Monday, June 18, 2018

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, Pretrial Hearing 43

Previous post can be found HERE.

Michael ThoamasGargilo, June 2008

UPDATE 6/26: edited to correct date of hearing
June 6, 2018
8:30 AM The 9th Floor, Dept. 106

I'm in the gallery with two other reporters. CBS 48 Hrs. Producer Greg Fisher is here. Sitting beside Greg is a big cheese from Dateline, Susan, a supervising producer, who I met over 10 years ago in this same courtroom during the first Phil Spector trial.

There are attorneys in the well from another case that are having a loud discussion over by the counsel tables.

DDA Garrett Dameron & DDA Daniel Akemon are here along with lead defense attorney Dale Rubin. Rubin's co-counsel Dan Nardoni is a no show. All three of us are all listening as best we can with rapt attention to counsel speaking with Judge Fidler's clerk over at her counter. I hear "September trial date." And, "come back August 10 ... (or) August 4 ... with a zero of 30 calendar date."  From what I'm hearing, I believe it's Rubin's plan to have the case on a shorter leash. The feedback I think I'm hearing from the clerk is that the court may not allow it (the shorter leash). The idea with the shorter leash is that they can possibly swoop in and get a trial date before a potential seven-week preliminary hearing in a complicated insurance fraud case, if that case has any type of delay.

The conversation over at the clerk's desk is being drowned out by the other counsel chatting loudly in the center of the well. It's clear the banter between DDA Akemon and Mr. Rubin is friendly banter. Over the last several years, I've had the impression that Akemon and Rubin have known each other a long time and get along well. I hear Rubin say, "Let me approach it."

DDA's Akemon and Dameron leave the courtroom to chat.

While we wait in the gallery, the press talk about a couple cases. Convicted murderer Scott Peterson's appeal has been extended again. Scott Peterson made national news when his pregnant wife went missing on Christmas Eve in 2002.  He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death in 2004. His appeal still hasn't been completely adjudicated yet. Will Peterson get a new trial the Modesto Bee asked in August 2017 .

Another case that I thought was dismissed was Kelly Soo Park's federal lawsuit against Santa Monica PD Detective Karen Thompson, the lead investigator into the murder of Juliana Redding. Redding was strangled to death in her Santa Monica apartment in March 2008. At one time LE thought Redding's murder was the work of Gargiulo. Park, whose DNA was found around victim Redding's neck, on her T-shirt, on her blackberry, and other areas of the apartment -and a drop of Park's blood and fingerprint were lifted from a plate in Juliana's kitchen sink- was found not guilty of Redding's murder in June 2013. However, the US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit  reinstated Park's lawsuit.

9:00 AM
Rubin goes back into the custody area to visit with Gargiulo. Not long after he comes out, Gargiulo is brought out into the courtroom. Gargiulo is in the high-risk orange jumpsuit, white long-john type shirt underneath. He's also wearing his black horn-rimmed glasses. As before, Gargiulo is completely bald, but he has a slight goatee during this visit. It's the first time that I see graying hair on Gargiulo's face.

While we wait for Judge Fidler to take the bench, former Suge Knight defense attorney Michael Fletcher -who has his own legal troubles stemming from his representation of Knight- stops by Dept. 106, has a short conversation with Judge Fidler's clerk, then quickly leaves.

9:14 AM

Rubin and Judge Fldler's clerk chat a bit. Three minutes later, Judge Fidler takes the bench and goes on the record. The court asks, "So where are we?"

DDA Akemon tells the court they are ready for trial, but are waiting on a report from Dr. Robert Schug, the people's medical expert, that will be issued in three to four weeks. "We hope to come back on August 10 for zero of 30 and get to trial in late August," DDA Akemon adds.

Judge Fidler asks the defendant, "Mr. Gargiulo, are those dates agreeable to you?" "Yes, they are," Gargiulo replies. It's over that quickly. Judge Fidler is off the bench and Gargiulo is then taken back into custody.

And that's it.

There is one issue that could hold up Gargiulo's trial starting in late August: the backlog of cases on Judge Fidler's calendar. There is one case, the massive insurance fraud case with 12 or 13 defendants I mentioned earlier. For a couple weeks, that case has had an evidentiary hearing. It's unknown how soon the preliminary hearing could start, possibly delaying Gargiulo's case further.

The next hearing on the case can be found HERE.