Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Debunking the Bunk Part 2: The Timeline

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

DEBUNKING THE BUNK PART 2: Nikolas Schreck's timeline for the supposed Rostau drug delivery to Cielo Drive and what Nikolas Schreck calls, "Mutual Frykowski and Sebring {drug} Burn", from The Manson File.

Timelines are used and accepted as evidence during U.S. trials. Sometimes they work and send a defendant to the little room with a big needle and sometimes they fail miserably and free the defendant. Case in point, the OJ Simpson murder trial when prosecutor Marcia Clark used a wailing dog to pinpoint the time of the Nicole Brown, Ronald Goldman murders between 10:15 to 10:20 PM.

As one talking head commented during Simpson's trial, "If the prosecution's timeline crumbles, so might their mountain of physical evidence."

And, according to former Leslie Van Houten defense attorney, Ira Reiner, that's exactly what happened when he commented on prosecutor Clark's strategy:  "Another self-inflicted wound. If they hadn't tried to be so precise, they could have lived with 10:35 or 10:40 as the time of death. But they were reduced to trying to make liars out of the defense's timeline witnesses. The witnesses may have been right or wrong, but Marcia Clark didn't come close to proving they were liars."

In Nikolas Schreck's book, The Manson File, he too has a timeline of a supposed Joel Rostau drug delivery to the Cielo Drive victims that happened on August 8, 1969, just hours before the murders. He places Rostau at the Cielo house between 8-8:30 PM (Schreck fluctuates throughout the book, sometimes writing 8P, other times he puts the delivery at 8:30 PM, and still other times he writes 8-8:30 PM).

Why was Rostau delivering drugs to the Cielo house that night? In a very abbreviated description of what Schreck writes in The Manson File, he claims that Charles Watson & Linda Kasabian had been burned by Jay Sebring and Woytek Frykowski on a previous drug deal and wanted revenge.

Schreck's plot calls for Watson phoning Sebring early on the afternoon of August 8 to set up a $20,000 drug deal for which they had no intention of paying.

After Sebring received the request from Watson, Sebring in turn supposedly called his dealer and friend, Joel Rostau, to deliver the $20,000 worth of acid, mescaline, coke, and MDA before the planned midnight transaction with Kasabian and Watson at Cielo Drive.

But, when Rostau arrived at Cielo for the 8 to 8:30 PM delivery, he didn't have the entire order because a drug supplier Rostau used, Rosemary LaBianca (yes, Rosemary, but that is for another day), was out of town. Rostau left Cielo with the promise of returning later with the rest of the drugs, but he never returned.

Watson and company then arrived at the agreed transaction time to find out the deal was botched, Watson became irate, eventually killing everyone at the residence.

Sounds as feasible as any other motive put out there—that is, until we look at Schreck's timeline.

If Joel Rostau had been brought up on charges for delivering drugs to Cielo Drive that night and the prosecution had presented the 8 to 8:30 PM timeline for said drug deal that Schreck presents in his book, we as defense lawyers would have submitted the following timeline defense in order to exonerate Rostau.

On page 583 of The Manson File, Schreck writes: "Early that afternoon, Watson called Sebring at Cielo Drive to set up an appointment…Watson told Sebring he needed $20,000 worth of acid, mescaline, coke, and a new batch of Frykowski's MDA."

We would submit that this phone call from Watson to Jay Sebring at Cielo never happened because we know for a fact from the police reports what Sebring's activities were during the day of August 8 and those findings show that Sebring didn't arrive at Cielo until early evening.

From Sebring's household employee Amos Russell's interrogation, we know that Sebring slept in until the afternoon with a woman named Suzan (Peterson, not LaBerge).

From Russell's police interview/polygraph, Deemer asked, "When did he {Sebring} leave the house?"

Russell replied: "He left the house Sir, Friday afternoon. Before he left the house there was a lady at the house for a period of that time Friday, she left Friday afternoon and Mr. Woytek he came and picked her up then…. I should say they left pretty close to around 4 o'clock. Mr. Jay Sebring left the house around, about, between 5 or 6 o'clock. Pretty close to 6 o'clock. He came down."

Later in the interview, when Deemer tries to trip Russell up on the time line, Russell does not waver on his times:

D: Friday morning, the girl was still there…

R: She left I'd say Sir ah, pretty close to around 4 o'clock

D: But she left with Woytek.

R: Yes sir.

D: Did Sebring go with them?

R: No Sir.

D: He had gone earlier?

R: No she left first. Mr. Sebring came down around 5:30 or 6. He came down and looked at the house…

D: When did Woytek leave? He took her?

R: Oh, Yes sir, they left together.

D: That's about 4 o'clock?

R: As close as I can recall it, Sir.

During Suzan Peterson's  LAPD interview, she corroborates Russell's version of events, that Frykowski arrived at Sebring's house in the afternoon, around 3:15-3:30 PM (while Sebring was still at home), picked up her up, and then took her (with various stops) to his Woodstock house.

From the Tate/Polanski maid, Winifred Chapman, we know that Sebring wasn't at Cielo in the afternoon because she testified that he called Sharon Tate at around 3:45 PM (roughly the time Jay's bed partner Suzan departed with Frykowski).

From Sharon Tate's lunch guests at Cielo, we know that Sebring was not at Cielo between the time they arrived, 12:30 PM, and the time they departed at 3:30 PM.

From the Cielo gardener, Joe Vargas, we know that when he left Cielo at 4:45 PM, Sharon Tate was alone in the house and napping.

Then, the police report states that Sebring's neighbor placed him driving from his house on Easton Drive between 5:30-6 PM.

Now we're into early evening when, between 6:30-7 PM we have bike deliveryman Dennis Hurst finally placing Sebring at the Cielo house when Sebring signed for Folger's bike.

Under the circumstantial evidence route, one must note that Schreck states earlier in the book that Watson had been to Sebring's house on Easton drive before for drug deals, so why would he call him at the Cielo house? Then we must ask about the $20,000 deal—that's a boatload of money in 1969 for a spur of the moment (one day, 12-hour) drug deal.

Now, let's take a look at the August 8, Rostau Cielo drug delivery timeline.

On page 593 Schreck writes: "…the crucial event of Joel Rostau arriving at Cielo Drive sometime between 8:00-8:30 on August 8th with the large delivery of mescaline, acid, and cocaine Sebring was expecting." (Not only does Schreck fluctuate on the time of the delivery, he also fluctuates on what exactly was being delivered—sometimes it's MDA, other times LSD/acid).

As defense lawyers, we would present that this "crucial event" never took place. As previously noted in Part 1 of our series, we believe that Joel Rostau concocted this whole incident to impress on his friends that he had a brush with death and to gain his fifteen minutes of fame.

Furthermore, for the supposed Rostau 8 PM/8:30 PM drug delivery, we need to look at the timeline of the victims' El Coyote dinner, an event that until otherwise proven, we will assume took place.

The manager of the restaurant said that he saw Sebring's name on the wait list at 9:45 PM. We believe that it's unlikely that they were waiting for a table at 9:45 PM  because we know from the police report that Abigail Folger's mother told them that she phoned Abigail at the Cielo house at 10 PM.

Did the phone call between Abigail and her mother take place at exactly 10 PM? Unlikely, but usually when someone gives a time such as 10 PM it's within 10-15 minutes prior to or after the hour and rounded up to the hour. If it's after 10:15 PM  it's rounded to the next half at 10:30 PM, etc.

Furthermore, Kathy Palmer, a waitress at El Coyote stated that Sebring and his party (she could not positively identify any one of them) waited 15-20 minutes in the bar before being seated and served dinner. She then estimated that they left the restaurant around 9:45 PM-10 PM.

It's roughly a 15-20-minute drive from El Coyote to Cielo (probably more with Friday night traffic). In order for Folger to make the 10 PMish phone call to her mother, they would have needed to leave El Coyote by approximately 9:45 -10 PM.

Lets also remember that it's Friday night and crazy-busy at El Coyote, so, in order to leave the restaurant 9:45-10 PM they would have had to be seated by at least 8:45 PM.

Below is a timeline that we believe needed to take place in order for Folger to be home at Cielo around 10 PM. And, as a note, with this timeline, we feel that we're being extremely generous, playing the devil's advocate of best case scenario times and even throwing out the waitress's claim that they waited 15-20 minutes in the bar; after all, when interviewed, Palmer couldn't even identify the victims, so how good of a witness could she be?

8-8:05 PM: The victims walk out the door, load into the car, and leave Cielo

8:20/25 PM: Arrive at El Coyote, leave car with valet, and walk into the restaurant

8:30 PM: Put Sebring's name on wait list

8:35 PM: (Scrapping the likely 15-20 minute wait) Seated at their table

8:40-8:45 PM: Waitress arrives at their table and they immediately order

9:05 PM: Food arrives

9:30 PM: Eating completed

9:35 PM: Check paid (no time for back and forth of waitress transaction)

9:40-9:45 PM: Retrieve car from the valet and drive off

10P-10:05 PM: Arrive back at Cielo, Abigail races inside in time to receive her mother's phone call at 10-10:15 PM

That timeline is nearly impossible for a Friday night at El Coyote. Circumstantial evidence would lean toward the victims arriving at El Coyote earlier than the warp-speed dinner noted above; especially with Palmer's (realistic) estimate that they waited 15-20 minutes for a table, which in reality is a short wait for a table at El Coyote on a Friday night in an establishment that does not take reservations and would, perhaps, not think of Sebring as a VIP.

Now, let's push this dinner timeline to allow for a drug deal sometime between 8-8:30 PM, but with a more likely timeline scenario at the El Coyote restaurant.

Following a 8 -8:15 PM drug transaction:

8:20 PM Leave Cielo

8:35 PM Arrive at El Coyote leave car with valet, walk into restaurant.

8:40 PM Sebring leaves his name on a wait list.

8:55 PM The foursome are seated.

9:00 PM Waitress takes drink order and leaves menus for them to look at.

9:10 PM Drinks arrive, they order their meals.

9:30 PM Meal arrives and they eat.

10-10:10 MP Waitress arrives with the check, they pay the check immediately, waitress leaves and comes back with credit card bill or change. OR alternately, they pay the check at the hostess stand with roughly the same timeline

10:15 PM Walk out, retrieve car from the valet, and drive back to Cielo.

10:30-10:35 PM arrive at Cielo and Abigail has missed her mother's phone call.

So, we know even with a 10 minute give or take, that scenario is highly unlikely to have happened because if you back the time up to, say 8:05 PM leave Cielo, it leaves very little wiggle room for an important, $20,000, drug delivery by Rostau and still only gets Folger home by 10:20 PM. Also, let's remember our give or take on the hour—if Schreck had said 8 PM we could go with 7:45-8:15 PM, but he writes that it's 8-8:30P. In other words, the timeline prior to the victims' departure for El Coyote would need to have gone something like this to work for Schreck's case:

8 PM: Rostau arrives with the drugs.

8:01-8:06 PM Sebring or Frykowski or both meet Rostau at the driveway or the front door, take the drugs from him, stash them in the nursery (as Schreck claims), while Rostau explains at hyper-speed what he gave them, what's missing, and that he'll return later with more. Sebring or Frykowski check the inventory of what was delivered, and finally a payment transaction.

Note: We placed the drug transaction in the driveway/front door because Schreck claims (as you'll soon read in a later post) that Sebring is the type of host who would pour drinks for his drug dealing sellers or buyers that he invited inside the house. Since there is no time for drinks or socializing in this timeline, we kept it outside where Sebring would not have the opportunity to implement his hosting skills.

8:07-8:10 PM: Deal finished, drugs stashed, Frykowski and Sebring, tell Folger and Tate it's time to go. The women (one pregnant and slow moving) gather their purses (or whatever) race to the car, load in, and drive through the gate toward El Coyote. Arrive at El Coyote at 8:25-8:30 PM.

We believe this to be a highly unlikely timeline/scenario of an insufficient, $20,000 drug deal.

We would submit that based on the El Coyote dinner timeline, that the victims more likely left Cielo a little earlier than 8 PM. Dennis Hurst said he was there between 6:30-7 PM. Circumstantially, since Hurst testified that Sebring had a bottle of wine in his hand, and appeared to be eating, this would be indicative of him pouring a glass for himself or someone else to drink, along with a snack, before the leave time for the restaurant.

We would also submit that based on the above timeline scenarios that it is highly unlikely (nearly impossible) that this Rostau drug deal could have taken place at the alternate 8:30 PM time that Schreck writes about in The Manson File.

Now, if Schreck had presented a case that had Rostau arriving at 10-10:30 PM for a drug delivery, we'd have a problem because beyond Folger's phone call to her mother, no one can really account for the victims' activities between 10P and 12 AM. But there's no basis for that time and that's not what Schreck presented. Plus, a 10 PM arrival with Rostau hardly gives him time to find more drugs to deliver by the 12 AM Watson/Kasabian deal—if by 10-10:30 PM he couldn't find enough drugs for the order it's highly unlikely that he would find the needed amount in an hour (drive time included for various dealer stops) in order to say he'd return later with more.

There is one other notation in the police report for the time period between 10 PM-12 AM that is worth mentioning. From the LAPD progress report we find that Frykowski may have placed a phone call to Witold Kaczanowski at his art gallery, "At a time estimated about midnight Friday night." According to Kaczanowski, Frykowski called to ask why K was not at the Cielo house. Kaczanowski said he was still working and declined Frykowski's second invitation to join him at Cielo.

It's hard to say if Kaczanowski's story is accurate considering that he went on to tell LAPD that his life was in danger because he knew who the killers were. LAPD believed Kaczanowski for a time and put him under protective custody while they followed his new intel for them. But as Kaczanowski began spending a lot of money partying on LAPD's dime, with a trip to Vegas to boot, LAPD eventually pulled the security detail on K because they believed they'd been hoaxed by the pole and any information he had was bunk.

But, if indeed Witold K is telling the truth about Frykowski's midnight phone call (and previous invitation for Friday night), it would then corroborate the idea that as opposed to waiting for a giant midnight drug deal, that this was just another run of the mill Friday night for Frykowski with him calling a friend to see if he was coming up (as planned) to party.

Since Schreck does emphatically place Rostau at Cielo between 8-8:30 PM, we believe that our timeline evidence would give a jury reasonable doubt and therefore exonerate Joel Rostau of committing a drug deal on August 8, 1969 at 8 PM or even the time in between leading to the alternate 8:30 PM drug delivery time.

If we throw out the Rostau drug deal that Schreck claims happened on August 8, between 8-8:30 PM, then we blow a hole into Schreck's premise that there was to be a drug burn by Watson and Kasabian (more on this coming in a later post). If we blow a hole in that fact, then we've added another link to our chain to prove that there was no conspiracy involving Joel Rostau, Jay Sebring, the Genovese/Boiardo crime families, the FBI or the CIA and Schreck's entire narrative for the motive for the Cielo Drive murders crumbles just a little bit more.