied, or expressed persuasion. I'm requesting an order by the court that the prosecution or law enforcement not have any discussions what so ever." The court rules, "I'm not going to order that at this time."  The court does order a German interpreter. The witness will be brought to court on Wednesday. At that time an inquiry will be made if she wished to be interviewed [by the defense].

DDA Silverman tells the court that she is aware of her discovery obligations. She then mentions the defense and their issue with discovery violations. Some years ago, the witness [had said she was terrified]. The prosecution's office had access to a German interpreter, who has been attempting to assist us in getting her here. We don't have any statements from interpreters.

Amster feels this is a discovery violation at this point. The court states she is not going to do this at this time. Amster is asking for an order that the people turn over any notes and communication from a third party.

DDA Silverman, or the court replies, that what an interpreter said third hand or second hand, is not what you can use to impeach a witness. If an interpreter is interpreting simultaneously that becomes her statement. The court wants to get the witness here first. Amster want's the people's interpreter here. DDA Silverman tells the court that their interpreter is not a certified court interpreter. It's just someone they know that speaks German.

The court asks, "None of these people who are helping you have not taken statements regarding the crime?" DDA Silverman replies, "Except for the one short interview done by Detective Dupree, no. ... Detective Dupree kept a log of all the contact that was made with the German victims. That was turned over to him [Amster] a long time ago. ... We didn't speak to them for three months. ... The interpreter doesn't know about the case and has never been to court."

The court orders that all recent contact be added to Detective Dupree's list and that turned over to the defense.

Amster has another issue, this time regarding Dr. Vivian Williams testimony. "I reviewed my discovery lat night. I did not see any reference to the name Lonnie in discovery." DDA Silverman counters, "That interview, the last line of her statement mentions that line of that statement that she said."

DDA Silverman then brings up an issue that I'm guessing was brought up at sidebar. "Yesterday, because of the complaint by the defense that victim impact statements should be called twice, there is absolutely no law that indicates that that is somehow prosecutorial misconduct for not calling the witness twice. ... that entire scenario is unsupported by any law. Just because counsel doesn't like the evidence in this case doesn't mean that he can require the court to fashion some procedure that's required by law." DDA Silverman gives a measured review to the court about counsel's behavior, that he is, or appears to still be upset by the jury's note. "If we could please get through this trial in somewhat of a professional manner."

Counsel then discuss the stipulation to the prior convictions. Amster states he agrees to the priors package unless there is something that they ask the court to redact. DDA Silverman wants to go over each item in detail and get that out of the way now. Amster doesn't appear to have reviewed the documents yet. They go over the priors packages and make stipulations.

9:42 AM
The jury is brought in. Judge Kennedy comments to the jury on her dress that she has to give credit where credit is due. The jury laughs. The people call their next witness.


The woman who steps up to the witness stand is a strikingly attractive woman I had noticed in the gallery many times.

Do you know someone named Rolenia Morris?
She's my sister.
Are you younger or older?
So you're her older sister?

Amster interrupt testimony to request a side bar.

You said that Rolenia was 4 years younger than you?
Are there any other siblings?
I'm the oldest. Yolanda lives in Atlanta, then Rolenia and then the younger sister, Regina.

When her sister got dislocated from her apartment she came [to live with her]. Rolenia's children at Donte, 22, and Donchae [sp?], 25.

When they all moved in with you, how old were the kids?
Donchae was 14 and Donte was 10 or 11.
When she moved in with your for a while, where were you living?
When the first time, I was 25 and she relocated from Pasadena to Los Angeles with my other sister.

All three sisters in Los Angeles lived together. Then they moved to a bigger place to have room for the kids. They always stayed together.

Rolenia, where was she living in September 2005? If you know, from your own knowledge.
She was living in Los Angeles.
South LA?
Yes. ... Near Manchester and Western.

On September 5, 2006, did you and your sisters go somewhere to, get together?
They came to my house.
Was that for a barbecue?
Was that in the San Gabriel Valley?
At that time, yes.

She lists the other family members who were there at the barbecue.

Where was Rolenia living?
She was living with Regina.
What happened after the barbecue? Did everyone leave? ... Did Rogenia and Rolenia go back home?
I drove them home.

After the date of September 5, 2005, have you ever seen you sister again?
I have not.
Have you ever heard from your sister again?

A few days after that, I asked my boss if I could leave because I believed my sister was missing.

She went to the 77th Street Station and filed a missing person's report. She also gave them a photo of her sister.

In terms of your sister Rolenia who went missing, have you has she had any contact with her two children, if you know?
Objection. Sustained.

Do you have a father who is still alive?
My step-father, Albert Morris. ... He lives in Lancaster.
Are you in contact with him?
Are you also in contact with your other sisters/
Yes, I am.
What about Rolenia's children, are you in contact with them?
Did you come to court one day, and bring Donte with you?
Yes I did.

Was your sister working at the time she went missing?
Yes, she was.
How was she working? In what capacity?
She loved helping elderly people so she did a lot of in-home type of service position type of jobs.
How old was she when she went missing?
Were you contacted at some point towards the end of 2010, by a Detective from the LAPD, Robbery Homicide Division?
I wasn't contacted through them first.
You contacted RHD, is that right?
No. They contacted me.

Have you had meetings with Detectives McCoy and Dupree?
Not so much Dupree, but since ...  Mccoy.
In regards to your sister, you had more contact with Detective McCoy?

When your sister went missing, did you determine if any of her property .... are you aware of any property that went missing?
Objection.  Sustained.
Did you ever go over to the house where your sister went missing with Rogenia?
Were you familiar with your sister's habits? Would she take her purse with her?
Did you find her purse anywhere where she was living?

Judge Kennedy asks her own question. "Did you look for the purse?
Judge Kennedy asks again, "What was the result?"
I didn't find it.

Were you familiar with the contents of [the things your sister carried in her purse?]?
Yes. Driver's license, California ID and a security card. Perfume, napkins.
Did you find any of that type of property, her ID? Did you find any of that or observe any of that at your sister Rogenia's house?

Did your sister live for a period of time in Las Vegas? ... Do you have any family in Las Vegas?
Yes. My mom's eldest sister.

There are questions about her mother that I don't quite follow regarding Las Vegas. There is a long explanation about losing their lease on a house they were living in so that's why the sisters had to split up. There are continual objections by Amster and a motion to strike her answers.

Prior to 2005, [specifically] had your sister ever disappeared before?
Did she discuss with you, your sister, her plans for the future?
Objection. Sidebar.

A few of the jurors appear to be laughing but I'm not sure what it's about.

Did your sister indicate that she had pans to go back to school of some sort? What were her future plans, if you know?
She wanted to go back to school to become a nurse.

When you looked through your sister's property, what kinds of property was left behind?
Her clothes, a bible, shoes, books, pictures of her children, letters, that sort of thing.
So everything but her purse with her identification? ... How about things like her toiletries? Were there makeup, a toothbrush, things of that nature?

Did your sister have a passport?
Not to my knowledge.
At some point did you give up hope that your sister would come back?
No, I didn't. I was still hopeful. I was always hopeful.
At some point did you try to call her cell phone?
Yes, I did.
Did you do that over and over again?
With what result?
No service.
Did you have... let me ask you this. What did you do with respect to your niece and nephew?
My sister [Regina?] had already spoken to my nephew's father.
Did someone take care of Donchae and Donte?
How old were they, when your sister went missing?
Donte was 12 and Donchae was 16.

Did you assist in raising them over the last ten years?
And did you do that along with your other sisters?
What was the custom, if any, on their birthdays? Did family get together to celebrate birthdays?

Did you and your family get together to celebrate Donte and Donchae's birthday prior to Rolenia going missing?

When the next birthdays rolled around, did she make any contact with you?
No mam.
What about all of their birthdays?
Did she ever show up at the house?
What about their graduations over the years?
Did you attend their graduations?
Yes I did.

In your mind, as knowing your sister as you did, if your sister was alive.
Objection! Sustained.

At some point did you have some type of memorial party or remembrance party for your sister?
April 2012.
What was the purpose of that?
I'd spoken to my sister Yolanda in Georgia
Objection! [Miss ruling.]
Did you have a memorial party that you lost hope that your sister was still alive?
Who attended that memorial?
All of my family, myself, close friends and relatives. A pastor came and spoke on behalf of my sister.
In your view, do you view your sister now as deceased?
Yes I do.
How did that impact you, that your younger sister isn't ever coming home? ... At one point did you realize that your sister was dead?
Um, when I went to Parker Center and they had her ID and social security card.
Objection! Motion to strike! Sidebar.

I hear DDA Silverman at the sidebar. "Can he just make a legal objection and just move on? The side bar is over.

You were shown an ID card and photographs by LAPD?
[Yes.] When I got to Parker Center, they had us sequestered in a room. they asked me who I was.

Judge Kennedy asks, "Were, at some point, were you shown some ID related to your sister?

People's exhibit 366D is presented.

Is this the ID card that was shown to you?

The card says, Rolenia Adele Morris.

And who is the person?
My sister.
Did you ever see that card before that day?
Do you recognize your sister's photos?
Yes I do.
Did you know what address [was on the card?]?
I didn't know the address but I knew.

I note the birth date on the card. 2/4/1954.

Is that the same ID card that we see in 366C?
Objection. Sustained.
Do you recognize your sister's photo here?
Yes I do.
Do you recognize this person?
Yes I do. ... My sister Rolenia.
Do you also recognize her in this photo of her?
Yes I do.
Do you recognize her clothing?
Yes. I do.
Was this a blouse or top you'd see her wear before?
Yes I have.

One of the pictures, Rolenia is posed like Janecia Peters, with one breast exposed. Next, the missing person's flyer is put up on the ELMO. Latanya testifies she gave that photo to detectives so that it could distributed  to missing persons websites throughout the country.

Who is this person?
My sister.

Another photo she is asked to identify. It's her sister. She does not know when the photo was taken. More photos of Rolenia with other family members and her children. A photo of Rolenia's daughter of Donchae at her prom. It's the witness's niece and her prom date.

When did this take place?
Several years ago?
Before or after she went missing?
You went with her, to buy her prom dress?

Another photo of Rolenia, taken in Riverside at Regina's children's father's house. More photos of Rolenia with family. The next photo is of Rolenia with her sister Regina's son.

Do you still have parties like this for the family?
Not really. ... They're older now, since my sister's been gone...
[So you haven't gotten together as a family?]
We do but we usually go out to dinner. Not big like we used to do.

Another photo of the children, having a big birthday party.

That was the same day. It was Donte's birthday as well so we celebrated along with ... celebrated both their birthdays .... with two cakes.

Another photo.

That's Rolenia's grandson. He's six now. His name is Tyce [sp?].

More photos of Rolenia with her children. Then photos of her children older, after Rolenia went missing. Another photo of Rolenia as a little girl.  Then a photo, of family at the memorial. They are all wearing shirts with her baby photo.

We had t-shirts made when we had the memorial.

More photos of Tyce, and the four girls when they were young. A photo of Rolenia's mother. Latanya tells the jury her mother is not alove. She passed January 26, 1995, before Rolenia went missing.  Another photo of her missing sister.

Were you responsible for getting all these photos together? What was that like, getting all these photos together, knowing the venue?
It was hard. ... I know these girls. Once my mom passed, I just took over the mom role.d I knew it had to be done.

Another photo of Rolenia and her children, and then a photo of Rolenia's grandson Tyce again. Then the photos, recovered from the defendant's home.

Do you recognize these original photos recovered from the Franklin home?
Of the three sisters that you have, who was the one you were closest to when growing up?
I was close to them all. I didn't have a favorite. I was called sister mamma. I loved them all the same.

She dabs a tissue at her eyes.

We would have a few squabbles, but she knew that I loved her.
Typical sister squabbles?
Were there any special things that you two did together as you look back?
Not me or her, all of us. ... It was always all of us. ... Because that's the way my mom raised us, just to be there for each other.

Given the close relationship, did that make it all the more difficult that she's been missing for so long?
Given that you've had this memorial, ... what is it like to believe that, in your sister's [case you've] not had a place to bury her.
Very difficult. ... I'm always wondering where she is and what happened to her, and, what happened.

You've been sitting through a lot of this trial. Do you think it affects you differently because there isn't a body to bury and you haven't had the opportunity to have that funeral and a place to visit?
What was the impact?
I was very depressed for a long time.
Did you get help?
No. I just prayed.
Did that give you a sense of comfort?
In terms of depression, is that something you seem to carry with you whereever you go?

Can you describe what it's like, on her birthdays?
Just sad. Sad because we always celebrated and did things as a family unit. ... And to not have that, and to have that taken away from you is very traumatic because we'd never experienced anything like that in our family. ... We don't really celebrate like that anymore. Seems like everyone started doing their own things since this happened.

Unless you are the instigator, to put everything together, it sort of all falls apart?
How is it for your niece and nephew?
Donte, he's devastated. He was a mamma's boy.
Who did they live with?
He lived with his biological father, in Rialto.
And my niece is with her grandmother in Rialto.
So they were separated?

Do you have conversations with them about this case?
Donte yes. Donchae, no. ... Donte is more receptive of getting the information. I try to try to give him the information. ... With my niece, this is hard for her. She doesn't want to hear about the case or anything about him.
Do any of them ask you for information?
Donte, yes.
Donchae doesn't even speak about her mother?
Were there special events you looked to celebrating with your sister and her family that you've been deprived of?
Of course.
In going through this process through the last several months, has this provided you with some closures and some answers?
Some answers, but I will never have closure.

No more direct. Amster gets up to cross the witness.

When was the last time you physically went to the place where she was living?
September 5, 2005.
And that was in Los Angeles?
Since September 5, 2005 to the current date, have you maintained the same cell phone number?
No, I haven't.
Prior to September 5, 2005, did your sister ever call you on your cell phone?
When did you change your cell phone number that she used to call you?
I think I changed it in 2010 because I wanted to keep it the same in case she contacted me so I waited a while.

Once you changed your number, did you do anything [leave a forwarding number?] if anyone knew about the old number they could contact you on your new one?

She had a forwarding system set up so that if someone called the old number, it will tell the caller what  her new number was.

And is that still active today/
No, I don't do that anymore.When did you stop that?
A while ago. 2013, something like that.

Nothing further. No redirect. We take the morning break.

10:41 AM
Latanya is comforted by DDA Silverman and Mary and Donnell Alexander in the gallery. I am awed at how patient and understanding DDA Silverman is with these victims' family members. She often tells them how strong they are.

11:04 AM
Judge Kennedy calls for the jury. The jury enters. The first order of business is the stipulation about the priors package. Once the stipulation is over, Judge Kennedy tells the jurors, "When the parties agree to stipulate you are to regard those facts as proven.


Since the jurors know who LAPD Detective Dupree is from the guilt phase of the trial, she does not reintroduce him.

With respect to crime scenes relative to Georgia Thomas, Inez Warren and Sharon Dismuke, are you familiar with those locations given your experience in the areas?
Are you also familiar with the documentation with respect to those three homicides?
And have you sat through the testimony in this case?

Sharon Dismuke, found 1/15/1984. DR #84-13-029088
Inez Warren, found 8/15/1988. DR #88-12-28738
Georgia Thomas found 12/28/2000. DR #00-13-02969

The witness is shown the next people's exhibit. The exhibit documents how close the Barbara Ware and Georgia Thomas body dump sites were and the proximity of the crime scene locations.

What about the location that  we just heard about a few moments ago, with respect to Latanya Clark, with respect to where her sister Regenia [and Rolenia] was living. Do you see this location on this map? ... You can't see it because it's in the green circle area.
How far away [is it] from the defendant's location?
Nine city blocks.

Nothing further. No cross examination. The people have no additional witnesses at this time.

11:12 AM
Judge Kennedy addresses the jury. "Because w'ere going to have this block of several days off, and the other witness coming ... a long time ... as much as it pains me to do it, I'm going to give you a few more days off. We will be continuing on Thursday, May 26. ... Lady in red, have a good trip."

Judge Kennedy reminds the jury about their admonitions. "A ring tone on your phone, just pretend it's me [telling you], don't discuss the case, no posting and research on the Internet.  We'll be picking up again on Thursday at 9:00 AM

11:14 AM
All the jurors and alternates have left. Then Judge Kennedy adds, "Not going to see any of you hopefully until Wednesday morning. ... You [people] need to know about some of the defense witnesses or whether or not they are testifying."

They will have a 402 hearing on "Williams." The defense want to call Diana Kaiser. The people ask who she is. The defense states shes a mitigation expert. The people ask for a 402 hearing on her and the scope of her testimony in her so-called report. The people want to know if she is presenting anything the defendant [said?] in her testimony.

Judge Kennedy states, "I don't know what's in her report and who it's necessary."

The defense rolls of names he "might" call in his case. I don't get a single potential witness name correctly. However, Amster states that he's not finalized his witness list. "We've not made a decision until the people's case is over. ... The offer of proof is in the reports."

Judge Kennedy tells Amster, "Are you, will you have made up your mind by Wednesday. ... I don't what to do a 402 hearing on people that will not be called."  Amster asks about the people's remaining witnesses. The court answers that it's her understanding that the people's remaining witnesses are the woman from Germany, someone from JAG, someone from the military.

There's another individual from the military for the record and a couple victim impact witnesses left. The people feel they can finish their witnesses on Thursday.

The court asks Amster, "How long do you feel your case is going to take? ... Mr. Amster, you have the Sorenson witnesses?"  Amster is not sure they are going to call the Sorensen witnesses. The court responds, "On Wednesday, you need to tell us. ... I don't know if you have witnesses to counter."

The people are asked who the victim impact witnesses are. Diana Ware and Billy Ware and Romy Lampkin will be the final victim impact statements.

The court reminds the parties that June 1st, is Juror #9's child's graduation. And they've been so accommodating. ... Is because we've taken so long, they've been so good about all the delays we've had. The court also talks about going over jury instructions and that a special instruction needs to be crafted. Atherton states he just wants to check if the principal [language?] is in the law to see if it's already in the instruction, otherwise, they'll rely on CALJIC.  Amster states that by Tuesday noon, if they're requesting a special instruction, they will supply them to the court and email the DA.

And that's it. Wednesday at 9:00 am for evidentiary hearings. We are in recess.

Continued in Day 8, Evidentiary Hearing....