Sunday, November 8, 2009

The truth will not set you free in this case

This testimony appears to put her statements she never knew who the victim was into the lie category.

Not a good thing for her.

Trial to continue on Monday.

Longtime friend connects Vickers, Lindenbaum


On the fourth day of testimony Friday, prosecutors provided the first human link between Janice Vickers and Shirley Lindenbaum, calling a longtime friend of both women to the stand.

Jackie Ort, who knew and lived across the street from Lindenbaum in Canyon Lake since the 1970s, also knows Janice Vickers.

Ort testified Friday she is still good friends with Vickers, but her testimony contradicted Vickers’ statement to police the night of Lindenbaum’s death. Vickers told police she had never met Lindenbaum and did not know her.

Ort testified that a distraught Vickers called her two days after Lindenbaum’s death and asked her to come to her home.

According to her testimony, when she arrived Vickers said, “I have to tell you something.”

“She said, ‘I was at Shirley’s house twice,’” Ort testified. “She said, ‘I put her in the car.’”

Ort testified she told Vickers at that point, “I don’t want to know anything else,” and ended the conversation.

Defense attorney Mark Clark asked Ort if she took Vickers’ statement to mean Lindenbaum was alive when Vickers “put” her in the car. Ort indicated that was what she believed Vickers meant.

Prosecutors also raised questions about Vickers’ movements on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006, the day of Lindenbaum’s death.

Vickers traveled to Houston the day before for an education conference on Friday. Ort rode along in order to pick up a used car from her daughter. Ort and her daughter, Lisa Castro, both testified Friday that Vickers led them to believe she was staying in Houston until Saturday, and agreed to follow Ort back to Canyon Lake on Saturday.

Phone call logs show that Vickers spoke with Ort at 4:13 p.m. Friday.

“(Vickers) said she and the (other people at the conference) were going out to eat and then they were going out on the town,” Ort testified. “She said, ‘I’ll get in touch with you tomorrow about (going home.)’”

However, cell phone tower records showed that Vickers was in Canyon Lake during the call, and had been back in that area since 12:33 p.m. that day.

Prosecutors called on an investigator with the Attorney General’s office and a fingerprint expert with the Department of Public Safety.

Sgt. Michelle Stern testified on analysis she had done on Vickers’ cell phone records, bank statements and certain purchases made in the months leading up to Lindenbaum’s death.

For the period from Oct. 10 to Nov. 8, 2006, Vickers had a beginning balance of minus $243.88 and an ending balance of minus $120.96. For the same period, she incurred overdraft fees of $297.

From 2004 to 2008, Vickers incurred $4,499 in overdraft fees, $1,620 in insufficient fund fees and received overdraft transfers of $6,720.67.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense commented on whether this was significant.

Ort and Castro testified that Vickers solicited money from them at different times in 2006 to invest in a plan to restore a house and sell it. Both told her they were unable to help. Ort testified that Vickers asked her on Sept. 6, 2006 if she knew of anyone who might be able to invest in Vickers plan.

Ort said besides her daughter, the only person she knew who was wealthy was Lindenbaum.

Betty Steinhauser, a fingerprint examiner with DPS, testified she had not found Vickers fingerprints on any of the items submitted from Lindenbaum’s house for testing, nor on a black purse belonging to Lindenbaum found in the backseat of Vickers’ Chevrolet Tahoe the night of Lindenbaum’s death. One fingerprint lifted from a gift card envelope in the purse did not match Vickers.

Fingerprint and palm analysis of Vickers’ Tahoe to determine if Lindenbaum had ever been in the vehicle was inconclusive, as prints lifted from Lindenbaum’s body were unusable.

Steinhauser testified this was not unusual, as elderly people’s fingers are often more worn and smoother, making the characteristic ridges unique to them harder to identify. She said she had not found Lindenbaum’s prints on her own house phone, one of the items submitted for testing. This was determined because no prints at all were found on the phone.

The prosecution will continue to call witnesses next week when the trial resumes Monday at 9 a.m.