Evidentiary rulings

After Erik Menendez’s testimony in the retrial, the defense sought to call witnesses to testify in support of their theory that years of abuse caused the brothers to fear for their lives on the night of the killings. The trial court had made pretrial rulings regarding several witnesses. Some of those rulings were subject to reconsideration if other testimony rendered those witnesses admissible.

Below are transcripts of most of the January 1996 hearings regarding so-called “source witnesses.” The defense made offers of proof as to the witnesses’ proposed testimony; the prosecution moved to exclude virtually everything the witnesses would say; and the trial court ruled that some of the witnesses could testify and excluded others on various grounds, including lack of relevance, and lack of foundation, to prevent excessive consumption of time, or undue prejudice, and to avoid confusing the issues or misleading the jury.

The transcripts are of hearings only. The witnesses’ testimony is not included. You can find the testimony in the trial transcripts on the archived Court TV website.

January 11 – Volume 274 at 46076 – 46084
January 12 – Volume 275 at 46222 – 46281
January 16 – Volume 276 at 46282 – 46331 and 46471 – 46511
January 17 – Volume 277 at 46513 – 46580 and 46738 – 46775
January 22 – Volume 280 at 47328 – 47333
January 25 – Volume 283 at 47866 – 47884 and 48047 – 48086
January 26 – Volume 284 at 48087 – 48120 and 48204 – 48209 and 48281 – 48312
January 29 – Volume 285 at 48315 – 48334 and 48402 – 48444

The Erik Menendez defense sought to have their expert witness, Dr. John Wilson, testify concerning the audiotape from the December 11 session with Dr. Oziel. Wilson would have offered testimony that was critical of the manner in which Oziel conducted the session with the brothers. The trial court ruled Wilson’s proposed testimony was not a proper subject for expert testimony and denied the request:
January 23 – Volume 281 at 47490 – 47509

If Wilson had been allowed to attack the reliability of the statement to Oziel, the prosecution would in rebuttal have called Dr. Richard Ofshe, who was a consultant to the prosecution and prepared to testify “about the circumstances under which the statement was given, whether or not there was any indication that it was coerced. None of which was true in that particular case, so I would have testified to that effect.”

The Erik Menendez defense sought to call Dr. William Vicary at the end of their case-in-chief:
January 30 – Volume 286 at 48697 – 48714 and 48754 – 48756
January 31 – Volume 287 at 48788 – 48800

They again sought to call Dr. Vicary in surrebuttal. His testimony was allowed, but limited to responding to prosecution rebuttal witness Dr. Park Dietz’s testimony concerning generalized anxiety disorder:
February 14 – Volume 296 at 50301 – 50305 and 50366 – 50391
February 15 – Volume 297 at 50392 – 50445

Had Vicary been allowed to testify in the guilt phase to all the matters Leslie Abramson wanted him to, then the turmoil that later erupted in the penalty phase regarding Vicary’s revised notes would have arisen in the guilt phase. How that would have impacted Abramson’s ability to have participated in the rest of the guilt phase and entire penalty phase is anyone’s guess.