Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Day: Laura Hall Trial Part 1

This will be pretty rough & rambling, but I'm posting now anyway. Just so you know, I'm not particularly pro-prosecution or pro-defense. I try to pretend I'm a juror & listen to & weigh the evidence. Not always possible, but I try.

The overall mood of the courtroom today is allot different than Pitonyak's trial--far more subdued, I think: something to do with the lack of CourtTV cameras in the courtroom? A local reporter told me that the reason for the camera ban is that Judge Flowers thought CourtTV was just horrible during the Pitonyak trial. I don't know why he hated them, though.

What's REALLY different, too, is that Hall's out on bond, so during breaks, etc, she'll sometimes walk back into the gallery & sit & whisper to her dad or mom. More often to her dad, it seems. When I walked out of the courthouse at lunch, Hall (along w/her folks) was sitting right outside the door eating her lunch.

During the afternoon break, I walked into the ladies' room--the only one on the 7th floor--and saw Hall, her mom, & the blonde lady. They were about to leave & were chatting quietly but their tone sounded pretty upbeat to me. Hall freshened up her make-up & they left. I was unable to make out anything they actually said.

Sitting up front on the defense side all day were Hall's parents, a blonde woman w/glasses, and an older couple. I'm guessing they're all relatives. Hall's body language, to me at least, suggests she's fairly confident. She & her mom both have very good posture.

Hall's main attorney, Joe James Sawyer, has a very professional presence. He seems comfortable & experienced but doesn't come across as cocky. (There's another older man attorney at Hall's table, too, but I don't know his name yet.) The prosecutors, Bill Bishop & Stephanie McFarland, are the same DAs from Pitonyak's trial & are both quite professional. McFarland appears to be pregnant.

Jennifer Cave's mom & stepdad, a sister, & some other relatives I recognize from Pitonyak's (from here on referred to as CP) trial were all there. Reps from most local press were around at one time or another. Note to self: don't be the first one to exit the courtroom during a break because three or four television cameras will be in my face.

Today's testimony was basically a total recap of the beginning of CP's trial, but they did get through 14.5 witnesses. The last witness, the DNA analysis supervisor, was just finishing up her testimony. I'll give you those results later.

The only real surprises today were revealed outside the presence of the jury while Nora Sullivan (CP's neighbor who let him in her place at 3 a.m. the morning of Cave's murder) was on the stand. Sullivan was telling the jury that, after CP's & Hall's arrests (when Hall was out of jail), Hall contacted her through Facebook. Don't know how Hall knew this, but Sullivan had visited CP in county jail.

Hall said she wasn't supposed to have contact w/CP, but could she please go w/Sullivan to see him. Sullivan took Hall w/her five to ten times, although I think Hall had to stay out in the waiting room.

At this point the defense objected & all approached the bench. Jury was sent out. It seems that during the last CP jail visit, Hall allegedly told Sullivan that she knew about the dismemberment & that she had been frustrated that CP was sitting in the living room watching TV, drinking a beer, when he should have been in the bathroom using the stuff from the hardware store to "work on" Cave's body.

Hall also allegedly told Sullivan something along the lines of this: that she was having to egg him on & was annoyed she might have to do some of the dismemberment herself.

The PROBLEM w/all this is that Sullivan only revealed this info re alleged conversations to the prosecution a week ago, and the defense (Sawyer) claims he knew nothing about these alleged conversations until right this minute today when Nora talked about them (outside the presence of the jury) & that the prosecution knows they're supposed to turn this info over to him!

Sawyer needs time to interview Sullivan at the least but thinks the sanction for the prosecution should be that these alleged admissions not be allowed into testimony. The judge said he'd rule on this later & for now, Sullivan would not be on the witness stand when the jury returned but was subject to recall.

(If you want more straight reportage, I suggest www.statesman.com or www.kvue.com)

Gotta eat some dinner now. Will try to post a little more later tonight!

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