Graphic Photograph Opens Day 2 Of Luebbers Trial
Mike TeSelle, KCRA Sacramento, April 20, 2012
The judge in the trial of John Luebbers has denied a key issue that Luebbers' attorney had said was the entire theory of his defense case.
Photos From The Field: Trial Of John Luebbers
David Cramer, Luebbers' attorney, had asked a judge to allow an instruction allowing the jury to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter, instead of murder during jury deliberations.
Cramer told KCRA3 that the law allows him to make that request so long as there was sufficient evidence presented at trial to support a theory that the suspect was acting "in the heat of passion" during a sudden quarrel.
The judge rejected that request at this point in the trial.
"The court is going to find that there is not sufficient, not substantial evidence that would be required to give a voluntary manslaughter instruction," ruled Superior Court Judge James Wagoner.
However, the judge made clear his ruling on the manslaughter instruction could change if the defense presents further evidence that does support the "in the heat of passion" theory. The judge also revealed that he may allow the jury to consider second-degree murder during deliberations.
The judge also revealed that the prosecution may be on verge of resting its case after less than two days of testimony.
"This case may be ready for you by (the morning the jury returns to court)," Judge James Wagoner.
Meanwhile, a photograph showing the victim's heart touched off an argument between attorneys before jurors were seated, and before the start of the second day in the trial of ...
Via CBS13 – The prosecution in the trial of a former janitor accused of murdering a popular Placerville school principal wrapped up its case Wednesday.
A ballistics and pathology expert took the stand to testify that bullets found in John Luebbers’ .357 magnum matched bullets found in the victim, Schnell School Principal Sam LaCara.
Luebbers, the former head custodian at the school, shot and killed LaCara in February of last year, a few days after the two golfed together. Witnesses say Luebbers was upset he didn’t get enough input into a hiring decision on a night janitor.
The defense wanted the judge to allow the jury to consider a manslaughter conviction, but he rejected that option on Thursday afternoon. Luebbers’ attorney already conceded in his opening statement that his client killed LaCara, but he argued that the shooting came in the heat of the moment.
Prosecutors are seeking a first-degree murder conviction.
A verdict could come as early as Tuesday when the jury reconvenes.