Los Angeles, CA—I’m dumbfounded by the arrest of LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus for murdering her former boyfriend’s wife, Sherri Rae Rasmussen, 29. Rasmussen was both beaten and shot to death in 1986.
LAPD boss William Bratton credits modern DNA technology advances with the solution of this cold case killing that remained unsolved for well over two decades.
There is apparently nothing in the background of Lazarus that would suggest this kind of violence. Apparently there are no witnesses to explain Rasmussen’s killing.
The big question I have is just how DNA material transferred from Lazarus to Sherri Rae Rasmussen at the time of her death. Since it’s conceivable that Lazarus may have been legitimately in the home that Rasmussen shared with her husband the presence of DNA material may not be sinister.
If the DNA material is blood transferred during a fight in which Lazarus was injured that led to the killing then that’s somewhat persuasive that Lazarus was involved.
If we are talking about a physical fight between the women we cannot discount a defense of self-defense. If it were self-defense then the killing was justified. I’m sure the public, police and prosecutors would act with disdain if Lazarus failed to report the event to police.
The fact is there are no laws that require the reporting of a justifiable homicide. Lazarus has an absolute right not to ever say a word about that to anyone.
If Lazarus was involved and simply failed to report the event she deserves no punishment.
I can’t help but notice that the LAPD arrested Lazarus on a Friday so she could be kept away from the court and a bail bond hearing for the weekend. This does not appear to be a capital case so perhaps reasonable bail can be set.
The case will be submitted to the District Attorney who may have a different view than the LAPD.
Lazarus, her LAPD officer husband and child have a nightmare before them. This will require significant financial assets to obtain the legal, investigative and forensic expert services needed to obtain a fair day in court.
I can only hope that there is a fair disposition of this remarkable case. I will be watching it closely.
Stephanie Lazarus is expected to make her first court appearance on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 @8:30 AM in Division 30 located at 210 Temple Street, Los Angeles.
There is more on this story here.