June 2, 2006

 dateline nbc

perhaps you remember that last fall i attended the murder trial of robert petrick. his wife, janine --the victim-- was an acquaintence of mine.

the trial got a lot of media attention, both locally and nationally. there was a reporter from NBC in the courtroom every day, in fact, gathering footage for a "dateline nbc" special.

the trial is long over, of course, but the dateline episode is finally airing this weekend.

here's the blurb from the dateline website:

Saturday, June 3, 8 p.m.
One cold winter night, a beloved member of a close-knit community goes missing. Was she abducted? Murdered? Did she run away? Troubling details of a double life and hidden secrets soon emerge, and a defendant makes a fateful, surprising decision. Hoda Kotb reports on an unusually riveting courtroom drama.
the reporter assured us that, despite the sensationalized previews that are airing right now, the episode itself will be more balanced. the producers say they took care to try to depict who janine was, what she was like, her love of music, etc.

janine's family and friends were consulted (to a degree) during the editing process and participated by submitting photos and video. her sons figured "NBC is going to do the story either way; we'd rather have some input and hope that it gets used well."

let's pray they were right.

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November 30, 2005

 neilson crap

last night's rehearsal was interesting. i found myself in various small groups of musicians who wanted to talk about the verdict. it was on everyone's mind.

at one point the sheriff on duty (who is only at the arts council, by the way, because of janine -- she fought for higher security during our evening rehearsals) joined one of our casual discussions and revealed that he was one of the deputies at falls lake the day janine's body was found.

because of the buzz in the air last night our conductor, alan neilson, was in rare form. it's been a while since i posted any of his "neilsonisms", but he let a few fly last night that had us all in stitches.

at the start of rehearsal alan announced that he was having to shift the order of the works around:

"The percussion is going to be an hour late tonight, so I'm starting off with the crap."

i've never heard alan say anything even remotely crass before. it startled us all and we laughed heartily for quite a while.

so alan begins rehearsing one of the crappy works, and when there's a question as to how to play a certain passage he says:

"Play it exactly as rotten." (A clever play on "exactly as written.")

i do love playing with the durham symphony. our holiday concert is this sunday -- perhaps you can come? it's a wonderful event, with a dessert buffet and lots of christmas merriment. and crap.

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November 29, 2005

 no more court reporting

i wasn't able to attend court this morning, but i watched the proceedings online when i was able.

when i tuned in around 11:30 petrick was delivering his closing statement. the prosecution followed. the jury was given a lunch break. when i tuned back in at 2pm the judge was issuing the jury their instructions and a half-hour later they were sent into the deliberation room.

so the case is in their hands now, and my heart is beating faster than ever before. having sat in that courtroom and heard testimony they did not, i personally am convinced of robert petrick's guilt. i am certain he killed janine sutphen. but i have to wonder if the jury believes as i do, given that they didn't hear everything and what they DID hear was delivered in a rather disjointed manner -- they were ushered in and out of the courtroom so often that i fear they were unable to maintain the narrative. the ADA, mitchell garrell, did a great job with his closing statement, though, and clearly put forth the alleged timline for the crime. perhaps my worries are unfounded.

i'm dying to know what's going on in that deliberation room. i suppose, after this is all over, that i'll get to find out -- i have a friend who is on the jury and i'm pretty certain he'll be forthcoming about his entire experience.

my hands are shaking. i do hope justice will be done for my friend janine.

UPDATE, 4:55pm: he's guilty! (read that link if you're at all interested in this case - it contains photos, audio clips and a timeline of the crime.)

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November 28, 2005

 court reporter, part four

it seems funny to be at the beach one day, then in a court room the next.

many of us were speculating that the trial may wrap up today, but it looks like we're in for at least one more day of testimony. i'm guessing that closing statements may happen on wednesday. but who knows. this thing has gone on longer than any of us expected. (i started attending on november 7; jury selection began the week before that.)

anyway, it was a short session today. the jury heard one minute of the action, and the rest of the testimony was voir dire -- heard outside the presence of the jury.

rp- robert petrick, the defendant. he's representing himself on first degree murder charges against his wife, janine sutphen.
edwards- petrick's court-appointed counsel. he sits behind petrick and gives legal advice to petrick when he asks for it. he otherwise doesn't speak while court is in session.
g- mitchell garrell, assistant district attorney
jh- judge orlando hudson


g- state found computer evidence involving jan 8 searches for “body decomposition” and “rigor mortis”.
rp- object to reopening of the case. undue surprise. they had 3 years to find this, and are only bringing it forward now.
jh- g, are you moving to reopen the case?
g- no.
jh- g is simply fulfilling the statutory requirement of notification of new evidence

9:40 -- jury enters
rp- defense rests (!!!!!!!!!!!)
(i guess this means rp didn’t find any “exculpatory” materials on his computer. our mouths are agape.)

9:41 -- jury exits

g asks to reopen case for rebuttal witnesses. wants to put ryan johnson back on the stand to testify as to some of the search terms rp wanted *his* computer expert to search for. (ryan was the one who delivered the materials to rp’s computer expert.) g is speculating that rp didn’t call his computer expert to the stand because rp didn’t want to open his computer exert’s testimony up to questioning on “rigor mortis” and “body decomposition”.
rp- this is just an attempt to get this material in. undue surprise. strongly objects to reopening the case.
g- did rp put in ‘rigor mortis’? no he did not. he did put in “depression”. he’s claiming undue surprise, but with 1.6 million pages we wouldn’t have come upon this material if he defendant hadn’t led us to it himself.
jh- i’m trying to digest the idea that the defendant is surprised by what is on his own computer
g- we’re just trying to show that certain materials showed up on the defendant’s computer screen on jan 8 2003. no one saw the victim after jan 7.
jh- rp is claiming that he only received the info this morning. you said you sent it on wednesday.
g- i gave the defendant pages which indicate what shows up when you google search for “rigor mortis” and “body decomposition”. we can show one of those pages was accessed. he just got *that* material this morning. if it is undue surprise, there is a remedy for that short of exclusion.
jh- since this is discovery, we should go forward with what you want to introduce.
g- remember that we worked hard to convince rp to get a computer expert in the first place. not to mention that they’re his computers to begin with.

9:55 VOIR DIRE WITH RYAN JOHNSON, durham police dept, computer forensics

johnson examined data from petrick’s computer on wednesday
g- did you receieve search terms that the defendant was requesting for his expert?
johnson- yes. we started out with keywords that the defendant submitted to his expert. 3000 hits. i made a copy of the data produced from this search. these are:
state’s exhibit 142 - history of browser activity which had been deleted by the user, but recovered by me. 8 page document. one item on page 4 indicates an address the browser visited. a google search for “body decomposition”. jan 8
state’s exhibit 141 - this is the actual google results page -- what would have been returned for an actual search for “body decomposition”.
exhibit 142- item 33 is a google search results page for “rigor mortis”. jan 8
g- the relationship between these two exhibits and the defendant’s computer is...?
johnson- SBI item 13 (the computer) contained these cached files and internet archive files
exhibit 142 indicates the file was visited but johnson couldn’t find it in the history file
johnson- one file is a list of pages visited, the other is what those pages would have looked like (taken from internetarchive.com - a ‘storage facility’ for past versions of websites. he mentions “bloodfest666.com” again -- it no longer exists, but you can find what it looked like by going through internetarchive.com)
g- how many search terms were requested by the defendant?
johnson- 6, i think. less than 10.
g- was one of those terms “rigor mortis”?
johnson- yes. it appeared in the results as “pathguy.com” (i think that’s right -- it’s the site for a pathologist)

rp- how did you determine the dates?
johnson- using macintosh absolute times. amount of time elapsed from jan something 2001.
rp- do you have any supporting documentation to support the translation from absolute time to the date.
johnson- i can get my computer out and show the court if you want
rp- you did a search on the strings we gave our expert. but you also did searches yourself. was one of those for “rigor mortis”?
johnson- no. we searched the safari history for “google search”. we searched those results for “body composition” and “rigor mortis”.
rp- so you decided to search for “google search” on your own?
johnson- that’s how i do my job

jh- anything else?
g- we might have one other witness. also a rebuttal witness. we should probably go ahead and have a voire dire on her.
on this issue, it’s discretionary standard to allow rebuttal witnesses. the most compelling piece of evidence here is how johnson testified to how he found this new material. given the volume and circumstances, we ask that we be allowed to reopen the case to present this evidence.
rp- johnson admits he did searches on terms we gave our computer experts, he also says he did his own follow-up investigation as a way to get in more information about things they didn’t think of before.
we limited our search terms in order to not have this be drawn out. we complied. but the state is jumping in at the last minute and doing last-minute searches. this new information wasn’t found as a result of information we supplied to our expert; this was new research they did on their own. i was first made aware of this evidence today -- i have to have 24 hours notice for visitors at state prison, so i haven’t even conferred with my expert on this. undue surprise. don’t reopen the case.
g- a hearing in september included an offer about the examination of computer files, as well as an offer to continue the trial. rp rejected that offer, saying he wanted to go forward.
rp- those disk images were offered in october, but not the computer, nor an expert. we were being offered material with no way to review them.

jh- information is relevant, not unduly prejudicial, and defendant has had adequate notice. the court will allow you, rp, if you so request, a reasonable delay before this evidence is presented. but this evidence may be presented in front of a jury.

rp asks for a quick recess so as to consult with the computer expert. he, edwards and a sherrif’s deputy go out to the hallway to talk to the expert.

rp- by the end of the day tomorrow my expert thinks he could present the information.
jh- i was thinking more of a short period of time to counter the charge of undue surprise.
rp- i want him to verify mr. johnson’s findings. whether it was access in the way he alleges, at the time it was accessed, by who it was accessed, whether in fact those searches were done. i can’t argue anything to the jury without that information.
g- it sounds like what he’s asking for are cross-examination issues. he’s looking for evidence that our witness perjured himself.
jh- we’ll continue this issue until 9:30 tomorrow morning.

g- maybe we should release the jury for the day. we should talk more about another witness that the defenant may object to.

jury enters, only to be dismissed for the day. to return at 9:30 tuesday morning. the only thing they heard today was rp saying “defense rests”.

g- my one additional witness is mary grigolia, the minister at the eno river unitarian universalist fellowship on garrett road. if she’s allowed to testify, she’ll say that on feb 20, 2003 she visited rp in jail. from one side of the glass, defendant asked about press coverage. grigolia described the search of the lake near the home, and rp allegedly said “they’ll never find her there.” there was someone else there --mr. tucker-- who wouldn’t be subject to any sort of privledge.

grigolia- i escorted a member of the congretation to the jail to visit rob, david tucker. we entered, and exchanged pleasantries and had a conversation.
g- describe the room
grigolia- we were on opposite sides of a glass partition.
g- tell us about that conversaton
grigolia- rob was interested in how the press was handling the story. he asked “so what is the press saying about my case?” david answered that in that morning’s paper the police announced they had plans to dredge the lake near where rob & janine had been living. rob then turned to the wall and said, “they’ll never find her there.” then he turned back to us.
g- you came forward with this information last week?
grigolia- yes. i contacted a criminal defense attorney, who contacted you.
exhibit 143 is a statement describing an interview grigolia had with terry mikels on november 18. it contains a written form of what she just testified to.

rp- when i was questioning david about the press coverage, was i expressing frustration that i was the only one being looked at as a supsect?
grigolia- yes
rp- could that comment could have been made in frustration over where they were searching?
grigolia- that was not my impression.
rp- was there anyone else in the visitors area?
grigolia- i don’t remember
rp- do you recall what time of day it was?
grigolia- no, i don’t, but my palm pilot might. i think it was in late afternoon.
rp- why was david with you?
grigolia- he had asked me to come to the jail with him
rp- part of the care team?
grigolia- yes. a care team comprised people who chose to visit and extend human kindness to you in a very challenging time. the care team didn’t have a lot of structure; it was there to support each other. an informal structure.
rp- a specific care team was put together and members alternated in visiting?
grigolia- the structure wasn’t formal
rp- are you aware of the care team having meetings?
grigolia- what i remember is informal conversations, one on one, as opposed to the whole care team.

g- rp asked you if his statement could have been made in frustration over the search. and you said you didn’t interpret it that way. how did you interpret it?
rp- he spoke with great disdain and arrogance.

jh- you do not believe on this occasion that you were visiting as his minister?
grigolia- rob had ceased to be an active member of our congregation, so no.
rp- how can you say that?
grigolia- i started my ministry at the end of 2001. in october of 2001, you and janine had stopped coming. she had withdrawn her membership, sending us a letter. i didn’t see you in church until december 2002, when janine came to perform in a sunday morning service.
rp- it’s psosible i did attend, but perhaps you didn’t see me?
grigolia- it’s possible.
rp- are you aware i also paid several hundred dollars in membership?
grigolia- no
rp- are you aware i also made pleas to the congregation about (something about the district)?
grigolia- i remember being told that. i’m generally aware of people who are actively involved in the general life of the congregation, and you were not.
rp- but it’s possible i was involved in other ways?
grigolia- i have no information about that.

grigolia steps down

jh- there may be some argument about privledge here. we’ll discuss that later.

10:55 court adjourned for the day. resumes tuesday at 9;30.

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November 18, 2005

 court reporter, part three

it seems like there's some mild interest in these reports, so i'll keep posting them as long as i'm writing them.

today's only witness was a shocker: joe graedon, host of "the people's pharmacy".

when i arrived at the courthouse this morning, the court room was locked and all the jurors were standing outside. i felt kind of awkward for a few minutes (oh, how i’d love to talk to these people!!) but i moved away from them and found a place on the floor to sit... and started typing this. ;-) i heard the jury talking about the short day that’s ahead of them. one said, “i don’t care if we’re here for just a few minutes -- i’m NOT going back to work.”


the jury finally decided to stop waiting and filed into the jury pool room (they had all been waiting to enter the courtroom and go straight to the deliberation room, where they usually meet). edwards arrived and greeted two witnesses. i assume these two are the only ones we’ll hear from today.

rp- robert petrick, the defendant. he's representing himself.
jh- judge hudson
g- mitchell garrell, the assistant DA
edwards- petrick's court-appointed attorney. he is not trying the case; he's just available to petrick for legal counsel

9:40 - outside jury’s presences
rp- my expert is here and available for questioning as to how his progress is going
g- ryan johnson is here to sit in on this testimony, just to observe. (is he the state’s computer expert? i can’t remember.) no one has any objections.
g- received a call from a defense attorney who was called by a priest who visited the defendant while he was incarcerated on fraud charges. the priest would be prepared to testify as to some statements made by the defendant. at a later time we might re-open our case to allow for her testimony.
g- i also want rp’s computer expert to take the stand in order to get an idea as to the volume and scope of things he’s looking for. it won’t be confrontational.

the computer expert is called, but NOT sworn in. he’s standing between the prosecution and defense table, looking at the judge, while jh asks questions about his progress.

his name is russell gilmore, works for risk management associates, computer forensics.
says he obtained files from SBI - 20 items: 17 hard drives, 2 something else’s and an ipod. 500 gigabytes of storage. it takes a while to go through all of that. it’s impossible to search through generic terms in the time allowed. yesterday that generic search was narrowed down to 5 hard drives and specific list of terms.
g- what’s the time frame you think you can find what you’re looking for?
gilmore- if anything is there i should be able to locate it within a week. but just because someone says something there, doesn’t mean it is. i can have whatever i locate, to you by the 28th.
edwards- in this search he may exceed the allotted hours and money
jh- that’s ok

rp asks to consult in the hallway with the computer expert. (presumably it’s the first time rp has talked to him.) jh allows. he’s exits and they’re both back in one minute.
g- asks jh for a copy of whatever report gilmore generates. also, we’d like to know which of the 5 computers gilmore is looking at. but we don’t feel like we need the search terms. we’re entitled to that information, and if we get it, there won’t be a further delay from our side on the 28th.
rp- the prosecution never provided US with a list of the computers THEY were searching. also, gilmore has a prioritized list of computers to search -- he might be able to search beyond the top five prioritized machines.
g- then give us the list of prioritization
jh- new rules of discovery allows total and full access on both sides. i order the defendant to provide the list of the initial five hard drives, the priority within the five, and the priority after the five, and the list of search terms.
rp- i object to being forced to give the state advance notice. they’ve had three years; we’ve had 72 hours.
jh- but these are YOUR computers. they need three years to find things. YOU should already know where to find things.
rp- if the experts were looking at that *machines*, that would be one thing. i have to assume that the disk images correlate to the correct machines.
jh- re-iterates the lecture from yesterday on “the difference between favorable and exculpatory evidence”. you haven’t made any showing AT ALL that there is exculpatory evidence on those hard drives. this is actually a fairly long lecture. poor gilmore is still standing between the tables; he hasn’t said anything for 10 minutes.
rp- i believe there is material on the drives that is both exculpatory and favorable. there are communications by my wife (or TRACED to my wife) that will counter the state’s case. i believe there are documents there written by my wife. but because i didn’t write them myself, i can’t be absoultely certain that i can find them.
jh- ok, you have a week. can mr. gilmore go now?

edwards says he has a conflict (a sentencing hearing in another court case) on the 28th at 9:30. will seek a continuance, and hopes his assistant can handle it.
jh- stay in touch and let me know what happens. i’ll have the jury here at 9:30 that morning, but if we get word that you’ll be late i’ll just let them go until you get here.

10:14 - jury enters
joe graedon -- host of people’s pharmacy, pharmacologist, and author
rp- do you do a lot of your work on computers?
graedon- yes
rp- how do you know me?
graedon- i needed computer help. there was an ad for macintosh support in the back of the independent. you responded.
rp- when was the last time i did work for you?
graedon- three dates in my palm pilot: dec 18 2002, dec 24, jan 11 2003. one of those dates was cancelled, but i can’t remember which.
rp- anything unusual about my demeanor?
g- objection
JURY EXITS. (they’d been in the courtroom for 5 minutes.)
jh- what direction are you going with this witness?
rp- i believe the witness will testify that i received a phone call that upset me and heard me make statements, which would go to my state of mind. this would contrast with statements the state has contended.
g- the witness can’t recall which date this happened, that calls the relevance into question.

voir dire:
rp- the event we’re speaking of was the last time i came to your house, correct?
graedon- yes. but i don’t recall which date
rp- it may have been january 11, 2003?
graedon- yes
rp- did i get a phone call?
graedon- yes. when you hung up you were quite distraught. you were crying.
you said you’d spoken with your wife and you were upset about her condition. you indicated that she was depressed psychologically and that her physical health wasn’t great
rp- did i ask you for medical advice?
graedon- i don’t recall
rp- i seemed genuinely distraught?
graedon- yes

g- you dn’t know WHO called the defendant, do you?
graedon- no. all i know is that his phone rang.
g- it’s possible there was NO ONE on the phone?
graedon- he was talking, and it seemed like there was someone on the phone.
g- you’re aware that it’s possible to make a cell phone ring?
graedon- i can’t remember the details of that event, but i do know that the phone rang and he answered it.
g- he was in your house on two occasions?
graedon- yes
g- aware of defendant’s prior felony convictions?
graedon- no
g- this conversation could have happened on 12/18, 12/24 or 1/11, right?
graedon- don’t think it was 12/18. probably 12/24 or 1/11. his wife DID call my house on one occasion when he was not there, to talk to him. that was the date he cancelled. he wasn’t there. she spoke with my wife.

rp- i came the house a total of 2 times, right?
graedon- yes.
rp- in your profession, you deal with answering medical questions, right?
g- objection. relevance.
jh- overruled
rp- you’re used to hearing and recognizing the voices of people in distress?
g- leading question. compound question.
jh- overruled
graedon- yes, occasionally
rp- can you tell when distress is geniune?
graedon- i’m not trained as a clinician. it’s not my professional responsibility to assess a degree of distress. i deal with pharmaceutical questions.
rp- was it your impression that my tearful state was genuine at the time?
graedon- yes

g- but you weren’t able to perceive the defendant’s prior felony convictions?
graedon- i could only perceive what i saw.
g- if you had been aware of his past, would that have affected your perception of his potentially-false reaction?
graedon- it might.
rp- objection
jh- why are you two objecting??? there’s no jury in here. i want to hear what he’s got to say.

jh asks for arguments about allowing the testimony in.
g- the fact graedon can’t testify that it was, in fact, petrick’s wife on the phone, that makes this testimony irrelevant and hearsay. what rp is really trying to do is testify through this witness.
g is looking up statues in a big red book. jh says “i don’t think that’s going to help you, but go ahead.”
jh- this is POTENTIALLY exculpatory evidence that the jury won’t get if rp doesn’t testify.
g- goes into levels of hearsay. he SAYS he got a phonecall. he SAYS it was from his wife. he SAYS he was upset.
jh- this testimony might be unduly prejudicial to the state.
rp- i never said i wasn’t testifying. that decision hasn’t been made.
jh- if you do testify, you can then call this witness.
rp- previous state’s witnesses have testified that my wife wasn’t depressed. this witness goes to impeach state’s testimony.
jh- i have no problem with PART of what this witness is saying.
g- you should also have a problem with the issue that no one knows whether his wife called AT ALL. the only person we could cross-examine about this is **RP.** i can’t cross-examine this witness because he doesn’t know.
rp is near disbelief, i think, that this isn’t going his way.
jh launches into a list of problems that come up when a defendant doesn’t testify. it sounds like if RP can guarantee he’ll testify, he’ll allow graedon’s testimony in. but because rp *says* it was his wife that called, and the only way that can be proven is by rp going on the stand, everything graedon is saying is hearsay.
rp- would the testimony be acceptable if the part about the phonecall from my wife was left out of the questioning?
jh- perhaps. i can see how that might work. i don’t know how you’d ask those questions.
rp- i have a great deal of problems with the fact that g used information about past convictions in one of his questions.
jh- let’s try this:

rp to graedon-
at some point during my visit, did i become distraught?
graedon- yes. you were tearful.
rp- did that lead to a conversation?
graedon- yes
rp- describe that conversation
graedon- you described your wife’s situation, after a phone call, as psychologically depressed, with physical ailments. you apologized for getting emotional.

g, to jh-
rp’s done a little bit better, but is still getting information in about the fact his wife called.
jh- no he didn’t. he said “after a call”
g- but the question about the geniuneness of his reaction opens the door to his truthfullness and his prior past convictions.
jh- that’s what you argue to the jury.

rp- my last visit may have been jan 11?
g- objection. move to strike
jh- overruled
rp - i became distraught during my last visit?
graedon- yes. you had tears in your eyes. it was unusual. it was suppsoed to be a professional computer consultation.
rp- did i tell you why i was upset?
g- objection
jh- overruled
graedon- you had received a phone call
g- objection. outside the witnesses’ knowledge
jh- overruled
graedon- you said you recieved a phone call from your wife
g- objection. motion to strike.
jh- sustained. jury, disregard the information about who the phone call was from

g- the defendant’s phone rang, but you don’t know who was on the other end, correct?
graedon- no, i don’t
g- you have no idea what might have been said, either?
graedon- correct
g- how much experience have you had w/ the defendant? also, the phone call could have come on the 24th of dec?
graedon- it could have been 12/24 of 1/11.
g- how much time had you spent in total in the presence of the defendant?
graedon- several hours
g- had you ever seen him cry before? or be quite distraught?
graedon- no
g- would you agree that your basis for judging the geniuneness --or lack thereof-- of his tears or emotion was limited?
graedon- that is correct

rp- my behavior in other times was extremely professional?
graedon- yes
rp- when the phone call came, what was i doing?
graedon- working on the computer
rp- i didn’t have the phone in my hand?
graedon- no

g- you don’t know that a call came. you only know that the phone rang, correct?
graedon- correct

witness steps down.
rp has no further witnesses today

jury is discharged for the day. come back monday the 28th at 9:30. “we’re making extreme progress”; says the trial should wrap up that week.

court in recess until 11:15

personal note: i am impressed with garrell’s ability to insinuate that rp manufactured that whole situation with graedon. i’m led to believe that rp knew graedon’s standing in the community when he went to work on his computer, planned to receive a call “from his wife”, and planned on being distraught in front of graedon. what rp didn’t count on was that he’d have to put himself on the stand in order to “prove” that it was his wife that called.

of course, the jury didn’t hear the bulk of that argument, because of what was disallowed during voir dire. i hope, through g’s cross examination, that they sensed that rp’s “lack of geniuneness” may have resulted in a manufactured phone call.

11:17 - just two of us left in the gallery.
jh- let’s make some progress in a charge conference. if you know what you want to request, let me know. is this worth talking about?
g- requests “206.11: muder with no deadly weapon”, with modifications. first degree murder. with malice.
(this is all legalese, above my head)
g- we want the circumstational evidence instruction given.
g continues through a list of things that sound like “120.10” and “104.10”, and briefly describes these items, but i’m unable to keep up. sorry. :-)
g- jury should be instructed on various pieces of evidence of similar acts or crimes. example: testimony of hugh carroll, and evidence of prior assaults on the victim. is that similar acts or crimes? or does it fall under different evidence codes?

this is making very little sense to me. plus, i have to leave to get to work. it sounds like they’re trying to figure out exactly how to charge the jury with instructions for their deliberations.

Posted by xta at 1:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

 court reporter, part two

i took notes again today.

i also took some photos of the examination of the defendant's car.

again, "rp" = robert petrick, the defendant, acting as his own lawyer
"jh" = judge orlando hudson
"g" = mitchell garrell, assistant district attorney

9:35, outside jury’s presence
edwards, with a laptop, conferring with rp for a long time
garrell talking with reporters. i hear some mention of “the car”, garrell rolls his eyes and says, “we’re going to discuss that.”

g- three things:
* wants to recall dilday outside the presence of the jury
* will produce wunderground.com data about 2003 precipitation
* wants to call final witness

9:40 dilday called to the stand - SBI crime laboratory, digital evidence
state’s exhibit 138 is a report dilday prepared which documents latest transfer of information from SBI to defendant
g- who requested this transfer?
dilday- judge’s order
g- when did it occur?
dilday- tuesday morning; it was information from the drives
g- did denendant ask for certain information?
dilday- yes; personal information. address book. i gave it to him.

rp- says he doesn’t have address book. names & email addresses. asked about image drives of all computers.
dilday says it’s possible he missed some of the information on the drives
dilday explains the “forensic image files” he created from the 17 hard drives he received

rp- edwards spoke with computer expert; with so much data to go through it’s taking some time. rp gave edwards (to give to expert) parameters to limit search to. info they need won’t be ready by tomorrow.
g- i heard it would be *two weeks* until he was ready. i’m looking for some guidepost on the schedule.
rp- i don’t have any desire to delay this trial any more than the prosecutor does. i’m certain i can come up with something that will cut that time down to less than two weeks.
jh- you’re searching for the *possibility* of exculpatory evidence. i won’t postpone the trial two weeks for just a possibility. you need to explain to the court how this photo you’re looking for --of a garment-- is exculpatory. *favorable* evidence is one thing, but exculpatory? they’re not the same thing.
rp- i contend that there’s info on the computer that will show that my search for “falls lake” will put the search in a new light. the state’s case is based on the fact that i planned this; i should be allowed the opporunity to prove that that wasn’t the case.
jh- i worry that you’ll take two weeks to find *favorable* evidence, and will fail to find exculpatory evidence. the experts will hopefully work over thanksgiving break, and when we return we’ll have more information.
g- state’s concern is that we put on our evidence and then the jury will have a weeklong break, then they’ll hear the defense and go right to deliberation. stated for the record.
jh- jurors take their jobs *extremely* seriously. even without a vacation, the juror’s might forget information, but chances are they will remember the evidence. i’m not too concerned about it.

rp- maybe our expert, in conjunction with dilday, can have the computers booted up in front of him. this would speed up the process of data retrieval. (now i understand rp’s questioning of dilday; getting to the fact that searching “disk images” is more difficult than searching an actual computer.)
jh- we don’t intend to do that.
g- suggests there be some sort of collaboration between SBI and rp’s expert. it’s my understanding, though, that dilday provided what rp asked for. if he asks for something else, we can discuss that.

10:05 - still outside the jury’s presence
g calls hugh carroll, dialysis nurse @ baptist hospital in W-S for 4 years; before that he was a psychiatric nurse at charter greensboro hospital.
carroll- met rp in 1997 through allison dunmore. had many social occasions with rp; once a week, maybe.
in march 1998 at charter hospital a patient death occurred.
g- were you aware of other deaths at other psych facilities?
carroll- yes.
g- what’s a basket hold?
carroll- a way of retraining agitated patients.
g- did you discuss basked holds with rp?
carroll- it came up because the patient death occurred because of the menthod of retraint. i demonstrated it for rp.
carroll demonstrates basket hold. patient crosses arms in front of him, nurse reaches from behind, steps to the side and uses leverage to push patient to the floor.
carroll- after the person is on the ground, i’d be on the ground with them, holding both arms. there is some affect on the lungs; the nurse on top even affects lung capacity even more.
g- is the baket hold an approved technique?
carroll- yes, at the time. charter hospital doesn’t use it anymore. one of the suggested causes of death for the patient who died could have been the basket hold.
g- did you demonstrate the basket hold for rp?
carroll- yes; he was aware that it was a potentially fatal hold, too. he saw the autopsy report at my house. additionally we discussed the other patient death which was attributed to the basket hold.

rp- it may still be an approved hold at some facilities?
carroll- probably.
rp- it’s not *likely* to cause death?
carroll- i was taught it was safe, but there were several deaths.
rp- if you were seeking to kill someone, this is not the hold you’d want
carroll- i’ve never sought to kill anyone. i can’t say.
rp- we were close? you trusted me to watch your children?
carroll- at one time, yes
rp- no knowledge of violent acts on my part?
carroll- no.
rp- these deathes were an overwleming part of your life?
carroll- yes. i chose not to work, due to the emotional situation.
rp- criminal charges against you?
carroll- no. an investigation, but no charges.
rp- because it was such an important and overwhelming part of your life you initiated conversations about this as much as i did?
carroll- yes. but we talked about lots of things.

g- this witness saw testimony from hennessy that seems identical to what he describes re: basket hold. (hennessy described janine saying the “air had been crushed out of her”) in conjunction with “22 ways”, this testimony could help the jury understand that this was a premeditated crime. we’re not alleging this witness knew janine, or that rp knew janine at the time he knew the witness. if “22 ways” was admitted, this should be too.
jh- not sure this can be admitted under 404b
rp- reading rule 404b out loud.
jh corrects rp on his interpretation
rp- carroll has indicated that the hold is *unlikely* to cause death. hearsay. not probative. prejudicial.
g- worried that rp will testify through his closing statement, if he doesn’t take the stand. medical examiner stated cause of death is asphyxiation. this is testimony that proves he obtained knowledge of a hold that could cause asphyxiation 5 years prior to this crime.
jh- testimony is relevant, probative. he’s letting it in.

10:30 - 10 minute break

10:47 - jury enters

g- calls hugh carroll
testimony is the same as the voir dire, including another demonstration of the basket hold.
carroll more clearly states the intent of the basket hold: keeps agitated patient still for a period of time until sedation can be given. there is pressure on the ribcage in the crossing of the arms. if the nurse were on top of the patient, additional pressure would be on the lungs.
carroll demonstrated the basket hold for rp in carroll’s home.
g- what caused you to contact the DA’s office?
carroll- saw a witness describe petrick tackling his wife and holding her in such a mamer that she couldn’t breathe. it sounded like the basket hold technique. what she described sounded exactly like what we discussed in my home
rp asks questions, similar to voir dire, about frequency of visits, breadth of social relationship, variety of discussions.
rp asks questions, similar to voir dire, about the criminal investigation, and how carroll needed to talk and in fact initiated conversations about the basket hold.
rp- are you sure you demonstrated the hold?
carroll- it was demonstrated
rp- this hold is used to restrain someone, but not to kill someone
carroll- i never used it for anything other than restraint
rp- until you heard the previous testimony in this case, you had no reason to believe that you had anything relevant to contribute to this case?
carroll- no

g introduces exhibit 139 - wunderground.com data from january 2003 on temperature and precipitation.
exhibit 140 - same data from may 2003

11:04 the state rests

jury is escorted out

rp asks for dismissal, citing lack of proof on the state’s part
no fingerprint evidence, no “solid” forensic evidence -- just contested evidence of cadaver dog. no eyewitnesses. no evidence of how “my wife’s body was transported”. all they have provided is circumstantial evidence. all they’ve proved is that i had financial misdoings and that i committed adultery, but not that i committed murder. or that anyone committed murder.
g- i urge you to deny the defendant’s motion
jh- motion denied


11:12 jury re-enters and petrick calls his first witness

christopher currie, research assistant for ??
he’s a neighbor, right next door to RP & janine.
janine moved in prior to rp moving in.

rp- are the walls thin enough to hear noise from one unit to another?
currie- yes. sometimes i heard cello & harp. sometimes the stereo
rp- would you have been able to hear loud shouting.
currie- yes, and i never heard anything like that
rp- how often did you see janine?
currie- often, when i came home from work, she would be working in the garden and things like that
rp- any witness any hostile actions toward janine?
currie- no
rp- are you home fairly often in evenings?
currie- yes
rp- describe the area around our house
currie- trees, concrete walkway, parking lot with assigned spaces
rp- an open area where people could easily see?
currie- yes, plus street lights
rp- if i were stuffing the body of my wife in the car, it would be easily observed?
currie- if it were during the day
rp- but you never observed anything like that?
currie- no
RP tries to introduce evidence -- a sheet of paper-- but garrell objects and jh wants to read the whole thing first. after reading it he asks the jury to leave.

there are more people in the courtroom right now than i’ve seen all week. they’re too noisy for me to fully hear garrell’s objection to this sheet of paper.

rp- i intended to show this item to the witness to refresh his memory.
jh- you’re aware that this contains statements made by this witness to a herald sun reporter, and that it includes information about your previous convictions?
rp- i withdraw the evidence
jh- (smiling) i thought garrell is more concerned by the “good character” evidence in this document...

11:19 jury re-enters

rp- do you remember what you told a reporter back in 2003?
what was the last time you saw my wife?
currie- i told them i wasn’t sure. we saw each other so often it kind of blurs
rp- asks about a specific interview --perhaps the one contained on the sheet of paper-- but currie can’t recall that specific interview. he says he was interviewed so many times, he can’t recall.
rp asks for a moment with counsel.
rp then, apparently based on coaching from edwards, hands currie that same sheet of paper as a means to refresh his memory.
rp- do you remember this interview now?
currie- not entirely, no

g has no questions

[the testimony that occurred between 11:24 - 11:47 has been removed from this post.]

defense calls drew king (who apparently already testified on behalf of the state)
hands mr. king defense exhibit 28, a draft copy of his examination of rp’s house
rp- the last paragraph on the first page: you were there when the cadaver dog was present, in the bedroom?
king- yes
rp- two cats ran out from he bed?
king- yes
rp- if subsequent testimony indicated the cats didn’t run out, you would dispute that?
king- yes
rp consults with edwards and asks for a sidebar

11:52 jury leaves, so we can discuss the schedule for the day

rp- the car and his next witness aren’t available until 1pm
jh asks for details about the upcoming car viewing.
rp wants jury to view the car, specifically the trunk area
g doesn’t have any objection
jh no one is allowed to communicate with the jury at the viewing
g has concerns about the defendant being in custody during the viewing.

jury dismissed until 2:30. court personel needs to return at 1:30.

at 1:30 we assembled in the courtroom, then went down to where the car had been brought; a side lot of the courthouse. kate & i, along with the 3 boys, all got in an elevator with judge hudson and garrell. outside, rp joined us, as did officer king. the press was there, too, and began shooting tons of footage of rp near the car. (i counted at least 3 video cameras and an equal number of still cameras.) the court reporter arrived and figured out how she’d sit and record the events. all of this took about 15 minutes, at which time jh said we’d reconvene at that location at 2:30 with the jury.

FOJ’s remained outside until then, chatting.

at 2:30 the court personnel arrived and were followed shortly by the jury. jh gave some brief instructions, after which the jury began to file around the tow truck to the far side of the miata. while each jury member looked at the car, only one or two poked their heads into the trunk. everyone looked into the interior of the car. their examination lasted all of about 5-7 minutes.

kate commented to me on the elevator back up that she hoped the jury wasn’t confused about the difference between the two cars. they have seen evidence of janine’s car previously (the videotape of it being found in the parking garage) hoped that garrell can make it clear that this is not that same car.

2:50 back in the courtroom, outside the jury’s presence

rp moves the car into evidence.

rp then re-calls officer king to the stand.
then he says, “whoops. i guess we need to call the jury in first.”

jury enters

rp- was that same vehicle you found at my residence?
king- yes.
rp- is it in the same condition as you found it?
king- no. it’s more dirty now. plus, we used luminol in the trunk. that’s what the purple stains are.
rp- what contents did you observe in the trunk?
king- a computer cable, spare tire, jack and other undeterminable things.
rp- a bag?
king- whole foods market bag

garrell has no cross-examination

rp calls officer jenavis minor, 11 years on the department
came to residence to watch to make sure petrick didn’t leave the house.
(i assume this was in may 2003, after the discovery of janine’s body)
rp- did i look distressed that day?
minor- not until we detained you.
rp- i didn’t look suicidal when you first saw me?
minor- no.

g- how long after you arrived did the media arrive?
minor- 30 minutes

the witness is excused.
petrick doesn’t have any further witnesses for the day.

3pm- judge excuses jury

outside the jury’s presence:

rp says his computer expert confirms that he can be finished by monday the 28th.
jh- so what are we doing tomorrow?
rp confers with edwards
rp- our only testimony tomorrow will take 10 minutes, maybe a half hour. we request adjournment until monday the 28th.
g- if the information he’s looking for is exculpatory, it seems like he could find it sooner than the 28th. can we review the search terms he’s given his expert? what are they looking for?
jh- presumed they wouldn’t close tomorrow; i assumed we’d be back the week of the 28th anyway. rp, who do we need to contact to make sure that testimony can be given on monday the 28th?
rp- i don’t even know the computer expert’s name
edwards- russell gilmore
jh, to edwards- contact him and make sure he can give that testimony on the 28th
edwards says ok
jh- if we’re going to be done early tomorrow, perhaps we can spend some additional time discussing jury instructions and such.

court resumes at 9:30 friday morning.

Posted by xta at 4:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

 court reporter

each day of this trial, someone from the "friends of janine" group has been taking detailed notes and publishing them to the list. for those who knew janine, newspaper accounts clearly don't go into enough detail (and sometimes get the facts wrong). having a blow-by-blow summary of what was said in court is helpful not only to supplement published news articles, but also for janine's friends who live outside the area and can't be here in person.

today it was my turn to take notes. if you're interested in my account read on, but be warned that it's long...

Garrell, or "g" is the assistant district attorney, mitchell garrell. the prosecutor
RP is robert petrick, the defendant. representing himself.
jh is "judge hudson"


9:35 - without jury

Garrell - re: petrick’s car. we're planning on bringing car this morning, as rp requested. it'll be coming via wrecker, because it has flat tires.
RP - yes, go ahead

Garrell - warren sparrow is a criminal defense attorney in greensboro; they spoke on 11/14; sparrow says a former client of his --a nurse-- was a friend of RP’s 4 years ago. this nurse worked at a mental hospital. patients died when they were restrained. RP had visited patients with ms. dunmore on several occasions. (speculation that RP was perhaps involved in those retraints??) hennessy’s testimony about janine being choked sparked an interest in this nurse, because the testimony was so similar to the nurse’s past experiences wirh RP.
garrell is suggesting that the state be allowed to rest today, but re-open tomorrow for the presentation of this additional witness.
RP- argues against allowing this witness to testify. nurses used bedsheets to restrain patients.
JH- he sounds confused by this new info. (so are we.) he doens’t seem interested in re-opening the prosecution case after they’d rested. it’s discretionary, but not sure about how appelate courts treat it.

9:55am- JURY IN

dr. karen bremer, dentist for 20+ years, treated janine since feb 2002
Garrell: introduing dental records into evidence
bremer gave janine’s dental records to the Durham PD in may 2003

dr. thomas clark
immediate sidebar
the jury leaves

RP-objects to autopsy photos on the grounds of relevance
G-voire dire
clark-has worked for medical examiner’s office since 1987. has autopsy photos.
G says there are only two which he plans on discussing:
135-face & chest of janine
136-cropped version of the same
clark- i took 19 photos total, but don’t need to refer to any of them unless asked.
G- stipulates limiting photos to just #136; no need to introduce other photos
photo necessary to identify victim. it’s routine for the ME to refer to photos to explain the state of the body. jury has the right to see what the ME is talking about.
RP- ME indicated he doesn’t need to refer to photos. may i question the witnes?
RP- how did you idenify janine?
clark- dental records
RP= was she so decompsed that that she was unidentifiable?
clark- not unidentifiable, but it required dental records for confirmation
rp- photos don’t indicate how she died? nor do they indicate who committed the crime?
clark- other photos include chains, tarp, etc, which could possibly indicate who committed the crime, but image 136 doesn’t include those items.
rp to jh- not probative. inflammatory. probative probative probative. blah blah blah.
g- RP through his questioning indicated potential use for ALL photos in his cross-examination. perhaps we should introduce ALL of them, now that he’s opened that door.
garell launches into a long speech on how certain he is that this crime was premeditated. i wanted to cheer.
jh- as you are aware, the defendant has denied guilt.
court finds photo #136 is relevant, it is gruesome but won’t be used to inflame the passions of the jury.

10:15 - jury re-enters

clark give his credientials, which are impressive and he addresses the jury directly. he’s performed 3500 autopsies in his career.

exhibit 137 is the ME’s report. clark details procedure for bodies arriving at ME’s office.
janine was “presumptively identified” upon arrival, but confirmed only through dental records.
describes external examination.
janine arrived wrapped in body bag & sheet, which had been added by police
upon removal, there were more layers:
green tarp, duct tape
chain around legs
sleeping bag
another tarp (silver) with more duct tape

janine was dressed in a knit shirt, jeans, tennis shoes & hiking socks.
when those were removed, clark was able to fully determine decomposition.
dark discoloration on back & chest & thighs -- color seeped from dark sleeping bag?
skin missing in areas of eyes & nose, POSSIBLY indicating pre-mortem injury.

g moves for photo #136 published to jury.
RP objects
JH immediately overrules

as the autopsy photo is being passed from juror to juror. no one wants to look at it very long. the women in the front row of the jury look disgusted as they quicky pass the photo along. it’s like a hot potato. some jurors are very affected by the image.

describes internal examination and toxicology report.

G- your opinion on the cause of death?
clark- she was not shot, not stabbed, not a severe beating, but decomposition hindered my abillity to declare it anything but a homocide. it’s likely she was asphyxiated. couldn’t be sure she was strangled, because of degree of composition.

RP- how many murder cases have you testifed at?
clark- lots
RP- always a witness for the state?
clark- no
rp- a clause on the report says “no anotomic indications to indicate asphyxiation”
clark- it was a determination through elimiation
RP- so it’s possible she died of something else, like a drug overdose?
clark- “victims of drug overdose don’t wrap themselves in tarps and throw themselves into a lake.”
RP- no marks on her neck to indicate strangulation?
clark- no marks i could interpret due to the level of decomposition
rp- asks about some specific bone that can break during strangulation
clark - that bone was intact, but it’s not the best indicator for strangulation. there’s also the possibility of a pillow over the nose & mouth.
rp- so the cause of death is a guess?
clark - firmly: “it’s not a guess. it’s much more than a guess.” he’s certain it’s a homicide, confirmed by years of experience and training.
rp- have you dealt with people shocked by tasers or stun guns?
clark- no, death is rare by that manner
rp- would marks remain on a body that was shoecked with a taser for 15 minutes?
(clark is very firm, clear-spoken and stern throughout.)
clark- marks would remain, but this body was too decomposed to be able to tell.

10:40 - sidebar, which results in jury being evicted, once again.

RP- more questions on the stun gun, and what kind of marks would remain after 15 minutes of being stunned
garrell objects
jh looks really confused. rp keeps talking. i guess he thinks that because there’s a doctor on the stand he can somehow get somewhere with the stun gun stuff.
clark- i’m unable to describe marks resulting from stun gun exposure. there are too many variables. there aren’t any deaths reported from stun guns, so i can’t possibly comment on this.
rp- how about minimal effect of stun gun exposure?
clark - likely painful, and preclude movement

10:45 jury re-enters.

RP, still cross-examining- what would happen if someone were exposed to 6000 volts for 15 minutes by a stun gun?
clark- pain, but it’s highly unlikely that death would occur

garrell- given the way the body was wrapped & disposed, describe the movement of the body
clark- gas prouction causes body to float when water warms up.
the rate of decomosition depends almost entirely on temperature.
at room temperature a body can begin discoloration in 24 hours

rp- at room temperature how long before a body starts exuding trace evidence.
clark- fluids, skin slippage, etc can occur after 24 hours at room temperature.
(peg whispers to me that this is RP going back to the cadaver dog evidence)
garrell- recounts the layers... tarps, chain, sleeping bag, tarp:
if a body were wrapped in this many layers and secure with tape, and stored at a temperature in the 50-58 degree range, and if a person approaching this body as it floated on the water said they noted no smell, would you be able to give an opinion as to whether that body being stored for 10 days would have left --as RP described it-- “trace elements” on the scene where it was wrapped?
clark- after a few days the body was probably moist and probably would have left evidence. however, if it were immediately wrapped in the way i found it, there’s not much chance anything would have leaked out. the body was well-wrapped.
garrell- the scent of death that might be detected by a dog, is that dependent on the presence of OBSERVABLE human remains?
clark - i’m not qualified to answer. no experience with cadaver dogs.
rp - no further questions

on a personal note, that witness KICKED ASS.

10:55 - jh asks jury to be removed
asks garrell’s status

g wants to call at least one more witness: his assistant. she would testify to what she heard when they were setting up the screen for the slides yesterday. she can testify that as RP was scooting his chair around to see the screen she heard him say “did they bring the popcorn?”


jh isn’t sure he wants to allow that testimony.

additionally, RP’s car will be available for viewing at 2:30

11:00 - jury is called back in and told they can have a break until 11:20

in the meantime we hear voir dire from lesley __?__, garrell’s assistant.

testifies that she heard defendant make a comment about “having popcorn” during the set-up of the slide presentation.
RP- there were reporters, etc in the jury box. is it possible that was a wry, sarcastic comment on my part about that?
i didn’t register lesley’s response.

RP argues to JH to not allow the testimony
garell - this is a first degree murder trial. everyone involved should be aware as to what they’re saying. the jury, if they’re allowed to hear it, will be able to make up their own minds as to what the comment means. it does help boost premeditation, though, which is what i’m going to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
RP- it doesn’t prove premeditation.
garrell - i’ll give him a law book that will help explain that it is premediation
rp- this testimony doesn’t prove anything. this testimony is designed to force me to take the stand in order to discount the testimony.
garell- actions by the defendant after the act can be taken into consideration.
JH- the court believes that RP made the statement. however, JH believes it’s prejudicial and won’t allow it in.


11:48 - outside jury’s presence
rp- the computer expert that was finally provided me is still going through the evidence. it will be several days until this evidence is presentable. the expert is looking for photos of a specific garment (red jacket, i presume), as well as other exculpatory evidence, including a history of searches that will reduce the imapact of some of the evidence presented by the state.
g- rp already had the opportunity, back in september and october, to ask for a continuance. he wanted no further delay back then, but now he’s trying to create a delay, specifically to have the jury go away for a weeklong vacation then close up his case.
also, he intially didn’t even want a computer expert. we had to convince him to get one, and provided him a list. g questions what the expert is really looking for, and how relevant this search really is. if petrick is trying to prove that he searched for “lakes” 100,000 times, g might be willing to stipulate to that, because what does that really tell the jury? he again asserts that this is just a tactic for RP to delay the trial through thanksgiving break.
rp- we’re not satisfied with the discs we were given. it’s not what i was promised.
g- he’s called me a liar one too many times in court
rp- this was last-minute discovery, and we’re trying to counter it. we should be given time to conduct reasonable research. we’re not asking for delay; we’re simply declaring that there may be difficulty in presenting this evidence as early as friday.
g, angry- if the defendant had a law license, he wouldn’t be able to call into quesiton the intergity of an officer of the court. he’s impugned the honesty of officers of the court too many times. i’m asking for relief from the court.
rp- i’m only making reference to items on the record.
jh- he’s challenging your cavalier attitude.
rp- he said he didn’t intend to call into evidence certain items, and then he turned around and did it. he did it several times.

note: i’m not sure what’s going on at this point. it seems more a personal argument than a legal argument.

jh- basically tells rp to behave and to disagree in a civil manner, showing decorum. don’t use harsh language to describe g’s action. i don’t want to sanction either one of you. you both need to be more graceful in the way some of these issues are handled. i’m putting you on notice, petrick, on some of these computer issues. the court is not inclined to continue this case to give the defendant’s experts the opportunity to look for what is --at best-- the *possiblity* of exculpatory evidence. there’s no bad faith on the part of the state. defendant hasn’t even convinced the court that there even IS exculpatory evidence on the computers.

rp- again, we’re not asking for a continuance. there just might just be a slight delay.

12:05 - discussion on whether to recess for the day, and what the timeline of this trial is going to be. ending this week? off all next week? jh is not inclined to change his mind about having the entire thanksgiving week off.

g- wants to reconvene at 9:30 tomorrow, and then will likely rest by 10:30. the car will also be brought to the courthouse tomorrow.

12:12 - jury enters

jh- part of my job is trying to juggle schedules. we’re recessing for the day. court reconvenes at 9:30 thursday.

12:15 - court ajourned

Posted by xta at 1:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 15, 2005


i am one grumpy bitch today.

my sour mood is caused by a variety of factors.

i haven't been getting enough sleep. even though i was in bed by 11pm last night i still woke up exhausted. i'm going to shoot for 10pm tonight and see if that helps.

there is still so much yard work to do. since it's too dark when i get home from work, i got up at 7:30 this morning to load some of the crap into the yard waste bin. lord knows yard work will put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

the weather is overcast and drizzly which certainly doesn't help my disposition.

and the trial is weighing on me. i spend at least 2 hours there every morning, amongst janine's friends and family, on hard wooden benches listening to damning testimony. i went into this trial with a fairly open mind: i never met robert petrick, and realized that a history of forged checks does not make one a murderer. but as each day passes and i hear more about the man, the more i'm certain that he's guilty. and the more sad and angry i become.

it has become a mental struggle to get through my shift at work.

i also feel like i'm perpetually broke.

also contributing to my pissy state was the fact that i hadn't, until just an hour ago, pooped for two whole days.

Posted by xta at 1:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 10, 2005

 the fall of the world's own optimist

i've been spending a lot of time at the courthouse these past few days. (here's link to a live webcast of the petrick trial if you're interested. it's only on when court is in session --and they're off friday for veteran's day-- and during breaks the feed is severed.) i sit amongst janine's friends and her sons; they all have no doubt that petrick is guilty. we've heard mundane testimony as well as statements that have made us gasp with surprise. it's an overwhelming experience, and it has been premanently imprinted on my brain. it's what i spend most of my waking hours thinking about.

however, lisa managed to get me to venture out to see jarhead. (mmm... buff jake gyllenhaal.) we had a glass of wine at the cheesecake factory afterwards. even though i jawed on and on about the trial, i did manage to let lisa talk for a while.

i'd never been to a cheesecake factory before. i had no idea their menu was so HUGE! i figured it was primarily a dessert restaurant, but no. we didn't eat anything, though if i were going to lose my willpower anywhere it would have been there. a waiter accidentally brought me a to-go package of pumpkin cheesecake and i about peed my pants. pumpkin cheesecake is my favorite. but i told him it wasn't my order and off he went with it.

which brings me to a diet update, for those who are interested: tomorrow marks the 4-month mark. i've lost 48 pounds.

oh, hey... i just learned that martha stewart is branding homes just down the road in cary. WTF?!? (containment area for relocated felons...?)

also, i haven't mentioned this in a while: divaville, tonight from 6-8pm. tune in. have fun.

i know you've been dying to get an update on my toilet. i got it fixed. i finally gave up and called a plumber. i don't have a favorite plumber... i have reliable stand-bys when it comes to electricians and such, but i haven't ever found a plumber that i felt i could count on. so i tried another new one this time. i liked him, but he made me wait more than 24 hours for service. so though my toilet once again flushes with gusto, the search for the perfect plumber continues.

finally, i am in love with this photo from the most recent issue of the sun magazine.

Posted by xta at 2:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 2, 2005

 inexorable bookends

a friend of mine has been selected as a juror for the robert petrick murder trial.

i'm a little stunned by of the six two degrees of separation here, but apparently when the attorneys and defendant questioned him he didn't hide anything. he told them he was heavily involved in the area's classical music scene, and though he didn't know the victim personally he knows people who knew her. when asked about his reaction to the news of janine's 2003 disappearance, he told them "i was saddened that there was one less music-maker in the world."

it's going to take every ounce of will that i possess to keep myself from asking my friend about the trial as it progresses. but because of his involvement in the trial and it's projected length, i suspect that i won't actually be seeing him very much over the next few weeks... which is some consolation, given how hard it will be for me to bite my tongue.

all along i've been planning on going to the trial as much as i can, to pay my respects for janine... i didn't know her well, but i knew her nonetheless. i'm on a mailing list of her friends; these people are making schedules to ensure that someone attends every day in janine's honor, so that the jury senses how much she was loved.

it's going to be very strange to be one of those people, transmitting those feelings to a familiar face in the jury box.

Posted by xta at 2:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack