Former LAPD detective testifies in Lazarus murder trial

By Alex A. Alonso
Streetgangs.com Staff Writer
February 7, 2012 | 11:26 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – On Tuesday, most of the testimony that the jury heard in the Stephanie Lazarus murder trial came from retired LAPD detective Steven Hooks, who was the secondary investigator on the Sherri Rasmussen murder in 1986.

He told the jurors, under direct examination by Deputy District Attorney Shannon Presby, that he noticed a bite mark on victim, Rasmussen, who was brutally assaulted and then shot three times in her condominium. When Presby asked if he had discussions with the lead detective regarding the gender of the perpetrator, defense attorney Mark Overland objected and a sidebar was called.

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Prosecutor Presby wanted the jury to hear that even though lead detective Lyle Mayer believe that the murder of Rasmussen was a robbery by two males back in 1986, Hooks believed that the bite to Rasmussen appeared to be done by a female perpetrator, but the objection was sustained and the jury did not hear anything about Hooks’ belief that the bite was connected to a female assailant.

On cross examination, Overland wanted to focus on the 50-page police report that was written by detective Mayer but signed off on by Hooks in 1986. The report, if you believe that Lazarus killed Rasmussen, would consist of several inaccurate conclusions at the hands of two LAPD detectives, including that Rasmussen was most likely killed by two male intruders during a home invasion robbery.

When Overland began questioning Hooks about the original 1986 police report, Presby objected on the grounds of hearsay, since Hooks was not the actual author of the police report, but after Judge Perry noticed that Hooks had signed the report, he overruled the objection and allowed the questioning to continue.

According to what detective Mayer wrote, two suspects entered Rasmussen’s condominium on Balboa Boulevard in the San Fernando valley of Los Angeles through an open door. As they began to burglarize her unit, they were surprised to see Rasmussen and then a struggle followed. The report states that a struggle over the gun resulted in two shots being fired that shattered a glass window. No bullets were recovered at the scene and Hooks did not recall if he attempted to recover spent shell casings outside the unit.

Defense attorney Overland asked Hooks about the conclusions in the report, which today he is trying to distance himself from. Hooks told the jury that even though he signed the report, he did not agree with the conclusions of his partner Mayer. Overland asked if he expressed dissent with Mayer’s conclusions, and he stated that at the time he did not. Overland was also able to get Hooks to admit that he would not sign off on a report if he did not agree with it.

The prosecution’s theory regarding the murder of Rasmussen is completely contrary to the 1986 report signed off by both Hooks and Mayer. The DA is alleging that Lazarus killed Rasmussen after she married her ex-boyfriend, John Ruetten. Presby has depicted Lazarus as a women scorn and obsessed with Ruetten. The bite that Rasmussen sustained was linked to Lazarus in 2009 through DNA analysis that was not widely available in 1986.

Regarding the original police report, prosecutor Presby is trying to argue that lead detective Mayer rushed to judgment in 1986 and had tunnel vision when he concluded that two males killed Rasmussen.

Hooks will resume his testimony under cross examination on Wednesday morning.

Posted by on Feb 7 2012. Filed under Features, Good Cop / Bad Cop, People of CA v. Stephanie Lazarus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Comments for “Former LAPD detective testifies in Lazarus murder trial”

  1. hilly

    First the police say that 2 guys ki*led Sherri Rasmussen during a robbery, and now they are saying Stephanie Lazarus did it, and imagine if they arrested someone back in 1986. This is how the LAPD get innocent people arrested.

    • It was Detective Lyle Mayor who erroneously believed that two illegal aliens ki*led Sherri Rasmussen and that through off the entire investigation. The father, Nels Rasmussen had always believed that Lazarus was involved.

  2. motor

    WHats up with the DNA?

    • The DNA evidence was introduced by the prosecution on Friday 2/10/12, on the 5th day of trial. Jennifer Francis conducted tests that linked the bite mark from Rasmussen’s arm in 1986 to Lazarus.

  3. The prosecution has to prove it’s case. At this point not mu h is proven, except for the DNA. Why wouldn’t the police listen to the victims father back then? Any story on that?

  4. dubbs

    Lazurus is done- like her name, nothing STAYS buried-nothing. She ki*led, she lied and she hid- she’s a THUG who doesn’t deserve her badge…..

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