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San Diego

May 16, 1987

A Lemon Grove woman, testifying as the 32nd defense witness in the 10-week retrial of Sagon Penn, said she tape-recorded a conservation with Sarah Pina-Ruiz when she came in to a Navy housing office. Pina-Ruiz was the civilian ride-along wounded in a shooting in which one police officer was killed and another wounded.

Excerpts of the tape were played to the jury and to San Diego Superior Court Judge J. Morgan Lester. Penn is charged with manslaughter in the death of Police Agent Thomas Riggs, attempted manslaughter in the wounding of Police Agent Donovan Jacobs, and attempted murder in the shooting of Pina-Ruiz.

"I didn't see anything--It happened so fast," Navy housing employee Carolyn Cherry quoted Pina-Ruiz as saying.

That statement, however, was not recorded because Cherry said she only turned on the tape after Pina-Ruiz said it.

Pina-Ruiz has denied telling Cherry or anyone that she couldn't see the March 31, 1985, shootings, saying, "I saw everything quite clearly."

Cherry testified in Penn's first trial last year as the last defense witness called by Penn's attorney, Milt Silverman.

The defense is expected to rest next week, and the prosecution may call rebuttal witnesses. The case could go to the jury within two weeks.

Penn was acquitted of murder June 26, 1986, and is being retried on counts the first jury could not agree upon.

He is free on $25,000 bail.

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