At the Beverly Hills Courthouse the past two weeks, L.A.'s true noir side has been playing out in the courtroom of Judge Elden S. Fox with little fanfare.
Scott Barker, a 25-year-old native of West Springfield, Massachusetts, is facing a first-degree murder charge for allegedly stabbing to death Katsutoshi "Tony" Takazato, the son of film producer Fuminori Hayashida.
On Wednesday, L.A. Country Deputy District Attorneys Linda Loftfield and Amy Carter presented to the jury the pictures of the gruesome, 58 stabbing wounds Takazato had suffered.
According to the prosecution, Barker was enraged that Takazato had pushed his girlfriend, then 20-year-old former rhythmic gymnast Chie Alexandra Coggins-Johnson, into prostitution and pornography. Takazato was also abusive towards Coggins-Johnson, the prosecution said.
Coggins-Johnson and Takazato were once romantically involved, and she had been living on and off with Takazato.
In the early morning of July 20, 2010, according to the prosecution, Barker went to Takazato's Trousdale Estates home in Beverly Hills with Johnson and stabbed him to death 58 times.
Bradley Brunon, Barker's defense attorney, said in his opening statement that Coggins-Johnson, who worked closely with the prosecution, is a "pathological liar" and Barker did not commit the murder.
On Wednesday afternoon, the prosecution, which has been building its case in court over the past two weeks, brought Dr. Vadims Poukens to the stand.
Poukens is a pathologist with the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, and he went into detail about the wounds Takazato suffered. The presentation was haunting.
Prosecutor Amy Carter ran through a series of pictures of a naked Takazato lying on the coroner's table.
While the left-side of the victim's was free of injuries, the right-side of his face was marked with numerous wounds consistent with a large kitchen knife, Poukens testified.
Poukens went on to say that Takazato had been stabbed in the neck, the back, the upper body, the back of the head, and arms. Photographs previously presented during the trial showed that the victim was found lying in a large pool of blood in the carport of his home.
Poukens said the cause of death was "multiple" wounds, but that the "fatal stab" wound was one to the heart, which caused massive bleeding.
The stab wounds to the back of the head may have caused the large kitchen knife, which looks like a large steak knife, to considerably bend, Poukens said.
Takazato was pronounced dead at the scene.
Brunon asked Poukens if he could say definitively that the knife was bent due to blows to the back of the head. The pathologist said he couldn't make that determination. Poukens also testified that he couldn't say for sure if certain wounds were made by someone holding the knife in his or her left or right hand.
Poukens performed a toxicology test on Takazato that showed the victim had tested positive for marijuana but no other drugs.
The trial will continue for the rest of the week.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.