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LEAD DETECTIVE TESTIFIES: Danny Masterson Trial, Day 15, afternoon break report
[This report was produced live during a court hearing with a lot going on. There will be typos. Please don't email us about typos that you find.]
After lunch session.
Continuation of the direct examination of Det. Javier Vargas.
Mueller: I was asking you about efforts to find Shaun Fabos. We talked about efforts before March 2017. What about after that?
In March 2017 there was still a little overlap between Det Reyes and I. And I received notes that in April 2017 we heard from Mr. Fabos's attorney that he had nothing to add. And December 2018 I reached out to Ms. Vicki Podberesky to make some witnesses available.
Podberesky, who was that?
She represented herself as an attorney for the Church of Scientology.
And did this conversation have to do with Fabos?
Yes. I gave her the names of witnesses, including Fabos, and she said she would get back to me.
How did you find out about the recording that JD1 had made of Fabos.
She notified me and asked if I had a copy. This was March-April 2017.
And was this recording part of the pretext calls made with line set up for them?
She actually made that recording with a tablet, an iPad.
Do you know why?
At that time those pretext lines had been disconnected.
Disconnected by whom?
Our technical division.
Was she still under instruction to record witnesses?
Yes, I told them they should do so.
Did you know she would do so on her own tablet?
Did you retrieve that recording from her?
At that point you had no knowledge of it until she told you?
Had Det Reyes told you about a recording that JD1 had made of him?
She was unaware of it.
Was it documented anywhere that she had this recording?
Not in the documents prepared by Det Reyes.
You had a brief interview with Mr. Cedric Zavala. Who is that.
What was the purpose of you conducting that interview (Oct 2022).
Throughout the investigation JD3 said she had a conversation with her husband, and where he told her... (Obj, sustained)
When you say you contacted him, what was the incident you discussed?
The unconscious sodomy by the defendant.
So the purpose of speaking to him was about that conversation?
When you contacted him, what did you tell him was the nature of the call.
The conversation he had had with his wife about the defendant about the assault.
Which incident did you tell him it was about.
The unconscious sodomy.
And he provided information to you?
When you had this conversation about that sodomy, did you go into questions, or ask about other possible assaults that he was aware of?
I kept it focused on that specific issue, on what he told her, that he believed what it was that had occurred to her.
Did you ask if he was aware of domestic violence?
I did not.
What did he tell you about what JD3 had told him regarding that incident...
[Judge Olmedo calls for a sidebar.]
Mueller: This interview, how was this conducted.
Over the phone.
How long did it last?
Just a few minutes, no longer than ten.
You also interviewed Jane Doe 2's mother.
She testified here yesterday and you were here.
Do you know when that interview took place.
I've heard the word 2017 mentioned, but my recollection is that it was closer to 2020.
How was it conducted?
And in that interview, when you first contacted her, did you focus on a particular piece of information?
Yes, the disclosure from JD2 about the sexual assault.
So the substance of that interview was really focused on that issue.
During the interview with her, were there times when she would tell you "I don't recall."
Were there times when she told you, "Yes, that stands out in my mind."
Do you recall what she told you when she was contacted by JD2 about the incident? Did she give you a timeframe?
Yes, JD2 had a conversation with her mother and JD2 thought it was much later, but the mother said it was only two days after the incident.
Did she tell you how she remembers that?
I don't remember specifically what reminded her that it was only two days. But there were certain words JD2 used that stuck in her mind.
And those words were what she used to determine when it took place?
Do you remember what those words are that she told you?
They were words about being pounded. A description of his penis I believe.
Anything else you remember?
And I believe there was a reference to a jackhammer.
Did she tell you anything about JD2's demeanor during this conversation?
I don't recall.
Did she tell you JD2 was upset?
I don't have an independent memory of that.
If I show you a transcript would it refresh your recollection?
Yes. (Checks.) She was upset.
Did you ask what details stood out in her mind?
Yes. It was the pounding, the slamming from behind her.
Did you inquire what she had been told by JD2 about efforts to get Mr. Masterson to stop.
Yes. JD2 told him repeatedly to stop. She didn't want him to do that.
Was JD2's mother told what he did when he was told to stop?
He didn't stop. He continued his actions.
Did you ask her to clarify what she understood in terms of the pounding and slamming? What she understood that to mean?
Yes, it was penile-vaginal penetration.
She didn't use those words.
What did she say?
I don't remember the exact words she used, but that was my understanding.
(Shows him the transcript.) What did she tell you?
He penetrated her from behind.
You've had a number of contacts with JD1, 2, and 3.
For a variety of reasons.
At any point in time did any of the named victims express to you concerns they had about reporting to law enforcement?
Yes. (Obj, overruled)
Those fears they expressed, did those include fears of harassment and intimidation? (Obj, overruled)
[Cohen asks for a sidebar.]
Mueller: Has JD3 ever given a statement that any kind of a weapon had been used during her assault?
Has JD2 ever said a weapon was used?
Has JD3 ever made any statement that there was strangulation involved?
How about JD2?
Has JD3 ever said she was smothered with a pillow?
How about JD2?
Has JD2 ever said she was dragged across the floor?
Has JD1 ever said she was hit or slapped with an open fist during her assault?
An open fist? I don't believe so.
Has JD2 ever said she was hit with an open fist?
Has JD2 ever said she was carried upstairs?
Has JD3 ever said she was carried upstairs?
Has JD2 ever said she was spit on?
Has JD1 ever said that?
Has JD2 ever said she was anally raped during her assault?
No further questions.
Cohen: Could you take me through your training and experience? Start with the academy.
I started at the academy in 1993. Completed a 12-month probation. Became a polie officer 2. Took a detective test.
So you were a patrol officer for a while.
And that includes taking reports?
And based on your good work as a patrol officer led to detective?
It's a process of examination and review.
Were you taught at the academy how to conduct interviews?
And while a patrol officer you produced hundreds if not thousands of them?
And you keep up training on how to conduct them over the years.
Over the years there are best practices.
Is one of them not to lead a witness toward a particular answer?
I would say so. We want to get honest and open answers to our questions.
Tell me what it is to lead a witness in your training. (Obj, sustained). Well is leading a witness a way to get a particular answer. (Olmedo: Court instructs you to ask about this case.) Thank you, your honor. Fair to say in this case you did not want to lead a witness to a particular answer.
Yes, my recollection is to start broad, what happened, then we can focus and go back on specifics.
When you say broad, you might say tell me what you remember.
So the person is given a wide stage of what they think is important.
When you reach out to a witness you might have a sliver of info you give them a wide swath to say what they think is relevant.
I’m not sure what you mean, but I might have some information. I don't understand that part.
Is it important to record interviews?
And you work on a bunch of different cases.
And it might be hard to remember down the road what you asked.
Sure, but we also take notes.
So the best way to determine what you asked is to see what a recording say.
Yes, in this case you'll see the vast majority are recorded.
Vast majority. All of them?
One or two.
What about Cedric?
No, I didn't record that one.
He was a real important witness for JD3, correct? (Rephrase). He was one of the first people that she spoke to about the Dec 2001 allegation, correct?
He was one of the non-church that she disclosed to, approximately two year into their marriage. She told us what he said, and I just wanted to ask him
And you didn't record it.
It was a short conversation over the phone. I took notes and wrote the statement.
Detective, you chose not to record that conversation, correct?
When you came into this case, you reviewed all of the prior reports?
And that included Schlegel's report.
Det Myers report?
I actually read her notes I didn't have access to her completed follow up report. I actually never read it. I read her Detective Track Case Notes. In those notes they include work product on the case.
You said at one point you took over the lead of this case from Det Reyes.
The responsibility was transferred to me.
She has a number of years as a sex assault detective.
You have a number of years as sex assault detective.
Were there any findings by LAPD that Det Reyes had done anything untoward for you to take over? (Obj, sustained.) The interviews that the three JDs had with Mueller, you were present?
You were not present for the ones Det Reyes did with them.
Det Reyes does the initial lengthy interviews, then some months later Mr. Mueller does another interview with three Jane Does.
Have you reviewed the transcripts that the three JDs gave to Det Reyes?
Is there a reason why not? (Obj, overruled)
No, I read her follow-up report, her summaries.
You were here for her testimony yesterday.
Do you recall she referred to two different reports to refresh her recollection?
I don't recall.
Do you remember her referring to a 13-page report regarding the interviews she took.
I remember she was referring to a report but I don't remember.
And you prepared a 20-page report on interviews you sat in on.
I prepared a 20-page report, that's correct.
When you come in on the investigation in March 2017, would it be helpful to know what was said in the interviews Det Reyes conducted?
I read a report.
I understand. It's 13 pages. The interviews, each one of them is 2-3 hours.
I don't know how long they were.
At any time did you ask for a copy of the tapes or transcripts of those interviews.
I received recordings she made.
Did you listen to them?
Is there a reason why? (Asked and answered.) Have you ever taken any steps to compare and contrast what the three Jane Does said to Reyes with what they said to Muller that you sat in on.
And that's using the summary report you talked about?
You mentioned 2 phone calls between JD1 and Shaun Fabos.
I don't believe they were two separate calls. I believe they were two recordings of the same call.
Were they cut into two separate recordings?
Have you reviewed those recordings?
Would it be fair to say they are not a full recording of the conversation? (Obj, overruled)
I don't know.
Well one tape end at one point and the other starts at a different point (Obj, sustained) But you listened to these recordings, correct.
Did you prepare a report on those recordings?
Yes, I prepared a summary.
Do you remember what you said about them?
At the moment I can't recall what I summarized.
Would it help to refresh your recollection to look at your chron record?
Yes, counsel. (Checks.)
Did your record say there was a 54-second gap in the conversation?
Yes, I did document that.
Did you ever ask JD1 why there was a gap?
MY recollection was she was unfamiliar how to use that iPad as a recording device so there were some technical difficulties.
And you relied on what she told you? (Obj, sustained) In the recording of JD1 and Fabos, Fabos indicates he went on the trip with JD1.
I don't remember.
Would it help to refresh your recollection to look at your report?
Fabos indicated he went on that trip.
He indicated that he remembered going to Clearwater, yes.
When you interviewed Jane Doe 2's mom. Were you here for her testimony yesterday.
Did she have a real clear recollection of what JD2 told her, when she spoke with you in 2020? (Obj, sustained). Did you conduct that interview sort of broad and narrowing down?
No, with her and Cedric it was focused on disclosures to them.
So it's your position that the way you conducted your interview with her was the same way you did with Cedric?
Did you ask her, is there anything additional you want me to know?
I don't know.
Would it help to refresh your recollection to review a transcript?
So did you ask her if there was anything additional that she would like for you to know.
And you indicated that was the same technique with Cedric.
So you asked Cedric if there was anything else?
I would have asked that.
And Cedric didn't say anything other than the Dec 2001 sodomy.
Not that I recall. The 2001 sodomy was the focus of my phone call.
My question is different. When you gave Cedric that broad question at the end, he didn't make mention of any other assault other than December 2001 sodomy? (Rephrase.) Is your report regarding with Cedric complete, that you included everything important said to you?
Does that report refer to any sexual assault other than the December 2001 sodomy?
Would the report be a fair indication of what was said.
Yes, but I didn't ask about any prior assaults. I only called him about that particular disclosure.
Wasn't your purpose to ask him what he knew?
To give him the time to tell you what he wanted to say?
You gave him that same statement you did to JD2's mom, tell me anything you want to say?
And he didn't make any mention of any assault other than the December 2001 sodomy.
Your report also does not make any mention of any domestic violence.
We didn't discuss that.
Cedric did not say anything about that.
By the way, he did tell you that during this conversation, she was still on good terms with Masterson?
He was not accepting of that?
He said she referred to an incident where she felt she had passed out, the Dec 2001 incident.
And she woke up the next day feeling hungover, correct?
I wanted to ask you some questions about the interviews that the three JDs did with Mueller.
You have reviewed the recordings or transcripts of those.
I've read the transcripts of JD3, and I've relied on my summaries for JD1 and JD2.
Is there a reason why you haven't reviewed the transcripts for those two?
I've read the summaries for those and I'm confident that I documented what needed to be documented.
Would it to be fair that these are just the highlights?
I add more than the highlights. I rely on my reports.
Let's start with JD1. During her interview, she said with respect to Sept 2002 incident, that she did not feel that was rape.
Judge Olmedo: Uh, counsel... (throws up her hands) I'll allow that question. (Said with resignation.) (She apparently didn't like that move by Cohen, but appeared to think it was too late to do anything about it.)
[Cohen asks for sidebar.]
Cohen: JD1 had talked about both a Sept 2002 and an April 2003 at his house which is the charging incident.
Getting back to the Sept 2002 incident, she said she was not out of it.
That she was not unconscious.
And that she knew what was going on.
In the Mueller interview, JD1 was given as much time as she needed to say what she needed to.
She indicated sometime after the Sept 2002 that she and Masterson were on friendly terms again.
It took some time but they reconciled, yes.
And they reconciled some time before April 2003.
She never indicated to you during the Mueller interview that she was terrified to be at his house following the Sept 2002 incident leading up the April 2003.
JD1 had used a term of "blackout curtains" in his room.
I don't have a recollection of her describing the curtains.
Do you recall her describing a blackout room that was pitch black inside?
Would it help refresh your recollection to look at a transcript?
She indicated the room was so black, with blackout curtains.
This is a fact that did not make it into your summary?
Did JD1 indicate that up until the time that she was thrown into the jacuzzi, that she felt normal?
Before the drink, yes.
No, before being thrown into the jacuzzi?
She already had the drink when she got thrown in. I believe she said she hadn't yet felt the full impact of the drink.
Did she say she felt normal, that she felt OK.
That seems right.
JD1 never made mention of her phone being taken away from her at the top of the stairs.
I don't have a recollection of statements by her about her phone.
So you don't remember that during those interviews you don't remember her saying her phone was taken away by Luke Watson or Danny Masterson at the top of the stairs.
I don't remember.
Did JD1 tell you during the Mueller interview that she had woken up after the rape at 3 pm in the afternoon and Masterson was in bed next to her?
I don't recall the time.
You don't recall the time?
And I don't recall that statement that she woke up in bed with him. I believe she woke up in the closet.
Her statement to you was that she woke up in the closet, Masterson was nowhere around.
I believe so.
After the interview with Mueller, did you have a phone call with JD1 where you and her discussed her position that corrections needed to be made to the 2004 Schlegel report?
And was there a discussion about those corrections not being done by email but over the phone?
I believe I may have emailed her that report, she went over it and confirmed the corrections.
When you spoke to her, regarding the fact that there were a number of things she said to you and Mueller that were very different than the Schlegel report (Obj, sustained, rephrase) Did you have a discussion with JD1 in June 2017 that there were a number of things different in the reports (Obj, sustained). Did she tell you there were inconsistencies int he Schlegel report.
Yes there were things she wanted to change.
Did she say that Schlegel go things wrong? (Obj, sustained) Did ou think Schlegel wrote things down, did you discuss that. (Obj, sustained) Did she tell you why she wanted to make corrections?
She believed he wrote things down wrong.
Did you then ask her to make corrections to the report?
I asked her what the corrections were and to send them to me. There were a couple.
It was two pages wasn't it?
I don't remember.
Did you ever contact Det. Schlegel about what was in his report?
Let me ask you about the JD2 interview. For your recollection of what she said, again you're relying on your summary report.
On my report, yes.
Did you give her whatever time she needed?
And did you ask kind of open-ended question?
Deputy DA Mueller led those interviews.
Did JD2 ever indicate to you that when she was texting back and forth to Masterson, that if you don't come over here, I am going to go get you.
I don't recall.
Was it in your summary.
I'm not sure.
Would it help to look at the report?
Did JD2 indicate that he was going to come and get her?
I don't recollect that and I don't believe I documented that.
JD1's corrections, was that discussion tape recorded?
I'm not sure. It may have been an email communication back and forth. I don't recall.
Do you recall that there was a discussion with JD1 that it was not to take place on email, that it take place in a phone call?
I don't recall.
Would it refresh your recollection to check your report?
It might. (Checks) Page 17?
Yes. On page 17 it makes reference to a telephonic interview with you and JD1.
And that was in reference to corrections in regards to Schlegel report.
Is there any indication that that conversation was recorded?
Not in this report.
OK, back to JD2. Did she indicate to you and Mueller, that it might have been her idea to get into the shower with Masterson?
I don't recall that.
Would it help to refresh your recollection to look at a transcript?
Did she indicate that it might have been her idea to get into the shower.
She said she was unsure, that it might have been his or hers.
Well, let's be accurate. "She doesn't know how they got into the shower, if it was his idea or mine."
I understand it's not in your summary report that Masterson was going to come over and get her if she didn't come. But in your interview with Mueller, JD2 made reference to a text exchange with Masterson.
Did she ever show you any text messages from this 2003 incident?
I don't believe so.
Did she ever indicate to you that before going to the house, that she had called her mom and told her that she was very excited to see him?
I don't recall.
Is that in your summary report?
No, it's not.
Can we agree it's not in your interview either? (Obj, sustained)
Did JD2 say that "she was OK with him fingering her?" (Clarify the time period) Did she indicate to you that prior to the shower, she was ok with Masterson fingering her?
In the shower she was OK with it?
In bed she was OK with it?
I'm not sure about the bed.
Do you recall her saying we can kiss, make out, he can finger me and then we can go to sleep.
That sounds familiar.
Is that in your report? (Rephrase) Would it refresh your recollection to see your report?
Judge Olmedo: We'll take our afternoon break now.
Judge Olmedo cautions Cohen that his questions are argumentative or bordering on it with Det Vargas. She goes over with him the way to refer to a report. Seems like a minor thing.
We're on break.
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