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Penn Attorney Renews Call for Transcript

January 21, 1987|JIM SCHACHTER | Times Staff Writer

The retrial of Sagon Penn began Tuesday with defense attorney Milton J. Silverman renewing his efforts to bring into court the transcript of a Police Academy counseling session with San Diego Police Agent Donovan Jacobs.

Silverman, who again called the 8-year-old document "the most important" piece of evidence in the case, told Superior Court Judge J. Morgan Lester that the transcript was a key to his efforts to challenge Jacobs' credibility.

Abusive language and combative behavior by Jacobs, the defense attorney contends, instigated the confrontation with Penn in March, 1985, that led to the death of Police Agent Thomas Riggs.

The transcript, which was turned over to Silverman only after the jury in Penn's first trial had begun its deliberations, details a session in which training sergeants upbraided Jacobs for his hostile behavior and willingness to use racial slurs in the course of police work.

Penn was found innocent in June of charges that he murdered Riggs and attempted to murder Jacobs. He is being tried again on charges on which the first jury deadlocked favoring acquittal: voluntary manslaughter in Riggs' death; attempted murder in the shooting of Sara Pina-Ruiz, a civilian who was riding with Riggs, and attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon in the wounding of Jacobs.

Prosecutors are scheduled today to dispute the relevance of the transcript, which they contend is out of date and should not be allowed as evidence.

If Lester rules that the information is relevant, Silverman for the first time will be allowed to call witnesses to answer questions about the time lag between the document's discovery by police and its delivery to Silverman by the district attorney's office.

Silverman said he also would seek to demonstrate that prosecutors willfully suppressed the document. If so, jurors could be told that the document was hidden from the defense and be allowed to draw any inferences from that information they chose.

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