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(Court TV) -- Spending Exclusion Response: In response to last-minute motions filed by the defense, the court addresses issues from seized credit cards to the defendant's bail request.
GIL GARCETTI District Attorney DAVID P. CONN Head Deputy District Attorney CAROL JANE :NAJERA Deputy District Attorney 210 West Temple Street Los Angeles, California 90012
Attorneys for Plaintiff
ORIGINAL FILED June 19, 1995 LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, IN AND FOR THE COURT OF LOS ANGELES
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Plaintiff,
JOSEPH LYLE MENENDEZ and ERIK GALEN MENENDEZ, Defendants
CASE NO. BA068880
PEOPLE'S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT'S' MOTION TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF SPENDING
DATE: June 26, 1995 TIME: 9:00 A.M. PLACE: DEPARTMENT NW, "N"
TO THE HONORABLE STANLEY WEISBERG, JUDGE OP THE VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT, AND TO THE DEFENDANTS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that on June 26, 1995, the People of the State of California will oppose the defendants' motion entitled "MOTION IN LIMINE RE RECENTLY PROFFERED SPENDING EVIDENCE." This opposition will be based upon this notice, the attached points and authorities, and such argument as will be made at the time of the hearing of the motion.
This court has previously ruled that the prosecution may present evidence that after the defendants murdered their parents, they spent their parents' money. This evidence includes the following purchases and attempted purchases:
1. Two Rolex watches and money clips (Both defendants) 2. Marina City Condominium (Both defendants) 3. Porsche (Lyle Menendez) 4. Clothing and accessories-New Jersey and New York (Lyle Menendez) 5. A Private limousine and body guard-New Jersey and New York (Lyle Menendez) 6. A patio home (Lyle Menendez) 7. A townhouse (Lyle Menendez) 8. A restaurant-Chuck's Spring Street Cafe (Lyle Menendez) 9. A million dollar-plus residence in Newport Beach (Erik Menendez) 10. Jeep Wrangler (Erik Menendez) 11. Private tennis coach (Erik Menendez) 12. Pool table (Erik Menendez)
With the exception of the million dollar-plus residence in Newport Beach, all of the above-cited spending evidence was ruled admissible in some form in the first trial. This Court has since ruled it admissible in a joint trial conducted before a single jury. The defendants now seek to exclude additional evidence of their spending. Specifically, they seek to exclude evidence of the following expenditures:
1. Rental of the bungalow suite at the Hotel Bel-Aire 2. A ski trip to Aspen 3. Clothing and accessories purchased in Chicago, Illinois 4. A private limousine used in Beverly Hills and Chicago, Illinois 5. A Sony Big screen entertainment center 6. A Saab Automobile 7. A vacation to Cancun, Mexico 8. Skiing and gambling in Lake Tahoe 9. Traveling the professional tennis circuit 10. Investments at Smith Barney
The Defendants argue that insofar as the People can demonstrate that each defendant fraudulently obtained $350,000 from the insurance company, the prosecution should be precluded from also presenting evidence that they spent the money obtained. They argue that evidence of spending is more prejudicial than probative, and that it is inadmissible character evidence.
Similar objections, made under Evidence Code 352 and 1101, were argued on June 17 and July 26, 1993, before the start of the first trial. At that time the court ruled that such evidence is not inadmissible character evidence. The court also evaluated the evidence under Evidence Code Section 352, and determined that the probative value of the evidence outweighed any possible prejudice to the defendants.
Similar objections were raised after the first trial. On April 3, 1995 this court once again evaluated evidence of spending under Evidence Code Section 352 and found it admissible. Additional arguments to exclude evidence of spending were made on April 4, 1995, and were rejected by the court.
The Court has thus considered and discussed, at length, the very issues raised by the defendants in this motion in regard to evidence of spending, and the court has repeatedly ruled that the defendants' arguments are without merit.
The defendants seek to exclude all but one of the following 13 areas of evidence which the People seek to present to the jury.
1. The party at the Bel-Aire hotel - In the first trial, spending at the Bel-Aire Hotel was excluded after the defendants presented the testimony of their cousin Henry Llanio, who testified that he helped select the accommodations at the hotel as a meeting place for the family immediately after the murders, and that he assumed the bill would be paid by LIVE Entertainment.
In fact, the People will show through the testimony of Robin Rosenbloom and others that the defendants used the suite to entertain their friends, and that they threw a party immediately after the memorial service in which, in the words of Ms. Rosenbloom, "no adults" were in attendance. The defendants rented the most expensive suite, ordered caviar and champagne, and Lyle Menendez paid for the accommodations.
The People seek to present evidence of the lavish accommodations available to them following the murders of their parents, as well as the use they made of such accommodations. This evidence is relevant to their state of mind immediately after the murder of their parents, and is circumstantial evidence of their state of mind at the time of the murder of their parents.
2. The Aspen ski trip- Testimony will show that the defendants took a vacation shortly after they killed their parents. The issues raised[ by the defendants in their response in regard to this evidence are matters which may be the proper, subject of cross-examination, but such matters do not go to the admissibility of the evidence.
3. Shopping in Chicago, Illinois- This evidence of spending is similar to the evidence of spending already ruled admissible by this court through the testimony of Richard Wenskowski and Glenn Stevens. Here again, issues raised by the defendants in their response in regard to this evidence are matters which may be the proper subject of cross-examination, but such matters do not go to the admissibility of the evidence
4. Limousine rentals in Beverly Hills - The rental of limousine for personal transportation is similar to the evidence previously ruled admissible through the testimony of Richard Wenskowski. This evidence is admissible for the same reason that limousine rentals in New Jersey and New York were ruled admissible in the first trial.
5. Limousine rentals in New Jersey - Lyle Menendez' rental of limousines was ruled admissible in the first trial, and should be ruled admissible once again. Also admissible is Lyle Menendez' interest in pricing bullet-proof limousines.
6. Limousine rentals in New York - Lyle Menendez' limousine rental in New York was ruled admissible in the first trial, and should be found to be admissible once again.
7. Limousine rentals in Chicago. Illinois - This evidence is admissible for the same reason that limousine rentals in New Jersey and New York was ruled admissible in the first trial.
8. The Sony Entertainment System - The People have provided the defendants with a statement by Perry Berman in which he discusses his personal observations and knowledge of a purchase of an elaborate and expensive Sony sound system by Lyle Menendez. The defendants argue that this purchase cannot be proven without documentation. While documentation may be one way to establish the purchase, the testimony of a witness having personal know1edge of this matter is an equally valid way to establish the disputed fact.
9. A Saab Automobile - Lyle Menendez' purchase of a vehicle for Jamie Pisarcik is relevant and admissible to show the defendant's use of his ill-begotten gain. This evidence is not challenged by the defendants.
10. The Cancun, Mexico vacation - Here again the defendants offer no proper reason why this evidence should be ruled inadmissible. Here again also, documentation is not the only way to establish the expenditures of the defendant, and the testimony of a percipient witness can establish this fact. Nor is it relevant that the parents of the defendants took the defendants on similar vacations before the defendants killed them. That the defendants may have been accustomed to living well does not defeat evidence of motive; to the contrary, it demonstrates what the defendants were afraid of losing if they were to be cut out of the will. For that reason, it establishes motive all the more.
11. The Lake Tahoe ski trip- Evidence of a vacation and gambling, in Lake Tahoe, including the fact that the defendant borrowed money from Mark Slotkin is additional evidence of the defendant's state of mind, and there is no proper reason to exclude it.
12. Professional tennis circuit-Israel - The defendant argues that this is evidence of "work," - an argument to which only the privileged could relate. In truth, this is evidence of the defendant's pursuit of his personal goal of becoming a professional tennis player, a pursuit made possible with the bloody money of his dead parents.
13. Investments at Smith-Barney Florida - This evidence of Erik Menendez' spending is comparable to the purchase of a restaurant by Lyle Menendez and should be ruled admissible on the same basis. Both are relevant to the defendants' motive for committing the murders.
The defendants object to the admission of all but one of the 13 items of evidence discussed above. Only two of these items were ruled 3dmissible in the first trial; the other items were not offered. The defendants argue that one item of evidence was previously ruled inadmissible ( the spending at the Hotel Bel-Aire) but the People ask that this evidence be admitted based upon the evidence and arguments only now advanced by the prosecution in regard to this evidence.
The defendants request that this court exclude evidence of spending pursuant to Evidence Codes sections 350, 352 and 1101. In light of the previous rejection ion by this court of similar arguments advanced in regard to similar items of evidence, the People respectfully ask that this court deny the defendants' request.
Respectfully submitted this 19th day of June 1995
7 /s/ David P. Conn
/s/ Carol J. Najera E-mail to a friend