Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trial of Defendants Delayed Because of Missing Transcripts in Murder of German Tourist

Justice has been delayed in the murder trial of six San Francisco-area defendants because the grand jury transcripts on which the indictments of the six were based, are unavailable. This is truly unfortunate for the husband and family of German tourist Mechthild Schroer, 50, who was killed by a stray bullet during an exchange of gunfire between two rival gangs.

Fortunately, Judge Anne-Christine Massullo refused on Monday (November 7) to dismiss charges against the defendants on a defense motion that they were being denied their right to a speedy trial in the August 8, 2010, shooting death of Ms. Schroer, while she and her husband were walking near Union Square when two rival gangs began shooting at each other.

Unfortunately, crucial to the prosecution's case is producing the September 27 grand jury transcripts that indicted the six defendants. Worse, the San Francisco Superior Court recently stopped producing transcripts for grand jury proceedings because of budgetary cutbacks. Hence, the SF DA's office has had to hire freelance court reporters off the street for such purposes with the end result being that Patrick Heard, who was used in the September 27 grand jury, most recently did not responded to phone calls or emails directing him to produce the transcripts.

COMMENT: As a result, Judge Massullo has scheduled a December 16 trial date in the hope that the grand jury transcripts will be in the hands of both the prosecution and defense by then.

Although it is very unlikely that the trial is in jeopardy, the entire matter is very embarrassing for the DA's Office which retained Heard, even though he had been disciplined in the past for mishandling stenographic notes from a prior proceeding. It is the defense's contention that Heard has had some sort of mental breakdown.

Nevertheless, as this posting is filed, the prosecution has been assured that Heard will have completed the transcripts in time for the prosecution and defense to review them before trial.

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