Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Two Years Gone, But Not Forgotten

This post is in memory of eight people, ranging in age from two to ninety-three years old, who were killed two years ago this week. When these people died they were going about their everyday lives, they weren't committing crimes or engaging in risky behavior, they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This could have just as easily been you or me, or someone we love.

All eight were killed in an alleged week-long killing spree that spanned Illinois and Missouri. One person has been charged for all of their deaths, but this post is not about him. When these cases go to trial, as is often the case in our legal system, the eight people will be memorialized as victims. I want to share a little bit about who each of  these people were when  they were living, the way they should be remembered.

I found most of the information for this post at a website for The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis although this story was originally published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch (online edition), on July 04, 2008. I listed the people in the order (by day) that they are believed to have been killed, even though all but Mr. Reed were found on the same day.

Russell Reed
Found June 26, Sterling

Nearly every morning, 93-year-old Russell Reed drove his Buick 10 miles from his farm outside Sterling, Ill., to the town hangout, the Red Apple Restaurant. He always sat in the same booth, between the cash register and the pie safe. :)

Reed farmed and lived on the same land for 70 years, and he and his wife Evelyn reared two sons, Lyle and Donnie.

Reed liked the outdoors and gardening. He didn’t bother to use the few working locks on his century-old farmhouse. “It wasn’t important to him,” Donnie said. “At his age, with his mentality, why would you have to?”
 
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Ronald Randall
Found June 30, Galesburg

Ronald Randall, 65, known as “Ronnie,” worked at the Maytag refrigerator plant for nearly 31 years before retiring in 2004, when the plant was closed. He has one daughter, Cari and three sisters.

 He loved the Dallas Cowboys and enjoyed playing paintball. 

Randall was known for decorating his yard  with lighthouses. Shortly before his death, he told friend Connie Clague of bigger plans.“He found a carpenter who was going to build a 6-foot lighthouse for his front yard,” Clague told the Galesburg Register-Mail.

“He was just a wonderful person,” Clague said.

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Brock Branson
Found June 30, Rock Falls

Brock Branson, 29, loved life on the road. He had been a trucker for five years, running routes between Illinois and California, said his mother, Connie Branson.

“He didn’t want to feel tied down to a job,” she said. “It was kind of a freedom thing.”

At a Utah truck stop, he met a cashier named Kilynna Blake. He moved to Utah to be with her and her toddler son, Dayan. In April, they moved to Rock Falls, Ill., to be closer to Branson’s family and
his daughter, 10.

They rented an apartment and talked about marriage. Branson took a job as a roofer to have more time with Kilynna and Dayan. 
“He was really getting it together,” his mother said. “We were really proud of him.”

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Kilynna and Dayan Blake
Found June 30, Rock Falls

Kilynna Blake, 20 - Ki to her friends -  was the life of the party, said her sister, Gleniecia Lewis.

Kilynna gave birth to her son Dayan, at age 18. She had to quickly adjust to being a single mom but managed it with grace, Lewis said: “We all knew she was going to be able to handle it herself.”

When she met Branson at a southern Utah truck stop, Lewis was skeptical of her sister’s new beau. But Branson won her over. “He was just a sweet guy. He was different than anyone else,” Lewis said. “I could tell they were going to be good for each other.”

Dayan Blake, son of Kilynna Blake,  celebrated his second birthday in his new home in Rock Falls shortly before his death. He was growing closer to his mom’s boyfriend and had recently started calling Branson “Dad,” said Branson’s mother.

“He was a happy boy,” said his aunt, Gleniecia Lewis. “He was always running around, wanting to do this, this and this all at the same time.”

Daniel Jones, Dayan’s father, told The Salt Lake Tribune his son’s death, “has left me in a daze.”
 
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no photo available
Kenneth Ulve
Found June 30, Rock Falls

Kenneth Ulve, 25, grew up in Milledgville, Ill., about 20 minutes from the apartment where he was killed.

Described as “the kind of kid who kept to himself,” Ulve continued his family’s carpentry tradition, said his uncle, Rick Ulve.

Ulve enjoyed spending time with his toddler son.

A roofer, Ulve was living temporarily with Branson and Blake. He was days away from moving to a new place, his uncle said.

“He was just a nice kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Rick Ulve said.

*********************************************************************


Tom and Jill Estes
Found June 30

Tom and Jill Estes, both 54, married 35 years ago in St. Louis. They have family in the St. Louis area, but built a happy life in Sherwood, Ark., a suburb of Little Rock.

He worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. She worked with special-needs pupils at an elementary school. Together, they groomed their immaculate front yard.
 
After retiring, they wanted to travel more in Tom’s red 2007 Corvette.

“They were a happy little couple who enjoyed each other’s company,” said Kristine Rodgers, a former co-worker of Jill Estes. They have a grown daughter and son in Arkansas, and a grandson.

“Tom was the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain, who kept everything in working order,” the family said in an obituary.

Friends recall Jill Estes as compassionate to people, animals, even bugs — which she released outside. “If it breathes and moves, she was pretty much trying to take care of it,” Rodgers said. 

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Please let me know if there are any corrections or additions that need to be made to this post.         
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Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mark Jensen Awaiting Opinion/ Decision From Appellate Court

Mark Jensen
update 12/29/2010
 MARK JENSEN LOSES APPEAL


ORIGINAL REPORT:
Mark Jensen filed to appeal  his  first-degree murder conviction back in June 2008 but the appeal wasn't opened until April 2009. This week the appeal has finally been assigned to a three Judge panel with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District 2. On June 24, 2010 all briefs were submitted and the case is now pending an opinion/decision.

Julie Jensen
 Jensen was convicted of first- degree murder in February 2008 for the Ethylene Glycol (antifreeze) poisoning of his wife Julie in December 1998. The case took 10 years to come to trial because of evidentiary issues, including a letter written by Julie several weeks before her death.

Julie gave the letter to a neighbor with instruction the letter was to be given to police in the event of her death. The letter detailed her suspicions that Mark may have been planning to kill her.This case has become widely known as "The case of the letter from the grave."

At the end of the murder trial Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder  ruled the letter was Julie's Dying Declaration. The WI Supreme Court had already ruled the letter was admissible under the "Forfeiture of Wrong Doing Clause" if Judge Schroeder, after conducting a forfeiture hearing,  found by a preponderance of evidence that it was likely Mark had killed Julie to keep her from testifying. With that ruling Mark forfeited his right to confront his accuser. Special Prosecutor Robert Jambois said in 2009 that he won't be surprised if this case makes it to the US Supreme Court because of the constitutional issues involved.

Katfish...ponders doesn't know how long it will take for an opinion/decision to be reached but I'll continue to keep a close eye on the case. Both parties have requested they be allowed oral arguments,  I assume that will be considered and hope it is allowed. There is a mountain of evidence to be considered in this case, so it may take some time. Mark Jensen was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole and is serving his sentence at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, WI.

Click here to see earlier coverage at Katfish...ponders of this case and the appeal of the conviction. Throughout these entries are links to various legal documents, Julie's letter and the WI Court of Appeals website and media coverage. Here is a link to a site constructed by Julie Jensen's brothers in her memory. oursisterjulie.com It is a lovely tribute and a great one-stop place to learn about this case..

A final note, many have asked where Mark and Julie's son's are and about Mark's marriage to Kelly (LeBonte) Jensen.( Mark's mistress at the time of Julie's death and wife soon after.) On the memorial website Julie's brothers have a time line where they note that in April 2008, Kelly Jensen was named as legal guardian of Mark & Julie’s youngest son. (The older son is of legal age.) Julie’s brother was  granted co-guardian of his estate to insure money is properly set up for his future. In May 2009, Kelly filed for divorce from Mark. There are links to some of the legal documents about the divorce in the older entries here at Katfish....ponders. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nicholas Sheley Case, It's A Long And Winding Road to Justice

Updated at bottom- June 18
One thing I have learned from the many murder trials that I have observed is that even though there are rules of procedure set down by (both U.S. and State) Constitutions (such as the due process clause that ensures legal fairness)  and  legislators (statutory laws) there often are issues that arise that are unexpected.

In our system of justice when lawyers make their argument before a court or a situation arises that is not directly addressed in a law or the interpretation of the law is in question, the court depends on legal precedent or case law  (decisions of appeals courts and other courts which make new interpretations of the law that are derived from the application of particular areas of law to the facts of individual cases, and, therefore, can be cited as precedents) to support their argument or resolve the issue.

When the death penalty is on the table there are even more rules and exceptions to rules, but issues still arise that are unique. The capital murder case of Nicholas Sheley has had several unique issues come up in the preparation for trial. Recently there has been an issue come up that's been brought about by some action taken by the IL Department of Corrections (DOC).

Nicholas Sheley at Pontiac Correctional
Nicholas Sheley is a 30 year old Sterling, IL man, who has been charged with capital murder for the 6/28/08 bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg, IL. The trial is expected to start sometime between January to March 2011 . Sheley is also charged for five deaths in Whiteside County, IL and two deaths in Festus, MO. related to an alleged killing spree during the last week of June, 2008. Sheley is awaiting trial at the Pontiac Correctional Center, in Pontiac, IL after being sentenced to seven years in prison for a conviction on charges that alleged he attacked 3 correctional officers causing them injury during an incident at the Knox County Jail in April 2009. Prior to that conviction, Sheley had been held in the Knox County jail since July 2008 on a $10 million bond.

There has been two hearings related to this issue with the DOC. The first hearing was so vague that I didn't even write about it at the time. The second hearing shed a little light on the issue and I was able to find some information online, so I'll give it a try. This entry will include both hearings.

The first hearing, on May 14, about the issue raised by the DOC was short. There wasn't anyone from the prosecution for the murder case at this hearing. The IL DOC was represented by Chris Higgerson and Lea Bendik of the IL Attorney General's office. Lead attorney Jeremy Karlin, Co-counsel Anthony Vaupel ( both court appointed because Sheley is indigent ) and Nicholas Sheley were at the defense table.(escorted by 4 "big" guys from DOC)

At the beginning of the hearing, Jeremy Karlin moved to have the hearing closed. Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart didn't feel there was authority to close the hearing and told the parties he wanted the issue briefed before he would consider closing the hearing.  Stewart said that in a criminal case there are mixed rights, the defendant has a right to a fair and public trial, but the press and public also have a  right to attend criminal trials.

Karlin told the court if the hearing isn't closed he would be forced to disclose defense theories to the public when discussing the objections the DOC has, adding that he also respectfully disagrees with expenditures previously authorized. Karlin acknowledged to the court this is a novel area due to the DOC position and reminded the judge that they were under deadlines. Judge Stewart responded any deadlines the defense is under are from this court and we are not discussing expenditure of funds. Bendik told the court the AGO agrees with the defense, but the judge reiterated he wants to be briefed.

Karlin requested that the record reflect the imposition on the defense of the DOC motions that are interfering with our attempt to__________. Oops I missed that in my notes but I think he was talking about preparing their defense and meeting deadlines. This is an area where the conversation seemed cryptic to this novice.... Stewart said something about April 1 and the Supreme Court also directs the conduct of_______(this court?) He continued that on May 11 there was a return of mandate. This is no case of controversy- will address when the matter becomes ripe. Bendik started to say something and Stewart said he rules this is not a case of controversy so the motion to unseal transcripts is moot. The case is continued to June 18.

I have been trying to find out what the issue is with the DOC, I didn't find this until after the 2nd hearing but I'll stick it in here so you will have a better idea what I'm talking about when reporting on that hearing. This is what I 've been able to find....On April 1, 2010, Judge James Stewart issued an order directing the Illinois Department of Corrections to transport defendant Nicholas T. Sheley for certain testing. The DOC filed an emergency motion  for leave to file a petition for an original writ of mandamus. (A writ of mandamus is a writ issued by a superior court ordering a public official or body or a lower court to perform a specified duty.) The motion was denied and the order was entered by the court.
(This is speculation but because of the discussion at the end of the May 14 hearing, I think what the DOC wanted was the transcripts to be unsealed from an earlier ex parte hearing to authorize expenses for the defense.)

The DOC then filed an emergency motion with the IL Supreme Court for a supervisory order. The motion was allowed. The Supreme Court wrote in it's order, " In the exercise of this Court's supervisory authority, the Circuit Court of Knox County is directed to vacate its order of April 1, 2010, directing the Illinois Department of Corrections to transport defendant Nicholas T. Sheley for certain testing. The circuit court is directed to conduct a hearing at which the Illinois Department of Corrections may be heard on the subjects of safety and expense, and may suggest alternative orders."

A week or two after the first hearing, once again, a little birdy notified me there was a hearing scheduled for June 11 at 10 am. {{Hugs}} The birdy also told me this was to hear arguments about who would pay for transporting Sheley for tests, so I'm surprised when  Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward and Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer come in and take a seat at the state table. (I expected to see the 2 who had represented IL DOC at the last hearing.) At the defense table is  Lead Attorney Jeremy Karlin and Co-counsel Anthony Vaupel. John Hanlon is also here for the defense. Hanlon is from the Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD) in the Capital Trial Assistance Unit in the Springfield office.

We still have a little time before court so Karlin and Elward are talking a little sports across the aisle...I didn't hear who, but someone is the worst sports franchise ever. LOL ( These guys may be friendly with each other when court is out of session, but once the hearing starts they are very professional and definitely serious about their adversarial roles.)


There are 3 people sitting in the reserved seats for the press, directly behind the defense. I recognize the reporter from Whiteside County, we both motion hello. I sure miss Susan Kaufman from the Register-Mail. ~ I'm  waving if your reading this Susan ~  The other 2 are new faces (after court I introduce myself and one of the new faces is from the Galesburg Register-Mail and the other is a new reporter from WGIL a local radio station.)

A little after 10, Nicholas Sheley is brought in by 2 DOC officers, he is fully shackled and wearing his tan DOC uniform, I couldn't help but notice he's sporting brand new Nike shoes.(In the county jail he had to wear plastic sandals year round).

Judge Stewart enters and court is in session.(Again, my notes today are sort of cryptic because they seemed to talk that way.....and they weren't saying exactly what the issues were. I will do my best to "fill " them out a bit given the information I gathered after this hearing)

Judge Stewart says that there are several issues for today:
          There are issues for both parties to brief.
          The defense has also filed a motion to extend discovery.

Jeremy Karlin rises to address the court.
He mentions the interpretation of section 10c of the Capital Litigation Act :
     1. Addresses certification of expense and the question whether the court has power to do so ex parte.
      2. Whether at a future date or whether should be done in camera.
Karlin says the state agrees the court has authority to enter orders if the date, time and place are known. Karlin gives Judge Stewart the agreed proposed order.

Bill Elward addresses the court for the state and says they agree to the order with an amendment to the second line, first sentence.(This will make more sense once I see a copy of the order)

 Judge Stewart says he wanted both sides to offer briefs and make a record. Stewart acknowledges even though he agrees with the language in the order and signing it,  this is unusual because the IL DOC is a part of another branch (executive branch)of the government . The separate branches of government do not  have authority over each other.
(The way I understand the situation is the DOC is objecting to transporting Sheley for these defense requested tests because of financial and security reasons. The defense wants this undisclosed testing done in order to effectively prepare their defense.)

Judge Stewart tells the court the legislature has recognized the need for the defense in a capital case to prepare a defense for the guilt phase and for mitigation in the penalty phase if there is a conviction.Stewart adds there is provision in the Capital Litigation act for ex parte hearings (for the benefit of one side or party, in this instance the defense, in the absence of the other) for expenditures on expert witnesses. He says this boils down to an equal protection argument. If the defendant could afford to hire his own expert witnesses the defense wouldn't have to disclose to the prosecution who they have consulted and would not want to do so.

Judge Stewart even offered an example, for instance if the defense consulted with an expert who determined they could not support the defense's position, the defense wouldn't use them; however, if the state was privy to the identity of this expert just because the defendant was indigent, they could seek the expert out for their own case, which would give the state an unfair advantage. If the defendant was then found guilty, the conviction could be overturned because this unfair advantage could result in the denial of due process.

Stewart said therefore he will side with the defense, but if the Supreme Court overrules there would be no harm to the state because they would then be privy, adding if this court is wrong a bright line test can be done. The court orders the DOC to transport the defendant for the required testing. Stewart told the defense whenever they need an ex parte hearing they should notify the prosecution of the hearing so they are aware, but the order allows Sheley to be tested and transported without the knowledge of the prosecution.Judge Stewart said the court is trying to preserve the rights of everyone.

Karlin in referring to the defense motion to extend discovery deadline, told the court because of the nature of what we just did (order for testing), we don't want to mislead the court or the state when we are still investigating.

Bill Elward rose and told the court the state feels a little handicapped. The state has an offer of proof for their motion in limine due by 6/30. Can't the defense make some response? They can amend if needed adding at some point the state will file a motion to compel.

Stewart said the matter will be set for the next hearing, June 18 (tomorrow) acknowledging unusual circumstances have been involved in the issues brought by the DOC.

There are two more hearings tomorrow, Friday, June 18. The first hearing will be at 10 am. It will be a closed hearing and I'm pretty sure it will be exparte. The second hearing will be "open" and is scheduled for 11 am at the Knox County Courthouse in Galesburg, IL.

Yes, it's a long and winding road but we will get there.....

Update- June 18
I went to the hearing today at 11 am,  but everything that needed to be done was accomplished in the closed hearing. The closed hearing was in camera (versus exparte) and attended by the defense and the attorney(s) from the IL AGO representing the IL DOC. I recognized Lea Bendik from the May 14 hearing. I'm not sure who else from the IL AGO attended as the closed hearing was done by the time I got there. Of course, we aren't privy to the results of that hearing....we'll just have to wait and see if the DOC goes back to the Supreme Court or if Judge Stewart's order to transport Sheley for testing stands.

I stayed around the courthouse a bit and was able to find out that the defense motion to extend deadlines resulted in an agreement between the parties to extend deadlines as follows:

The previous state deadline to enter their offer of proof for the defendant's prior bad acts was extended  2 weeks to July 15.

The defense response to the state's offer of proof is due August 15.

The defense deadline to enter any known Affirmative defenses per Supreme Court Rule 413 is moved to September 15.  
(Affirmative defenses operate to limit, excuse or avoid a defendant's criminal culpability, even if the charges are admitted or proven. Whereas a defendant normally has no burden of proof, when offering an affirmative defense, the defendant usually must affirmatively come forward with some evidence that the defense exists; hence, "affirmative" defenses. A few examples of affirmative defenses are an alibi, self-defense or an insanity-defense.)

I may do an entry on the not-guilty by reason of insanity defense sometime. Not because it applies to this or any other case I'm following, but because the concept interests me. Did you know Illinois doesn't recognize a not-guilty by reason of insanity defense? Each state has a different standard for this defense....like I said...I'll get into that some other time.Stay tuned. ;)

Oh and one more thing.....I was told that the worst sports franchise ever, that I referenced from the June 11 hearing is the Blackhawks, but that was then, I'm told that now the Blackhawks are now the best franchise. LOL! Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RIP Caylee Marie Anthony

  Rest In Peace Sweet Angel.
You will always be remembered.
Prayers for you and those who love you!


Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Search For Stacy Peterson Could Resume This Week


Stacy Peterson
Update- 6/15
Peoria Journal star reports-
Search for Stacy Peterson goes quiet    

Illinois State Police have said a search of the property would resume, though no timetable for a return to the land has been revealed.

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy said Tuesday his department still is awaiting word from the lead investigators on the case.
"The Will County State's Attorney's Office and Illinois State Police District 3 said that when they return, they would contact us before they came," he said. "At this time, we're protecting the site, waiting to assist them when they return."
 Katfish....ponders will continue to follow up on this story.

 Original entry- 6/7

The main focus of this entry is the latest search for the remains of Stacy Peterson of Bolingbrook, IL. The 23-year-old mother of two small children has been  missing since Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007. 

The 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, the fourth wife of a suburban Chicago police officer, Drew Peterson, triggered a media frenzy, especially after the investigation revealed Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, had died under mysterious circumstances several years before.

In May 2009, Drew Peterson, 56,  was indicted by a Will County grand jury on charges of first-degree murder for the 2004 death of Savio. Peterson has plead not-guilty and awaits trial in isolation at the Will County Jail on a $20 million bond. The Savio murder trial is scheduled to begin on July 8, 2010. The grand jury continues to investigate the disappearance of Stacy Peterson.

Katfish...ponders hasn't written about either case before now, but I have been following them in the media and on blogs. I decided to write about this latest search because it is happening close to where I live.

There have been other searches over the past couple years including sending divers into murky Chicago-area waters.  I'm  hopeful  this search will yield some answers for the family of Stacy Peterson. In November 2007, Drew Peterson revealed that he had received an unsigned letter alleging Stacy Peterson had been spotted in Peoria. The letter, bearing a Peoria postmark, purported that a possibly pregnant Stacy Peterson had been seen in the Kroger store at the Madison Park Shopping Center. Police could never confirm that information.The fact Drew said the letter was sent to him instead of law enforcement makes me go hmmmm.... Bolingbrook is 140 miles from Peoria.

The Illinois State Police, Will County State's Attorney criminal investigators and several other police agencies arrived on the site, located in a rural area west of Peoria, IL  on Friday morning (June 4) after receiving what was deemed a credible tip.

The media reports as to the "source of the tip" to Stacy Peterson's remains has varied somewhat, and as with most breaking news stories other details have been conflicting as well, but I'll give you what information I've been able to gather from local reports and a little digging. Law enforcement has refused to elaborate on any of the details of the tip.

Stacy Peterson's family was alerted of the tip, and the Chicago Sun-Times reported that her family had arrived in Peoria on Saturday to await news.

 First, here is a Google map showing the location of the site being searched and the route to the Madison Park Shopping Center where Drew Peterson says Stacy was sighted. The two locations are 14 miles apart on a fairly direct route. I have also included pictures from Google of what the area being searched may have looked like in the Fall when the corn is up. I don't know if this area was harvested at the time Stacy went missing but you can see visibility is obscured from the road when the corn is up.
                                               
A = Big Hollow Sportsman's Club  
B = Madison Park Shopping Center 

The Peoria Journal Star (PJS) reported that a cadaver dog alerted handlers to human remains in the area sometime Friday. An anthropologist from the Dixon Mounds site in Fulton County was called in to aid with the search. Sources said the scientist was brought in to help determine whether the ground had been disturbed. Police didn't start excavating until Saturday.

As you can see in the picture above, the corn is much shorter now, however, no equipment or personnel were visible from the road. The dig site is located in a heavily wooded area a considerable distance off the roadway near Grange Hall and Trigger roads near Kickapoo Creek.

Dave Alwan, a local businessman, owns the property, which is adjacent to the Big Hollow Sportsman's Club. Alwan is not considered to be involved in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, police sources said. The PJS also reports their sources say there is no known connection between Drew Peterson and Peoria County, such as for hunting or social reasons.

Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Tom Burek
Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Tom Burek told reporters Saturday evening that investigators and an anthropologist had finished digging in a 10-foot-by-10-foot area on Dave Alwan's Echo Valley Farms property.

Anthropologist Alan Harn, the assistant curator for Dickson Mounds Museum who helped authorities search the central Illinois location for the remains of Stacy Peterson told The Associated Press on Monday that he excavated three sites on Saturday identified by cadaver-sniffing dogs but found no human remains, only opossum bones.

Harn said he believes authorities do have a "really good" tip. He's advised investigators to return to the area near Peoria with a device that gets images of what's underground. Harn says the tip about the site came from "a representative" of someone in jail. He declined to say more.

On Monday, Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy said, "I believe in talking with Will County and state police that we will work with them further concerning the site, the information they've gotten about this location and the way they got the information seems to make it viable." McCoy declined to say more about the investigation.

Rainy weather in central Illinois including several damaging tornados that struck in western parts of Peoria County on Saturday night has contributed to the delay in the search today but the search may resume as early as tomorrow, Tuesday, June 8.


 Investigators have pursued several tips about Stacy Peterson's disappearance over the years, and report they will continue to follow all leads. Drew Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, called the most recent search "patently ridiculous." "Drew's position from day one has always been that she ran off with another man, because that's what she told him," Brodsky said. "This is just another in a long line of unsubstantiated rumors about Drew Peterson, all of which have proved to be false."

Katfish Ponders will continue to follow and report as this search proceeds.

Here is a link to a CBS News report  from December 2007 which details many of the circumstances surrounding the early days of the investigation into Stacey Peterson's disappearance....

As I stated above, Stacy Peterson's disappearance brought renewed interest in Kathleen Savio's death. Here is a link to a CNN report that offers more details surrounding Savio's death and the eventual arrest of Drew Peterson. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Trial date set For Stacey Barker Murder Trial


Stacey Barker 2008
Finally, a July 26 trial date has been set for the Stacey Barker murder trial. Barker is a 25 year old Lancaster, California woman accused of smothering her 18 month old daughter, Emma Leigh Barker, before dumping her body in tall grass at the side of a freeway on March 18, 2008.

Memorial  for Emma Barker in Sylmar, CA

There was a hearing yesterday, June 8, 2010 at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster, CA. Before I get into the details of the hearing, I wanted to share a picture taken last week of the memorial that has been erected in Emma's honor at the spot her body was dumped in Sylmar. A friend (who goes by the hat name A7XMommy) had the opportunity to stop by the site. She was pleasantly surprised by this memorial because this area had always been tall grass and overgrown with weeds before and now someone has not only honored Emma, but the area around it is being kept mowed, even 2 years later. 7XMommy used her cellphone to get this picture and was disappointed by the quality but the message is clear....little Emma will not be forgotten. Thanks for sharing 7XM!

Now, on to the hearing. As noted in earlier posts about this case, friends of katfishponders (Tori, Ange and TD) are attending the hearings in this case. The information provided here is compiled from various posts and e-mail correspondence and phone calls about the hearing details, so this report is not verbatim and may not be reported in the exact order that it occurred in court.

 Superior Court Judge Hayden Zackey presided over this hearing. Deputy District Attorney (DDA)S. Kelly Cromer is representing the people and Stacey Barker is being represented by Public Defender (PD) Roberto F. Dager.
This hearing was held in a different courtroom because the air conditioning in Judge Zackey's courtroom wasn't working and as Tori put it, "It was 2 degrees hotter than hell today". She also noted that in this courtroom on the back of the table where the defendant sits was a sign that says, "Do not communicate with prisoners" and stated a PC code violation number.

The reason we mention this is because at the last hearing, when Barker entered the courtroom she said "hiii" to her boyfriend in a flirtatious manner, during the hearing she was bouncy and laughing with her attorney, and when she was led out of the courtroom by the bailiff  she turned in a "coy" way and said "BYE" to her family...kind of like she was somewhere other than a court of law.....bidding farewell to her fans. She was definitely in violation.

It should be noted today when the defendant entered the courtroom she was in compliance. The way the girls described her at this hearing was,"SB came out looking thin, sullen, worried and defeated.....looking at the floor the whole way to her seat next to her attorney, she didn't even try to make eye contact with her family or boyfriend."

The regular accredited press from the Antelope Valley News was in court today. Time Warner Cable was also there recording the proceedings. One of the camera guys put a microphone on the attorney's table, Public defender Roberto Dager removed it and handed it to a bailiff, Johnny, who gave it back to the camera man.....so he just set it behind the table and the hearing started.

Judge Zackey started the hearing by announcing the next court date will be June 28 to finish up all pre-trial discovery, motions and whatever else. Then he said we'll be back on July 26 for trial, this will be 40 of 60.
The attorneys for both sides were having a "debate" about some new discovery that the defense hasn't received yet. DDA Kelly Cormer has some CD's that consist of taped visits with civilians that went to see Barker in jail and some letters to and from another inmate at the jail.

Evidently Dager hasn't seen the letters yet because Judge Zackey told Cormer to give the defense a CD of the letters. DDA Cormer told the court she wants to have all of the discovery transcribed to include who Barker is talking to and who is saying what. Hmmm.....must be planning to use some of this in court if the state is going to the trouble of having transcriptions made. What part about "no rights to privacy" is it that people who are incarcerated don't get?

That was the end of the hearing and the bailiff, Johnny, pulled out Stacey Barker's chair and took her by the arm to go back into lockup before she could even say goodbye to PD Dager, she didn't even attempt to look at her family and boyfriend.

Hopefully, both parties will get all the loose ends tied up by the June 28th hearing so the July 26 trial date will stand! There will be justice for Emma soon. As I have said before, Truth = Justice. It is time for the truth to come out, whatever that may be. Sphere: Related Content