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Ex-LAPD detective murder case goes to jurors

March 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Closing arguments wrapped up Tuesday in the murder trial of Stephanie Lazarus, a former Los Angeles police detective accused of murdering an ex-boyfriend's wife in 1986. The case is now in the hands of the jury.

Key evidence in the cold-case prosecution of Lazarus is DNA from a bite mark on the arm of victim Sherri Rasmussen, who was beaten and shot in her Van Nuys condominium just months after her marriage to John Ruetten.

The prosecution contends Lazarus killed Rasmussen out of revenge, and that she was heartbroken that Reutten had married Rasmussen.

The prosecution urged jurors to consider that Lazarus had taken the day off on the day the murder took place, owned the type of snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver used in the crime and that the bullets were the same type that LAPD officers were required to use.

In their closing arguments, defense attorney Mark Overland asked the jury a series of questions he said should raise reasonable doubt. He said the bite wound DNA was improperly stored, could have been contaminated and may have been planted.

Overland reminded jurors of fingerprints and blood evidence at the crime scene that could not be identified. He also pointed out DNA under Rasmussen's fingernails that were from a male, saying that victim could have been killed by burglars who were never caught.

If convicted, 51-year-old Lazarus would face life in prison.

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