Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Second Day: Laura Hall Trial Part 1

I got another $15 parking meter ticket. Laura Hall shows up to the courtroom with her folks, the older couple, and a different blonde woman and a young man--early 20s-ish. Later, Hall & the young man are holding hands in the hallway. The prosecution's case continues. The morning session began with Sawyer's cross of the DNA analyst. The main points made were that it can't be determined when DNA is placed on an item and how the only blood DNA items in which Hall could not be excluded (from the items submitted & tested) were Hall's panties and red sweatpants.

There is non-blood DNA from which Hall cannot be excluded on the pistol grip, slide, and medallion (where you place your fingers to push the magazine into the gun) of Colton Pitonyak's Smith & Wesson 380 (9mm) automatic pistol. The fatal bullet recovered from Jennifer Cave's torso and the bullet recovered from her brain were both compared to & matched the six rounds of live ammunition found in CP's gun.

Hall could not be excluded from being a contributor to a mixture (CP) of non-blood DNA from a blue shop towel from CP's coffee table or from a mixture (CP and JC) of non-blood DNA coming from a sandal located in CP's bathroom. There is no mention of whether the sandal appeared to be a woman's or a man's. All of this is a repeat of testimony in CP's trial, as was most of the rest of the morning, including the testimony of the medical examiner.

Sawyer asked the ME more detail about the left palm stab wound, and her answer did really jump out at me because it was something that I don't think came out in CP's trial: the stab wound on Cave's left palm was perimortem as opposed to the other stab wounds, which were clearly postmortem. My understanding of this is that the palm wound would have had to occur practically seconds before she died, or as she was dying, or very shortly (within a few minutes, I think) of her death. Seems like that would mean CP, and no one else, definitely inflicted at least that one palm wound very close in time to his shooting her.

In CP's trial, either CP testified that Hall was responsible for the postmortem stab wounds or that scenario was argued by the prosecution--can't remember which source I heard that from during CP's trial.

After the mid-morning break, the judge took the bench but Hall was nowhere to be seen. Sawyer (& her mom) left to find her, came back & said she was seconds away, that she'd gone downstairs. After another few minutes of her absence, Sawyer (& Hall's dad) left again & returned w/Hall. Sawyer apologized to the judge, saying his client had now been instructed to not leave the floor while court was in session. The judge sort of stared at Hall for a second then turned away & asked Bailiff Billy to bring in the jury. It was tense.

Finally, I got to hear information I hadn't heard in CP's trial! It came through the Deputy U.S. Marshall associated w/the fugitive task force in Del Rio. He participated in bringing CP, who was now under arrest, & Hall across the international bridge back to the U.S. side. He said Hall, who was not in custody, had been drinking & so he called her parents to come pick her up. In the almost 3 hours he waited w/Hall, she talked allot but said nothing about her or CP's involvement in the murder.

She did say she was angry w/the U.S. Marshalls & the Mexican officials & wanted to contact CP's attorney. She continued, saying she loved CP, that she wanted to stand by him no matter what happened, & that she wanted him out of jail. She kept talking, saying that she would "kill anybody who hurt Colton." Then she said "it should be up to the friends of a murder victim to avenge them and should not be a police matter."

On Sawyer's cross, the Deputy confirmed that the actual arrest warrant for CP was issued on 8/22/05, 2 days after Hall & CP had crossed the border into Mexico.

I couldn't get my wi-fi working properly during the lunch break, but I think I've got it figured out now & shall try to post at tomorrow's lunch break.

More new information came up in the afternoon session. First, Said Aziz II, the friend of CP's, Cave's, & Hall's, testified about Hall's calls to him in the early morning hours of 8/23/05, in which she said she couldn't believe they found them (CP & LH) so fast, that she'd been "all up in this shit since, like 2 hours into this shit" and that she'd just tell the police that she & CP had been on vacation. Aziz urged her to cooperate with the police. A few hours later, Hall text messaged him, asking for advice immediately, so he called her back.

Hall said she "wanted to protect CP and help him," at which point Aziz got angry w/Hall and asked her why she would go to Mexico w/someone wanted for murder. Hall replied that she loved CP and "that's just how I roll."

Aziz told her he thought she was crazy, especially when she said that she refused to believe people would talk to the police. Several hours later, Aziz answers one more call from Hall. This time she seems confused & scared & says she didn't know anything had happened until the Mexican police busted in their hotel room.

Aziz asks her if she's lying now or in her first story. She agrees she lied in the story she told him in the first few calls, maybe because she was trying to act tough & that now she was going to cooperate with police.

Upon Sawyer's cross examination, Aziz agreed that Hall sometimes exaggerated & "embroidered the truth." He said that CP cultivated a tough-guy image that Hall seemed to enjoy & find appealing: she was not afraid of him. He also agreed that CP was a known drug dealer.

Next up: Nora Sullivan returns to the stand and gets a fiery cross exam. Gotta eat dinner now. More after.


hullabelew said...

Great stuff. Thanks for keeping us posted. That is great testimony from that wasn't revealed in pitonyak's trial.

Can't wait for Nora's testimony. Also curious if the two guys she went out with the night it got the tattoo will be called.

Keep up the good work. If you have a paypal account, I'm sure we can pitch in on your parking tickets.

Iris said...

Thanks so much for the praise & encouragement, hullabelew! And thank you for the generous offer to help w/the tickets, but I'll just suck it up this time & be more prepared next trial... (I'm so not a morning person.)