Another Day in the Inner Sanctum
By Tom Jenson
Today was a day that Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra again angered Judge Barbara Zuniga. This anger has been building over the last couple of months, and seems to be at an all-time high. The Judge had instructed Marlissa on Friday to inform the defense attorneys of the witnesses who were set up to testify today in court.
As court resumes today at 10:07 AM, it becomes clear that Marlissa Fereirra is unable to proceed with the witnesses who were supposed to be testifying. At first, she says that one of the witnesses, an officer named Ken Barringer, will not be able to testify until the afternoon. Marlissa Fereirra speaks of putting Kirk Bunch back on the stand instead. Much argument came from this situation. Judge Zuniga excoriated Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra over the situation. It has been observed so many times that Marlissa has ignored or “forgotten about” orders from the judge during this preliminary trial. The judge has been pushed to the point where I feel sanctions could result from further incidents. If sanctions are given to her, it is my feeling that they are overdue and justified.
After these fireworks, Marlissa Fereirra calls Heidi Morata, a DNA expert to the stand. Testimony goes into her qualifications for being called an expert in DNA analysis. After a fairly brief series of questions about her qualifications, it is agreed by the defense attorneys and the judge that she is qualified.
Marlissa Fereirra gets Heidi Morata to testify about how she tested two samples A and B from the family of Korey Kauffman. One sample was from Trina Richardson, and the other was from Tony Kauffman.
During this line of questioning, Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra was having great difficulty crafting her questions in a way that would work legally. Once again, Judge Zuniga seems to be coaching Marlissa on how to proceed with the prosecution, and ask her questions. I have observed quite a few trials in Stanislaus County and have never seen this before. Perhaps this is normal in Contra Costa County. I just don’t know.
It is 10:34 AM, and the Modesto Bee reporter has just entered the courtroom. We have not seen this man for what seems to be a couple of weeks.
Heidi Morata testifies that after analyzing the DNA, the data was handed over to another DNA expert named Heidi Elliott. She is a Missing Persons DNA analyst.
During this segment of testimony, Judge Zuniga once again gets very upset with Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra. Zuniga: “I need the expert’s testimony, not yours.” Marlissa seemed to be providing much of the information and to be leading the witness to say what she wanted her to say. She knows better but keeps using this tactic.
It was brought out in testimony that the bullet that was found at the scene was not tested for DNA.
It is at this point where Marlissa Fereirra wants to put Kirk Bunch back on the stand because Detective Ken Barringer is supposedly unavailable at this time. The Missing Persons DNA analyst Heidi Elliott is unavailable at all today, and she was supposed to be here. Judge Zuniga is still very upset about this situation. Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra seems at this point in the day to be so very disorganized, and she has a distressed look to her.
Kirk Bunch leaves the courtroom to try to get Detective Ken Barringer to get to the courtroom as soon as possible. After about 15 minutes, he shows up and takes the stand. This takes a little of the heat off of Marlissa Fereirra at this time.
Detective Ken Barringer is a former Patterson Police Officer who now works for the Stanislaus County Sheriffs Department. Marlissa Fereirra gets Barringer to testify that on 4/02/2012 he was assigned to a missing persons case concerning Korey Kauffman. It is brought out that Detective Barringer is Prop 115 qualified. The way the Prop 115 testimony has gone in this preliminary trial, I wonder why this type of testimony is allowed at all. There is so much room for abuse when allowing an officer to testify for another person. It is certainly not a reasonable avenue for getting to the truth of the matter. We have seen it abused in this case on several occasions already.
In his interview of Kevin Pickett, Barringer asks Pickett if Kevin Schmidt told him the last date that he saw Korey Kauffman. He answered “Yes.” It was allegedly said by Kevin Schmidt that Korey Kauffman did not come home on 03/30/2012. Barringer testified that Kevin Schmidt told him that Korey Kauffman rode his bicycle around town. According to Barringer, Schmidt told him that he looked for Korey at Michael Cooley’s residence, where he saw Korey Kauffman’s bicycle parked.
At this point I noticed that the Modesto Bee reporter was no longer present in the courtroom. It seems he left for good when we took the 15-minute break that allowed Kirk Bunch to get Barringer to court. He really did not see anything worth reporting on his short visit today.
Baringer looked for Korey Kauffman information at the residences at 838 and 908 9th street in Turlock. He could not remember doing this, but his memory was refreshed by reading a report that he had written. He had to refresh his memory so many times today it was ludicrous. After refreshing his memory, he testified that he got no information about Korey Kauffman at either address.
Kevin Schmidt allegedly told Barringer that Korey Kauffman had no problems with drug dealers threatening him. During this line of questioning, Judge Zuniga again seems to be coaching Marlissa Fereirra on how to ask her questions in order to get past the objections posed by the defense. Marlissa does not seem to be able to do the job, and the judge seems to be willing to help her. Time after time this goes on every day.
It seems there exists a receipt from Modesto Junk Co. on 03/22/2012 that shows Korey Kauffman sold some scrap metal. Barringer checked with five metal recyclers and found no recycling by Korey Kauffman after 03/30/2012.
Detective Barringer checked the security camera footage from AMR which has an office at 1420 Lander Ave, in Turlock, and found nothing that would show Korey Kauffman. Barringer did the same thing at West Steel and Plastics at 1252 Lander Rd and found no video evidence of Korey Kauffman. Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra is now resorting to very leading questions, and the defense attorneys jump on her for this.
Marlissa Fereirra asks Detective Barringer if he visited and interviewed Michael Cooley at 1364 Lander Rd, and he said yes. After refreshing his memory once again he was able to testify that this was done on 04/10/2012. Barringer testified that Michael Cooley was the only one home at the time.
Barringer asked Cooley for any information he could give concerning Korey Kauffman. According to Barringer, Cooley told him that Korey Kauffman jumped the back fence when he left the house. Cooley said that Korey Kauffman left his bike behind and did not come back to get it.
Michael Cooley was asked by Barringer about the caretaker on the Frank Carson property. Cooley allegedly told Barringer that he had problems with the caretaker. Cooley told Barringer that he noticed that the back field had been plowed after Korey Kauffman had gone missing.
Michael Cooley allegedly told Barringer that Korey Kauffman was his best friend, “Like a son.”
At this point, I noticed that Judge Zuniga seems to be coaching Marlissa Fereirra on how to ask her questions.
Cooley allegedly tells Barringer that Korey Kauffman is a methamphetamine user and a scrapper. Marlissa asks Barringer about where Korey Kauffman takes the metal. Judge Zuniga tells Fereirra that she has to lay the foundation for this line of questioning. There she goes again with the coaching. After help with crafting her line of questioning, Marlissa Fereirra is able to ascertain that Korey Kauffman took recycled metal to Modesto Junk Company.
Questioning of Barringer by Fereirra then goes into a drug dealer by the name of Rudy Gonzalez. Barringer allegedly spoke to Mr. Gonzalez on the phone on 04/24/2012. During this phone conversation, Gonzalez allegedly told Barringer that he knew Korey Kauffman, and he knew that he was missing. He allegedly told Barringer that he had seen the flyers about Korey Kauffman. Gonzalez allegedly told Barringer that he had seen Korey Kauffman at a tire shop at the corner of Johnson and Linwood in Turlock. Gonzalez according to Barringer told him that Korey Kauffman had recycled a horse trailer, and he was supposed to split the money with him from the sale. When asked if he had threatened to kill Korey Kauffman over this, he said “No.” Gonzalez allegedly admitted that he was upset over this incident and would never rip off a person like that.
Marlissa Fereirra gets Barringer to testify that he entered information about Korey Kauffman into the MUPS System on clothing, tattoos, physical description, family members, etc.
It is noted that the Modesto Bee continues to not be in the courtroom.
It is brought out that on 6/23/2012 Barringer canvassed the neighborhood between the 800 and 900 blocks of 9th St. Turlock. Barringer talked about a caretaker on Frank Carson’s property named Brian Schmidt. Barringer describes Schmidt as working on the property and mowing lawns once or twice a week. Barringer allegedly showed Schmidt a flyer about Korey Kauffman. Barringer said that Schmidt did not give him an address where he lived. Schmidt allegedly told Barringer that he did not see Korey Kauffman or have any problems with Korey Kauffman. Barringer testified that Schmidt did not answer all of his questions and was not very cooperative during the interview.
Barringer testified that Schmidt left in a white Chevy Van License #7N33920. This vehicle is registered to Frank Carson.
Questions now center on a lady named Kathy Grennolds(sp). After a bunch of objections, and after Barringer is taken out of the courtroom for an offer of proof, testimony continues. Barringer is asked if Grennolds talked about the long barn siding being replaced or repaired. She allegedly said that new wood had been placed on the side of this building. Barringer testified that on 07/15/2012 he noticed lots of places to hide in the building, and that there were pry marks on the interior doors. He continues to resort to refreshing his memory for all sorts of questions. I question if Barringer actually has much of a memory.
Once again, Judge Zuniga asks Fereirra to lay a foundation for her line of questioning on the pry marks, and she gets help from the judge in crafting her line of questions.
Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra then asks Detective Barringer about an attempted 06/25/2012 interview of Christina DeFellipo . It was not successful, and he left a card for her on top of the mail box. He also left a flyer about Korey Kauffman. Barringer canvassed the area, and he was eventually able to speak to Christina DeFellipo. Barringer told Christina he was investigating the disappearance of Korey Kauffman. Christina allegedly told Barringer that she had not seen Korey Kauffman. Christina allegedly told Barringer that they had experienced problems with things getting stolen, and that the stolen stuff was not hers. Christina allegedly told Barringer that the stolen items belonged to her Mom and Dad. (Georgia and Frank) Christina allegedly told Barringer that she could not tell who was stealing items from their property. Christina allegedly told Barringer that she had never caught anyone “back there”. Christina allegedly told Barringer that around a month earlier there was a Hispanic male running around the property. When asked if there were security cameras on the property she said “No.” Christina allegedly told Barringer that there were sensors on the property, but they were not working.
It was brought out that Frank Carson’s parents owned neighboring property, and there was an upstairs garage apartment where Brian Schmidt (Caretaker) lived at times. Christina allegedly told Barringer that the thefts had been quiet lately. It was brought out that there were people with tattoos watching the property. A woman allegedly told Christina about thieves who were stealing from the Carson property.
Testimony from Barringer then goes to when he showed Daljit Atwall a picture of Korey Kauffman. Daljit Atwall told Barringer that he had not seen him before. Daljit allegedly told Barringer that Korey Kauffman’s family had told Daljit that Korey was missing.
Testimony then went to when Barringer talked to Robert Woody. Woody was asked if he had seen Korey Kauffman before 03/30/2012. Woody allegedly told Barringer “No.” Woody was asked if he contacted Frank Carson. He allegedly said “Yes.”
On 07/12/2012, Barringer attempted to talk to Frank Carson at his office. Detective Frank Navorro was with Barringer at the time. They wanted to talk to Frank about the disappearance of Korey Kauffman. Barringer was not the one who was asking the questions to Frank Carson. Detective Navorro was the one asking the questions. Frank would not talk to Navorro. Frank asked Navorro to present him with the 14 questions concerning the information that they wanted in written form.
Prosecuting DA Marlissa Ferierra was again having trouble crafting her questions property, and again she received coaching from the judge for the umpteenth time. Marlissa at this time looks “Down” and very stressed out.
After telling Navorro to give him the 14 questions in writing, Frank Carson then asks Barringer and Navorro to leave his office, which they did. It turns out that Frank never answered these questions after learning that Navorro, Bunch, and Evers were the investigators on this case.
Defense Attorney Robert Forkner then goes on cross examination of Barringer. Forkner asks Barringer if they used ‘cadaver dogs’ during the search of the Carson property. “Yes.” No alerts? “No.” Did they use a search grid? “Yes.” It was brought out that the ‘cadaver dogs’ searched for about 2 hours and found nothing. During the search, it was brought out that the locks were cut on the storage containers, and that battering rams were used to break down the doors on Frank’s home and the long barn. The cops did not fix anything that they destroyed during the search. It was brought out that there was nobody home when they used the battering ram to destroy the doors to get into the residence and barn.
It was brought out that on 3/28/2012 someone named Rudy Gonzalez tried to run down Korey Kauffman with a car. Gonzalez got out and confronted Korey Kauffman and said “I’m going to cut your throat from ear to ear.” Forkner gets Barringer to testify that 48 to 72 hours before Korey Kauffman went missing he spoke with Michael Cooley. Michael Cooley allegedly told Barringer that Korey Kauffman was going to steal metal but not pipes from the Carson property.
It turns out that the interview of Christina DeFellipo was recorded. Defense Attorney Robert Forkner wants this interview to be turned over to the defense. Kirk Bunch goes out of the courtroom to check on this.
Forkner asks Barringer if Cooley has lots of tattoos. “Yes.” It was brought out that around 11 days after Korey Kauffman went missing Michael Cooley was already speaking of Korey in the past tense. Cooley spoke of Korey in the past tense 3 times during a 04/10/2012 interview. It was brought out that Michael Cooley never spoke of Korey in the present tense during this interview.
Forkner: Did Michael Cooley tell you he knows Rudy Gonzalez? “No.” Forkner trys to get Barringer to talk about Cooley saying he was forced to bury Korey Kauffman on his own property. This was objected to, and the objection was sustained.
Forkner asks Barringer if he showed a flyer of Korey Kauffman to Kathy Grinnolds (sp?) “Yes.” It turns out after refreshing his memory, this was shown to her on 06/23/2012. Barringer was trying to see if she had seen Korey Kauffman. Grinnolds(sp?) said that she did not see anything out of the ordinary on 03/30/2012. Grinnolds (sp?) said she did not see 3 men on the top of one of the buildings.
Forkner then asks Barringer about talking to Mr. Schmidt on 06/23/2012. Testimony centered about whether Mr. Schmidt lived above the garage. Barringer was not sure when Schmidt lived up there, but that Brian Schmidt gave 838 9th street as his address.
Forkner asks Barringer about the Task Force. Barringer testifies that there “Is no Task Force.” “That it is a Multi-Agency Investigating Team.” Forkner: “Have you ever used this term?” Barringer: “Don’t Remember.” It was brought out that the Task Force met in the DA’s office and at a location in Ceres.
Forkner then asks Barringer about Kevin Pickett and how he said his stepson had gone missing on 03/29/2012. Barringer testified that he was not aware of that.
Marlissa Fereirra gets downright nasty at this time with the judge. She gets away with it, but the judge again is visibly irritated with her. I have seen many trials in Stanislaus County and have never seen another judge tolerate this type of disrespect. Perhaps it is different in Contra Costa County. Judge Zuniga: “STOP IT FOLKS.”
Defense Attorney Percy Martinez gets his chance to ask the questions. Percy approaches the bench and shows a flyer that was done by the family about the disappearance of Korey Kauffman. As it turns out, this particular flyer is not yet entered into the evidence. The flyer lists 03/29/2012 as the date Korey Kauffman went missing. Percy Martinez: “Did Michael Cooley tell you of theories on the street about the disappearance of Korey Kauffman?” Barringer is asked to step down at this time while the defense and prosecution fight it out. Percy Martinez gives an offer of proof. Percy Martinez: “Kauffman killed over stolen property after jumping over fence, and Michael Cooley being forced to bury the body on his property.”
It is now after 4:30 PM, and court is done for the day. Testimony will resume again tomorrow at 9:30 AM.
God what a lot of typing tonight. This is lots of work, but it must be done. The truth will set them free someday I am sure.
Sincerely; William Thomas Jensen (Tom)
- Share on Tumblr