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Monday, November 21, 2016

 February 24th

Lonnie was wearing the same clothes as yesterday ~ a blue shirt, beige trousers and a greyish tie that he places over his neck when he sits in his chair and before the Jury arrives.

In the lunch break I very graciously went up to Seymour Amster who was doing his usual pacing of the corridor.  I asked him if Richard Harris could please be allowed back in to the Courtroom as he said yesterday that he’d ‘let me know’.  Well because he had an audience in the corridor, he immediately raised his voice and shouted “Would you stop interfering with my procedure”.  His face was all red as if he was about to explode, but that’s normal for him every time he speaks.   I responded with the fact that I’m sorry however I am speaking on his behalf as he is not allowed in the Courtroom.  After all he had flown here from Atlanta for the Trial and blatantly refuses to be a witness for the Defense.   Amster just shouted again that “Mr Harris has been excused and that’s all there is to it.”

We all walked in at about 1.38pm followed by Lonnie Franklin, who again was putting his tie on in his seat.  Wearing the same blue shirt and beige slacks as yesterday that seemed way to big for him due to the weight he’s probably lost being in jail.

The Bailiff was in a very heated discussion with a black woman who was seated in front of me.  She was sitting where the victims’ family  members usually sit.  The Bailiff was asking her nicely who she is and her association with the Trial.  Was she a family member of a victim or the Defendant?

Bailiff: Would you please identify who you are?  I am coming at you nicely and professionally and asking you who you are here for?  If you don’t tell me who you are I will have to remove you from the Courtroom.”
Woman:  I don’t have to tell you nothin’ I’m a family member of someone.  I was a kid when she died. I ain’ telling you who she was”
Bailiff: “You are being uncooperative and I’m going to have to remove you from my Courtroom.  This is my Courtroom and I need to know who is sitting here.”
She sat there with her arms folded as the Bailiff lent in to her very closely and said “Ok step out of the Courtroom right now.”  She resisted and I could see all the other Sheriff’s closing in, including the Defense and Detective Dupree.  It looked like a takedown was about to happen but she got up and stormed out being escorted with no less than 4 Sheriffs, one of them being the Bailiff. 

At 1.43pm the Jurors walked in the main door.

On the stand again was Cristina Gonzalez who had testified yesterday afternoon and this morning continuing with having to basically keep defending her professionalism and the correct procedures and protocol she uses in collecting and analyzing DNA.

Amster gets up for cross

Amster:  Are you saying that it’s not possible in the entire world’s population for there to be the same….
Judge Kennedy cut him right off and said “Mr Amster we’ve been through all this the last time you cross examined”.
With that, he didn’t say a word and gathered his papers and stormed back to his chair sliding his feet as he does with his neck protruding forward at least  a foot ahead of the rest of his body.

1.52pm   The LAPD Seargant Allan Seeget came to the stand. 

Sgt. Seeget works out of Rampart Division now and oversees the training Unit.  He’s been with the LAPD for 32 years.  He used to work at Newton station in South Central Los Angeles where he was a patrol officer.

This crime scene is where Barbara Ware was found.  At 1356 East 56th Street.

DA: Sgt Seeget On Saturday January 10th 1987 at 12.30am, just after midnight, were you called to an alley located in the 1300 block of East 5th Street?
Sgt: Yes I was
DA: Was it a call for a dead body?
Sgt: Yes it was a call for a possible dead body?
DA: What were the weather conditions?  Was it dark out?  What did you see?
Sgt: It was very cold that night and it was still dark, in fact me and my partner had to use our flashlights and walk up the alley. Robert Diaz was my partner at that time.  We saw lots of trash and debris all over the alley.
Judge:  Sgt Seeget you can say what ‘you’ saw but you cannot say what ‘we’ saw.  He turned to look over to the Judge who was sitting directly to his right.
Sgt: Yes your Honour I understand.

Turning back to Beth Silverman again he said:
Sgt:  I then saw a dead body?
DA:  Could you show us?
With his laser pointer he showed us the position the body was found which was to the right of the picture on the side of the alley.  He pointed to a leg wearing a pair of jeans.  He explained that the debris was stacked up on top of her.  He called for additional units to come to the crime scene and put up the yellow tape so that no one else could enter that area without signing in and signing out of a log.  At least one Coroner and at least one Criminalist and Investigator always shows up to a crime scene that appears to be of a homicide.

Every day, by the way, Lonnie Franklin looks straight ahead.  He never looks left or right when he is seated on his chair, he also never looks at the monitor.

DA:  Did a serial killer task force arrive at the scene?
Sgt: Yes at least 8 officers arrived at the scene.

Hang on a minute, I thought, the serial killer task force wasn’t even formed until 2007, so how could it have been possible for ‘a serial killer taskforce’ to be on hand all the way back 2 decades before?  Something doesn’t make sense here and I planned to ask Detective Dupree about this in the afternoon recess.   Plus I will also ask Cliff Shepherd about it too.   More to come on this later……

More horrifically graphic crime scene pictures were shown of Barbara Ware and her lifeless body.  Her face had blood all over it even though she was shot in the chest, my guess is the blood on her face came from when she was fell to the ground somehow after being shot.  I am so glad that Ms. Diana Ware wasn’t in the Courtroom today, she was noticeably missing so I’m sure she was advised not to come in today as it would have been too difficult for her to see.  God Bless that lady, I’m sure her daughter is looking down at her from heaven knowing how much her mother loved her.

Silverman asked Sgt Seeget how many homicides crime scenes he’d been called out to over the years, to which he responded, “Well over a hundred, but that’s a tough one to be exact on that!”

Silverman asks the question of ‘What exactly is a body dump’, quite a lot as she wants us, the Jury and everyone in the Courtroom to be perfectly clear on what it means so that without a doubt it shows that each of these bodies were killed somewhere then transported to the various crime scene locations.

Seeget answered the same way as everyone else – She was killed elsewhere then brought to the dumping location.

Amster was due to take the stand, we waited and we waited while he was banging around on his desk with all the large manila envelopes he had piled on top of each other.  He was making a heck of a lot of noise yet saying nothing.  Then he started looking under the desk for something,  then he was slapping documents down on the desk, clearly making a spectacle of himself, however none of us knew why.  No one said anything, but we all of us looked at each other, the Judge rolled her eyes subtly as she often does when Mr Amster does something that is so out of character for a normal professional lawyer.  If Stan Laurel, from the television show Oliver and Hardy, were to be re-incarnated as a lawyer, his name would be Seymour Amster.   He is a caricature of Stan Laurel.

Then he stayed at his seat and stood up and shouted to the witness on the stand in his typical rude manner:

Amster:  Did you receive a call to go to that location?
Seeget: Yes I received a radio call which was a possible 187 (penal code for murder). The P.R. (person reporting) stated that it was the dumping of a body.
Amster wanted to focus on the graffiti on the wall near the body and ask if the graffiti appeared to be fresh graffiti.  We all know what he was implying and the Sgt responded with a definitive ‘no’.  

Graffitti was everywhere all over almost every wall in South Central Los Angeles, especially in the 80’s.

DA Silverman then cross examined the witness with only a few ‘to the point questions’
DA: Did the graffiti appear fresh to you?
Seeget: No
DA: Did the graffiti appear to be typical of all the other graffiti in South LA?
Seeget: Yes
DA: Thank you, no further questions.

Donald Hrycyk was called to the stand.  A Detective who’d been with LAPD for 42 years.

Hrycyk was stationed at 77th Division for 3 ½ years.   He responded to a homicide call on August 12th 1986.  His partner was Jay Johnson.  He responded to the scene at about 1.15pm.  The victim turned out to be Henrietta Wright.

He described the scene to be filled with trash, trash bags, mattresses, looks like a transient could have been sleeping there.   It was clearly a ‘body dump’.
Hrycyk has covered well over 60 homicides.

Right before we took the afternoon break the Judge got a little irate with Beth Silverman saying she didn’t want her to use the names of the victims.  To which Silverman responded that “every time a slide is show, the victim’s name is always at the top so the Jury see it anyway”.
Judge:  When I make a ruling, it stands.  That’s it.
DA: Fine!

And with that heated exchange we were released on a break.

I saw Detective Dupree in the hallway and went up to him.  He is so easy to talk to and always has time for people.  I told him that I was confused that a ‘serial killer task force would show up to a crime scene in 1987 yet as far as I knew the serial killer task force wasn’t formed until 2007?   He knew why I was confused and stated, “That’s what Margaret Prescod would like you to think.” But there were various ones formed earlier on.

Hmmmm I want to get to the bottom of this as I have never heard of one being formed before 2007… I’m calling Cliff Shepard tonight!

We came back after the break and Hrycyk explained that he responded to a crime scene at 9.15am at 9414 South Western Avenue, South LA a parking lot adjacent to an alley way, with his partner Jerry Collins .
When he showed up there were already uniformed officers on the scene.  There was a dumpster on the south east corner was adjacent to the alley with two lids, one lid was open and one was closed.  It was an overly full dumpster.  He saw a foot with a grey sock on the open side of the dumpster.
They made sure to always wear gloves to preserve the integrity of the crime scene.  There were ligature marks on the right side of her neck.

DA:  Were there similarities between this crime scene of Bernita Sparks and the homicide we spoke about before, Henrietta Wright?
Seeget:  Yes, both were shot in the chest.  Both were African American women. Both were dumped in the South Central area location.  Both were dumped in trash or covered in trash.  Neither had any identification.  Both were either in or adjacent to an alleyway.  Both were covered to disguise the body and there were no 25 calibre casings at either crime scene.

Amster:  Good afternoon Detective.  On January 10th 1987 you were responding to the crime scene of….. oh… no wait…. Ha ha ha….” Seymour exploded again in hysterical laughter leaving all of us sane people in the Courtroom trying to piece together where the potential joke was.  “ha ha ….I must’ve gone back to far.. sorry about that.  I meant on August 12th 1986 you went to a crime scene with your partner Detective Collins.  Part of your duty is to request a latent fingerprint analyst to come to the scene. Correct?
Seegret:  I don’t recall
Amster: Well do you recall seeing an examiner there?
Seegret: I don’t recall
More hysterical laughter as he rummaged through his paperwork frantically searching for something that nobody besides Mr Amster himself could have any idea what he was looking for.
Amster: So you mentioned that when you arrived on the scene that a transient might have been sleeping there? 
Seegret:  Yes it’s possible that that area might be an area where a transient might sleep there.
Amster:  Are you familiar with the types of people that frequent that area?
 After much of a mess going around and around in a circle so that he could make his question more clear, the Sgt responded with:
Seegret:  Well yes it’s an area where there are people on drugs, it’s an African American area, there are transients there and a lot of graffiti..

That was where we adjourned for the day……

Once I arrived home to write up my events of the day, I decided to call my friend Cliff Shepard to clarify my confusion regarding this ‘serial killer task force’ and when it all began.

Cliff:  In 2007 I was working for Homicide supervisor Rob Bub in the cold case unit at that time, he was aware of cases that occurred in the 80’s.  When Janecia Peters murder came in (in 2007) Cliff was on a day off and Captain Jackson was let know that the same DNA matched 6 0r 7 other victims, Kilcoyne overheard this conversation and they all decided to form a task force which began at approximately the end of April in 2007.

Where my confusion was is how come it was around in the 80’s as well and Cliff let me know that that was the ‘Southside Slayer task force’.  (The Southside Slayer is another serial killer I have interviewed extensively by the name of Chester Turner, he is currently on Death Row.   He was killing women in South Los Angeles at the same exact time as the Grim Sleeper so this would make sense).  So yes, there was a serial killer task force that came to the scene of the murder of Barbara Ware, however it wasn’t the ‘serial killer task force’ that was assigned to the Grim Sleeper.  This is very interesting as I had no idea that there were 2 serial killer task forces.

Updates in the Tanaka Trial...

Yesterday after I left the Federal Building after the Jury went to deliberate in the Paul Tanaka Trial, I walked over the the CCB building which I have done each day.   Thinking that yet again the Defense would still be focused on the DNA comparisons, as they had been all that morning and all the previous week (I was told this by my tipsters) and all the previous week, I was pleasantly surprised.

I walked in to a Criminalist and Firearms expert on the stand by the name of Rafael Garcia.  On the Elmo was a picture of on of the guns found in Franklin's home.  One picture was a view of the hallway and the west closet showing a picture of the jacket in which the gun had been found.  The firearm was in the picture next to this one.  It was of a semi-automatic pistol.  A Raven 25 caliber Auto.  Silverman asked if these types of guns are designed for 'easy storage' to which Amster Objected right away.  It was over ruled and the answer is that 'yes, absolutely it is designed for easy storage and concealment.  "One that  a person might carry in their pocket".

Mr Garcia was handed to envelopes at 2 separate times in his Testimony to which he opened them both slowly and pulled out a small coin envelope with a magazine inside.   Also in this large envelope was a gun with a flex tie on it so it would be safe if even Amster was to 'approach the Witness', it still wouldn't go off accidentally!

The second envelope he opened was a 380 automatic 'Highpoint' firearm which was displayed for us to view in a larger format on the Elmo.  It seemed like a larger gun that probably wouldn't have been concealed too well in a pocket.  This too was tied with plastic flex ties for safety in the Courtroom and had 6 live rounds of ammunition inside it.  They kept it the same way in which it had been found.

Before I walked in, I was told that during the search of the hallway and closets of Franklin's home, a machete, 19 cell phones (approximately that many but I wasn't there to hear it first hand, I'm trusting my sources with this paragraph) and pornography including a video titled something like 'Big Booties etc'.  Well I happen to know for a fact that Franklin loves big booties especially on black ladies.

We ended the day on this Witness.

Today April 6th.

Tanaka Trial.. waiting for the Verdict:

I arrived at the Federal Building just before 8am knowing that the Jury would still be deliberating.  They started to deliberate yesterday at 12.15pm until 1.30pm and then came back to deliberate from 8am today.  I went in to the Courtroom, no one was there.  So, I decided to wander around the building and see who I could be with while I/we waited for a Verdict.  I love being around people (as I'm an only child) so sitting with the cleaner would be better than if I was to be by myself with no one to talk to.
So I went to the 2nd floor... there was a door that said "Attorney Conference Room".. Basically a room private for Attorneys only.  So...... I opened the door and peeked my head in.  Immediately I was faced with Jerome Haig, the Defense lawyer for Paul Tanaka.  There was no turning back now so I said "I'm so sorry, I was looking for the Cafeteria"... I wish I thought up something better than that.  Anyway he beckoned for me to come in and sit at his desk.   I really didn't want to be in his way knowing that he probably had a thousand calls to make and probably receive too.

Jerome Haig and I had a long chat about everything under the sun, including the Trial what he thought the outcome would be, who he's represented before, how he deals with the other side etc.   It was very interesting because he was the stronger of the 2 Defense lawyers yet much more on the shorter side.  I would guess he's about 5ft 6 but he certainly makes up for that in his strength and professionalism as a lawyer.  He knows Seymour Amster and informed me that he is not a public defender as I'd thought.  He is appointed by the Court or State or something like that when a p.d. isn't available.  Therefore Amster does get paid quite a bit to represent Lonnie Franklin.  I was utterly shocked and didn't hold back in letting him know what I thought of this blundering fool by the name of Seymour Amster.   The lack of professionalism and complete disrespect to everyone in the Courtroom on Amster's point is what gets me the most.   Mr Haig and his partner Dean Steward and Brandon Fox and Ed Hardy (spelling) all showed complete professionalism and comradeship when they were working alongside each other during the Tanaka Trial.  It was like night and day.

After about 50 minutes of sitting with him, he offered me his card which I gladly accepted, and then I went up to the 4th floor where the Cafeteria is.  Look I"m still learning the building so I wasn't to know that the Cafeteria wasn't on the second floor.

I sat with the rest of the media and we all had coffee and breakfast sitting at the same table then we moved around a bit to get signal on the phone which is virtually impossible in that building.    I had been told that this Judge, Percy Anderson, sometimes receives a note when the Jury are ready to come back with a Verdict and that's all he will inform his Clerk.  The Clerk doesn't call any media to inform them and there is only 10 minutes between  the note being received and the Jury coming back to reveal their Verdict.

At 9.32am this morning, someone in the room was told there was 'a note that had just been passed to the Judge'.  I then told everyone that this means for sure that the Verdict would be read.  I was told that I may be wrong about that, but I kept trying to say...."No, on this I think I'm right.".  I started to run down the corridor, throwing my un-sipped coffee away as I left, Steve, Judge Anderson's lawyer was walking down the corridor and I asked him "Is it going to be read now?"  Knowing that he doesn't like to talk to any media (and I"m not media), I took a chance.   He just turned to me and said with a wink, "I'd go straight to the Courtroom if I were you!"  I then did as I was told and then I told the media that 'the note' is definitely going to be the reading of the Verdict!

I think what helped was that after Jury was selected about 10 days ago, I placed a call in to the Clerk of Percy Anderson's Courtroom and left a message for 'Steve' as his name was on the machine.  I wanted to know what time the Trial would start the following Monday morning (April 2nd I think), I left my number but stated that I don't expect him to call me back and have a nice weekend.  Within 10 minutes he called me back telling me that they aren't in session that Monday, he told me the hours of the Court day which ends daily at 1.30pm and no lunch.  I said to him on the phone how much I greatly appreciated him calling me back that day and he went way above his call of duty to do that.   So, I feel this is why today, almost 2 weeks later, he was more apt to tip me off than others who may not show appreciation quite as much.

So after less than a total of 3 hours, today and yesterday, the Jury was about to come back with a unanimous Verdict.  We all landed on the front row, media and all, keeping our same spots as we had done throughout most of the Trial in fact.  A lot of people weren't there as no one could really inform them, especially in a building with very little signal.

Within 10 - 15 minutes the Jury came in and the Clerk read the Verdict.

"Guilty on both counts: Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice and Obstruction of Justice."

Tanaka sat stone faced and stoic with his head firmly in the same position as it was when he sat down, facing the Judge.  His wife sat next to me across the aisle with her mother.  She looked stoic for the most part until you could see tears welling up in her eyes and, at the same time, a look of utter shock came across her face.  Yet the whole time she didn't move a muscle.  His brother, who is a Judge, was also in the Courtroom along with his sister.  They seem like a lovely family.  They are the innocent victims in this whole mess.

Judge Anderson went down the row of all 12 Jurors and 4 alternates and each one agreed that this was their unanimous decision.   I left the Courtroom and wanted to get a shot of Tanaka, as I had done yesterday which was aired on the ABC7 News.  I also wanted to hear the press Conference with the lawyers from both sides and the FBI.  They all gave very good statements especially Jerome Haig, Tanaka's Defense and David Bowdich from the FBI.  I recorded as much as I could and will try to attach it to this Blog.

I will close here in saying this.  The Tanaka Trial was important to me on a very personal level which is why I attended every day (except one) due to my personal involvement in this case.
I'm glad, however, that this Trial is now over and I hope that his Conviction will help the wrongly convicted Sheriff's who served underneath him.  I have already started my book on this case.  However due to being commissioned for my Grim Sleeper Book first by my Publisher I am committed to attend the Grim Sleeper Trial as much as I can.  These past 10 days I have been torn in half and running between 2 Courthouses for different reasons.
The Grim Sleeper Trial is not personal to me at all.  I have been commissioned to write my 4th book (2 I co-authored and this one is my 2nd as a sole author).  I have the exclusive life story from the 'alleged' serial killer and I am covering that Trial almost every day too.  This Trial will be going on for at least another month or two however my livelihood is wrapped up in the Grim Sleeper case.

The Grim Sleeper Trial and the Continuing Circus..

Monday April 18th

A number of cases were heard before the Grim Sleeper Trial began so there were many other lawyers in the room at 9am when I was already sitting in my seat.

Beth Silverman walked in, very loudly greeting everyone in the room (except me of course), spending a lot of time talking to the victims family members and 6 Witnesses whom she had brought in for the day.  I recognized a few of the 6 male Witnesses as a few of them had testified before.  They were all firearm experts with various law enforcement agencies.

At 10.01am, Lonnie Franklin was walked in wearing an orange jumpsuit and waist chained.  Overkill to the max I thought.  He's harmless to everyone in that Courtroom and less than 9 days ago he was wearing a dress shirt and slacks and sporting a studious pair of glasses, yet today (as the Jury wasn't present) he's back in his prison garb, waist chained and then chained to the chair.  If anyone should be waist chained and chained to a chair it should be Seymour Amster!

To be Continued...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Grim Sleeper ~ Sentenced to Death by Judge Kathleen Kennedy

At 8.30am we all gathered on the 9th floor outside of Dept. 109.  I arrived very early as I knew there would be a lot of people there including the victims' family members.

The first people I went up to was the loving and close knit Alexander family.  I shook their hands and gave Donnell a hug.  I have grown to know them over these past 6 years and have had a number of conversations with Donnell.  Porter and his wife Mary Alexander lost their daughter of barely 18 years old, Alicia "Monique" Alexander.  Donnell was her older brother and there were other family members there too.  The whole family have been coming to Court for every Pre-Trial Arraignment and had to live through the details of their precious "Monique's" death and also have to sit in the same room as the monster who brutally murdered her on September 11th 1988.  The Alexander family also had to suffer the antics and delays because of the unprofessionalism of Seymour Amster - Franklin's lead Defense Attorney.  This day is their day today, a day they knew that Justice would be served.... finally.

The next person I went up to was the lady I had wanted to talk to since 2010 when I first started going to the Pre-Trial Arraignments, Ms Diana Ware.  I have watched her over the years make every effort to attend every Court Appearances of her daughter's 'suspected' killer.  On the rare occasion if Ms Ware didn't attend on a day, over the years, it was only because her health was bad.  She is in her late 70's now and would diligently take the bus for every Pre-Trial Arraignments.

Barbara Ware (picture to the left) had only just turned the tender age of 23 when she was so brutally killed at the hands of Lonnie David Franklin Jr.  Ms Ware was wearing a beautiful blue and white floaty top and her hair was done to perfection, this was her day to get Justice for her daughter and she had a different air about her today, almost one of complete satisfaction as she knew in her heart the Judge would agree with the Jury and sentence Franklin to death.

From 8.40am when the doors to Dept. 109 opened, DA Beth Silverman was hugging the family members and they were chatting and hugging her in return.  Ms Silverman looked as elegant as always, wearing a black jacket over a black and white spotted dress.

By 9.15 only 5 of the Jurors had come through the door, but they didn't come in together as they weren't summoned.  It was their choice if they wanted to be there for the final sentencing.

Lonnie Franklin was walked in soon after, handcuffed and in his orange jumpsuit.

He looked like he was chewing something as he sat down and during some of the proceedings.  He
was wearing his black rimmed glasses and faced forward with the same blank stare he has had throughout the Trial.

At 9.21am Judge Kennedy took the bench.  She began by stating that the Defense had made complaints about 'Prosecution misconduct'.

Everyone had been sitting and waiting for a while and then Seymour Amster spoke first and blabbed on and on complaining that the Prosecution shouldn't have brought in 4 new murder cases in the Penalty Phase of the Trial which Amster claimed to be 'Prosecution misconduct'.  If a claim of misconduct should be stated by anyone it should be by the Judge regarding Amster.  Throughout the Trial he did everything he could to delay and disrespect as many people as he could.  In fact Seymour Amster's name should come up in the dictionary next to the word 'misconduct'.
The 'Penalty Phase' of a Trial is usually focused on the Defendant and whether he/she should live or die.

Ranging from one octave to another in just one sentence he implied that 'bringing up these new
murders tainted the mind of the Jury'.  He even said it wasn't fair that 'serial murderers should automatically be given the death penalty'!!  What?  Then who should be given it?  He even brought up another serial killer (who I've interviewed a number of times) - Chester Turner.  Turner was given the Death Penalty, then sent to death row for a few years, then brought back to be tried again for more murders.  He then received the Death Penalty for the second time.  No one really understood what he was bringing this up for, neither did the Judge.  However Amster is always good at one thing and that is always making sense to himself, yet not to anybody else around him.
He of course was going for another Mistrial, so when he'd finished the Judge turned to the Prosecution and said:

Judge: "Ms Silverman".

Silverman stated that she was one of the Prosecutors on the Chester Turner case and the first Jury convicted him of multiple murders and he was sentenced to death for them.   Then finding there were a number of other murders, he was brought back from Death Row to be tried again in front of another Jury to give some sense of justice and closure for the families of those additional victims.

DA Silverman: "It seems that the argument that Defense Counsel is making today is that somehow he thinks that serial killers are a 'special class' and that they should be given special treatment and should be treated differently from any other Capital case".  
She called his argument, 'disingenuous at best' and proceeded to let the Court know how everyone had been impacted by the evidence that was shown in this Courtroom.  She said how conscientious, diligent and professional the Jury had been the entire 6 months of the Trial.  Silverman said she could never have imagined a better Jury.  She stated that there is no real sense of closure for the victims family members yet she feels they will now have a sense of peace that Justice has been served.

After Ms Silverman finished speaking it went back to Amster who raised his voice so much that he was shouting, just like he has done since the Trial began and throughout the Pre-Trial hearings.

The Judge chose to ignore his rantings and turned to commend the Jury on how great they were in every way.  She also stated that no evidence in favour of the Defendant was presented by the Defense.  There was nothing they brought in to the Penalty phase that could show that he had had a tragedy in his childhood.  She stated there is no 'automatic death penalty for serial killers' and that the evidence spoke for itself.  She explained that after she had also independently reviewed all the evidence, along with what was presented in Trial, she firmly believes that the aggravating factors far outweigh the mitigating ones.

We had a short recess then returned and Judge Kennedy asked the Defense if the Defendant would like to speak.  Amster responded that he did not wish to speak.  Then Ms Silverman invited 17 members, of the families of the victims, to speak.  One after another stood up to speak in such heartfelt and emotional words... it brought me to tears and I'm sure I was not the only one.

Starting with a lady by the name of Ms. Laverne (or Lavert) Peters,  she walked to the Lectern and made her statement.  She was the mother of Janecia Peters (picture to the right) who was found murdered on January 1st 2007 at the young age of 25.  She said that the Defendant who had killed and discarded her daughter in a trash bag, would now be living his life in a jail cell which will become his trash bag.
Jovana Peters stood up and with a shaky voice she spoke through her tears about how her sister Janecia was taken in such a tragic way.  They were best friends growing up.

Then Barbara Ware's sister stood up and spoke. Barbara died on January 10th 1987 at the young age of 23.  Her sister spoke of the love she had of her late sister and how they would run through the rain to their father's house before the clock struck 12 midnight on New Years Eve.  It was the first time she had ever seen her father cry.   He never knew that his daughter was murdered by a serial killer as he died before Franklin was arrested.  Barbara was a mother, a daughter, a sister and a niece.  She ended very strongly with  "It's now your turn Lonnie David Franklin.  You're out"!

Henrietta Wright's daughter spoke next (picture of Henrietta on the left)  She said that she has finally found peace.  She said what Franklin did to the community was 'butt ugly' and that the crimes he committed over and over and over again had made his life 'butt ugly'.  She brought up these words because when Franklin was being interrogated he saw a picture of Henrietta Wright and said that she was 'butt ugly'.  This was cleverly used to describe the life and crimes of Franklin by using these 2 words in the correct way this time.
Another family member of Henrietta's got up to speak but it was hard to hear as she spoke quietly.

The lady who grew up with Princess Berthomieux like an older sister, stood up next to speak of her love for Princess.  More family members stood up to speak about Princess.

The Uncle of Alicia "Monique" Alexander stood up to give a heartfelt statement.   He stayed with the Alexander family throughout college.  He called Franklin a monster and said that Franklin's actions deeply changed who he was.  He explained how he is a Christian and a spiritual person and is taught to forgive.  However he cannot forgive Franklin for taking the life of such a sweet and innocent person as "Monique".
Then a lady by the name of Carmela (spelling) stood up to speak of her sister Alicia "Monique"Alexander.  She had no family of her own so they were sisters but not by blood.  Mary and Porter Alexander were her Godparents and therefore "Monique"
became her sister.  

She recalled how they sang together and shared a life together.  She spoke as best she could through her tears of how this tragedy has made her Godparents suddenly get old and their health deteriorate rapidly over the years.  She thanked God, the Jury, the Judge, Beth, and Darren Dupree.  She said to Franklin that he has a daughter, nieces and a granddaughter of his own and how would he have liked this to happen to them.  She said she will never have closure she is just trying to have peace. (Picture of Monique is to the right).

Then the only living survivor, Enietra Washington, stood up to speak.  She was wearing a very glamorous outfit as always.  Today she wore a long bright blue summer two piece outfit.  She said Franklin was so evil and that he is 'right up there with Manson.'  She said that Franklin destroyed her trust in men as Franklin took all of that trust away.

She went on to say in a stern voice that because Franklin has no remorse there is no way that any of us could give him forgiveness. She explained how she is so hurt by what he did to her and she has no closure because every day she is fearful.

Another lady got up and said she was shot 6 times by Franklin, thankfully she lived.  She explained her painful story to the Court.

Donnell Alexander stood up dressed immaculately in a tanned suit, tie and a brown shirt.  The whole family have always dressed so well every Court day for the past 6 years.  Donnell spoke of his beautiful baby sister Alicia "Monique" Alexander.  He explained that being in the Trial was the hardest thing he'd ever done and yet he believes in the system.   "This is the last time that Franklin will take another life".  He said staring coldly at the back of Franklin's head.

Porter Alexander then stood up to speak of his beloved daughter Alicia "Monique" Alexander.  He said to listen to the pain spoken by all the family members and for someone to take the life of so many people is 'mind boggling'.  Franklin is atrocious and the 'day of reckoning is here'.  He said how he hopes they really 'take him out', meaning that he really faces the execution that he deserves.

Mary Alexander slowly stood up to speak of her daughter Alicia "Monique" Alexander and how their lives changed since the tragedy.  She spoke of how Franklin has no conscience whatsoever and how much she misses and loves her daughter and how she wakes up in the night and cries.   She is glad she lived long enough to see this day come.   Then in the most powerful way, she made Franklin turn around and look into her eyes.  She then asked how he could have taken the life of such an innocent person who had never done any harm to him.  He mouthed the words "I don't know why" or "It wasn't me".  It was very hard to see as Franklin's mouth didn't open much when he spoke those words.

Ms Diana Ware had been to nearly every Court appearance over these past 6 years when her health would allow it.  She then rose to a standing position and walked slowly to the lectern to speak of her beloved step-daughter , Barbara, who was taken from this world on January 10th 1987, 2 days after her 23rd Birthday.  "When Mr Franklin killed her, he extinguished the promise of the potential life of a 23 year old single mother who had begun to turn her life around.  He brutally murdered her.   A hole has been left in our family that has never been filled".

Barbara's father, Diana's late husband, passed away in 2002 never knowing that their daughter was a victim of a serial killer.  She looked over at Franklin and asked him why he did what he did, "What was in your mind"? She asked him, with a stern look in her eyes, although he continued to face forward.  She said she forgives Franklin because the Lord says she must.  However she cannot forget.
She called Franklin 'a wolf in sheep's clothing'.  He stole all of her tomorrows.  There will be no wedding, no other children.  There will be no family reunions, no cook outs, no birthday parties no more memories to be made.  She thanked the Prosecution, the Judge and everyone in the Courtroom for their support.  She even said she prays for Franklin's soul and reminded him that he too will have to answer to the Lord our Savior one day.

There were a number of other family members who stood up to speak and I will write all their names in my book.  There were also family members who weren't present therefore wrote a letter, to be read by Beth Silverman, to the Court.  Billy Ware, the sister of Barbara Ware wrote a letter as he resides in another State.  He said he would never forgive the 'little arrogant man' who killed his sister so brutally and left her in an alley.  He also wrote that he hopes Franklin doesn't die of old age as he wants to watch him die.  Also the son of Henrietta Wright wrote a letter and Beth Silverman read both of their heartfelt words to the Court.

The last lady to stand up and speak was another family member who was very Christian and said she forgave Franklin for killing these young women and she said she prays he asks God to forgive him as that's what he needs to do.  She told him he'd caused so much pain to so many people although we feel sorry for him.  She said that beneath his hard, cruel exterior that probably deep down he is also hurting and broken just like he has made all of these family members.
"You really need to be delivered". She then walked slowly back to her seat.

When each of the female family members went up to the lectern/podium to say their statements, Beth Silverman gently stroked their backs giving them strength to be able to speak and clearly showing how much compassion she has for all of them.

The Judge then told the Court that the last family member had spoken and then turned to Franklin and said "Now the time has come..."  She went on to say that these women were all defenseless and not a threat to him in any way.  How there is no justification for what he's done as it is not justifiable under the laws of God or the laws of man.

After saying the names of each and every victim Judge Kennedy then said these words, "It is the judgement and sentence of this Court, you shall suffer the Death Penalty".

She said that the total of restitution that Franklin owes is a total of $22,478.22 and he agreed to this amount.  Restitution is for funeral and burial costs.  She stated, as is always said at the sentencing of a Death Penalty case, the Defendant will be taken to San Quentin State Prison within 10 days of this date.

This concludes the final day of a very emotional 6 month Trial and decades of pain experienced by all family members.  Therefore I am posting this blog in memory of all the innocent lives lost and to make sure that their spirit lives on and will never be forgotten.

There will be much more detail in my book which should be coming out nearer the end of this year.

The End.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Former LA County Sheriff - Leroy Baca - Rescinded Guilty Plea. Facing Trial in September..

One of the most powerful lawman ever in California reverses guilty plea and vows fight for his innocence.

Born on May 27th 1942 Leroy Baca is the Former LA County Sheriff who took over from Sherman Block in 1998 until his retirement in 2014.  He started as a Deputy with the LASD (Los Angeles Sheriff Department) in 1965 and served 49 years protecting and serving the community.
'Lee' Baca is a Republican and has opposed California's Proposition 8.

In August of 2011 a scandal broke out in the Men's Central Jail.  A cell phone had been smuggled in illegally to an inmate who was an FBI informant.  This event went down in history as one of the biggest scandals the LASD has ever had.  Lee Baca was the Sheriff of Los Angeles County at that time.
After a number of investigations took place, trying to find out why and who had smuggled the phone in, the plot thickened.  Since then, there have been trials, arrests, convictions and plea deals.  Today Lee Baca has learned that he will face his own Trial which is due to begin in September of this year.

Without saying anymore here, as I will save that for my book, I will continue with the events of current day:

I arrived at 7.25am, there was a line around the corridors from Dept. 19 of everyone waiting to get in with all the other reporters and spectators.  Close to 8.25 the doors were opened and we started to file in the door.
Lee Baca came in, walking slowly with his very elegant wife and his 2 lawyers beside him.  I looked at him and he gave me a smile of recognition and reached out his hand to shake mine.  I think he could read my face very well and could see that I was there to support him.  I shook his hand with both of mine and said "God Bless you Lee and good luck today."  He smiled and nodded and then said brief hellos to other people in line whom he knew.  He seemed frail but still as kind and gentle as I've always known him to be.  He wore a striped grey suit, white shirt, pink silk tie and handkerchief in his left pocket to match.  He, as always was wearing his Sheriff badge pinned to his left lapel.  He looked like he'd just stepped out of GQ magazine, very well put together.

At 8.30am we were all seated in Dept. 19 of the Spring Street Federal Court.   This Courtroom is assigned to Judge Percy Anderson (picture on the right)
who is nicknamed 'No Mercy Percy' due to his ruthlessness shown to anyone who is not Federal.  I sat in the second row next to Zohreen Adamjee from Fox 11 and an unknown gentleman on my left.

After we 'all rose' when Judge Anderson walked in, the two
Defense lawyers representing Lee Baca - Nathan Hochman and Michael Zweiback (picture below) - stood up and walked over to the podium with Baca.

They had been given 2 weeks by Judge Anderson to make one of two choices:
Rescind his plea of guilt and face Trial
Accept the Sentence that the Judge would give him today.

The lawyers explained how they would like to go to sidebar to discuss one final issue before stating their decision.  Baca returned to his seat, hands clasped in front of him and facing the side wall in front of him while his lawyers walked over to the sidebar with Judge Anderson and the Prosecution/the USA which consisted of Brandon Fox, Liz Rhoades and the same man who was for the Prosecution last time.  I will write down his name when I can remember it.

His wife of almost 20 years, Carol Baca, looked over and smiled at me and I smiled back and put my hand on my heart to show her my support.  Lee Baca just sat there, slightly shifting in his chair and with his profile to the Gallery.  It was clear that he was very uncomfortable as anyone would be in his situation.  All of us in the Gallery tried to hear what was going on and we strained to eavesdrop to no avail.  All we could see was Judge Anderson waving his arms and giving the odd smile.  Never a good thing as his smile would not be a smile reciprocated by the Defense.
After about 4 minutes of Baca facing the wall, he swung his chair slightly to his left, facing the back wall where they were at sidebar.  He was also trying to listen in but to no avail as they were speaking so quietly and it is a big room.   7 or 8 minutes went by and they all returned back to their seats.  Mr Zweiback and Mr Hochman were talking intensely with their client.  Side bar was requested again for the second time and the same thing happened, a lot of whispering that no-one could hear, the Judge was looking at the clock and motioning with his hands in an outward direction and none of us had a clue what was going on.

They all returned to their seats at 9.28am and the Judge then announced that we would be taking a 4 hour recess.... (whatttttt????) ... and will be returning at 1.30pm to resolve the issue of what Baca's lawyers have decided to go with.   I went outside and sat on the wall outside the Courthouse in the shade and talked to some of the media who were also having to hang out for 4 hours.

After about an hour a man in a suit walked down the steps of the Courthouse.  It was Judge Percy Anderson in his own clothes and without the robe.  I hardly recognized him outside of the Courtroom and not wearing his robe.  He was shorter than I would have thought, my height I would guess, probably 5ft 9".  I really wanted to take a picture of him to post on here (and hopefully for my future book).  So,  as he was walking, I stood up from the wall and asked him very nicely, "Judge Anderson could I please take your picture"?  He kept walking and didn't respond for a few seconds, then he shook his head slowly responding with a "No".

I realized  that one of the main reasons that the Judge was so aloof with me was probably because I was wearing my Sheriff badge and also Sheriff necklace very blatantly (and proudly) for all to see.  Not a Department he seems to like very much.  I won't say anymore here.  The Judge was obviously on his way to lunch (later I found out he went to Subway), so I stayed there to catch him on his way back and see if he would change his mind.   After 40 minutes he started walking back, the media person told me that he was about to cross over at the light on our side of the street, then he darted in to the garage part of the Court so he wouldn't have to deal with me asking that question again.  So if you wonder why I posted an older black and white picture of him above, it's because he wouldn't let me take an up to date one of him walking down Spring street.

I wish I had brought my computer with me so I could have typed this in those 4 hours, but I had no idea we would be breaking at all, let alone for such a long time.

At 1.10pm the line had already started and wound it's way around the corridor, so I decided to stand back in the line again and wait to be let in.  We went in, in groups of 10 people.  The press went first and everyone pushed me to go in with the press, but I am not 'the press'!  I am not 'the media'!  I don't want to be either one especially because if I was I would not have been able to get the 'exclusive interviews' that I have been and am able to get by making sure that the interviewee knows that "I am not the media/press"!  Therefore I am more trusted and I have never abused that trust with any of my subjects/interviewees.  In this case regarding the numerous LASD Trials, I am covering them for a variety of reasons, one of them will hopefully be for writing my 5th book, once my Publisher commissions me for it of course.

We were all seated by 1.25pm, I was seated in the second row again towards the left side as much as I could be.  My reason for that is the left rows of seats are family members and friends of Lee Baca and the right side of the room are seats for the Prosecution/the FBI side.  The middle section is usually for reporters, independent writers/journalists/film makers (which is the group I chose to sit with) and various people unknown to me.  I could've sat on the left side of the room too if I had wanted to but the view is much better in the middle section and it is easier to hear because the Judge's voice is so quiet.

Lee Baca came in with his lawyers (picture on the left courtesy of the Daily News) and they all took their seats.  USA/the Prosecution also took their seats on the other side.  Before the Judge came in, Baca got up and walked over to his wife who was seated on the left side in the front row and asked her something to which she responded with a nod.  I haven't a clue what was said.  He sat down again.  We then all rose when Judge Anderson entered the room, led in by his Clerk, Steve, who is a very nice man.   He's certainly been very nice to me over these past few years when he's spoken to me at the various LASD Trials that I have attended in his Courtroom.

Everyone sat back down and each side stated who they were by stating their full names.  We began with Michael Zweiback stating that as they had 'failed in making a resolution and due to Baca's health condition they cannot proceed to sentencing today and that they wish to 'Withdraw the guilty plea'. The Judge looked at Baca, who was standing straight up like soldier at the lectern (podium) with both his lawyers beside him: "Mr Baca do you wish to withdraw your guilty plea"?
To which he responded: "Yes Your Honour"!
The Judge set the date for Trial to begin on September 20th 2016 with the Pre-Trial set for September 12th.
Mr Zweiback went on to state that as 'The Government' (the Prosecution) have given them one terabyte of data to go through by then, more time would most likely be needed.

We adjourned for the day and left the building.  I wanted to film Baca and his lawyers as they left the Courthouse and I did so right up to the part where Baca started to make his statement

He introduced his lawyers and spoke in a very strong yet gentle voice explaining who he is and what he was facing.  His statement is here

What amazed me is the strength Baca showed when admitting/owning his debilitating disease.  Most people I know with Alzheimers are usually in denial.  This, yet again, shows me what an honest man he is and always has been.  After he made this statement he was whisked off in a waiting SUV, with about 5 men and his wife beside him.  I managed to give him a hug and tell him that he has many supporters in the Department and I am here for them as they cannot.  He looked at me in a very genuine way and thanked me knowing that I meant every word I said.

Right afterwards Michael Zweiback spoke about Baca's Alzheimer's Disease and 'how it had progressed'.  Many reporters asked questions regarding his disease to which Zweiback stated that his client is 'impaired'.  "He is beyond mild cognitive impairment and has short term memory loss.  It is a progressive neurological disease therefore his physical and mental capabilities will diminish".  He also stated that he had the beginnings of the disease in March of 2013 when he spoke to the FBI.

I feel a lot of the mitigating factors will be his Alzheimers disease along with the fact that he put Paul Tanaka in charge (and entrusted him) to deal with the cell phone which was illegally smuggled in to the jail to an FBI Informant.

By withdrawing his guilty plea today, Baca might now be facing more charges than the one he had originally admitted to which was: 'making a false statement to a Federal Agent/the FBI'.  On February 10th of this year Baca settled for a guilty plea by admitting that he had lied to Federal Authorities and the US Attorney's Office when he claimed he did not know that the LASD were going to intimidate (some use the word 'threaten') an FBI Agent back in 2011.  This was all part of his original plea agreement so he wouldn't face any more charges.  Now the plea deal is off the table, the other charges he was facing before might resurface again during the Trial.

To be continued....