Judge will not dismiss German tourist murder case

With a court reporter’s grand jury transcripts still missing in a major murder case involving last year’s fatal shooting of a German tourist, a judge Monday declined to throw out the case against the suspects.

A grand jury indicted five men and a juvenile on Sept. 27 in connection with the slaying of Mechthild Schröer, 50, who was shot while walking with her husband near Union Square on Aug. 8, 2010. Prosecutors have said the suspects were rival gang members targeting each other outside a crowded party that spilled onto the street.

Since the indictment, the court reporter assigned to transcribe the grand jury proceedings — which lasted weeks and included testimony of 70 witnesses — has failed to deliver them as required by law, due to an undisclosed health issue, according to prosecutor Eric Fleming.

The delay has defense attorneys in the case in an uproar, some insisting their clients’ constitutional rights to due process are being violated by not having access to their accusers’ testimony. But Judge Anne-Christine Massullo on Monday denied defense motions to dismiss the indictments.

Massullo said state law allows only for the delay of a trial if court transcripts are not available. The trial is currently scheduled to begin Dec. 16.

Fleming said another judge has granted his request for an order requiring the court reporter to submit the grand jury transcripts. A hearing before that judge is set for Nov. 21.

“We’re very confident that we’re going to get these transcripts,” Fleming said.

Last year, the District Attorney’s Office began hiring its own court reporters for grand juries after the Superior Court ended its program.

Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young, who represents one of the suspects, said she was concerned that the court reporter that prosecutors hired has a history of problems.

In 2009, the reporter was disciplined by the Court Reporters Board of California for unprofessional conduct and loss or destruction of stenographic notes, records show.

“We’re very alarmed about the fact that we have a court reporter with prior misconduct of a similar nature to what is occurring in our case,” Young said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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