Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Target Bag Timeline

April 14,2003
A Target bag was found tucked into the rocks north of Laci's body. This schematic drawn by Officer Phillips shows the location of the Target bag relative to the Hoffman Channel. The following aerial shows the location in relation to where Laci was found. Click to enlarge.

May 8-12, 2003
Criminalist Pin Kyo examined the duct tape collected with the Target Bag, comparing it to the duct tape retrieved from Laci's body. The Target Bag was not analyzed, except to take pictures of it and obtain its size.

August 3, 2004
Officers Frazier and Phillips, both with the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department, attended a routine pre-testimony briefing. In that meeting, Phillips disclosed that the Target Bag found near Laci's recovery site had the same smell of decomposition as Laci.

August 4, 2004
Bill Grogan, Investigator with the DAs office, completed a request form for DOJ forensic testing of Target bag with tape for human biological materials.

That same day, Pin Kyo was asked to stop her analysis of the Target bag until further notice.

August 5, 2004
Mark Geragos requested a delay based on this new information from Phillips:

GERAGOS: I will, your Honor. As the court is aware, there's been information, potentially exculpatory information, that's been provided within the last 48 hours. Based upon that information, there's scientific testing that needs to be done. And there's also consultation with my experts that needs to be done. And am not prepared at this point to go forward with any other fact witness, at least until the preliminary testing results come back, and I've asked the court to recess until Tuesday.

That same day, DDA Dave Harris instructed Pin Kyo to conduct a visual examination of the Target Bag.

August 9, 2004
Pin Kyo began a visual examination of the Target Bag.

August 17, 2004
Pin Kyo wrote a report on her visual examination of the Target Bag

September 13-14, 2004
Pin Kyo testified. In her testimony about the Target Bag, Kyo said she did not write anything in her first report about the bag having a decomposition smell, and she would have if she had noticed any, therefore there was no unusual smell at that time. In her second report, she specifically said there was no decomposition smell. However, she also testified that there were short fine hairs on the Target Bag that were never analyzed.

GERAGOS: Okay. And what I'm asking you is on the duct tape, when you examined it, you saw that there were hairs on there; is that correct? Short, fine hairs?
KYO: This is not on the duct tape.
GERAGOS: What is it on?
KYO: This is on the TARGET bag.
GERAGOS: On the TARGET bag itself there is short, fine hairs?
KYO: That’s correct.
GERAGOS: That's correct. And did you save those hairs?
KYO: That would be in that particular item with -- together with the TARGET bag.
GERGAOS: And that's what I'm asking. Did you save that as trace evidence?
KYO: No, I didn't.
GERAGOS: What did you do with that?
KYO: It's still in the item. Together with the item.

September 20, 2004
Office Ian Frazier called to testify.

GERAGOS: And at that time, Officer Phillips and yourself noticed that there was a smell or an odor coming from this bag; isn't that correct?
HARRIS: Objection, facts not in evidence.
JUDGE: Overruled.
GERAGOS: I'm going, I'm asking, There is a smell coming from this bag. There is an odor, you noticed that the odor appeared to be the same kind of odor of decomposition that was coming from the remains of Laci; isn't that correct?
FRAZER: It was much more an odor of something that had been in the water for a long time.
GERAGOS: Officer Phillips spontaneously stated that he believed it was the same odor of decomposition, didn't he?
HARRIS: Objection. Hearsay.
JUDGE: Sustained.
GERAGOS: Spontaneous statement.
JUDGE: I don't think so. Overruled.
GERAGOS: Well, did Officer Phillips state something in your presence?
HARRIS: Objection. Hearsay. He can ask if he stated something. Not what he said.
JUDGE: Did he say to something in your presence? Just yes or no.
FRAZER: Not that I recall.
GERAGOS: Do you remember having a conversation with me upstairs a couple of weeks ago with you and Officer Phillips?
GERAGOS: And we did that in the DA office, correct?
FRAZER: That’s correct.
GERAGOS: Okay. Now, apparently you were supposed to have been testifying here about a month ago; is that correct?
FRAZER: That’s correct yes.
GERAGOS: When you came here, you came here with Officer Phillips, is that right, to testify?
FRAZER: We came separately. But, yes.
GERAGOS: Two of you were subpoenaed to testify on a certain day about a month ago?
FRAZER: Yes, we were.
GERAGOS: When you got here, you related to the District Attorney that you, in fact, had smelled an odor from this bag; isn't that correct?
FRAZER: That’s correct.
GERAGOS: Didn't Officer Phillips also make the same observation, sir?
HARRIS: Objection. Speculation.
GERAGOS: Through the District Attorney.
HARRIS: Speculation and hearsay.
JUDGE: Did you talk to the DA about that?
FRAZER: I believe he did, yes.
GERAGOS: Okay. Then I was able to question you the next day, correct?
FRAZER: Correct.
GERAGOS: Now, when I questioned you the next day, I specifically asked if you had told this information to anybody from Modesto PD; is that correct?
FRAZER: I recall you asking me that question, yes.
GERAGOS: Do you remember saying that, yes, that I believe that were two officer or two detectives from Modesto PD who had been given this information?
FRAZER: There were at least two detectives from Modesto who were present at the Coroner's Office. Whether they were in the area where the tarp was, or in the autopsy room, I cannot recall.
GERAGOS: Okay. Do you remember, or has anybody showed you any reports whatsoever from Modesto PD which would indicate that this observation about the smell was noted by anybody from Modesto PD?
FRAZER: No. The only ones I saw are the ones prepared by my agency.
GERAGOS: Now, Officer Phillips, who was with you when I questioned the two of you, had a distinct memory of making statements to officers, detectives from Modesto PD; isn't that correct?
HARRIS: Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.
JUDGE: No. Sustained. You are asking for his distinct memory, that he had a distinct memory. How would he know?
GERAGOS: I'm asking if Officer Phillips made a statement.
JUDGE: You can ask if he made any statements whether he had the distinct recollection of memory. You are asking for him to tell us what his state of mind was.
GERAGOS: Okay. Did Officer Phillips make those statements?
HARRIS: That's an objection. Hearsay.
JUDGE: Overruled.
HARRIS: He is asking for the content, Judge.
JUDGE: Did he make, no. Overruled. Go ahead.
FRAZER: He may have. Again, I don't recall whether he made the statements to Modesto officers when he made them to Coroner's personnel.
GERAGOS: Okay. And when this took place, that would have been on the day that the autopsy was done of Laci Peterson, correct?
FRAZER: That’s correct.
GERAGOS: Okay. So this would have been done shortly after her remains were found, right?
FRAZER: It was several hours.
GERAGOS: And, specifically, this bag was found within several hours of Laci Peterson's remains being found on the rip-rap, correct?
FRAZER: That is correct.
GERAGOS: And any statements that Officer Phillips made, and any statements that you would have made about this bag would have been within hours of Laci Peterson's remains being found, correct?
FRAZER: Correct.
GERAGOS: And that would have been in the presence of Coroner's personnel, correct?
GERAGOS: In the presence of at least two Modesto detectives, correct?
FRAZER: As I said, it's possible.
GERAGOS: Was it Detective Owen and Detective Hendee?
FRAZER: Yes. They were present at the Coroner's Office.
GERAGOS: They were present for the autopsy, correct?
FRAZER: That’s correct.

Under re-cross examination:

GERAGOS: Were you present at the time that the body was recovered, when he brought the bag in?
FRAZER: I was present when the bag was brought in to the sally port of the garage area of the Coroner's Office.
GERAGOS: Did you hear Officer Phillips give a statement about the smell of the bag at that point?
FRAZER: I don't recall hearing him make that statement at that point.
GERAGOS: When you were upstairs and I was interviewing you, didn't you say that you did recall that at that point that he had made that observation? Isn't that what you told me when I asked you?
JUDGE: If you recall, Officer Frazer.
FRAZER: It's possible. I don't recall specifically.

Officer Phillips was not called to testify by the State.

October 19-20, 2004
Officer Timothy Phillips called to testify for the Defense.

GERAGOS: Just put TARGET bag. And this bag, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get in your way. This bag that was found here, and you marked, once again, this riprap, that's the broken concrete, right?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Now, when you find the bag, D 8 M 13 resembles how you found it?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And that silver substance appears to be duct tape?
PHILLIPS: That’s correct.
GERAGOS: Okay. And then this is the riprap there, is that correct?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir. Primarily broken pieces of concrete.
GERAGOS: Okay. Same with D 8 M 12, that's how you found it on that day?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And D 8 M 17, the picture of how you found it?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: D 8 M 16?
PHILLIPS: That’s correct.
GERAGOS: Okay. And D 8 M 15, is that same thing? You've got a picture of the bottom of the bag?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And D 8 M 14, is that also the, another view of the bag?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. Now, when you took the, you collected the bag at the scene, what did you do with it?
PHILLIPS: I placed it in the back of my Ford Expedition, and I was directed by Sergeant Iverson to take it directly to the Contra Costa County crime lab.
GERAGOS: Okay. And when you found the bag, did you believe that it was significant for a reason?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And what was that?
PHILLIPS: Well, due to the circumstances in which it was reported to me by a citizen, as I got in close proximity to the bag I noticed, I stopped to take a look and examine it further, and I did notice an odor about it.
GERAGOS: And was that, was there something about that odor that was distinctive?
PHILLIPS: To me the odor was similar to the odor of the remains that were recovered earlier.
GERAGOS: Okay. When you got it back over to the Coroner's Office, did you still, did you still smell that same smell that you smelled that was similar to that of the remains?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. Did you comment on it at that point?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. I assume, you've worked for East Bay Regional for how long?
PHILLIPS: I've been with East Bay Regional Parks for two and a half years,and I've been in law enforcement for going on 19.
GERAGOS: 19 years?
GERAGOS: And you've been in that area surrounding the Bay for approximately how long?
PHILLIPS: A good portion of the two and a half years, that's my primary beat that I worked.
GERAGOS: I assume the smell that you smelled was different than the just normal smell of things that would have been in the Bay?
PHILLIPS: It was distinctive enough that it's almost, I can almost say it's indescribable. It was distinctive enough, both the odor from the remains and the bag, or the tarp, to me were similar.
GERAGOS: Okay. I assume, so that I've got this situation down, when you first get called out you go to the area that I had already marked on the exhibit as to where the remains were, correct?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And I assume that you had noticed the same odor there, is that correct?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And then when you went over to the area where this woman, approximately how long were you there before this woman came up and kind of tried, before she got impatient and left, told you there was something she thought was important?
PHILLIPS: She brought it to my attention or, somewhere around 8:00 o'clock, 8:15 in the evening.
GERAGOS: Okay. What time did you arrive there?
PHILLIPS: I got to the scene about 12, I believe it was around 12:45.
GERAGOS: About 12:45. And this was 500 and some-odd feet away, the bag was?
PHILLIPS: The bag itself would have been probably closer to 800 to a thousand feet north.
GERAGOS: 800 to a thousand feet north. So the distance obviously from where the bag was, or where the remains were there to the bag here, is that what we're talking about?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. Did you notice this what you described as a, I guess a not susceptible or indescribable odor on any of the other items that you collected, any of the other fabric items?
PHILLIPS: No, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. The cadaver dog, you had a cadaver dog that was out there being worked on by who, or who was the handler?
PHILLIPS: Ms. Christine Crawford.
GERAGOS: And did she take the dog over to the bag?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir. With Officer Breed.
GERAGOS: Okay. Who did you tell about or who did you comment on this smell that you thought was similar between the bag and the remains?
PHILLIPS: I believe I mentioned it to Sergeant Iverson. And upon my arrival at the Coroner's Office. Captain Dean from the Contra Costa County sheriff's office also had, prior to my mentioning it had made a comment that the odors seemed similar.
GERAGOS: Captain Dean is a person who works there in the Contra Costa Coroner's Office?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir. She works for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.
GERAGOS: Okay. Now, the, when you came back and were, was actually at the Coroner's Office, did you ever encounter any Modesto Police Department personnel?
PHILLIPS: There were some members of the Modesto Police Department present, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Do you know who was present?
PHILLIPS: Primarily their investigators that were involved by name, I don't recall the actual names.
GERAGOS: Do you remember what they looked like?
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: What did they look like?
PHILLIPS: One a detective, an older gentleman who had taken some photographs at the scene. Another detective who was a little bit smaller in stature, somewhat stocky.
GERAGOS: Did you mention, did you mention the fact that the bag and the remains seemed to have the same odor to the two of them?
PHILLIPS: I believe I did.

Evidence preserved by Google
Since we are on the subject of that area of the dog park, I thought it might be good to share an aerial from Google Earth's historical image collection. This aerial shows a vehicle in the dog park on the north side of the Hoffman Channel near the location of the Target Bag, which proves that even though there is no road access for vehicles, a vehicle can certainly get to that area. Click to enlarge.

Body found by birdwatcher on Richmond shore
KTVU's coverage of the finding of this body just last Christmas Eve included a video, which showed police cars and other emergency vehicles on the Bay Trail to recover this body. In the event the video link ceases to work, I captured a few instances which showed the vehicles. Click to enlarge.

I've labeled another Google Earth aerial to show vehicle access from 51st Street to the location of the car caught by Google. Click to enlarge.

1 comment:

Bruce Dombrowski said...

so, scott used a target bag, filled it with rip rap and duct taped it to lacis body to help sink for me...