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Judge rules testimony concerning alleged Perez murders is irrelevant

Perez  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A judge ruled Thursday that former Los Angeles police officer Rafael Perez does not have to testify any further in the trial of two men who accuse Perez of framing them.

Attorneys for the two defendants wanted to call Perez, who testified in the case last month, back to the witness stand to question his credibility. Since his previous testimony, his former girlfriend, Sonya Flores, went public with allegations that she saw Perez kill two people in a botched drug deal. She also alleged that Perez and his partner, former LAPD Officer David Mack, dumped the bodies in a Tijuana, Mexico, ravine.

Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler said, "I find the Flores matter to be totally irrelevant to these proceedings."

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Sonya Flores tells CNN's Charles Feldman about the murders she alleges were committed by ex-LAPD Officer Rafael Perez (Oct. 18)

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This first trial is a test case, according to CNN's Charles Feldman (Oct. 11)

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GRAPHIC The trial of four Los Angeles Police Department officers implicated in the largest corruption scandal in the department's history begins with attacks on informant Rafael Perez.

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The ruling is significant because four floors below Fidler's courtroom, testimony continued for a fifth day in the trial of four Los Angeles police officers accused of conspiring to frame innocent people. Perez is the key witness in that case. Attorneys for the two sergeants and two officers on trial say they also want to ask Perez about the alleged murders. Judge Jacqueline Connor, the presiding judge in that case, will rule on the admissibility of that testimony. It's not known what bearing Fidler's ruling will have on the case.

Winston Kevin McKesson, Perez's attorney, said he expects his client's testimony to be ruled irrelevant in the trial of the four officers also.

"I think he's probably put a close on the Sonya Flores chapter by ruling it is irrelevant. And I really applaud Judge Fidler for that courageous and bold and intellectually sound ruling," he said.

McKesson said there is no evidence to back up Flores' accusations.

"We're talking about a murder allegation of people we don't even know ever existed. We're talking about no bodies. We're talking about digging up half of Tijuana and not finding any bodies," he said.

Mexican police began digging last week in a ravine but have found nothing so far.

One defense attorney in the officers' trial said he doesn't think Fidler's ruling will have any impact on his case.

"These are entirely separate cases, and separate proceedings," said Joel Isaacson, who represents Officer Paul Harper. Harper is charged with perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

When asked if he thinks the ruling may set a precedent for Judge Connor, Isaacson said, "Absolutely not," although he did acknowledge that prosecutors may "take a lead" from the ruling.

Prosecutors, who were informed by CNN of Fidler's ruling as they left court, said they could not comment on it.

Perez agreed to testify about alleged officer misconduct in the LAPD anti-gang units in exchange for a lenient sentence for stealing six pounds of cocaine from the police evidence locker.

Prosecutors had planned to call him to the witness stand, but when Flores' allegations came to light recently, his already-questionable credibility became even more of an issue.

Since Perez began detailing stories of officer misconduct within the LAPD, 106 criminal convictions have been overturned, and at least 70 officers are under investigation.



RELATED STORIES:
LAPD officer's ex-lover talks to CNN
October 19, 2000
Gang member testifies LAPD officers tried to frame him
October 19, 2000
Former deputy D.A. testifies in trial of 4 LAPD officers
October 18, 2000
LAPD officers take stand in Rampart scandal trial
October 16, 2000
Mexican authorities dig for alleged victims of Rafael Perez
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Jury impaneled in LAPD corruption trial
October 11, 2000
LAPD trial starts with attacks on former officer Perez
October 5, 2000
Jury selection begins in LAPD police misconduct trial
October 4, 2000
Five years later, O.J. Simpson says Los Angeles Police scandal has relevance for his own case
October 4, 2000
Los Angeles City Council agrees to federal police reforms
September 20, 2000
Current and former LA police officers sue department for $100 million
August 24, 2000
Los Angeles police officer pleads guilty to civil rights violations
August 18, 2000
Public defender: Up to 30,000 cases need review in light of LAPD scandal
August 10, 2000
Another conviction overturned in LAPD scandal
August 4, 2000
LAPD officer pleads guilty to federal civil rights charges
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LAPD officers face administrative charges in controversial shooting
July 26, 2000

RELATED DOCUMENTS:
Department of Justice proposed consent decree
City of Los Angeles notes on proposed plan
Independent Analysis of the Los Angeles Police Department's Board of Inquiry Report on the Rampart Scandal

RELATED SITES:
The Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles County District Attorney Homepage
United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California


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