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Stephanie Lazarus jury wants to read testimony about fight

March 7, 2012 |  4:14 pm

Stephanie Lazarus jury asks to re-read testimony

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

On the first full day of deliberations, jurors in the murder trial of former LAPD Det. Stephanie Lazarus ask to have some testimony read to them.

The jurors told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry that they needed to hear again what a neighbor and housekeeper working next door recalled from the day of the killing.

The neighbor testified during the trial that she observed the garage door of Rasmussen's town house open and no car inside. The housekeeper recalled hearing sounds of a fight but no gunshots.

The testimony will be read back to jurors Thursday morning. While they wait, Perry instructed the panel of eight women and four men to continue deliberating until the end of the day Tuesday.

Lazarus is accused in the 1986 beating and shooting of Sherri Rasmussen, who was married to a man Lazarus had dated. Prosecutors have argued throughout the month-long trial that Lazarus, who was 26 at the time of the killing and had joined the LAPD a few years earlier, was deeply in love with the man and driven to kill by the jealousy she felt over his decision to marry someone else.

Lazarus' attorney, Mark Overland, tried to cast doubt on the prosecution's most damning piece of evidence: a sample of saliva taken from a bite mark on Rasmussen's arm that DNA tests showed came from Lazarus. Overland has tried to convince jurors to disregard the saliva because of what he said were questions about how the cotton swab containing it was stored over the two decades and the possibility that someone may have tampered with it.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Shannon Presby said Lazarus was the only one with a clear motive to hurt Rasmussen. He also reviewed at length testimony about a small revolver Lazarus owned that matched the type used to kill Rasmussen and that Lazarus reported stolen shortly after the killing.

For the record, 8:27 p.m., March 7: A previous version of this post said the testimony would be read back Wednesday morning.


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-- Joel Rubin

Photo: Former Det. Stephanie Lazarus. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times