Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Will Witness X "Melt" Stacey Barker's Defense ? Chances Of A Forecasted Plea Deal Diminishing....Blizzard Hits The AV !

When last reporting to you about the Stacey Barker murder case, we told you about a storm that was brewing in the case of the 26 year old Lancaster, CA woman who is accused of killing her 18 month old daughter, Emma, dumping the baby's body along the freeway and falsely reporting she was attacked and Emma kidnapped, on March 18, 2009. Barker has been held on a $1 million bond, in the Central Regional Detention Center in Lynwood since her arrest on April 23, 2009.

There have been several delays since this case was first scheduled to go to trial last Summer. The trial is now expected to take place early 2011. The "storm" that's been picking up momentum this winter involves an inmate who exchanged written and recorded communications with Barker during their 90 mile transport each direction to Lancaster for court hearings.Over the last couple months, during the exchange of discovery some 'flurries' with potential to develop into a plea deal have blown in concerning these communications. On December 3, 2010, when Superior Court Judge Hayden Zackey scheduled the hearing for December 17, he said," It's my understanding the parties are having an ongoing discussion regarding this case....we'll see if those discussions are fruitful on December 17th" adding, "Kelly will make a motion......you will make a motion, right?" DDA Cromer agreed. Zackey continued," If an agreement can't be reached and this goes to trial, January 7 will be a pre-trial hearing that will start 0 of 59." The next day's headline of the Antelope Valley Press (AVP) was much more blunt, reading,  " Baby Barker's Mom Seeks Plea Deal !!"
 
Well...The hearing was held on December 17 at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster, CA....... One of the rulings by the court, early on in the hearing, is in reference to the inmate who may testify of his communication with the defendant. From here on, the court ruled, in court this witness will be identified as "Mr. X" or as "Witness X". Neither the content or time line of the communication between Witness X and Stacey Barker has been disclosed in open court, but when the state told the court there are 4 Audio recordings, Barker's Public Defender, Roberto F. Dager shook his head and said I only have one.....so we  learned from this hearing that the winds of discovery are still blowing.

Even though there wasn't a plea agreement reached between the parties and a court date wasn't set,  this proved to be a very interesting hearing.  Afterward, some are forecasting this case will develop into a full blown trial instead of a plea agreement.

For some reason the next hearing is scheduled for January 24, 2011 instead of on the 7th as Judge Zackey had eluded to on December 3. (I'm not sure how this affects the count? Does 0 of 59 now start on the 24th? Anyone know? That would take us into March, if so.)

It sounds as though our "friends in the courtroom" had a long day in court on the 17th, not just because there was testimony from several witnesses, but because this case didn't come up until almost lunch time. (Again,  all of you who attend, thanks so much for using your time to attend the hearings and especially for sharing what you see and hear with us.)

Several of the witnesses to testify at this hearing were law enforcement who have also been present at the last several hearings.....apparently in anticipation of being called to testify. Detective. Sgt. Sandra Nava, Detective Sgt.Walls and a uniformed Sheriff's officer, whom we have seen in court before, but didn't know either his name or relevance to the case (Both Detectives had testified at the preliminary hearing so they were familiar)...The uniformed officer's  name is Sims and he is a module officer in the 'high power' section of the Men's Central Jail . We'll hear more from him in a bit.

Tori took some very extensive notes from the testimony in this hearing. She commented that she couldn't keep up with the pace the hearing was moving. I think you'll agree, she did a great job of capturing the "climate" in the courtroom. It was a blizzard! 
I wanted to share this picture T sent, this is taken  looking out her window in the Antelope Valley on January 2, 2011. It was a blizzard.....certainly not a common occurrence in the desert!
A note of interest....January 2 is Stacey Barker's birthday........hmmmm....... is that blizzard an omen or coincidence?


Here is Tori's report from the December 17 hearing:

When Stacey Barker came into the courtroom, she had her hair in a pony tail, all curled with full make up on  in contrast to her yellow scrubs.We were about the only ones in the gallery (the usual people) besides the defendant's family. SB came into the courtroom with a half smile looking at her family behind the defense table before she sat down next to Dager and looked straight ahead.

First called to the stand is Officer Sims. Before Sims is sworn in, PD Dager asks Judge Zackey to make Detective Nava  and Detective Walls leave the courtroom during Sims testimony. Dager says they going to testify and he doesn't want them to hear what Sims has to say....so they can't change their testimony. DDA Cromer told the court she needs Nava to help her with questioning. Judge Zackey announced it was his understanding Detective Walls wouldn't be testifying (Walls agreed) and decided to allow Detective Nava  to stay. PD Dager said he wants it on the record that he does not like it. Judge Zackey said " Detective Nava will be under oath and I don't feel she will change her testimony based on Sims testimony."

Men's Central Jail
 Officer Sims is sworn in and takes the stand. Cromer asks him about his job, then she asks him how he knows Mr.X. Sims said he is an officer in the unit that housed Mr.X  in Men's Central Jail. The unit is a Protective custody unit and Mr.X is classified as a "High Power Inmate". Next, Kelly Cromer asked Sims why Mr.X contacted him?  Sims said X told him that he had information on a case and wanted him to contact the homicide detectives working the case for him. Sims said he told X ok, he wasn't sure what he could do, but he would try.

Now it's the defense' turn for cross examination. Roberto Dager asked Sims if he and X are friends? Sims replied, " There is a line of separation between an inmate and officer " adding," I don't cross that line with any inmate." Dager asked, " Well do you have friendly conversations with him? " Sims said, "What do you mean?" Dager continued," Like do you talk about football and stuff?" Sims said "Football ?....No..it's just a inmate/officer relationship sir!

Dager asks Sims," Do you trust Witness X? Sims said "I trust no one sir." Next, Mr.Dager asks the officer if X has discussed the reason he is in jail with him? Sims said," Not really." Dager makes several attempts to ask Sims a question, but NO one can understand what he's asking....evidently Judge Zackey understood where the attorney was trying to go....he asked the question in a way that the officer and the rest of us  understand...Dager wants to know how was it that every time SB and X had to go to court, they always seemed to be next to each other on the bus? Sims said," I don't know, X may have asked the transport driver or the bus officer if they could sit next to each other." Dager replies, "Oh, so you get to pick your own seat on the bus?" Sims said," NO." Dager asked, " Then why was HE allowed to pick where he sat?" Sims told Dager he didn't know, adding he wasn't the bus officer. Now PD Dager asks Officer Sims, "Did you put X in contact with Detective Nava at some point ? " Sims said, Yes, he set up the call between the detective and X. Dager asks," How many calls did he get from Nava? Sims said, "A few." Dager gets in a few more questions (didn't note) and then we're told to go to lunch and be back at 1:30pm

While having lunch we discussed the possibility that Witness X is at the courthouse and going to be on the stand today. We heard  X  mentioned and someone said "You can ask HIM that question yourself"  but don't remember what question it was or who asked it because things were going fast!

Sure enough, when we go back after lunch, the Judge asks everyone in the front rows to move back 2 rows....then they bring out Mr.X... He is in chains so tight that his hands look deformed in front of chest....he is wearing glasses and doesn't look as evil as he did the first time we saw him....I think he knows that we are the 'bloggers' because he looks right at us and SMILES a broad smile (admittedly, no one else was really there in the gallery) We noticed when X came in, he and SB also shared looks, he had a joker grin on his face and she just had a sour look on her face. Witness X has been housed at The California State Prison at Lancaster since entering into the 10 year plea agreement with the state.

Judge Zackey tells the inmate he will be identified as Witness X from now on.

DDA Kelly Cromer starts the questioning of this state's witness, " How did you meet Ms.Barker? Mr.X said he "conversated" with her on the bus ride to court, she was in the CAGE next to his cage. He said that she started talking about her case and  at first, he thought she was innocent.

Kelly asks X, " How did you come to talk to with Detective Nava?" Mr X replied he no longer believed Stacey Barker's story of what happened because she had told him so many different stories of what happened on every bus ride. Mr.X emphasized that he just wanted justice for a dead child.....so no matter how much drama he had to go through it was the RIGHT THING TO DO.

Next Cromer asks Witness X if he works for the Government in any official way? NO was his answer.
Kelly asked," Are you a Agent for the Government?" Again, X replied NO.
 "Did you get any special deals for your testimony against Ms. Barker?" X replied," No I didn't , I did not ask for anything in return." 
Cromer asked a few other questions and then PD Roberto F. Dager is on cross....

Dager starts, "WITNESS X, How did you come in contact with Detective Sandra Nava?" Witness X relies, " I had been talking with Stacey Barker......she loves to talk about her case......I started not believing her story and asked to talk to the Detectives working her case."
Dager questioned X further, "So you talked to Nava and told her that you had information from Stacey Barker about this case and you wanted to try to get more out of her?" Witness X answers,"Yes."  Mr. Dager asked X, "What did Sandra Nava say during your phone call?" X said, "She wasn't interested in this information , but she said she would contact the District Attorney and ask if they needed what he knew or thought he could get from her."

Dager then asked X some (allegedly ) dumb questions.8D Witness X ( and others) looked dumbfounded as to what Dager was asking. Judge Zackey asked the question another way and X, without missing a beat, said OH, Ok and answered the question, then shook his head and said "This guy is making me dizzy" ....Judge Zackey asked X if he wanted some water and X said "Yes, please". LOL

Dager started questioning X about how he got next to SB on the bus. Witness X answered," Because I asked and you know......they know I don't see girls that often, so it was nice."

Dager asked X, "Why did you want to get information from Ms. Barker? X answered, " Because, like I said before, I started to think she was guilty and if she was, I wanted her to spend the rest of her life in jail!"
Next, PD Dager asked witness X," Why were you in love with her? " Kelly Cromer said, "OBJECTION!" ...X answered anyway, laughing, he said, " NO WAY. " Dager fired back, " Then why did you want her in jail for life?"  X said, " Because I thought it was the right and moral thing to do for this child. I am against abuse and murder of women and children.

Dager kinda smirked like sure buddy.....
"So you get what you want, huh?" Mr X said," No." Dager asks X if the Bus driver knows he is trying to get information from Stacey Barker?"  This time X said," Yes."  Dager says, "Oh.... so that is why you got the seating?"

Dager then asked  X how long he has been in the system.  X said, "Since 1993."
PD Dager- "How long was your first stint in prison?"
Mr.X-..."About 4 years."
PD Dager-"And the second time?"
X-" About 5 years, I don't know something like that."
PD Dager- "So you know the system and know how to work it...
DDA Cromer Objects..argumentative! Judge Zackey, "Sustained."
PD Dager moves on..."How many times have you been to court here?"  Mr.X replies,"A lot."
Next Dager said to X, "So you have a friend in lock up that can do things for you? X replied," I have no friend here. I think all the officers don't really like me." Dager continues, "What about (? ), a lock up officer at the court that is a woman. You say on tape to Stacey Barker that you can get special treatment from her." Witness X said, "What... like extra lunch or what kind of special things??"?  Dager said, "Sure." X said, "No, nothing special, I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a apple, just like everyone else!"

Mr.Dager seems to finally come to the point he is trying to make when he says, "Do you know what a SNITCH IS?" Mr.X said, "Sure."  Kelly spoke up and said, " DEFINE Snitch....I am sure Mr.Dager can."

Barker's Public Defender, Dager, then asks X, " Are you a jailhouse informant and have you testified as an informant in other cases? X said, " I testified in one other case." Dager asked X," Did you get anything special for that testimony?" Witness X answered,"No."  Dager asks," What about the apartment and money?  Mr.X replies," Oh. Well, I was in the witness protection program that is why."
Dager asks/states,"So you gave information on the MEXICAN MAFIA?" X replied," No, I gave information on the gang I was in ( that was affiliated with the Mexican Mafia)." Dager asks X, "What kind of gang was that?" Witness X told Dager, "It was a local street gang that I was trying to get out from under...."

Dager asks X if he has Agent status? X says, "No, I'm not a Agent." 
Dager said," Then why on the tape do you ask, 'Do I get a badge'? and one of the officers said," Ok, you'll get a badge?" X laughed and said, " That was a joke..." 

 PD Dager now asks, "Who suggested you wear a wire?  X said  he did. Dager said, "Who wired you?" Witness X says, " It wasn't really a wire, it was a tape recorder that was in my pocket." Dager, "Did they tell you how to question her?" X said," The only thing they told me was to let her talk, do not question her about  her case, just let her do the talking and if she goes on to other things just guide her back to her case."
Apparently Mr. Dager has a hearing problem, he asks again," So they told you what to ask her?" Witness X said,"NO, They me NOT to question her, just let her talk, she does talk a lot." Dager asked X, "Who wrote who first? X said, "She wrote me first."

Next, Dager asked X about his other case. X said his first trial hung and when it was going to go to trial again he was offered 10 years...Dager asks," How does a 25 to life 3rd strike felon get a deal for 10 years? X told Dager, he was offered that and it was 'sweet' so he took it.

Obviously, Dager is wanting to know if (or imply that) the DA on that case gave X a sweet deal in the other matter because he was working Stacey Barker for the state. X was relaxed on the stand and did not get mad at the questions asked. He kinda laughed at a lot of them asked by Dager. When X answered some of the questions, SB would make a look and lean in to Dager's ear and tell him things. X did not give Dager an INCH...he stood his ground, it's obvious he knows his way around the court.


Detective Sandra Nava is next on the stand. The state only has a few questions for Nava, just foundational things like credentials, involvement with the case......

When Dager does cross, he asks Nava most of the same questions he asked X.... about the wire,  how many times was X on the bus when he had no hearing (6 to 8 times)...Nava was only on the stand for a short time...

The last witness called was Ted Swanson, again, the state just laid out the foundation for Swanson's testimony. He was the prosecutor on X's most recent criminal case. Swanson was asked by Dager if he had given X any reward for ratting on Barker? Swanson said, No, he didn't. At that time he didn't even know what or who X had information about, he was just working X's case from the file...
Dager asks Swanson how does a 25 to life felon get a 10 year sentence? Swanson said that the 3rd strike law is based on the merits of the case..(3 strikes law has changed since it's inception) Dager asks Swanson why X said "he got a sweet deal" and Swanson said, "Well, anything other then life is a sweet deal, I would guess."

Dager is taking X's words and phrases as a man of 45-50 or so would, some of the things that X said are in street terms and young adult lingo. I am sure Dager doesn't know that. Sweet deal to Dager means X got some type of consideration for ratting SB out....To X it means....hell yeah, sweeeettt (good) I don't have to do life behind this POS child molester. 

For those who don't know about X's 3rd strike, it was a charge of robbery from an incident with a registered child molester who had tried to arrange private guitar lessons with Witness X's daughter. According to X, a new trial could have gone either way because witnesses were caught in lies and other things. Reportedly, the jury was hung in a 7 to5 split to convict...when they went to the table the state may have thought it better just to make a deal with him given  almost half of the last jury was ready to acquit X.

Again, Dager seems to think ( or imply)  that Swanson's boss made a deal with X for the information against SB but as Swanson said " I knew little or nothing about what information X had " so Dager is going to interview Swanson's boss to see if he might have made a deal with X. As desperate as this may seem, the defense really must try to discredit this testimony.....particularly if it supports statements Barker made to law enforcement before she was arrested.

Dager told the court he  wants to talk to X's Public Defender on the that case, the DDA Swanson's boss and he also wants to revisit previously filed motions.....Change Of Venue, Excluding media, etc... Judge Zackey said that can all be done on the 24th.... this was just a fact finding hearing and that he would offer a ruling next month. Should he find the inmate was acting as a government agent, Zackey said he suspects his only order would be that all audio tapes be given to Dager before trial.. ( Perhaps the state has just turned over the one audio recording they plan to use at trial ?) " The reality is, the information gathered by this witness was recorded " Judge Zacky said adding, "The documents and recordings speak for themselves."

We should learn more at the hearing on the 24th.....Will witness X 's testimony and communications with SB be allowed at trial? Will there be a trial?.....Or,  once the blizzard has blown over will this case result in a plea deal? If only we knew a weatherman who could predict this for us......
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4 comments:

  1. Kat,
    this is great I just love all the winter humor you added in!
    Hugs to you girl! stay warm!

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  2. Glad you liked it, T ;)
    Mr. Katfish just put another log on the fire, that's the only way we'll stay warm here in IL right now.

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  3. Thanks for keeping us up to date...I have followed this from the beginning and just hope Emma gets justice!

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  4. Giavanna8, Hopes are high that the hearing on January 24 will bring a trial date. Thanks for stopping by ;)

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