Cole Mayer
Mountain Democrat

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April 18, 2014
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Sanford trial goes to jury

April 15 saw the last of the testimony of the Andrew Sanford murder trial.

The day began with an argument over including then-16-year-old victim Richard Swanson’s hat size in evidence, but Judge James R. Wagoner struck down the inclusion due to lack of foundation and relevance.

After the stipulations were read, the People rested.

For his first witness, Schlueter called Carol Simonson, mother of previous witness Jenna Weller.

Simonson recalled from her calendar that her daughter moved out of their house on Sept. 15, 2010. She was “not positive” to where, but believed it to be the house of Weller’s friend Jana Stark’s aunt’s house. Weller was there for a few weeks before moving out. Weller’s parents had asked Weller to move out after she would leave her children there but disappear for a night at a time. Weller was also not going to school. Weller’s relationship with her parents was strained at the time.

Next, Richard Ficklin, older brother of previous witnesses Ron and Don, was called. Richard was not living with his brothers and grandparents in 1980 as he was 25 and married. He did, however, work with Don at the South Y Shell gas station where the murder occurred. He worked the graveyard shift, after his brother’s swing shift.

He recalled that his brother worked on a car, a Ram Charger, that his brother had owned at the time. He was occasionally helped by Sanford. Richard knew Sanford from when Don and Sanford hung out. “Once in a great while” Richard would hang out with them.

When the Ram Charger was broken — Richard remembered the transmission was destroyed while four-wheeling — Sanford helped Don fix the car, as well as change the shift column. Don would work on his car at the gas station, often alone, but a couple of times with Sanford’s help, Richard recalled.

A few weeks before Swanson’s death, Ficklin quit his job at the gas station. Swanson filled the position. A day or so before the murder, Ficklin recalled a truck being stolen from his grandfather’s repossession yard.

Ficklin was then excused.

During Ficklin’s testimony, and the testimony for the rest of the day, Sanford seemed to pay close attention to the witnesses. During the prosecution’s argument, he rarely looked up, focusing on legal documents and taking notes. Instead, he stared at the witnesses unless it was during a sidebar or short break.

Nathalie Lebourveau, a former roommate of Sanford, met the defendant through a Craig’s List ad at the end of summer in 2010. The ad was a room for rent, and for help driving cars to the home as Sanford listed himself a car specialist who worked on the cars at home.

After an initial meeting, a month went by. Sanford called Lebourveau and asked if she still needed a place to stay. She moved in in September, but shortly after, in October, moved out. She told Weller, her good friend of seven years, of the place to stay. Lebourveau moved as she was hired for a new job that provided housing.

Despite Weller’s testimony, Lebourveau said Weller never mentioned a conversation between Weller and Sanford regarding Sanford possibly being a killer.

Under questioning from Kelliher, Lebourveau said she moved out because she “didn’t feel right” but the job “had something to do with it.” When asked again if there was another reason, she began crying and had to pause before asking the judge if she had to answer. The judge said she did, and she replied, “He just made me feel uncomfortable.” A moment later, she burst out, “He was touching me, I don’t know.” When Kelliher asked if Lebourveau had woken up to find Sanford touching her, she said yes. She stayed away from the home until she moved out. She did not tell Weller, especially since Weller needed a temporary solution for a place to stay. “And it was, you know, a place she could go.”

On Thanksgiving of that year, Weller had to pick up things from the house, where she was now staying. Lebourveau accompanied her into the garage. Sanford eventually came out and “Words were exchanged.”Lebourveau confirmed that she was laughing at the time because Weller was “entitled to keep her own company,” especially as she was paying most of the rent. She told Sanford if he didn’t want to see her, he could go in the house; but he could not make her leave. She said after questioned by Kelliher, that she did not remember telling Moschini in a prior interview that she was “testing (Sanford’s) manhood.” She did say that he was crying at the time. Weller did not do any of the talking.

The jury was then let out for lunch. After lunch, former Sacramento County Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Biondi testified in a hearing out of the jury. He testified that, in his opinion, the 1980 investigation of the crime scene was shoddy and could have been greatly improved. The judge, however, could find no legal reason why the testimony should have been included in the trial, and excluded Biondi as a witness for the jury.

With Biondi’s testimony over, the jury was brought back in and told a final stipulation — that Sanford had pleaded guilty to the a car theft from 1980 on Nov. 24, 1982. The defense then rested without Sanford taking the stand. No rebuttal by the prosecution was given. Wednesday would be used for details concerning the jury instruction. Thursday was scheduled for closing arguments and instructing the jury before deliberation.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 18, 2014 09:40PM Published Apr 18, 2014 03:16PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.