Murder trial unlikely to begin on schedule
Stomach flu derailed an attempt to clarify when the defense for Lisa Paltz will be able to run its own tests on evidence.
At a hearing Wednesday in El Dorado County Superior Court, Judge Jerald Lasarow tried his best to get evidence — blood splattered clothes from Platz, James Csucsai and Rebbeca Aramburo — from the Department of Justice to Richard Meyer, head public defender for El Dorado County.
Platz faces life in prison or the death penalty in the alleged first-degree murder of her 9-year-old daughter, Rebbeca. Lasarow is handling the matter like a death penalty case, despite District Attorney Gary Lacy’s not having made a decision if he will seek the penalty.
Meyer continued to express his frustration in not being able to have his experts test the clothing.
The delay will likely push back the Nov. 12 trial date.
Platz was inside a tent with her daughter, Rebbeca, and her boyfriend, Csucsai, during a nine-hour standoff with law enforcement at a South Lake Tahoe campground on Sept. 21, 2001.
Wanted by the FBI for abduction of the girl, Platz and Csucsai were found inside the tent by authorities with alleged self-inflicted knife wounds while Rebbeca lay dead with her throat slashed.
Seven months later, Csucsai committed suicide inside his cell at El Dorado County Jail.
Lasarow, Meyer and Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe scheduled a conference call with Jill Spriggs, the supervising criminalist at the Department of Justice. Spriggs was unavailable because of illness, so the three planned to repeat their attempt today.
The case of David Westerfield, who was recently given the death penalty in the death of 7-year-old neighbor Danielle van Dam in San Diego, has been referred to in the El Dorado County court in past hearings. Why the swiftness of the Westerfield trial and lethargic pace of the Platz trial?
Uthe answered that San Diego County has 12 criminalists compared to the four in Sacramento who handle evidence for Northern California crimes.
When Platz walked into court at 8:10 a.m., Meyer was heard asking his client if she was getting tired of her black shirt and tan pants, which she has been wearing for court appearances in substitution for the customary orange jail jumpsuit.
“I don’t get tired of real clothes,” she replied.
— Contact William Ferchland at email@example.com
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