HOUSE OF CARDS STARTING TO FALL DOWN
FRANK CARSON CASE
BY WILLIAM THOMAS JENSEN (TOM)
Today, we finally got around to the hearing to determine if the testimony of Beverly Woody is going to be thrown out. We heard arguments from the defense attorneys and Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra for the entire morning, and a good portion of the afternoon. When Judge Zuniga started ruling, it was done on a line by line basis. Her rulings referenced page numbers and line numbers, so it will be a few days before we can sort out the final results. Much of what Marlissa Fereirra had hoped would be allowed was tossed out by the judge. I heard talk that the testimony concerning Walter Wells was completely thrown out, and that was before Timothy Rien’s motion has been heard at all. The other officers seem to have testimony concerning them tossed out as well. I will now try to give you some detail on what happened today, and my observations while spending the entire day on this fiasco. The Modesto Bee reporter was here most of the day. I guess a miracle happens every day somewhere. Boy does he have a whole lot to catch up on. He hasn’t been here for a long long time.
We had a rather large crowd in attendance today, but Marty, Warren, and I were all able to get seats for the celebrity death match that was about to occur. It starts out with Marlissa and Martha fighting it out over who has the burden of proof and would give their arguments first. After the arguments, Judge Zuniga decides that Martha will give her arguments first.
Martha Carlton Magana starts out stating that the DA offered evidence based on hearsay exceptions. She stated that there were objections throughout the testimony, and that the record is full of areas that are subject to strike.
Martha states that Robert Woody confessed to the murder in a body wire recording made by Miranda Dykes, and had said that he killed Korey Kauffman alone, with the help of no one. Martha stated that Beverly Woody gave hearsay testimony with no qualifying exceptions, and no declaration against interest. Martha stated that none of the evidence makes it a declaration against penal interest. Martha stated that the testimony must be done without any mitigation.
Martha states that the DA made arguments about trustworthiness, which is not the standard in California. Martha stated that Beverly Woody had inconsistencies in her testimony compared to prior statements she had made. Martha states that Beverly Woody was proud to say that she would lie to save her son. At this time, Marlissa seems to be shaking in her seat. The nerves seem to be getting the best of her.
Judge Zuniga tells Marlissa Fereirra that she had made broad statements in her papers filed with the court on this motion. The judge tells Marlissa that she did not articulate any details in her papers to support her arguments.
Now the judge seems to bend over backwards to focus Marlissa on things that need to be clarified. She tells Marlissa to focus on declarations against interest first.
Marlissa starts out talking about 1230 of the evidence code, and how Robert Woody is charged with the same class of crimes as the defendants in this case. Jude Zuniga: “I can’t find a single case that would justify your position on this.” Marlissa says the only difference is the different docket numbers. It is at this time that I notice that Detective Dale Lingerfeldt is once again looking goofy in a bow tie. He is seated next to Marlissa while Kirk Bunch is off on vacation. It is really hard to take this guy seriously. I know he has ties to the FBI, but he is really out of some sort of cartoon. “It’s Howdy Doody Time.”
Marlissa talks about Robert Woody not testifying. She says that if she were to call him to the stand, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment Rights against self-incrimination.
Judge Zuniga tells Marlissa that her office did not address the People vs Duarte, People vs Duke, or the People vs Coble in their papers. The judge talked about how the testimony shifts responsibility, which would make it inadmissible.
After the break Judge Zuniga states: “Mam, you are missing the point. Beverly only talked about 3 people, then you start talking about 4 people that are involved at the Carson property the night Korey Kauffman was allegedly killed.” Judge Zuniga: “If it is blame shifting, then it doesn’t come in.” Zuniga: “I found your papers not very helpful.”
Judge Zuniga: “You have to put Robert Woody on the stand to take the 5th to establish he is unavailable.”
Marlissa starts to address some of the judge’s concerns, and talks about declarations against interest. She cites the People vs Gordon. She starts talking about how Beverly Woody had testified about metal pipes being stood up on the Carson property as a trap for Korey Kauffman. She talks about how Robert Woody was told a couple of times to keep his mouth shut, and how Robert Woody told Beverly Woody he had helped move the body of Korey Kauffman from Pop N Cork Liquors to the mountains. She talks about how the Athwal’s sent Robert Woody up to Washington State, and how they had paid for dental work that Robert Woody needed.
Judge Zuniga states that the prosecution has come forward with multiple theories on what happened. The judge asks Marissa why Robert Woody’s state of mind is relevant. Marlissa says that his state of mind prompts him to act a certain way.
Marlissa then goes into another area the judge wanted to hear about. Marlissa talks about the operative facts. She says that after Daljit Atwal allegedly shot Korey Kauffman, he gave the gun to Frank Carson who got into a car and drove away with the gun. She states that Frank was going to destroy the evidence. Judge Zuniga: “She is not a police officer. How do you get by with using Proposition 115 testimony for her on this?”
Defense attorney Martha Carlton Magana then takes over. Martha cites Greenberger 1997, and how it was overruled concerning the confrontation issue. Martha states that Greenberger was super ceded by Duarte. Martha states that Beverly Woody had come to court to try to minimize her son’s involvement in the killing of Korey Kauffman. She says that Robert Woody was trying to get a plea deal for his testimony. Martha stresses that Robert Woody is not part of this proceeding, so many of Marlissa Fereirra’s arguments do not apply. Martha stresses that Robert Woody has not asserted he is not available to testify. He will have to take the stand and claim the 5th to do so.
Martha states that Robert Woody never stated that he saw metal pipes set up as a trap on the Carson property.
Defense Attorney Timothy Rien states that he has addressed the co-conspirators. He states that Marlissa must establish the existence of a conspiracy. He says Walter Wells would have to be charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice for helping to hide the gun, rather than being charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Judge Zuniga calls a 15 minute break, so she can start making her ruling on the many pages of Beverly Woody testimony being challenged. At this time, Marlissa Fereirra asks the judge for more time to prepare more paperwork to present tomorrow. Judge Zuniga gets a sour look on her face, and tells her that it is too late to do so. Marlissa looks once again that she is going to puke.
At 3:16 PM, Judge Zuniga starts giving us her rulings. They are done on a page by page, and line by line basis. Those of us in the audience do not have copies of the transcripts available to us, so most of what was said by the judge was of little use to us.
It appears that the testimony concerning a trap being set with metal pipes has been thrown out because Robert Woody would have had to know why he was being called over to the Carson property, and that he would have needed to know that he was going to be involved in a homicide and would be incriminating himself. The judge said that his statements to his mother minimized his involvement, and that he said he had been threatened by an officer to go back onto the property and help dispose of Korey Kauffman’s body.
Judge Zuniga tells Marlissa: “You have no idea how much this pains me Ms. Fereirra.” Zuniga: “You either have to put Woody on, or Prop 115 his testimony.
We then go into a very long list of line by line rulings by Judge Zuniga that will take us days to figure out. She did not get through all of the rulings on Martha’s motion, and still has to go over Timothy Rien’s motion as well. It was a mixed bag, with the defense attorneys getting around two objections sustained for every objection overruled. In discussion after court with some people with knowledge, it seems most if not all of the Beverly Woody testimony concerning the officers has been thrown out. There really is nothing that I see that should implicate Walter Wells in anything.
This man should be set free!
After struggling to make all these complicated rulings, Judge Zuniga decides to do what she calls an “Unrecorded Minute Order” by Monday that will show exactly which lines are allowed and which lines have been stricken. The defense attorneys all seemed to agree to this arrangement.
Marlissa Fereirra then starts arguing the judge’s rulings while not aggravating the judge at the same time. That did not work. Zuniga: “I’m not going to respond to that Mam.” “You conflate everything.” “You come up with different theories, then you conflate them.”
Tomorrow morning, we are going to start out with the large boxes of search warrants, Ramey Warrant, and other papers that had not been turned over to the court within 10 days as required by law. The judge has hinted that this could cause some serious legal issues in this preliminary hearing. I have heard from some legal experts that the whole thing could get tossed out because of due process issues. The ten-day limit has been stretched to almost one year by a prosecution that has very little regard to the law or their responsibilities to follow the law. I will be there in the morning for more fun and games.
Sincerely; William Thomas Jensen (Tom)