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05-27-2011, 08:15 PM #1
05-27-2011, 08:18 PM #2HHJP: excused. Next witness.
Simon Birch (he has an accent)
LDB: where do you live? Orlando?
LDB: how were you employed?
Johnson's wrecker service
Gated at both ends with a chain link fence with barbed wire.
LDB: did you live on the property?
they whole time I was there, I lived on site.
LDB: did Johnson's receive a pontiac sunfire on june 30th of 2008 from amscot?
LDB: may I approach with a stipuation?
HHJP: you may
LDB: at this point may we announce the stipuation
HHJP: the stipuation states june 30th 2008 Johnson's Towing towed a Pontiac Sunfire from Amscot. These records are a true and accurate representation and should be considered true in your deliberations.
LDB: I will show you what has been marked(approaches the witness)take a look at the documents inside and tell me if you recognize them.
Witness is reviewing documents. He put on his reading glasses.
yes ma'am the impound sheets, the tag total who was the owner...that is the tag taulk...the records that come back through OC who the registered owner is...we send this to OC so they know we have the car and that is mr anthony's id so he could get back the car.
HHJP: any objections? It will be received into evidence.
LDB: when you receive a car or this car in particular what action is taken?
the car is stored when the driver brings it in they get paper work...
LDB: when the tow truck driver?
yes, license plate, location and he turns that paperwork into the facility as the car is unloaded and we then do the tag taulk and the paper work is put into the daily files.
LDB: is there a specific location where cars are stored?
LDB: difference between private tow or LE tow?
yes, depending on what dept had it towed due to amount paperwork marked accordingly and stored accordingly to their own locations.
LDB: I am going to show you LG for indentification. What is it we are looking at?
Storage facility at narcusy road.
LDB: since then there has been work done on narcusy road?
yes, minor changes the fence was brought back about a hundred two hundred feet.
LDB: as a result of the widening of narcusy road is this a true and accurate reprensentation of Johnson's
HHJP: entered into evidence
LDB: first of all over here, the area I have indicated with red, what is that?
LDB: the area i have circled?
the mobile home.
LDB: you have mentioned this entire compound is fenced?
LDB: can you show us where and use your finger to show us where.
the fence starts here and goes all the way beyond this picture and runs all the way up here...and that would be the external perimiter.
LDB: how does the general public gain access?
during business hours the gate would be unlocked and there is parking for the public and they approach the bullit proof glass to speak to the person.
LDB: always have bullet proof?
means of protection, no physical contact better and safer people are never happy to come to a tow yard to get a car.
LDB: how would they access a car that had been towed?
the yard is secure, it was always manned. as a car approaches you can see from any angle, we approach and they approach and there is a sign and they go up to the window and explain what they are there for.
LDB: you said jonhsons recieved the pontiac on june 27 did you have contact that day?
LDB: with a mark indicate where the car was stored
on the end there where that shrub is now. at the time that shrub got trimmed but the car was parked right there.
LDB: stay there the entire time?
LDB: how long was the car on the property?
around two weeks
LDB: when a car is on property for that long is there rules for the disposal?
depending on why the car was towed and the year and how we process the state of fl gives the co a chance to reclaim one of my jobs was to determine should the car reach its time limit whether it would be a car we would title or we would destroy it, crush it. I would make that determination should it stay the timeframe.
depending on the year, it was a cut off point, thirty five days..?
LDB: obligation to contact owners?
when we process the paper work on the third business day a letter is generation and that is sent by certified mail to the owner of the car and that we have it and what the charges would be to get the car.
LDB: as it relates to the Pontiac Sunfire, it was on property for two weeks, did you take steps to evaluate the car?
yes, third or fourth day I would pay attention. we had a high amount of cars in and out so I don't pay attention until it sits for a while. I gave it a cursory investigation at first, I looked at the external, look thru windows...not permitted to enter the car. it was not ours at that time, my inspection was visual and external.
LDB: you didn't have the keys?
LDB: where the doors locked?
LDB: by pulling the handle?
LDB: did you notice any odor?
as I was looking around the car there was nothing noticable at all, then I put my hand on it to and noticed a smell eminating from it.
LDB: how long work towing?
almost 30 years, two year hiatus.
LDB: would it be fair to say you have been exposed to a wide varity of odors?
LDB: dead body?
LDB: how many
six eight, more...I have had experience with long term faitality...several occasions.
LDB: in 2008 was there a car on the property that was stored after a individual had committed suicide and those remains had not been found for several days?
LDB: you smelled that?
LDB: waste management, having experience in that, did you become familiar the odors of garbage?
LDB: how about items people would leave in their car?
LDB: tell us about the range of experience of items left in cars?
I have been around many cars towed DUI, people who were shopping, food from going to dinner, pretty much anything left in the car. People get injured on the way back from the story and they come and get the car a week later, many many many scenerios.
LDB: can you distinguish the scent between trash and garbage and the scent of decomposing remains?
In my opinion the smell of decompostion is unique as compared to rotten garbage it is a very very distinct smell.
LDB: when you smell it in your opinion do you notice a difference?
LDB: when you put your hand on the car have you decided?
the strenghth of it was minimal, the instant flash in my mind was I know what that smells like.
LDB: after that what action?
I had made my inspection, what we were going to do with it, at that point I treated it as a correctly processed car.
LDB: did someone come to pick it up?
05-27-2011, 08:20 PM #3LDB: would you like to review the records?
July 15th, 2008. Yes ma'am.
LDB: who came?
mr.and mrs anthony
LDB: contact with both?
thru the glass initally
they arrived when I was in my office. I was doing paperwork, I heard clerk engaging with people at the window who were becoming aggitated. When confrontation occurs I keep it to a min. I came out of my office and my clerk gave me the look and I spoke to mrs anthony and she was upset as is quite common. Wanted to know why it was so expensive and was aggitated which is pretty normal.
LDB: did you answer those questions?
yes. we looked at the date the date the mail went out combined with the days of the work that mail was stuck for the fourth of july holiday...so on and so forth it was dertmined we had followed due process...from our perspective.
LDB: once you addressed their problems did you go to the car with either one of them?
HHJP: noon, lunch time. Recess.
05-27-2011, 08:22 PM #4HHJP: bring in the witness heed during lunch? Okay continue.
LDB: did you preceed to the car with either mr or mrs anthony?
LDB: before we get to that, when you send paperwork to the owner does it include instructions for what they should bring with them?
not my department.
LDB: does everyone bring id?
LDB: does the letter instruct how much per day it will accrew daily?
LDB: do you recall the daily rate?
25 dollars a day I believe.
LDB: which anthony go to car with?
LDB: Would that cropping of the pic show the area from where you would have to go to get to the car?
LDB: if you could tell us the pathway to the car.
HHJP: members of the jury can you see it?
LDB: you said the area where you had to walk from is displayed?
LDB: can you give us a pathway?
the back enterence is here, here you open just enough for someone to walk thru to a closed gate, walk to the closed buildings here, to the car here. fifteen seconds twenty seconds. the gates are not locked during the day but they are closed.
LDB: did you walk in silence?
no, when I opened the gate mr. Anthony said he would. he said sorry for his wife's outbursts, he was calm and humble we see it day in and out...he said granddaughter has been missing for a long time, in my opinion he was venting and I didn't pry and I let him vent. almost everyone who comes to that yard is not having a good day...he said we will get divorced over this, I just listened.
LDB: when you got to car, what did you observe?
I asked if he had the keys, I would have indicated how to drive out of the car, policy that is what we did everytime, I expected him to get in the car and drive away.
LDB: other than the keys did mr anthony have any other items with him?
no, he started to start it but it did not.
LDB: sight sound and smell as the door was opened.
the smell came out intently, releasing it to the atmosphere, potent once the car was opened.
LDB: can you identify what smell that is?
in the back of my mind I said it was decomp I have smelled in the past. I didn't say it to him what I percieved as decomp.
LDB: why is that what popped into your mind?
I have smelled it before, recently and it is a smell you don't forget.
LDB: are you talking about a dececed human being?
I don't know it is not something you throw out there, did not feel it necessary to give his opinion.
LDB: mr anthony got in the car did you stick around?
yes, it turned over very healthy but refused to fire.
LDB: did you notice at any point if mr. Anthony had a gas can?
LDB: how would you know if he had one at all?
I looked into the car it was on "e", telling him it could be out of gas...
LDB: you said he got in the car and turned the ignition but...
no, not getting fuel or ignition, for some reason the engine would not start, I didn't believe it was a battery issue. Mr. A said I have gas, should I go get it, I escorted him back on the path and he returned with a can of gasoline. It was an old metal one, the round ones, you don't see them often, not a plastic one you see, the metal ones you don't see often.
LDB: was it battered?
LDB: did you notice any tape on it?
LDB: had any door been opened except drivers side?
LDB: did you assist him in putting in the gas?
no, we don't do that I don't recall specifically.
LDB: could you see anything in the passenger compartment that would suggest the source of the odor you described?
LDB: did you suggest the trunk be opened?
LDB: did mr a have a key?
yes, I don't recall if it was he or me but we were both in the back.
LDB: when the trunk was opened you were standing directly behind the car? so was mr anthony?
yes, the odor was even more strong than the car when we opened it, flys came out we looked in at the same time and saw a white kitchen garbage bag?
LDB: any other items beside the bag?
LDB: did you touch it?
yes, to look inside and see if it was the odor. we opened and peered inside.
LDB: do you remember if it was flat top or draw string?
LDB: drawn and tied?
I don't recall
LDB: who opened it?
Both of us, whether it was me or he...
LDB: any recollection of what you saw inside?
pizza box and papers, nothing amounting to food stuffs, it was very light...not like a half a chicken in there...
LDB: did you or mr anthony put your hands in the bag and sift though?
no, not really a first glance to see if this was something that created that smell and I offered to dispose of it.
LDB: did either of you make a statement whether or not the bag or any item in it was the source?
LDB: what did you do with it?
I walked to that fence right there, using my left arm I threw it over the fence I am right handed and it was no effort and it landed on the other side like you would expect a bag of paper to do.
LDB: he get back in the car?
yes, the car started and I walked out the way we came in, I waited for him to drive up and I waited at the gate, he apolgized for the way they were and said he appreciated his help. I could see mr and mrs talking they got in their cars and drove away.
LDB: pick up bag?
yes, put it in dumpster.
LDB: can you circle on the photo where the dumpster is on the photo of Johnson's wrecker?
LDB: was that the last you saw of the bag?
LDB: thank you
05-27-2011, 08:23 PM #5JB: by law you are required to send a notice on the fourth day?
JB: you testified the anthonys had informed you because of the holiday...
that is the assumption because I am not aware when the letters were sent out, it seemed to be the conclusion between us...
JB: they told you they had been out of town?
JB: you said when you were walking to the car mr anthony told you her granddaughter was missing?
words to that effect sir.
JB: when you got there you thought it was human decomp
it is a smell that is to me, reminds me of human decomp
JB: then mr anthony got in the car and tried to start the car
JB: did you put the gas in before or after he started the car?
We tried to start the car first then got the gas
JB: if I show you the depo will that refresh your memory if he tried to start the car first or you put the gas in first.
This is crazy. This can't even be any help to the defense, this line of questioning. my goodness. IMHO.
05-27-2011, 08:28 PM #6JB: so in fact what happened first: he gets in you then open the trunk, discuss it throw out the trash and then start the car.
JB: your depo was taken in 2008 and that would account for you not being able to remember.
JB: you have testified to smelling human decomp?
JB: you are the perfect person to tell the difference between human decomp and garbage?
not perfect but I have smelled both, I have towed hundreds of cars in my years.
JB: mr anthony had the gas cans? he didn't have to leave?
JB: it is an old gas can, it is not very ususal?
no, we had ones that people could get their own gas.
JB: how long was the trunk open when mr anthony went to get the gas?
while he was gone
JB: how long in total were you with him?
a few minutes a straightforward process
JB: you have experience smelling trash and bodies in cars?
JB: you would never obstruct justice
JB: you would not let someone drive a car away if it had evidence of homicide?
JB: many times you have evidence you tow there?
JB: in fact this car was evidence in this case and you towed it from the anthony home?
JB: and between the time this man tells you he has a missing granddaughter you never tell the police?
JB: you don't even tell them after he left?
JB: the car was picked up by your company
it was not taken back to my facility.
JB: you noticed a piece of evidence...
I did not contact the police because it was not a case that pertained to me. they said hey that car we towed is being taken to forensics, I said okay.
JB: you couldn't avoid this story?
JB: it was on the news that this car was towed to forensic?
I did not see that.
JB: you didn't witness that the car was being processed on tv?
from that day and then on I saw what everyone else saw on tv when it was first broadcast.
JB: however police didn't take a statement until july 24th. If I show it to you? May I judge.
HHJP: you may
JB: and your statement was given nine days after you had this experience. eight days of media coverage?
JB: the entire country knowing about a missing child. you knew there was a missing child?
JB: you knew it was being broatcasted the smell and it was a significant issue in this case?
JB: and your business is big with OCSO?
JB: you had the contract with OCSO?
(does everybody GET that? wink wink nudge nudge...love Jose )
JB: a form you fill out every four days, insert names?
JB: you would never put down how long a car was at a property?
he mentioned it. I did not react.
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