Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Bail is set at $10 million for LAPD detective accused of murder


The judge in the Stephanie Lazarus trial today set a $10-million bail for the LAPD detective accused of murder, saying he believed it was a “near certainty” she would flee if granted a lower amount.

Lazarus, a 26-year veteran of the LAPD, is accused of bludgeoning and then shooting to death the wife of a man she had dated.  She was arrested earlier this year after cold case detectives reexamined the murder and linked Lazarus to the killing through saliva found in a bite mark on the victim.

The unusually high amount, which Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry compounded, Lazarus' attorney said, by requiring it to be presented in cash, sent a wave of gasps through the courtroom.  Lazarus showed a rare sign of emotion as her head fell in disappointment. 

Her attorney, Mark Overland, said his client had no way to amass the money – meaning she will remain in detention until her trial, which is not likely to open for several months.

As they have throughout the trial proceedings, the parents of the victim, Sherri Rae Rasmussen, sat stoically in the courtroom. 

The amount was double what prosecutors had requested and far greater than the $300,000 to $500,000 Overland had sought.

In leading up to his decision, Perry summarized the reasoning behind his decision. Calling it “an admittedly unusual case,” he said prosecutors had  presented “compelling evidence” at a preliminary hearing that spoke to Lazarus’ “motive, means, opportunity and identity.” 

He acknowledged that Lazarus, if freed on bail, would have access to weapons through her husband, who is also an LAPD detective, and could be a risk to herself and others.  The most pressing issue for Perry, however, was the “strong incentive,” he concluded, that Lazarus has to flee and the likelihood she would in fact do so.

The usually even-keeled Overland reacted with dismay afterward, saying he interpreted Perry’s decision as a de facto denial of bail and plans to appeal the amount.

“It’s ridiculous.  Phil Spector gets $1 million bail? Robert Blake get’s $1 million bail?  They’ve got the money to go anywhere,” he said, referring to the celebrity music producer and actor recently tried on murder charges.  “Who has $10 million cash?  It is basically preventative detention.”

Perry “does not know the case,” Overland said, reacting to the judge’s forceful comments about Lazarus and the evidence against her.  “He’s only seen bits of it.”

Sherri Rae Rasmussen, 29, was killed in her Van Nuys condominium Feb. 24, 1986. The original investigators on the case were convinced that Rasmussen had been killed by a pair of men who were burglarizing the home.  Detectives concluded that was wrong when they reopened the case early this year and DNA tests on the saliva showed that it belonged to a woman.

They retraced the investigation, once again interviewing Rasmussen's parents and her husband, John Ruetten.  As they had at the time of the killing, the family and Ruetten told investigators about Lazarus, whom Ruetten had dated for several years before meeting Rasmussen.

An undercover officer surreptitiously trailed Lazarus, 49, as she ran errands, waiting until she discarded a plastic utensil or other object with her saliva on it. The DNA in her saliva was compared with evidence collected from the murder scene. The genetic code in the samples matched conclusively, police and prosecutors have said.

John Taylor, an attorney representing Rasmussen’s parents, said it has been “extremely hard” for the couple and their other children to revisit the death of their daughter in court and said the family “would like to proceed as quickly as possible to trail.” 

If convicted, Lazarus would face up to life in prison.

-- Joel Rubin at Los Angeles County Superior Court

Photo: L.A. Times

Comments () | Archives (29)

A first degree murder defendant-and she gets bail, why???

Once again, Los Angeles County legal system is not fair nor is it blind. How many minority defendants get bail for a first degree murder charge???

What a judical system in Los Angeles County...



The question remains is this, how many more LAPD officers and detectives have a unknown or hidden crime in their past and continues to do police or detective work?? The reason why the Federal consent decree was enforced by the Feds is because the LAPD is corrupt in the first place and cannot police itself.

No Problem. Her union has the check cut already, and an awaiting limo out front!

If she did this thing, she should burn for it. But everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty and the constitution provides for "reasonable bail". Anyone who considers this reasonable is crazy. The idea behind bail is to ensure that if the party on trial fails to show, the state still gets it's "pound of flesh" and further, encourages others to return the defendant to custody for a reward of money thereby saving the government the expense and peril. We mistakenly believe that it compels attendance. In the event of a capital offense, no-bail ensures not attendance, but public safety. This decision by a supposedly "competent court" flies in the face of the construct and meaning of the law. Regardless of the odd circumstances in this case, reasonable bail should have been set.

Excellent job lapd another criminal off of the streets.

Mr. Overland, that windbag mouthpiece's referral to the $1M bail for a convicted murderer, Phil Spector, is a good reason for the all cash $10M bail. Finally, a Judge with courage and a police woman murderer who is going to get what she deserves.

The judge "believed it was a “near certainty” she would flee if granted a lower amount."
Is this guy missing the eye contact here?
Lazarus doesn't appear poised to "flee" at all. I've crossed paths with some very bad people in my years, including a few seasoned killers. None of which appeared anywhere near that insane. This babe wants to kill something... anything.
This is potentially a very fatal mistake.
I hope for the sake of anyone who might cross into her 'gaze of mutilatious death', she never raises anything near that bail amount and stays put.

I belive the Judge of this upcoming trial did exactly right! If she were a Federal Judge and Osama Ben Laden was caught perhaps the bail my be 100 Billion$dollars. The Judge shows forsight,vision and integrity with this case,I'll vote for her in the future.

El dios nos mantiene seguros de esto lunitic.
I think this is one Lazarus that our dear Lord Jesus would take a pass on and leave dead as can be.

Since she is a "Dirty Cop" and works in stolen art, I wonder how many stolen Picassos she has stashed or accepted "Hush" payoffs by rich private art collectors; Yeah, it's like that!

Lazarus has that look in her eyes like she is saying "HOW DARE YOU INCARCERATE ME! I'M A COP!" Well, I give kudos to Judge Perry, it's about time that the LAPD and every other police agency knows full well that they are not above the law, and when one of their own commits a crime,they should suffer the same penalty for such crime as an ordinary citizen would. A cop who commits a crime, no matter how slight, is lower than Charles Manson, because a cop swears to uphold the law.

"Hell hath no fury like a (psycho) scorned..."

I don't think I've ever seen a guiltier looking suspect. She caught that "I can't believe I was caught" expression.

"If convicted, Lazarus would face up to life in prison."

"If convicted, Lazarus could face the death penalty".

So, punishment is dependent on which LA Times article you read.

But, Cops are above the law.
The policeman I saw drive while talking on his i-phone, with the car headlights off (as I witnessed last night), without censure from the other cop in the car will agree.

Her eyes speak a thousand words as to what she was capable of. Most cops with a badge have a license to kill and justify all their criminal actions by the blue code of silence to play god with other peoples lives.

Just look at her Pyscho eyes. Pure evil, I am scared. She deserves life and should look at herself in the mirror while incarcerated.

This photograph makes her look insane and well...

Please, just emagine the cops that do this but are in the inner circle that keeps them from getting caught. This women just isn't in the inner circle. Just think....Bush's decsions that tore apart our country and nothing happen to him, and that Balgovich govenor gets a whole trial for just being greedy. Mmmmmmmmmmmm..........Inner Circle.

The Los Angeles Country Superior Court is a nightmare run by totally incompetent jurists. Have you seen some of these dumb judges? Garage law school grads. The DA office is a total joke!

Wow if the DNA says she did this then she will be convicted and spend the rest of her life in prison fearing for her life and wishing she was smarter than leaving evidence behind that DNA can trace years later. I'm sure she's in her own cell to afraid to come out with the inmates she put behind bars. She must be living in HELL.But nobody is above the law.

Keep her in jail, we do not need another killer amongst us. Our society is already FULL of this kind of behavior! AND SHE WAS A COP!!!!!There will be more on the way with our bad economy mixed in with love gone bad! The ones that are supposed to protect us, DO NOT!


Those eyes, man, those eyes.

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: