The 10:08 call to check voice mail
Scott told Detective Al Brocchini that he left home about 9:30 on the morning of the 24th. The Prosecution used the 10:08 voice mail check for two purposes:
1. to accuse him of lying about the time he left home to complement the other claims that he lied
2. to narrow the time frame for an abduction to take place, using this call as the front end and the 10:18 time Karen Servas allegedly found McKenzie in the street as the back-end -- making 10:08-10:18 the only possible window of time for an abduction to have taken place.
Detective Steve Jacobson provided the analysis for the 10:08 call.
DISTASO: Let me just put it up. You went through the records. Let's just kind of go through there, throughout the day. The first call we have heard a lot of testimony about the last two days that was at 10:08 a.m.?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir, it was.
DISTASO: And the cell towers that it activated were 1250 Brighton and 10th and D in Modesto?
JACOBSON: The originating cell site location was 1250 Brighton Avenue. Terminating cell site at 10th and D Street, downtown Modesto.
The fraud records were entered as exhibits to establish the
fact that Scott's call was first picked up by the Brighton cell tower, which
services 523 Covena, and then transferred to the 10th & D tower, which
services the Warehouse on Emerald -- the inference being that Scott was on
his way from the house to the warehouse when he made the voicemail check.
Jacobson prepared a chart to show his analysis,
To verify the accuracy of the fraud records, Jacobson obtained an AT&T cell phone on the same network as Scott used (Jacobson).
On his first test, he started exactly at 10:08 am at 523 Covena and placed a call. He headed north to where Covena dead-ends, made a westbound turn on to Edgebrook, followed Edgebrook all the way down to La Loma, until the other person indicated the 1 minute 21 seconds was up. The call started out at the Brighton cell tower and when it ended a minute 21 seconds later, the last originating cell tower location was 10th and D Street. (Jacobson)
In the second test, Jacobson went south on Covena to Encina, headed westbound on Encina. About a minute and 21 seconds later, he was at the intersection of La Loma. In this test, too, his originating cell site location was 1250 Brighton Avenue and termination cell site location was 10th and D Street. (Jacobson)
In the third test, Jacobson went south on Covena and stayed on Covena. The 1 minute 21 seconds ended at the intersection of Covena and Miller. The call originated at the Brighton cell tower and terminated at the 10th and D Street tower. (Jacobson)
In the fourth test, Jacobson departed from the warehouse on Emerald and drove south for 1 minute and 21 seconds. The originating and terminating cell tower was 929 Woodland Ave. He repeated this test exactly and had the same results. (Jacobson)
The Prosecution used these test results to prove that Scott
began his call to check voicemail as he was leaving his house at 523 Covena
and headed towards the Warehouse.
In addition to these three tests, Distaso asked Jacobson to verify the number of voice mail retrievals Scott made when he was known to be at 523 Covena that were picked up by the Brighton tower (Jacobson).
People's 203B shows the range of the two cell towers in question -- Brighton and 10th & D. 203A depicts the three tests Jacobson made.
The only argument with Jacobson's analysis is the claim that the 10:08 voice mail check marks the precise time that Scott left the house. The data Jacobson provides is too ambiguous to allow such a conclusion.
The Jury was provided testimony from the State's own expert witness that the cell phone records were never intended to be used to pinpoint a location. Cell phone tracking was devised solely for the purpose of detecting fraud, not identifying the caller's location.
In addition, the Defense offered evidence to the Jury that on the night of December 24 Scott made three calls while standing in his front yard that were handled by three different cell tower locations, including the tower that normally handles the cell phone activity for the warehouse area of Modesto. This instance is corroborated by multiple witnesses who personally saw Scott standing in his front yard at the time of those three calls, including police officers.
So, we have evidence that the cell tower location is being incorrectly used by the Prosecution to pinpoint Scott's location and a specific instance when the tower location is incorrect 2 out of 3 times in determining Scott's location.
We can safely assume that Scott is on his way to or at the warehouse by 10:08 a.m., but we cannot safely assume that 10:08 is the precise time he is just leaving home. However, the extra minutes are not critical to Scott's defense, as all evidence points to Laci being alive after the Medinas left home for their Los Angeles trip at 10:32 a.m.