Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yogurt Shop Murders: today's non-joint pretrial hearing (Part 1)

Again today, Michael Scott was the only defendant present and therefore only his attorneys directly addressed the Court, although the docket had today’s hearing listed for both Michael Scott AND Robert Springsteen. Springsteen was noticeably absent last hearing, too, with no explanation given beyond a vague suggestion of logistical difficulties.

Springsteen attorney Alexandra Gauthier and her assistant Amber sat in front of me and occasionally passed notes up to Scott attorney Carlos Garcia, while Springsteen attorney Joe James Sawyer sat quietly (mostly) behind me during the hearing. But afterwards, Sawyer talked to reporters not so quietly. Sawyer was asked why today wasn’t a joint hearing with his client. He answered, “I can’t compel Robert Springsteen to be in court: only the judge can.”

He further explained that he had requested that Springsteen be present and that Scott’s attorneys also had agreed to have both defendants present. A reporter asked how this situation could possibly be legal, to which Sawyer replied, “What is legal is determined by a judge.”

While referring to the State’s recent retesting of DNA from two vaginal swabs taken from Amy Ayers, Sawyer was interrupted by a reporter who asked, “Whose DNA is that?” Sawyer raised his eyebrows and said, “The silence from the State is deafening,” emphasizing that it’s been almost two months since the State sent off that DNA for testing.

The hearing began with Judge Lynch’s wry pronouncement of today’s hearing being a “continuation of a never-ending series of pretrial hearings.” The first issue discussed was that the defense has switched DNA labs because its original one, Identigene, was bought out by a Nevada company and their expert was hired away by the Houston police department.

Their new DNA lab is Orchid Cellmark in Dallas, (a name I heard plenty during the O.J. Simpson trial.) The State wanted to make sure that all previous orders re Identigene were still in place, simply substituting the new lab name.

The next issue, Garcia’s motion to obtain the State’s witness statements before trial in order to prepare for cross examinations, became somewhat contentious over what constitutes a "statement." Judge Lynch rather wearily said, “We go downhill in here so fast,” and told both sides to look at the law and find the definition of a witness statement.

No comments: