Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Larissa Schuster

Schuster's trial is moved


Due to the extensive coverage of the case in the local media, Judge Wayne Ellison took the extraordinary step of changing the venue for Larissa Schuster's trial to a courtroom in Van Nuys, Calif. It was the first time since 1993 that a Fresno Superior Court judge tried a case elsewhere.

Prosecutors decided they would not seek the death penalty against Larissa Schuster, but that wasn't the last bit of good news for her defense team. Judge Ellison ruled that Fagone's highly-damaging videotaped confession to police would not be admissible in Schuster's trial. Judge Ellison said the tapes could not be played in court because Schuster's attorneys would have no ability to cross-examine Fagone, who was appealing his conviction and refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

If prosecutors had been able to convince James Fagone to testify at Larissa's trial, they might have been able to get the tapes in evidence, but since Fagone had already been sentenced to a mandatory life in prison they had nothing to offer him in exchange for his testimony.

Prosecutors would have to seek a conviction against the intelligent and cunning Larissa Schuster using only circumstantial evidence.

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