Archive for the ‘jury duty’ Category

Let’s wrap up the testimony

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

First, my apologies to my loyal readers for the lack of recent posts.  I was on vacation in Costa Rica.  It was nice 🙂  Maybe I’ll post some pictures later, but for now back to the case.

The Defense Calls… a guy from the evidence room.  Remember that bullet that had been disposed of?  This guy was the guy who worked in the evidence room and maybe could shed some light on what happened.  Apparently it’s standard procedure to hold all evidence for a certain amount of time (maybe around 15 months).  Then a list of all evidence older than this threshold is sent to each department, and if they don’t ask to keep it, it will be disposed of (or destroyed).

So apparently the bullet in question had been marked for disposal, and the evidence envelope had been opened and the bullet dumped into a “for disposal” bin, but not actually thrown out.  This guy then searched through the bin and found one bullet and two casings.  All three pieces were then re-admitted as potential evidence for this case.   We’ll here more from the next witness.

The defense calls… The Inspector (again)  The inspector was the one who requested that the evidence room guy look for the “disposed” bullet.  The two of them actually looked through the boxes together multiple times searching for this bullet.  However, the bullet was never tested in any way (neither before “disposal” or afterwards).  Inspector admits that in theory testing a bullet can tell what firearm it came from.  The Inspector also stated that they never looked at the deputy‘s gun around the time of the incident to see if a bullet had been fired.

This questioning went on for a long time, but was frustrating to me.  The only points to be gleaned in my opinion were that there was an administrative mistake that cause the bullet to be disposed of, and it looks especially bad that this happened right as this case was beginning.  However, the bullet had never been tested, and there was never a suspect gun found.  I don’t think having the bullet on file could have affected the case one way or another once the case had started.  I found it exceptionally strange that they then re-entered a bullet and two shells as evidence for THIS CASE, when those items were found in what was essentially a rubbish pile.  This should be embarrassing for the  Inspector’s office, but shouldn’t have much other bearing on the case in my mind.

 The defense calls… The CSI guy (again)  And the CSI guy no-shows on the afternoon they were hoping to have him.  He also no shows the following morning, but the prosecution and defense reach a stipulation about what he would have been able to testify about.  The stipulation was that the CSI guy wouldn’t be able to confirm or deny if the recovered bullet was the same one initially admitted into evidence.

And with that, the defense has no further witnesses.

Next Post:  We’re getting close to the end now.  I think my next post will be some commentary on the non-factual and non-evidence elements of the courtroom.  Then I’ll recap the closing arguments, what the jury room was like, and finally the verdict.  Stay tuned.

Guess Who’s Back??

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

The Defense Calls… The Victim (again). I guess he had a change of heart and felt like talking. He is still wearing all orange (since he’s still in jail), and we find out he’s not very well spoken, but here’s what we got:

  • The defense attorney opens by trying a number of different lines of questioning attempting to get at why he was originally unwilling to testify. The prosecutor objected to every question, and all the objections were upheld.
  • Victim claims he has been shot at around 20 times in his life, but never hit.
  • When asked if he has enemies, he said yes, but he didn’t think anyone was trying to get him.
  • His description of the shooting – he guesses “he heard a shot and glass and everything.” He then hit the ground and crawled behind a car. Said he was only worried about himself and his safety. Said the shooter’s car never really slowed down, and he didn’t see the license plate at the scene. He just had the license information for the car that the defendant had been driving.
  • When asked about the women in his life – he said he has 6 baby mamas, though at the time of the shooting he only had 5. He also had 5 other women pregnant at the time of the shooting. And there were also about 10 other women that he was intimate with around that time. (one juror said they saw the defendant laughing when he was making these claims)
  • The Victim claimed that it was his ex wife who was in the double-parked SUV on the scene. She was in that car when the shooting took place. He claims he didn’t give her contact information to the defense (or anyone) both for her safety and because she had a lot of personal stuff going on at the time. He claims the deputy sheriff told his ex-wife to leave the scene because she was upset – hysterical. He also claimed that the deputy sheriff knew this woman well and knew her phone number.
  • He mentioned something about how he imagined the deputy wouldn’t want to change his story because he had drawn his weapon on the scene and therefore had to write a report about it. This part was very unclear to me, but what the defense was trying to imply was that the victim was afraid of the deputy sheriff for some reason, and that the deputy was why the victim was afraid to testify.

(at this point, I made a note in my notes that I just couldn’t wait for the prosecution’s cross examination. We’ve got a ways to go before that happens)

  • Neither the victim nor the police noticed any bullet holes on the evening of the shooting.
  • When asked if any women were upset with him at the time of the shooting, he replied “yeah, I guess.”
  • His 20ish women spanned all different descriptions (skin color, etc) and lived all over the bay area.
  • He did indeed tell the police who he thought shot at him on the scene, but he wasn’t certain. He was going by the vehicle, never saw the person clearly, and was working with his feelings instead of facts.
  • He called the defendant after the police left to find out if it had been her who shot at him.  He claims that he was then convinced it was not her who had shot at him. He claimed he either heard her kids in the car, or heard a certain radio station or something that convinced him.
  • The Victim and the Neighbor were pretty good friends and were involved in business together wholesaling cars. The deputy sheriff was “somewhat” involved in the business. Victim said he thought that the deputy might not want it known that he was associating with felons (like himself).
  • Victim admitted having been convicted of at least one drug-related felony in the past, and then admitted the “majority of his felonies” were drug-related. (victim conferred with his attorney a lot during this line of questioning).
  • Victim had indeed seen the deputy sheriff get high on at least one occasion using cocaine.

Prosecution Cross Examines:

  • How long was the Victim in a relationship with the defendant? Their son was born in ’03, so they sort of had a relationship in ’02, but they never really had much of a steady relationship.
  • Why was he looking under the hood of the parked car (a ’68 Buick Skylark)? Just because the motor was nice and newly rebuilt. He was not trying to leave town that day, he was not in fear of anyone at the time, and was not anxious or nervous when the deputy drove up.
  • The victim maybe/probably spoke with the defendant earlier that day (of the shooting), but they weren’t in a fight and he wasn’t threatened.
  • Victim admitted talking to the Inspector, but only in regards to getting the hold lifted off of his car. Said they didn’t speak about anything else. Victim didn’t want to spend too much time talking to him because he didn’t want to be labeled a snitch.  This was followed by some more invoking the 5th amendment.
  • Victim said one other of his baby mamas lived in the same town as the defendant, but he refused to name her or talk about her.
  • Victim claims the police report mis-characterized his statements.
  • The Inspector never came to talk to the victim while he was in custody.
  • At present, he does not believe the defendant was the shooter. He says he believes he does know who shot at him, but he won’t say who.

Next was something happened in our case which I think might be an uncommon procedure. If the jurors were unclear on something or had a burning question, they could write it down and it would be sent up to the judge where the judge and attorneys would decide whether it could be asked. I asked of the victim “if nobody had threatened you and you weren’t expecting to be shot at, what made you think that you were the victim in this shooting and not the Neighbor who was standing with you.” He replied that he had been in an argument earlier in the week with the defendant, and that the shooter’s car matched the general description of the defendant’s car. Those were the reasons why at the time he thought he was the victim and the defendant was the shooter. I was very surprised neither legal team had worked to address that question.

Next Post: I’ll try to wrap up the remainder of the testimony in the next post. Then there will be one or two posts of commentary and closing arguments, then we’ll get to the deliberations and the verdict.

The Defense Calls…

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Now back to the action. Let’s see how the defense approaches things…

The Defense Calls… Police Officer #2. Why is this guy #2? Isn’t he the first police officer we’ve heard from? Yes he is, but as you’ll soon see he is #2 in terms of importance to the case. He and his partner were the ones who responded to the scene on the evening of the incident. His partner is the one who spoke with the victim and the witnesses. His partner is the one who wrote up the police report. This guy doesn’t remember much about the incident, but he thinks he spent some time looking for a bullet and he didn’t find anything. Great witness defense team.

In the defense’s defense, apparently they tried to contact #2 several times in advance of the case. #2 informed us that the police department’s policy does not require them to talk with defense attorneys (unless summoned to court), so he opted not to. Thanks for stopping by #2.

The Defense Calls…The CSI Lady. Sure, it’s true that we already heard from one member of the CSI team and I could opt to call this woman CSI #2, but that would just be confusing. This woman had worked for the CSI group for 14 years, and she was being brought in because she examined the car (the Infiniti), and this inspection took place a month after the incident.

She was asked to inspect the vehicle for glass fragments and bullet casings, and she didn’t find any of either. She was not asked to look inside the door to see if there were any glass fragments inside. She also was not asked to try to determine if the rear passenger window was new (replaced), so she didn’t. She only did what was requested, and essentially found nothing.

Interestingly, there was no cross examination of this witness by the prosecution. If I were him, I probably would have tried to make the point that CSI doesn’t have endless time and resources to do every investigative technique you see on TV. But I was also content to keep things moving.

The Defense Calls… Staffing Agency Lady. Oooh, this was something I hadn’t anticipated before now in the case. I was wondering where this was going to go. I’ll switch back to bullet points to highlight what we learned from her:

  • Staffing Agency Lady (SAL) brought with her records that said the defendant swiped into work at 10:00 hours, swiped out for lunch at 15:00 hours, swiped back in from lunch at 15:30 hours and swiped out for the day at 18:30 hours (that’s 6:30 PM to us civilians). All times were exact.
  • These records came from a company that is a client of the staffing agency, both of which are located in the defendant’s hometown which is about 90 miles away from San Francisco. The defendant was working at the client company, not the staffing agency itself.
  • SAL joined the staffing company around November of 2006 – a year and a half after the date in question.
  • The client company where the defendant was working on the date in question was no longer a client of the staffing company when SAL started.
  • SAL said their company had very strict policies and procedures for all of their client companies to make sure they are correctly tracking how much work is being done. When new clients are set up, SAL goes to the client to help them get set up.
  • Employees are supposed to clock in and out with a swipe card at their own computer station with their own swipe card, so it is conceivable that they could sit at their station to wait to clock in and out at exactly the “00” of each hour.
  • Since this client company no longer worked with this staffing agency, SAL had never personally been to this client company to observe their time-keeping procedures. (The prosecution made sure to articulate this point).
  • If there was any information about what type of work the defendant was doing, or who her supervisor was, it was not presented at this time. It sounded like information about her supervisor was obtainable, but SAL did not bring it to court.
  • The incident occurred on a Monday, and that is the day for which this employment information pertained. However, Monday was the only day (or the last day) of this week that the defendant worked.

So in case you’re a little slow, the above bullet points describe “the alibi.” I just found it surprising that I don’t even remember the defense attorney mentioning this alibi in the opening arguments (but my memory could be faulty on this point).

The Defense Calls…Police Officer #1. This is the guy who seemed to be in charge of the response effort on the scene on the evening of the incident. He answered a lot of questions about the night of the incident, but I’ll only share the new and noteworthy information here.

  • When they arrived, he briefly spoke with all 3 men on the scene to ascertain what had happened. He then tried to separate them to get each of their versions on what had happened.
  • While he was testifying, he was often asked if referring to the police report would “refresh his memory.”
  • He was the one who wrote this police report. He said he always documents things the same way – he listens to a person tell the story. He then takes a break to write notes in a notebook on what the person has said, and then reads back what he has written to make sure it is accurate. As soon as possible after the incident, he uses his notes to generate the formal police report. I believe in this case he said he finished the report later that night, but it could have been a day later.
  • He said he no longer had the notebook in which he took the notes on this incident.
  • Not much was mentioned about his questioning of the victim, but it was clearly implied that the victim identified the shooter. When asked about the other two witnesses, #1 commented briefly that for both (Neighbor and Deputy) they claimed that they “heard the shot but didn’t see it.”
  • We also learn that the Victim requested an Emergency Protective Order as a result of the incident, and he (Victim) went down to the police station later that evening to pick up this EPO.

That’s what I took down in my notes while #1 was on the stand. His testimony will be revisited later though.

Next Post: More defense witnesses including a surprise witness!