Court Roundup

California: Video shows  LAPD detective before arrest
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Newly released video posted last week shows the surprise interrogation of a Los Angeles police detective moments before she was arrested in a decades-old murder case.

Video and transcripts obtained by the Los Angeles Times show an incredulous Det. Stephanie Lazarus, who had been duped by fellow detectives who had asked her to leave her gun behind and accompany them to a jail interrogation room to investigate a suspect in an art theft case, her specialty.

After some small talk, the detectives said they had actually brought her to talk about the 1986 killing of Sherri Rasmussen.

“You’re accusing me of this? Is that what you’re, is that what you’re saying?” Lazarus asked near the end of the roughly hourlong interview in June 2009.

The detectives told her she could leave if she wanted to, but when she walked out, she was intercepted by other detectives who were waiting and arrested her.

“Am I on ‘Candid Camera’ or something? This is insane,” she said, according to a transcript. “This is absolutely crazy. This is insane.”

Lazarus said in the interview that she confronted Rasmussen several times but had no role in her killing.

Rasmussen, 29, was beaten and shot to death in her Van Nuys town house. Her husband told detectives that Lazarus, his ex-girlfriend and a Los Angeles police officer, had repeatedly confronted and threatened Rasmussen before she was killed.

DNA evidence later linked Lazarus to the killing, prosecutors said.

Lazarus has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. She remained jailed on $10 million bail and was awaiting trial, expected to start in the spring.

The Times obtained the video and transcript from Los Angeles County Superior Court, where a Judge ruled during a hearing Friday that the transcript would be allowed as evidence in the trial.

Messages left by The Associated Press for a court spokeswoman after business hours Tuesday were not immediately returned.

Lazarus lawyer Mark Overland told the Times the questioning would not hurt his client.

“There’s nothing in the interview from which any reasonable juror could conclude that she committed this crime,” he said.

Attorneys for the family of the victim, who have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police saying they ignored evidence pointing to Lazarus, said the questioning was too long in coming.

“That’s the interview that LAPD should have conducted in 1986,” attorney John C. Taylor said. “It would have led to answers for the Rasmussens rather than letting them hang in wind.”

New York: Axl Rose files suit over tune used in Guitar video game
NEW YORK (AP) — Welcome to the courtroom, Activision.

Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose is suing video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for $20 million over the company’s use of the song “Welcome to the Jungle” in the game “Guitar Hero III.”

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week, the singer rails against Activision executives for guaranteeing the song would not be used alongside anything to do with estranged former band mate Slash — and then putting the guitar player’s likeness in the game anyway.

The latest installment in the “Guitar Hero” franchise includes an animated character with Slash’s distinctive top hat, dark glasses and curly black locks.

The lawsuit says that Rose has been trying to distance Guns N’ Roses from Slash since he left the band in 1996.

“Activision was keenly aware of Rose’s concerns in these regards” and “began spinning a web of lies and deception to conceal its true intentions,” the suit claims.

A message left with Activision, based in Santa Monica, Calif., was not immediately returned.

Indiana: AG says he’ll defend accused prosecutors
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office will defend 78 county prosecutors from a lawsuit that accuses them of breaking the law by not turning over assets seized from criminals to a state school fund.

The attorney general’s office said Tuesday it had been contacted by some of the prosecutors named in the suit, triggering a state law that requires the agency to represent them.

State law allows law enforcement agencies to keep a portion of seized funds to cover “law enforcement costs” and give the rest to the common school fund, which helps pay for school construction.

But an investigation by The Indianapolis Star found that what constitutes law enforcement costs depends on the prosecutor and that many are keeping all of the assets seized.

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