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Adriana VASCO





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murders for hire
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: November 20, 1999
Date of arrest: December 23, 2000
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: Dr. Kenneth Stahl, 57, and his wife Carolyn Oppy-Stahl, 44
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Orange County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on January 24, 2003
photo gallery

Life Term for Woman in Murder of Doctor, Wife

By Monte Morin - Los Angeles Times

January 25, 2003

Adriana Vasco, the Anaheim woman convicted of arranging a murder that took the life of a doctor she had had an affair with as well as his wife, was sentenced Friday to life imprisonment without hope of parole.

Vasco, a 35-year-old mother of two and former medical receptionist, wept and pleaded for forgiveness during the proceeding.

Jurors convicted her in November of taking part in an elaborate murder-for-hire scheme that took the life of Huntington Beach anesthesiologist Kenneth Stahl, 57, and his wife, Carolyn Oppy-Stahl, 44. The couple were found gunned down three years ago along a remote section of Ortega Highway.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno refused to reduce Vasco's first-degree conviction for Oppy-Stahl's murder. That would have made her eligible for parole after serving a percentage of the sentences for both slayings.

Prosecutors said Vasco carried on a lengthy love affair with Stahl and that together they came up with a plan to kill Oppy-Stahl because the doctor wanted out of his marriage but feared the financial consequences of divorce.

Prosecutors said Vasco then recruited her other boyfriend, Dennis Godley, to do the killing for $30,000.

Godley ended up killing the doctor too, in an apparent effort to eliminate a witness or out of jealousy, prosecutors said. Godley is scheduled for trial early this year.


Woman Found Guilty in O.C. Double Murder

Jurors didn't believe Adriana Vasco was manipulated into aiding in the plot to kill her lover's wife. She may face life without parole

By H.G. Reza - Los Angeles Times

November 26, 2002

An Anaheim woman was convicted Monday in an elaborate murder-for-hire scheme in which a Huntington Beach doctor and his wife were gunned down three years ago along a remote section of Ortega Highway.

Adriana Vasco held her lawyer's hand and cried when the jury in Santa Ana found her guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Carolyn Oppy-Stahl, 44, and second-degree murder in the death of Dr. Kenneth Stahl, 57.

The jury also found two special circumstances: lying in wait and multiple murder, meaning she could face life in prison without parole when she is sentenced Jan. 10. Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno has the option of sentencing her to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The jury rejected a third special circumstance: murder for financial gain.

Prosecutors had said that Vasco had carried on a lengthy love affair with Stahl and that together they came up with a plan to kill Oppy-Stahl because Stahl wanted out of his marriage but feared a divorce would ruin him financially. Prosecutors said Vasco, 35, recruited her other boyfriend, Dennis Godley, to kill Oppy-Stahl in exchange for $30,000 to be paid by Stahl.

But Godley ended up shooting Stahl too, apparently to eliminate him as a witness, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Dennis Conway. Vasco testified at trial that she heard Stahl and Godley discuss the plan to kill Oppy-Stahl. But she insisted that she was manipulated into helping the doctor arrange his wife's murder and never believed it would actually occur.

Jurors said they didn't believe her story.

"She's a tough, street-smart person," said juror Donald Tobias, a Placentia resident and retired chiropractor. "[The panel] felt that as long as she wasn't intoxicated or high, she had a pretty good idea this would happen," Tobias said.

Vasco and her sister, Norma Luna, began crying when the first guilty verdict was announced. Vasco, red eyes brimming with tears, turned around and looked at her sister.

"We need to find a way to explain this to [Vasco's] children, that Mom's not coming home," Luna said outside of court.

Vasco had testified that Godley had threatened to kill her and her two children if she revealed details of the murder plot. Godley is scheduled to stand trial next year and has pleaded not guilty.

Stahl and his wife were found shot multiple times inside their car, which had the headlights on and the motor running while parked on the shoulder of Ortega Highway. A security guard discovered the car and the bodies inside.

Stahl, an anesthesiologist, had taken his wife to dinner at a Mission Viejo restaurant to celebrate her 44th birthday. Questions immediately arose about why and how his car ended up on Ortega Highway, which is in the opposite direction of the couple's Huntington Beach home.

Eventually, homicide investigators were led to Vasco by calls that Stahl had made to her from his cell phone. When questioned by sheriff's investigators, Vasco revealed details of the plot. She told detectives that she drove Godley to the murder scene and watched as he shot Oppy-Stahl and Stahl.

After her arrest, a judge ruled that Vasco's statements about the murder plot were inadmissible because they were coerced and that her confession had been illegally obtained.


Jury Is Shown 2 Portraits of Vasco

She's been painted as victim and schemer. Deliberations in her murder trial start today

By Monte Morin - Los Angeles Times

November 21, 2002

When jurors begin deliberations today in the murder-for-hire case involving a slain Huntington Beach doctor and his wife, they will be forced to reconcile two very different portraits of the defendant, Adriana Vasco.

Throughout a week of testimony, prosecutors have portrayed the 35-year-old as manipulative and dangerous, a woman who had an affair with Dr. Kenneth Stahl and then plotted with her other boyfriend to kill Stahl and his wife, Carolyn Oppy-Stahl -- a woman Vasco referred to as a "witch."

The defense says Vasco is a weak and emotionally shattered woman who was dominated and manipulated by Stahl, as well as the accused triggerman -- who allegedly swaggered around with a shotgun under his trench coat. Vasco, according to defense lawyer Robert M. Viefhaus, is a woman incapable of executing such a complicated and ruthless murder scheme.

But what jurors won't be considering today is perhaps the case's most intriguing piece of evidence: a confession Vasco allegedly offered to sheriff's deputies following her arrest.

A previous judge ruled that the confession was inadmissible because it was coerced and violated Vasco's constitutional rights. Detectives had manipulated a "vulnerable" woman by playing on her fears about the safety of her children, the judge said.

Loss of the confession has complicated the efforts of prosecutors. The judge who barred the statements expressed doubts later that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict Vasco. Without the confession, the prosecution relied on an interview Vasco gave to the Orange County Register, in which she spoke of her knowledge of the plot. In the end, however, the case is likely to come down to who the jury believes Vasco is.

Often during the trial, Vasco has broken into tears when listening to the details of Kenneth Stahl's and Carolyn Oppy-Stahl's deaths. On more than one occasion, Judge Francisco Briseno has excused the jury so that a tearful and shaking Vasco could compose herself during testimony.

Just such a moment occurred on the last day of testimony Wednesday, when her lawyer questioned her about Oppy-Stahl's death. "It's hard to talk about her," Vasco said, wiping tears from her eyes, her round face framed by long black hair. "I don't like to think about her because I hurt her."

Vasco's lawyer insists that she suffers from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder and battered-women's syndrome. Born of a rape in her native Mexico, Vasco reportedly suffered a string of abusive relationships and turned to alcohol and drugs for solace, according to testimony.

Prosecutors say that Vasco, a medical secretary, carried on an affair of many years with 57-year-old Kenneth Stahl, an anesthesiologist. They say that Vasco and Stahl shared an extreme distaste for Oppy-Stahl, 44, and that she helped the doctor find someone who would kill his wife for $30,000 and she also helped scout a murder site. When asked by Stahl if she knew anyone who could "take care of" his wife, Vasco allegedly suggested Dennis Godley, another boyfriend and a handyman at Vasco's Anaheim apartment complex.

Godley will face a murder trial next year in connection with the case; he has also pleaded not guilty.

Instead of killing only Kenneth Stahl's wife as the couple sat in an idling car on Ortega Highway in November 1999, the gunman turned his .357-caliber magnum on the doctor as well, prosecutors say.

The couple's bullet-riddled bodies were discovered later that night by a security guard.

Taking the stand in her own defense, Vasco said she was manipulated into helping Stahl arrange for the killing but insisted she was in a state of denial.

Speaking in a soft voice, Vasco told jurors that Godley threatened to kill her and harm her children if she ever spoke of the plot.

She said that even though she heard the men discussing the plan on the telephone and even transferred an envelope of cash from Stahl to Godley, she denied that the killing would ever occur.

"I didn't believe any of this was going to happen," Vasco said.

In a lengthy cross examination Wednesday, Deputy Dist. Atty. Dennis Conway disputed the notion that she was cowed by Godley and Stahl. "You're not the type of woman where men can just march into your life and control you," Conway said.

Vasco denied the characterization but agreed with the prosecutor on another point.

"If you hadn't introduced Godley to Ken and his wife, they would still be alive, right?" Conway asked Vasco.

"Yes," Vasco responded, and broke into tears.


Times staff writer Mai Tran contributed to this report.


'Kidding' or Plotting Murder?

A woman says she was joking when she discussed killing her lover's wife with the alleged shooter

By Mai Tran - Los Angeles Times

November 20, 2002

An Anaheim woman accused of plotting to kill her lover's wife tearfully testified Tuesday that she was drunk and only joking when she talked about it with the alleged hit man.

Adrianna Vasco, 35, said she and Dennis Godley, 32, were drunk and on drugs when he confided in her, telling her that he was a fugitive from North Carolina, wanted for robbery.

"He told me about people he had in Carolina that would take care of people," she testified. "So I told him I have a doctor friend that wants to take care of his wife."

Godley walked out of the room, then returned and took the offer, Vasco testified.

"You know, I was just kidding," she told him.

"People don't kid like that," she said Godley told her. "If you say anything now, I'm going to kill you and your kids."

"I was aware of the big mistake I made," she told the court.

Vasco and Godley are accused of hatching a murder-for-hire plot to kill optometrist Carolyn Oppy-Stahl, 44, for $30,000. Prosecutors said the plan went awry and Godley also killed Kenneth Stahl, 57, an anesthesiologist who was having an affair with Vasco, a medical secretary he met in 1992, to eliminate a witness. Their bodies were found inside Oppy-Stahl's Dodge Stratus on Nov. 20, 1999, along Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano by a security guard.

Prosecutors said Vasco wanted to kill Oppy-Stahl because she was interfering with her relationship with Kenneth Stahl.

Vasco testified that Stahl had talked about killing his wife since 1995. When Godley ran out of money in 1999, she said, he forced her to call Stahl and set up a meeting.

In opening his cross-examination, Deputy Dist. Atty. Dennis Conway told jurors that Vasco is not as innocent as she tries to portray herself. She is "freaky" and "aggressive," he said, and had been convicted of physically abusing a boyfriend.

He accused her of knowing the plot since the three of them, including Stahl, had met several times at a Huntington Beach mall and Vasco gave Godley an envelope of money. The three also met on Ortega Highway the day before the murders.

"The only link from Ken to [Godley] is you," Conway said during cross-examination. "Do you know that that looks really bad on you?"

"Yes," she replied.

"The die was cast for Carolyn's death and you knew that and you didn't call the cops?" Conway asked. "You think he was going to kill you and your kids. What, you think he wasn't going to kill Carolyn Stahl? Didn't you think the day before was a dry run?"

Closing arguments are expected to conclude today.


Orange County Confidential

By Terry McCarthy -

January 15, 2001

The road was too dark, the traffic too light, and they were going in the wrong direction. Ken Stahl had promised his wife Carolyn Oppy "a big surprise" for her birthday, but when he pulled over on a deserted turnout 30 miles from their home in Huntington Beach, Calif., she must have been worried. No streetlights, no houses in sight, no reason to be there at all. The engine was still running when the killer approached, a gun in his hand. It was all according to plan: $30,000 up front, paid by the husband for a hit on his wife.

But the killer didn't stick to the plan. When the shooting was over, both Stahl and Oppy were dead. Then the killer left--no witnesses, no clues, not even an empty shell casing on the ground. Just a middle-aged doctor and his optometrist wife lying in their car for more than an hour before a local security guard found them in their big sleep.

The double cross has a certain logic in its treachery--bad turns on bad; injustice eats its own offspring; nobody gets off free. But it was to be almost a year before detectives from the sheriff's department worked out what happened that Saturday night, Nov. 20, 1999, on Ortega Highway in Orange County. Along the way a lot was discovered about Ken Stahl's secretive life, Carolyn's Good Samaritan reputation with her patients and the long criminal history of a man called "the Weasel."

Initially, the case seemed unsolvable. Nobody saw the killer; nobody heard any shots; there were no leads and no obvious motives. The Orange County police closed the road from Saturday night until Sunday afternoon for a search of the area but found little to go on. Was it a random killing? That would be almost impossible to solve. A contract hit? Neither of the victims had any known enemies. A robbery attempt? Nothing was missing from the car.

After going unsolved for 10 months, the case was handed over to a new team: Detectives Brian Meaney and Felipe Villalobos. Meaney had been on the force for 23 years, seven of those in narcotics. He has the tough, dour demeanor of someone who knows how bad it can get out there. Villalobos, 14 years with the police, worked gangs and sex crimes before coming to homicide but has a more empathetic, sunnier approach to life. "Brian is very intense, I do the softer approach. We feed off each other real well," says Villalobos.

The partners read over the old files, talked to more people, discussed theories--and then made a breakthrough. In a routine check of Ken Stahl's cell-phone log, the two found a large number of calls to Adriana Vasco, a receptionist at a hospital where Stahl worked. The detectives went to talk to her, and suddenly the lights went on. It turned out Vasco had been having a relationship with Stahl for a number of years, and the doctor had been supporting her with regular money payments. His 14-year marriage to Carolyn Oppy had gone stale. Sometime early in 1999, Stahl allegedly asked Vasco to find someone to kill his wife.

Stahl could have divorced his wife--they had a prenuptial agreement--but he decided to kill her. He was a lonely man in a big hurry--mortality was staring him in the face. Stahl was 57 years old, 5 ft. 11 in. and 180 lbs.; he exercised daily and ate a healthy diet. But he had had triple-bypass surgery at 37, numerous angioplasty treatments since then and, in July 1999, a quadruple-bypass operation that doctors had given him only a 20% chance of surviving. His heart was more congested than the Los Angeles freeway system. "Ken Stahl was going to die very soon. He wanted things to happen quickly," says Villalobos.

Divorced twice already, Stahl had had a string of affairs. Carolyn Oppy's sister, Linda Dubay, says Stahl, with a middling career as an anesthesiologist, was unable to live up to his family's high expectations for him. His father was a respected surgeon and CEO of a hospital. "Ken needed the ego boosts of his affairs--usually with divorced nurses, single mothers, needy individuals." Vasco fit the profile. Oppy was in the way.

Villalobos and Meaney say Vasco introduced Stahl to a man she called Tony Satton, who lived in her condominium complex in Anaheim. The two men allegedly made a deal: some $30,000 for Satton to pull the trigger, feign a robbery attempt or create another diversion and disappear. What Stahl didn't know was that Satton as well was having an affair with Vasco. What Vasco didn't know was that Satton's real name was Dennis Earl Godley of Bellarthur, N.C., that he had a criminal record longer than her arm, that he was on the run from police in two states already and that he had a history of being obsessively jealous of his women. The deceptions were piling on thick and fast.

The night of the murders, Carolyn Oppy was looking forward to dinner with her husband to celebrate her 44th birthday. "She called that day and told us Ken had a big surprise for her. She sounded hopeful," says Dubay. Oppy loved her work as an optometrist, was popular with the patients, even getting the cranky ones to loosen up and laugh with her. The one person she couldn't get through to was her husband, whose affairs saddened and angered her at the same time. She had considered divorce, but in the end, she held on, hoping Stahl would change. She had even taken several weeks off that summer to care for her husband after his quadruple-bypass surgery. "She had put up with so much and got used to it," says Dubay. "Somehow the unknown is more scary than the known."

Sometimes the known is the unknown. On the way back from dinner, Stahl drove up Ortega Highway, which runs from San Juan Capistrano east over the hills to Riverside, about 30 miles from their home. The detectives think Godley, a.k.a. Satton, was waiting for the car, a silver 1996 Dodge Stratus. They theorize that Godley decided to kill both people in the car, either to eliminate all witnesses or because he was jealous of Stahl's affair with Vasco--or both. "Ken didn't see it coming," says Villalobos. "He thought he was taking care of her, and then--boom!--he got his."

Godley took off, back to North Carolina and would probably still be on the run were it not for the persistence of one man: Sergeant Ron Smith of the Pitt County sheriff's department in Greenville, N.C. Smith had tried to arrest Godley on robbery charges a year before, but Godley had jumped out of his mobile home, kicking one of Smith's deputies in the head, before disappearing into the woods. "The Weasel--that's what we call him here, because he keeps escaping," says Smith. "In 20 years of service, he is one of the meanest men I have met. You look into his eyes, and they look black." Smith primed informants all over the county to let him know if the Weasel turned up again. In August 2000, nine months after the murders in Orange County, Smith got his man--at 4 o'clock in the morning in Godley's father's house.

But it would be two months more before the alleged connection to the California murders was made. Smith received an alert accompanied by a photograph from Orange County, looking for a Tony Satton. "Soon as I saw that picture, I knew it was the Weasel," says Smith. Meaney and Villalobos flew east to interview Godley, who denies all involvement in the murders. On Dec. 11, arrest warrants were issued for both Godley and Vasco. Police believe she was waiting in another car while Godley allegedly did the shooting, apparently using a .357 Magnum revolver (which does not spit out casings like a pistol with a magazine) to kill Stahl and wound Oppy; then he allegedly returned to his car to reload to finish her off. Godley and Vasco have been charged with multiple murders. The suspects also face charges of lying in wait and murder for financial gain, which under California law makes the pair eligible for the death penalty. The case will take a while to get to court: Godley is still awaiting trial on a robbery charge in Virginia before he can be shipped back to California.

But the police in Orange County are pleased to have finally cracked the case. Says Michael Corona, sheriff of Orange County: "People who commit crimes like these need to know it may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but someday we are going to get them."


Double Crossed

On Saturday, November 20, 1999, Carolyn Oppy-Stahl told her mother that she and her husband, Ken Stahl, a prominent Huntington Beach, California, anesthesiologist, were planning to celebrate her 44th birthday.

They were members of First Baptist Church of Pomona, where Ken, described as a generous, mild-mannered healer who carried a miniature New Testament with him, was active in the youth club. He attended La Verne University on a football scholarship.

“He was pretty much a straight arrow, very intelligent and intense. He knew where he was going and how to get there,” retired minister Keith Korstjens told the Orange County Register.

Carolyn, an optometrist, told her mother that Ken had planned a surprise for her. They ate dinner at a Mission Viejo restaurant and then headed east along Ortega Highway, a remote road that winds through the foothills above San Juan Capistrano. Strangely, they were headed away from their Huntington Beach home.

There was a surprise all right, but certainly not the one Ken had planned.

Around 10:30 p.m., a security guard found the couple’s car. Inside, Ken and Carolyn were dead. There was no sign of any struggle and the only evidence at the scene was a shattered driver-side window. Both had been shot to death at close range. The car’s engine was running and the car’s passenger door was open. Ken was in the driver’s seat, secured by his seat belt. Carolyn’s shoeless foot extended out the front passenger entrance. Sheriff’s investigators collected six bullets fired from a .357 or .38 caliber handgun. The absence of shell casings at the scene suggested the assailant used a revolver.

The medical examiner later determined that the couple had been dead for as long as 90 minutes.

Investigators found Adriana Vasco’s telephone number on Ken’s pager and contacted her, hoping she might be able to shed some light on the situation. Adriana was interviewed by sheriff’s department detectives, and admitted that she had known Ken since 1992 when she began working for him as a receptionist. She said she last spoke to Ken on the morning of his murder, at which time he said he was taking his wife out for a surprise birthday celebration. A subsequent investigation revealed that Adriana and Ken had had four or five conversations on November 20.

Adriana denied that she and Ken were lovers and said that their conversation on November 20 dealt only with the repair of computer equipment.

The investigation continued and slowly the loving façade presented by Carolyn and Ken began to crumble. They had been married 14 years and the relationship soured when Carolyn learned her husband had been involved with other women.

“It saddened Carolyn,” Carolyn’s sister later told the Los Angeles Times. “At one point, she talked about getting a divorce. But Ken’s mom encouraged them to go and get marriage counseling.”

Armed with that knowledge, police re-interviewed Adriana. This time she admitted that she had had an affair with Ken, but said she ended it in 1996 when he refused to leave his wife. She told police that Ken was afraid that a divorce would ruin him and that he did not want to hurt his mother, who was apparently quite fond of Carolyn.

Legal records, however, revealed that Ken and Carolyn had signed a prenuptial agreement, so a divorce probably would not have hurt Ken significantly.

Adriana subsequently began seeing another man, which resulted in the birth of a daughter.

Because she had twice lied to investigators, and her affair with Ken had not ended on favorable terms Ariana became a prime suspect in the case.

The case remained open and active, and 11 months after the murders, investigators once again went back to Ariana for another interview. This time, she discussed how Ken had apparently come to loathe his wife, but said he had never told her he wanted to kill her. He did tell Adriana that Carolyn was reluctant to grant Ken a divorce.

Authorities continued to look at Adriana and as they did so, more and more aspects of her story began to fail close scruitiny. Her supervisor told police that Adriana told her in 1999 that she was involved with Ken in what she called a long-term relationship. The supervisor added that sometime in the summer of 1999, Adriana told her that she was also seeing Dennis Godley, the handyman at her apartment complex. Dennis and Ken were apparently aware of the other’s place in Adriana’s life, the supervisor was led to believe.

On November 1, 1999, Stahl withdrew $ 20,000 in cash from his checking account. Based on a review of his bank records, this was an unusual transaction, and his estate’s executor never located the funds or matched it to a corresponding expense. Around the same time, Adriana defendant arrived at work displaying several pieces of newly-purchased jewelry. Adriana told co-workers that Dennis bought the items for her. She claimed Dennis’s parents were wealthy and sent him money, but investigators discovered this was untrue.

Shortly after the murders, an electrician named Richard Anaya approached police and said that he had been offered money by Ken to “take care of my wife.”

“I thought he had been drinking,” Anaya later testified. “Finally, I told him to stop right there.”

Police learned that on November 19, Adriana cancelled a visit with her daughter’s grandmother and said she was taking a drive on the remote, yet scenic Ortega Highway. Adriana explained that she was stressed out.

The night of the slayings, Adriana and Dennis appeared at a birthday party for one of Adriana’s friends, but left early. Adriana said that she and Dennis had “another commitment.”

After the murders, Adriana appeared to be shocked by the killings, and asked her supervisor not to reveal her relationship with Ken.

Police were unable to locate Dennis Godley after the murders, further lending credence that he and Adriana were somehow involved in the killings. He had moved back to his home in North Carolina, despite being wanted there for burglary and assault on a police officer.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for a storage facility leased by Dennis and found his police mug shot, a photograph of Dennis with Adriana, and driver’s license photographs of Ken and Carolyn.

Two days after Christmas 2000, police arrested Adriana Vasco for the murders of Ken and Carolyn. A warrant was issued for Dennis Godley.

To save herself from the gas chamber, Vasco began cooperating with police and began to clear up the questions that had plagued investigators for more than a year.

Ken did want his wife dead, Vasco said, and she introduced him to Dennis Godley, who said he was part of an assassination group back east. She told him that she knew a doctor who wanted to kill his wife and Dennis said he wanted to meet him. Adriana tried to back out by telling Dennis she was only kidding.

According to Adriana, Dennis responded by saying he would hurt her and her family if she didn’t follow through or if she told anyone.

A few days later Dennis complained he needed money and directed Adriana to contact Ken. She complied and left the room while they spoke on the phone. Following Dennis’s orders, she arranged a meeting between the men. She accompanied Dennis to the meeting, and served as a go-between for the conspirators.

According to Adriana, Ken gave her an envelope he said contained cash. She then informed Stahl “Dennis was scary” and had threatened her. She asked him not to go through with his plan. Ken did not respond and Adriana gave the money to Dennis. After the meeting, Ken called frequently, sometimes speaking to Dennis. Adriana said she would leave the room and never spoke with either man about the murder plot.

“I told Ken, Please call it off,’ and he wouldn’t listen,” Adriana told the Register in a jailhouse interview. I cried, ‘Please, please.’ Nobody has any idea how bad I wanted to stop it.”

In an interview with police, Adriana said Ken wouldn’t listen.

“He just said, ‘What about me? You want me to suffer all these years? You want to see me suffer the rest of my life?’”

According to Adriana, Ken and Dennis met for a final time on November 19 and firmed up the details for how the hit would go down.

On the night of the murders, following Dennis’s instructions, Adriana parked in a gas station on Ortega Highway to wait for the Stahls’ car. When he saw it, Dennis jabbed her in the side while holding a gun in his other hand, and told her to follow them. After a couple of miles, Ken pulled over, and Adriana a U-turn, stopping in the middle of the street. While she remained in the car, Dennis approached Ken’s vehicle, and asked if everything was okay. Adriana said she heard gunshots and Carolyn’s screams.

“She was saying, just, ‘Oh my God!’ and yelling,” Adriana told police during one of her final interviews. “I didn’t turn around. It was killing me.”

She contemplated leaving, but stopped when she saw Dennis pointing the gun at her. He returned to the car and asked her where she was going.

“I was ready to pop you,” he said as he reloaded. Dennis then walked over to Ken’s car, fired more gunshots and returned.

Dennis then explained that in addition to killing Carolyn, he shot Ken to eliminate a witness.

Adriana said she doesn’t know why Dennis killed Stahl.

“I asked him that,” she told police. “He said, ‘Because he didn’t follow orders.’”

Adriana was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Dennis pleaded guilty to murder and received the same sentence.


Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3, California

People v. Vasco

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Adriana VASCO, Defendant and Appellant.

No. G031916.

June 30, 2005

Mark Alan Hart, Northridge, CA, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Pamela A. Ratner-Sobeck and Lynne G. McGinnis, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.Davis Wright Tremaine, Kelli L. Sager and Alonzo Wickers IV, Los Angeles, CA, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, James E. Grossberg and Ashley I. Kissinger, Washington, DC, for Freedom Communications and William Rams as Amicus Curiae.


A jury convicted defendant Adriana Vasco of the first degree murder of Carolyn Stahl and the second degree murder of her husband, Ken Stahl.   Multiple-murder and lying-in-wait special-circumstance allegations were found to be true.   She contends the court erroneously applied the newsperson's shield law to restrict her cross-examination of a newspaper reporter who interviewed her in jail.   She also contends the evidence is insufficient to support the second degree murder conviction based on a theory it was a natural and probable consequence of the murder she aided and abetted.   We affirm.



A. Overview

Ken Stahl, a prominent Huntington Beach osteopathic physician, hired a contract killer to murder his wife Carolyn while the couple celebrated her birthday.   Stahl's murderous betrayal of his wife was matched on a smaller scale when the gunman turned the weapon on Stahl and opened fire, killing him instantly.

Defendant played a key role in this tragic drama.   As Stahl's former mistress and long-time confidante, she was privy to his obsession to murder his wife.   She introduced Stahl to her new boyfriend, Tony Satton, when she learned the latter had experience as a hired assailant, and he expressed enthusiasm for undertaking Stahl's homicidal designs.   Stahl hired Satton, whose true name is Dennis Godley, to kill Stahl's wife.   The murder-for-hire scheme, Godley's lethal deviation from the plan, and defendant's participation in the plot contain all the combustible elements of a Shakespearean tragedy-betrayal, malice, and greed.

A Rancho Mission Viejo security officer found the bodies of Stahl and his wife Carolyn in their car, parked near a call box, on a desolate stretch of the Ortega Highway around 10:00 p.m. on November 20, 1999.   Both had been shot to death at close range.   The car's engine was running and the car's passenger door was open.   Stahl sat on the driver's seat, secured by his seat belt.   Carolyn's shoeless foot extended out the front passenger entrance.   Sheriff's investigators collected six bullets fired from a .357- or .38-caliber handgun.   The absence of shell casings at the scene suggested the assailant used a revolver.

B. Defendant's Police Interviews

Police located defendant's telephone number on Stahl's pager and contacted her three days after the murders.   Defendant explained Stahl was a friend she had known since 1992.   Responding to the officer's inquiry, she denied they were having an affair.   She last spoke to Stahl on the morning before his murder about a computer he was helping her repair.   Stahl also mentioned he was taking his wife out for a surprise on her birthday, but had not decided where they were going.

In a second interview three months later, defendant admitted to an affair with Stahl, but explained she ended their romantic liaison three years earlier because she believed Stahl would not leave his wife.   Stahl feared a divorce would financially ruin him and did not want to hurt his mother, who was fond of Carolyn.   Defendant remained close friends with Stahl, who continued to complain about his wife, but never discussed killing her.

In October 2000, investigating officers reinterviewed defendant.   She expanded on the substance of her earlier interviews, describing her romantic involvement with Stahl dating from 1992.   Stahl complained about his wife, but felt he could not divorce her because he would lose everything and disappoint his mother.   Stahl's wife learned of her husband's affair with defendant, and confronted defendant several times during angry phone conversations.   Defendant ended the affair and began a relationship with Greg Stewart, which led to the birth of her daughter.   Nevertheless, they remained close and Stahl “was always going to be there” for her.   Defendant described how Stahl grew to hate his wife, but denied he ever mentioned having her killed.   Defendant denied knowing who killed the couple and claimed she did not introduce Stahl to anyone who would kill his wife.   She insisted her conversations with Stahl on the day he was murdered concerned only the repair of a computer and printer, and a discussion of his plans to celebrate his wife's birthday.

C. Information Leading to Defendant's Arrest

Other information surfaced casting doubt on defendant's version of events.   Defendant informed her supervisor, Susana Torres-Bivian, she was “dating” Stahl, described their long-term relationship, and conveyed the impression their affair was ongoing.   In late summer 1999, defendant told Torres-Bivian she was dating “Tony” (Godley), a maintenance worker in her apartment building.   Defendant explained this did not create a conflict with Stahl;  the men knew each other and had no problem with the arrangement.

In August 1999, while in a gun store with her daughter's paternal grandfather, James Stewart, defendant pointed to a revolver and revealed she bought  a similar handgun for Tony.   When Stewart inquired about the gun after the homicides occurred, defendant claimed Tony returned the weapon because it was not what he wanted.   In late September 1999, defendant purchased a semiautomatic rifle, but cancelled the purchase during the 10-day waiting period.

On November 1, 1999, Stahl withdrew $20,000 in cash from his checking account.   Based on a review of his bank records, this was an unusual transaction, and his estate's executor never located the funds or matched it to a corresponding expense.   Around the same time, defendant arrived at work displaying several pieces of newly-purchased jewelry.   Defendant told Torres-Bivian that Tony bought the items for her.   She claimed Tony's parents were wealthy and sent him money, but investigators discovered this was untrue.

Investigators learned Stahl had approached Richard Anaya, an electrician and former gang member, and asked him if he knew anyone who would “take care of my wife.”   Stahl's inquiry to Anaya occurred about a year before the murders.   Anaya refused to cooperate.

One or two days before the slayings, defendant cancelled a visit with Nancy Stewart, her daughter's paternal grandmother, explaining she instead took a drive on Ortega Highway because she was feeling “stressed out.”

Stahl called defendant's workplace on the Friday afternoon before the murders, but Torres-Bivian told him defendant left work early.   He replied he would call her at home.   Investigating officers examined Stahl's telephone records and learned he had four or five conversations with defendant on the day of the murders.

On November 20, defendant abruptly changed plans to attend a birthday party with her neighbor, Belen Lopez.   She arrived at Lopez's apartment in the early evening accompanied by Godley and explained they had another commitment.   During their visit, Godley held an empty shotgun case.

On the Monday after the murders, defendant gave Torres-Bivian a ride to work.   Defendant appeared in shock as she related the news of Stahl's death, declaring “they” killed him and his wife.   She last spoke with Stahl Saturday morning when he told her he planned to take the “bitch” out for her birthday.   Defendant asked Torres-Bivian not to reveal her relationship with Stahl to the police.

After the murders, Godley “sort of disappeared,” according to James Stewart.   At work, defendant revealed her romantic relationship with “Tony” had faltered because he was seeing another woman.   Godley later moved back  to North Carolina, but defendant stayed in contact by phone.   In October 2000, officers searched defendant's rented storage unit and found a mug shot of Godley, a picture of defendant and Godley together, and driver's license pictures of Stahl and his wife.

Defendant, while briefly dating Scott Kasof in April or May 2000, discussed her romantic relationship with Stahl and described her disappointment when Stahl would not leave his wife.   Defendant related Stahl was unhappily married, but his wife would not give him a divorce.   She revealed Stahl discussed his desire to “get rid of his wife,” and described how “uneasy” Stahl had been in the two weeks before his murder.   Defendant confided she spoke with Stahl on the phone two hours before his death.   According to defendant, Stahl felt “uneasy” about an impending meeting and considered calling it off.

Investigators arrested defendant for the murders and booked her into jail on December 27, 2000.

D. Defendant's Newspaper Interview

Orange County Register reporter William Rams interviewed defendant at the jail on January 2, 2001, and excerpts from that interview were subsequently published in the newspaper the following day.   The published material included either a paraphrased account by Rams or defendant's direct quotations.

Except when the defendant is directly quoted, the following is the reporter's paraphrased summary of defendant's interview.   Defendant revealed she was with her ex-boyfriend Godley when he murdered the Stahls, and accompanied him during some of the planning. She recalled Godley had several cell phone conversations with Stahl and was present when, a few days before the murders, Stahl passed Godley $30,000 in a Huntington Beach parking lot.   Defendant claimed she had nothing to do with the killings and could not stop them, because Stahl was obsessed with killing his wife and Godley threatened to kill her if she interfered.   She explained Stahl hated his wife and spoke about killing her as early as 1993.   Defendant revealed the murder had been planned for months, but she successfully delayed a September date and again tried to stop them in the days before the slayings.   She pleaded with Stahl “please call it off and he wouldn't listen.   I cried please, please?  [¶] ․ [¶] [N]obody has any idea how bad I wanted to stop, it.”   Defendant wanted to contact authorities, but was too frightened because Godley had threatened her and her children.

Defendant stated Godley used a handgun and had to reload because the woman was still alive.   Godley turned the gun on Stahl because Stahl failed to  follow Godley's earlier instructions to keep his hands visible, and Godley did not want any witnesses.   Rams quoted defendant as stating, “[H]e kept toying around with the gun and told me he was going to pop me at any time [.]”  “[F]or some reason he spared my life that day and I don't know why [.]”  Defendant told Rams she was still afraid of Godley and felt horrible about the murders.

E. Defendant's Trial Defense

Defendant testified her stepfather physically and sexually abused her until she ran away at age 16.   She suffered more physical abuse from her first husband during their tumultuous marriage.

She met Stahl in 1992.   Both discussed their unhappy marriages and eventually they began their affair.   By 1995, defendant formed the impression Stahl wanted to kill his wife.   Stahl would not divorce his wife because he was afraid it would ruin him financially. Defendant ended their affair when she realized Stahl would not leave his wife.   Shortly afterward, she became romantically involved with Stewart, eventually having his child.   Stewart physically abused her throughout their relationship, which ended in 1998.   Stahl visited her regularly and provided financial assistance while defendant was involved with Stewart.

Defendant met Godley in September 1999 when he fixed the sink in her apartment.   Known to her as Tony Satton, Godley drank and used drugs, and told her he was wanted for robberies in North Carolina.   She and Godley became romantic partners.   While sharing drinks one evening, Godley revealed he belonged to a group of hired assailants in North Carolina.   Defendant told Godley she knew a doctor who wanted to kill his wife.   Godley wanted to meet the doctor, rejected defendant's explanation she was joking, and threatened to harm her and her children if she revealed his intentions.

A few days later Godley complained he needed money and directed defendant to contact Stahl.   She complied and left the room while Stahl and Godley spoke on the phone.   Following Godley's orders, she arranged a meeting between Stahl and Godley in a parking lot.   Defendant accompanied Godley to the meeting, and at Godley's direction, spoke with Stahl alone in his car.   Stahl gave her an envelope he said contained cash.   Defendant informed Stahl “Tony” was “scary” and had threatened her.   She asked him not to go through with his plan.   Stahl did not respond and defendant gave the money to Godley.   After the meeting, Stahl called frequently, sometimes speaking to Godley.   She would leave the room and never spoke with Stahl or Godley about the murder plot.

Godley frightened defendant with his threats to harm her and her children.   His demeanor, use of drugs, and paranoid behavior alarmed her, and he routinely carried a shotgun at his side.

On November 19th, at Godley's direction, defendant arranged another meeting with Stahl in the same parking lot.   Godley and Stahl met, and Stahl told defendant to drive to Ortega Highway and he would follow.   Defendant complied, stopping where Godley told her to stop.   Stahl pulled in behind her.   Defendant spoke with Stahl while Godley, armed with his handgun, took target practice at a sign.   Defendant again related Godley's threats to her family and asked Stahl to reconsider, but he did not respond.

The next day Godley showed up at her apartment around 5:00 p.m. carrying a shotgun and ordered her to cancel her plans to attend a birthday party and accompany him back to Ortega Highway.   Godley reminded defendant of his earlier threats while pointing the shotgun at her.   Defendant objected, but obeyed Godley's orders to drive.

Arriving at Ortega Highway, defendant followed Godley's directions to park in a gas station, where they would wait for Stahl.   Spotting Stahl's car, Godley jabbed defendant in the side while holding a gun in his other hand, and told her to follow the car.   After a couple of miles, Stahl pulled over, and defendant made a U-turn, stopping in the middle of the street.   While defendant remained in the car, Godley approached Stahl's vehicle, and asked if everything was okay.   Defendant then heard gunshots and Carolyn's screams.   Defendant's car rolled forward as she contemplated leaving, but stopped when she saw Godley pointing the gun at her.   He returned to the car, reloaded, and asked defendant where she was going, warning “I was ready to pop you.”   Godley walked over to Stahl's car, fired more gunshots and returned to defendant's car.   As defendant drove, Godley explained he shot Stahl to eliminate a witness and because he did not follow Godley's instructions to keep his hands on the steering wheel.   Defendant testified she did not believe the murders would take place and did not intend the deaths of either victim.

Dr. Nancy Kaser-Boyd, a clinical psychologist specializing in family violence, testified defendant suffered from battered women's syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder, stemming from repeated violent acts against her.   Defendant exhibited common features of the syndrome, such as “learned helplessness” and denial.

Defense counsel argued defendant, suffering from battered women's syndrome, lacked the requisite intent for murder and the special circumstances allegation.   Intimidated by Godley's violence and threats, her alleged criminal  acts and omissions exhibited “learned helplessness” and denial, features of the syndrome, and demonstrated she did not intend to help Godley carry out the murder plot.


The Shield Law and Defendant's Right to a Fair Trial

The California shield law (Cal. Const., art.   I, § 2(b)) provides newspersons immunity from contempt proceedings for refusing to disclose the sources of any information obtained while working as a newsperson “or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.” 1  Thus, courts may not hold newspersons in contempt for refusing to disclose unpublished information or the source of published or unpublished information.  (Delaney v. Superior Court (1990) 50 Cal.3d 785, 796-797, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934 (Delaney ).)

Newspaper reporter Rams invoked the protection of the shield law when the prosecution subpoenaed him to testify about his interview of defendant.   The prosecution sought to elicit only published information concerning defendant's account of the murders, but defendant proposed to cross-examine Rams about unprivileged information, such as asking Rams to reveal any of defendant's mitigating statements omitted from the articles.   The trial court  permitted only questions concerning information published in the articles, and sustained Rams's objections to defendant's proposed cross-examination covering unpublished information.

Defendant contends the trial court erred in upholding the reporter's shield law immunity and complains the trial court's restrictions violated her Sixth Amendment right to confrontation and her Fourteenth Amendment due process right to a fair trial.   Alternatively, defendant contends the trial court erred in permitting Rams to testify rather than striking his testimony.   We conclude defendant's confrontation and due process rights were not infringed because defendant failed to show a reasonable possibility the information she sought to elicit from Rams would materially assist her defense, as required under Delaney.   We also conclude any conceivable error in not striking the testimony was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

A. Procedural Background

The prosecution subpoenaed Rams for defendant's trial.   Rams moved to quash, arguing newspaper reporters possess a First Amendment qualified immunity from testifying.   Alternatively, Rams requested a protective order limiting the questions of both parties to information published in the newspaper articles.   The trial court denied the motion to quash but preliminarily limited any inquiry to published information only.   The court reserved ruling on whether defendant could ask Rams about unpublished information protected under the shield law.

At the trial court's request, defense counsel submitted a list of approximately 70 proposed cross-examination questions he intended to ask Rams at trial.   The inquiries covered three broad areas:  (1) Rams's interviewing procedure, e.g., whether he took notes or tape-recorded the interview, or whether anyone else accompanied him to the interview;  (2) how Rams obtained defendant's consent to the interview;  and (3) other exculpatory or mitigating statements defendant made that were not used in the newspaper articles, e.g., statements regarding Godley's threats to defendant, and defendant's efforts to dissuade Stahl from carrying out the murder plan.   Many of the proposed questions focused on whether the statements attributed to defendant were direct quotes or Rams's editorial synopsis of her remarks.

The trial court held an extensive pretrial hearing on whether to permit defendant to cross-examine Rams on unpublished information.2  Rams testified, and answered certain defense questions, such as providing the date he  interviewed defendant and admitting he reviewed only the newspaper articles to prepare for his testimony.   The trial court sustained Rams's objections to the remaining questions as calling for unpublished information.   The court required Rams to identify which statements in his articles quoted Vasco directly and which statements paraphrased her, but the court sustained objections to defendant's request Rams identify the exact quotation he paraphrased.   The court also ruled Rams could decline to answer questions on how he obtained defendant's permission to interview her, whether he took notes or tape-recorded the interview, or whether defendant made other exculpatory or mitigating statements not used in the articles.

In denying defendant's request to cross-examine Rams on unpublished material, the trial court found defendant failed to meet the threshold showing required under Delaney.  “The reason that I have not allowed questioning of this witness as to unpublished material is largely based on what has been the offer of proof by counsel for defendant that the alleged defendant's involvement is a byproduct of the codefendant's acts, conduct, threats, and the position of vulnerability that your client found herself in at the time of the shootings.  [¶] It appears from the material that was published that the jury will have that evidence before them that at the time of January, 2001, in a separate interview between your client and the reporter, she voiced these-what constitutes her defense.  [¶] And so, in fact, the article is more replete with that material than any material that incriminates her.”

Before Rams testified at trial, counsel renewed his objection:  “After evaluating the manner in which ․ Rams testified and in-coupled with the court's limitations on my ability to cross-examine him, I don't think I will be able to ask any questions of this witness.  [¶] I think the effect of my cross-examining him to the limited extent the court would allow it would really be so ineffectual as cross-examination that rather than testing what he has to say it would simply make the jury think that what he has to say is absolutely accurate and reliable.  [¶] I think that the court trying to comply with the Supreme Court rulings in this area is allowing this witness to have a false aura of reliability, credibility and truth.   So I-again I object to his testifying because it absolutely denies her right to ․ cross-examine a witness.”

The trial court replied defense counsel could cross-examine the reporter within parameters of the shield law, and counsel had the opportunity to elicit on cross-examination several of defendant's quotations in the articles that “would be of assistance to your client.  [¶] However, for tactical reasons, if you decide to not ask those questions, no one is going to fault you.”   The court overruled defendant's objection, “to the extent that your objection is  that you are being precluded from pointing out matters that the witness can testify to that would be of assistance to your client and ․ consistent with [her] defense․”

Before Rams testified, the court informed the jury the parties held hearings “about the areas that counsel can examine.”   The court introduced the lawyer representing Rams, and the prosecution asked questions covering pertinent portions of the articles.   Defense counsel elected not to cross-examine Rams.

B. Reconciling a Criminal Defendant's Right to a Fair Trial and Shield Law Protection for News Persons

The shield law provides absolute rather than qualified protection in immunizing a newsperson from contempt for not revealing unpublished information.  (Miller v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 883, 890, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170 (Miller ).)  “ ‘ “Since contempt is generally the only effective remedy against a nonparty witness, the California enactments [article I, section 2(b), and Evidence Code section 1070] grant such witnesses virtually absolute protection against compelled disclosure.”  [Citation.]  ․’ ” (Id. at pp. 890-891, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170.)   This protection “ ‘provides an immunity from being adjudged in contempt;  it does not create a privilege.’ ”  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 797, fn. 6, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934, original italics.)   To qualify for shield law protection, the newsperson must show “that he is one of the types of persons enumerated in the law, that the information was ‘obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public,’ and that the information has not been ‘disseminated to the public by the person from whom disclosure is sought.’ ”  (Id. at p. 805, fn. 17, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)

Once established, the shield law “may be overcome only by a countervailing federal constitutional right.”  (Miller, supra, 21 Cal.4th at p. 897, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170.)   Defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial may displace the newsperson's shield law immunity if defendant meets the burden of demonstrating nondisclosure would deprive defendant of her due process right to a fair trial.  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 805, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)   To meet this burden, defendant must show “a reasonable possibility the information will materially assist his defense.”  (Id. at p. 809, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)   The court emphasized the requested information need not lead to defendant's exoneration.   For example, a defendant's right to a fair trial includes disclosure of evidence that may establish an “imperfect defense,” a lesser included or lesser related offense, or a lesser degree of the same crime;  impeach a prosecution witness;  or, in capital cases, establish mitigating circumstances.  (Ibid.) While “defendant's showing need not be detailed or specific, ․ it must rest on more than mere speculation.”   (Ibid.)

If a defendant satisfies the threshold showing, the court proceeds to the second stage of the inquiry and balances “the defendant's and newsperson's respective, perhaps conflicting, interests.”  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 809, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)   The court must consider the following factors:  (a) whether the unpublished information is confidential or sensitive so that disclosure might threaten the newsperson's access to future sources;  (b) the interests protected by the shield law and whether other circumstances demonstrate no adverse consequences to disclosure, as when the defendant is the source of information;  (c) the importance of the information to the defendant;  and (d) whether there is an alternative source for the unpublished information.  (Id. at pp. 810-811, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)

With these principles in mind, we now consider whether application of the shield law in defendant's case denied her right to a fair trial.

C. Applying Delaney's Analytical Framework

Defendant contends the trial court denied her due process right to a fair trial when it prohibited her from cross-examining Rams on unpublished information he gathered in writing his articles about the murders.   Defendant also urges us to review the trial court's Delaney ruling de novo.   Delaney did not decide which standard of review to adopt for shield law cases “because ․ we have reviewed the record, and we independently conclude without difficulty that it fully supports the municipal court's thoughtful decision.”  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 816, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)   We also decline to decide which standard applies because, as in Delaney, we independently conclude the record supports the trial court's decision that defendant failed to satisfy Delaney's threshold test.   We now turn to Delaney's analytical approach.

1. Did Newspaper Reporter Rams Establish the Foundational Requirements for Invoking the Shield Law?

The burden initially rests on the newsperson to satisfy the foundational requirements for relying on the shield law.   Here, it is undisputed Rams established the requisite foundation.   Rams filed a declaration stating that while working as an Orange County Register newspaper reporter he obtained information concerning defendant's involvement in the murders.   He revealed that “[s]ubstantial portions of the information gathered for the articles are unpublished,” and “have not [been] disseminated ․ to the public.”   At the trial, defendant did not dispute Rams established the necessary foundation to invoke the shield law, and does not contest this issue on appeal.3  Consequently, we turn to the next prong in the analysis.

2. Did Defendant Show a Reasonable Possibility Cross-Examining Newspaper Reporter Rams About Unpublished Information Would Have Materially Assisted the Defense?

Rams gained immunity from contempt and the right to withhold unpublished information once he established the necessary foundation for invoking the shield law.   To overcome this showing, defendant was required to demonstrate a reasonable possibility the undisclosed information would materially assist her defense.  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 808, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)

Defendant contends she satisfied Delaney's threshold requirement when she informed the trial court her unpublished statements to Rams could support her defense she lacked the requisite criminal intent and suffered from battered women's syndrome.   Although “[t]his should have been enough to warrant disclosure,” defendant also argues “the very fact that Rams paraphrased much of the interview independently satisfies the Delaney requirement․” Finally, at oral argument, defendant maintained her pretrial written list of proposed questions constituted her offer of proof.   The Attorney General argues Sanchez, supra, 12 Cal.4th 1, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129, is on point and requires rejection of defendant's claim.   We agree Sanchez is dispositive and conclude defendant failed to satisfy Delaney's threshold test.

In Sanchez, a newspaper reporter interviewed the defendant five separate times concerning the circumstances leading to multiple murder charges.   One article reported the defendant's admission he was a “ ‘triple murderer’ ” and that the victims were killed for their Social Security checks.   Earlier articles based on the same interviews reported the defendant “ ‘did not actually kill’ ” two of  the victims, but felt “ ‘he deserves to die because he was present when the slaying happened, because he helped the killers and because he didn't intervene to save the couple, who had been kind to him for years.’ ”   The defendant explained he had smoked PCP before committing the crimes and “ ‘ “I was scared․ It was just that I felt fear, and I didn't know how to respond to it․” ’ ”  The defendant claimed he was not guilty of the other homicide.

The prosecution called the reporter during the guilt phase to ask only about information published in the newspaper.   The trial court sustained objections based on the shield law when the defendant asked the reporter if the defendant's interviews were taped.   The trial court rejected the defendant's argument he had a Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine the reporter, prohibited the defendant from asking about unpublished information and denied his request to strike the reporter's direct testimony.  (Sanchez, supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 50, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129.)

In Sanchez, the defendant claimed he met Delaney's threshold test for overcoming the shield law and the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation when it granted the newspaper reporter immunity.   The defendant argued he established a reasonable possibility the undisclosed information would materially assist his defense when he asserted the following:  “ ‘Unlike other statements attributed to [defendant] in the [newspaper] article, [the reporter's] “triple murder” assertion was not a direct quotation.   Rather, it was a conclusion drawn by [the reporter].  [The reporter's] unpublished material might have shown that his “triple murderer” testimony was his own interpretation of [defendant's] account, not an actual admission.   Moreover, discovery and cross-examination might have proven that [the reporter's] conclusion was not supported by the interviews․' ”  (Sanchez, supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 57, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129.)   The defendant also claimed interview tapes “ ‘might have shown’ ” the defendant did not make the admissions the reporter attributed to him, and therefore bolster his argument the evidence was insufficient.  (Ibid.)

The Supreme Court concluded the defendant's evidence “consists of nothing more than self-serving statements that a court could reasonably conclude were either too speculative to assist defendant or would harm, rather than materially assist, the defense.”  (Sanchez, supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 57, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129.)   The court observed that “defendant never shows how the information he sought would materially assist his defense, or how it differed in content from the testimony and published information available for cross-examination, including defendant's statements he was scared, that he had taken phencyclidine (PCP), and that he had not murdered anyone.”   Consequently, the court rejected the defendant's claim he satisfied Delaney's threshold requirement and that he was denied his right to confront and cross-examine the reporter.  (Ibid.)

Here, defendant also contends she met Delaney's threshold test and the trial court's restriction of her cross-examination of Rams violated her Sixth Amendment confrontation rights.   As in Sanchez, defendant complains the reporter paraphrased her statements, and argues cross-examination would have revealed her exact statements, which, in turn, might have bolstered her lack of intent defense.   She argues disclosure of any notes or tape-recorded interview of defendant may have revealed her exact statements.   She also asserts cross-examining Rams about her demeanor would have corroborated defendant's fear of Godley and the description of his threats.   She surmises cross-examination may have revealed Rams used other information sources besides defendant.   Finally, she argues cross-examination may have shown Rams coerced her into making involuntary admissions.

Recently, in People v. Ramos (2004) 34 Cal.4th 494, 525-526, 21 Cal.Rptr.3d 575, 101 P.3d 478 (Ramos ), the Supreme Court rejected claims similar to those lodged here.   In Ramos, the defendant sought disclosure of a newsreporter's unpublished information concerning the reporter's interview of defendant.   Specifically, the defendant sought the reporter's interview notes to “validate [defendant's] psychiatric disorder.”   The court concluded the defendant failed to meet Delaney's threshold test, concluding his showing rested on “mere speculation” and the evidence “does not suggest the notes contain anything of substance that the jury had not already heard.”   (Id. at p. 527, 21 Cal.Rptr.3d 575, 101 P.3d 478.)

Defendant's assertions parrot those the defendants lodged in Sanchez and Ramos, and amount to nothing more than rank speculation.   Much of the information she sought to elicit was cumulative of other admitted evidence.   Rams recounted defendant's statements describing her fear of Godley and his violent conduct.   Other witnesses corroborated Godley's violent character, and defendant's expert explained her battered women's syndrome defense.   Defendant never claimed Rams's account of his interview with her was untruthful or inaccurate.   Thus, defendant's argument, stripped of its gloss, is merely a request to elicit additional corroborating information from Rams. As in Sanchez, defendant failed to explain how this information would have assisted her defense, or how it differed from other mitigating evidence presented at trial.   Finally, we note defendant filed no declarations or investigative reports to support her Delaney showing.   We also reject the notion a lengthy list of detailed questions amounts to an offer of proof, or satisfies defendant's burden “to make the required showing.”  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 809, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934;  see also In re Mark C. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 433, 444, 8 Cal.Rptr.2d 856 [offer of proof must set forth the substance and purpose of the evidence];  People v. Allen (1986) 42 Cal.3d 1222, 1270, fn. 30, 232 Cal.Rptr. 849, 729 P.2d 115 [general rule offer of proof not required for cross-examination does not apply where trial court has overlooked the question's probable relevance or invites counsel to suggest a theory of relevance].)

Measured under the Sanchez standard, defendant failed to show a reasonable possibility the unpublished information would materially assist her defense.   Consequently, we need not consider the second Delaney prong requiring a balancing of factors to determine whether disclosure of the unpublished information was required.  (Sanchez, supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 58, fn. 4, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129;  Ramos, supra, 34 Cal.4th at p. 527, 21 Cal.Rptr.3d 575, 101 P.3d 478.)

D. The Remedy of Excluding or Striking the Newsperson's Testimony When Shield Law Immunity Is Validly Asserted During Cross-Examination

Alternatively, defendant contends the trial court erred by failing to strike Rams's direct testimony or exclude him from testifying altogether.   Where a criminal defendant fails to satisfy Delaney's threshold test, the Attorney General argues the appropriate remedy is to limit the newsperson's testimony to published information, as in Sanchez.   Before turning to this issue, we must first determine whether defendant made a motion to strike Rams's direct testimony.

Invoking the shield law, Rams declined at a pretrial hearing to answer defendant's cross-examination questions concerning unpublished information.   When the trial court found defendant failed to satisfy Delaney's threshold test, defendant argued the ruling violated her Sixth Amendment right to cross-examination and therefore moved to exclude Rams's entire testimony.  “If a witness frustrates cross-examination by declining to answer some or all of the questions, the court may strike all or part of the witness's testimony.  [Citation.]  From this rule it follows logically that if ․ the court determines in advance that the witness will refuse to answer such questions, the court may decline to admit the testimony in the first instance.”  (People v. Price (1991) 1 Cal.4th 324, 421, 3 Cal.Rptr.2d 106, 821 P.2d 610.)   Defendant's motion to exclude Rams's entire testimony was designed to prevent the witness's testimony from influencing the jury.   Thus, the broader remedy of exclusion encompasses a motion to strike, and therefore defendant did not waive the issue.

Based on Fost v. Superior Court (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 724, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620 (Fost ), defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in failing to strike or exclude Rams's testimony.   In Fost, the prosecution's principal eyewitness in a special circumstances murder case made certain statements for a newspaper article about the crime.   The witness's testimony differed from her statements in the article.   To impeach the witness, the defendant called the newspaper reporter only to authenticate the information published in the article.   Invoking the shield law, the reporter refused to answer several of the prosecutor's cross-examination questions about unpublished information.   The trial court held the reporter in contempt when the reporter failed to  comply with the court's order to answer the questions.   The Court of Appeal granted the reporter's writ petition to prohibit the trial court from enforcing its contempt order because the court failed to balance the competing constitutional rights.  (Id. at pp. 739-740, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)

The focal point in Fost was the prosecutor's effort to overcome the shield law and cross-examine the reporter on unpublished information.   Miller, supra, 21 Cal.4th 883, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170, appeared to foreclose the prosecutor's attempt.  Miller held that the prosecution's due process rights under the state Constitution do not include the right to use contempt sanctions to compel newspersons to disclose unpublished information obtained while covering the news.  “The fact that the assertion of this immunity might lead to the inability of the prosecution to gain access to all the evidence it desires does not mean that a prosecutor's right to due process is violated, any more than the assertion of established evidentiary privileges against the prosecution would be a violation.”  (Id. at p. 898, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170.)   Only the defendant can overcome shield law protection by demonstrating that nondisclosure would violate the defendant's federal constitutional right to a fair trial.  (Fost, supra, 80 Cal.App.4th at p. 737, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620;  Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 805, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)   Thus, the prosecutor in Fost could not compel the newspaper reporter to disclose on cross-examination unpublished information about the articles, even if it would materially assist the prosecutor's case.

There was one more arrow in the prosecution quiver, however.   Because the prosecution was denied the benefits of cross-examination when the reporter refused to answer questions on unpublished information, the prosecutor moved to strike the witness's entire testimony.   The court in Fost agreed this was an appropriate and well-established remedy, even if the witness's refusal was based on a valid privilege.  (Fost, supra, 80 Cal.App.4th at pp. 735-736, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)   The court explained, “[a] criminal defendant's federal constitutional right to a fair trial, and specifically the Sixth Amendment right ‘to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor,’ cannot be deemed to include the right to call a witness who cannot be subjected to proper cross-examination, either because of protections the witness enjoys under the shield law or for any other reason.”  (Id. at p. 736, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)   In other words, a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to call favorable witnesses applies only if those witnesses submit to cross-examination.  (Id. at p. 732, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)  “It follows that, where the shield law is invoked to resist proper cross-examination regarding material matters, a trial court may bar the receipt in evidence of the direct testimony to which it relates or strike such testimony if it has already been given, either entirely or in part․” (Id. at pp. 736-737, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620, fn. omitted, italics added.)

Fost explained there was one exception to the general remedy of striking the direct testimony of a witness invoking the shield law:  “[W]here a  defendant can show that nondisclosure of unpublished information sought by the People on the cross-examination of a defense witness would result in excluding direct testimony that would materially assist the defense, [defendant] should be able to vindicate his federal constitutional right to a fair trial by making showings analogous to those required in Delaney.”   (Fost, supra, 80 Cal.App.4th at p. 737, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.) 4  In sum, Fost held that the prosecution may move to exclude or strike the entire testimony of a witness who invokes the shield law and refuses to answer the prosecutor's cross-examination questions.  Fost concluded the motion should be granted “unless the defendant can show that excluding or striking such evidence would deprive him of his federal constitutional right to a fair trial and, if he makes this threshold showing, that his right transcends the conflicting right protected by the shield law.”  (Id. at pp. 737-738, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)

Defendant argues the circumstances in Fost are identical to those in her case, except that defendant, rather than the prosecutor, moved to exclude or strike the newspaper reporter's testimony when the reporter refused to answer defendant's cross-examination questions.   Seeing no other differences, defendant urges us to follow Fost's reasoning and conclude the trial court abused its discretion in failing to exclude or strike Rams's testimony.   True, rights and obligations applying to both parties are enforced neutrally, “[w]hat is sauce for the People's goose is sauce for the defendant's gander.”   (Nienhouse v. Superior Court (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 83, 92, 49 Cal.Rptr.2d 573 [“if the People can elicit incriminating hearsay from a law enforcement officer, the defense can elicit exculpatory hearsay from law enforcement officer” on probable cause determination at preliminary hearing].)   But to apply Fost here requires an analysis of how Delaney and Miller affect the respective parties' rights and interests.

The prosecution has no due process right to overcome a newsperson's shield law immunity and force disclosure of unpublished information, even if the undisclosed information is crucial to the prosecution's case.  (Miller, supra, 21 Cal.4th at p. 887, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170.)   Under Fost, any right the prosecution has to uncover material undisclosed information is “derived from the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to call witnesses in his favor.”  (Fost, supra, 80 Cal.App.4th at p. 732, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)   But this right applies only if the witness submits to  cross-examination.   Thus, the prosecution may cross-examine the witness on unpublished information only if the defendant demonstrates the reporter's direct testimony assists his defense and therefore cannot be stricken without violating the defendant's right to a fair trial.   (Id. at p. 737, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)   If the defendant fails to make this showing, the prosecution may not cross-examine the newsperson on unpublished information, but may move to strike the witness's testimony.

In contrast, defendant's right to cross-examine newspersons on unpublished information is not a derivative right, but directly stems from a criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment guarantee.   Defendant has a right to overcome shield law immunity and force disclosure of unprivileged information if defendant meets the Delaney standard.   But if defendant fails to show a reasonable possibility the undisclosed information will materially assist the defense, it follows that defendant has no right to elicit unpublished information on cross-examination and therefore does not suffer prejudice in the same manner as the prosecution when it is denied cross-examination on issues crucial to its case.

Other interests may support defendant's right to exclude or strike the newsperson's testimony, however.   Cross-examination serves other purposes besides eliciting additional information.   Indeed, “[i]ts chief purpose is ‘to test the credibility, knowledge and recollection of the witness․' ” (Fost, supra, 80 Cal.App.4th at p. 733, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)   The cross-examiner “ ‘often cannot know in advance what pertinent facts may be elicited on cross-examination.   For that reason it is necessarily explanatory;  and the rule that the examiner must indicate the purpose of his inquiry does not, in general, apply. [Citations.]  It is the essence of a fair trial that reasonable latitude be given the cross-examiner, even though he is unable to state to the court what facts a reasonable cross-examination might develop․’ ” (Id. at p. 734, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 620.)   Here, defendant's failure to pass Delaney's threshold test bars her from eliciting unpublished information from a newsperson who validly asserts shield law protection.   Defendant retained the right to test the witness's credibility, knowledge, and recollection, but was thwarted in doing so by the witness's refusal to answer questions about the undisclosed information.   Excluding or striking the witness's testimony may be necessary to vindicate these cross-examination purposes.

But resolution of these issues must await another day.   Here, we need not decide whether the trial court erred in failing to exclude or strike the reporter's testimony because any conceivable error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defendant claims the trial court's failure to exclude or strike Rams's testimony was prejudicial error and forced her to testify.   But defendant's  direct testimony did not once refer to Rams's newspaper article.   The issue surfaced only on cross-examination when she conceded Rams accurately reported her statements, with one exception.5  Because defendant testified in more detail to essentially the same facts Rams reported in his stories, it is reasonable to assume her testimony was not prompted by the need to explain any inaccuracies in the newspaper articles.   We therefore conclude her failure to discuss Rams's newspaper articles on direct examination demonstrates her decision to testify was not causally linked to the court's failure to exclude Rams's testimony.

Other evidence connected defendant to the murders.   She lied to police about her involvement with Stahl, the number of telephone calls she received from him on the day he was killed, and his desire to hire someone to kill his wife.   Police discovered in defendant's storage unit driver's license identification photographs of Stahl and his wife and a picture of defendant and Godley together.   Defendant often expressed enmity toward Stahl's wife.   Shortly after Stahl withdrew $20,000 from his bank account, defendant arrived at work adorned with new jewelry from Godley.   A few months before the murders, she bought Godley a revolver, the same type of handgun used in the homicides.   On the evening of the slayings, she abruptly canceled plans to attend a party and left with Godley.   This evidence, coupled with defendant's testimony, demonstrates any error in failing to exclude Rams's testimony was harmless.


Sufficiency of Evidence to Support Defendant's Second Degree Murder Conviction Based on the Doctrine of Natural and Probable Consequences

Defendant contends the evidence is insufficient to support defendant's second degree murder conviction based on a theory Stahl's murder was a natural and probable consequence of his wife's murder.   We disagree.

We apply the following standard to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to support defendant's murder conviction:  “whether from the evidence, including all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, there is any substantial evidence of the existence of each element of the offense charged.”  (People v. Ainsworth (1988) 45 Cal.3d 984, 1022, 248 Cal.Rptr. 568, 755 P.2d 1017.)   Evidence must be reasonable, credible and of solid value to satisfy the substantial evidence test, and “[t]his standard applies  whether direct or circumstantial evidence is involved.”  (People v. Catlin (2001) 26 Cal.4th 81, 139, 109 Cal.Rptr.2d 31, 26 P.3d 357.)

Because we must draw all inferences in support of the judgment, defendant “bears an enormous burden” when challenging the sufficiency of the evidence.  (People v. Sanchez (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 325, 330, 6 Cal.Rptr.3d 271.)   It is the exclusive province of the trier of fact to assess the credibility of the witnesses, resolve conflicts in the testimony and weigh the evidence.  (Ibid.) Thus, “ ‘ “[i]f the circumstances reasonably justify the trier of fact's findings, the opinion of the reviewing court that the circumstances might also reasonably be reconciled with a contrary finding does not warrant a reversal of the judgment.  [Citation.]” ’ ”  (People v. Kraft (2000) 23 Cal.4th 978, 1054, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 1, 5 P.3d 68.)   With these principles in mind, we turn to defendant's attack on the sufficiency of the evidence.

The elements of aider and abettor liability for murder on the natural and probable consequences theory are the following:  “the trier of fact must find that the defendant, acting with (1) knowledge of the unlawful purpose of the perpetrator;  and (2) the intent or purpose of committing, encouraging, or facilitating the commission of a predicate or target offense;  (3) by act or advice aided, promoted, encouraged or instigated the commission of the target crime.   But the trier of fact must also find that (4) the defendant's confederate committed an offense other than the target crime;  [fn. omitted] and (5) the offense committed by the confederate was a natural and probable consequence of the target crime that the defendant aided and abetted.”  (People v. Prettyman (1996) 14 Cal.4th 248, 262, 58 Cal.Rptr.2d 827, 926 P.2d 1013.)   The issue “is not whether the aider and abettor actually foresaw the additional crime, but whether, judged objectively, it was reasonably foreseeable.”  (People v. Mendoza (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1114, 1133, 77 Cal.Rptr.2d 428, 959 P.2d 735, original italics.)

Here, defendant admitted she knew Stahl hired Godley to kill Stahl's wife, and there was ample evidence defendant facilitated the murder by introducing Godley to Stahl and purchasing for Godley the same type of handgun used in the slayings.   Defendant argues it was not objectively reasonable to anticipate Godley would also turn his weapon on Stahl, the man who hired Godley to commit the target offense.   But defendant knew first-hand Godley was a dangerous, violent paranoid sociopath.   He informed her early in their relationship he was a North Carolina fugitive wanted for robberies.   She knew he had worked as a hired assailant and associated with hired killers.   He often carried a shotgun at his side, and threatened to kill defendant and her children if she revealed his past or his murder plans.   The jury reasonably could conclude it was foreseeable such a violent individual would have an incentive to eliminate Stahl as a witness after Stahl paid him the entire amount under  the murder contract.   Drawing all inferences in favor of the judgment, as we must, we conclude substantial evidence supports the conviction.



The judgment is affirmed.


1.   The voters incorporated the shield law into the California Constitution in 1980.  Article 1, section 2(b), provides:  “A publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service, or any person who has been so connected or employed, shall not be adjudged in contempt by a judicial, legislative, or administrative body, or any other body having the power to issue subpoenas, for refusing to disclose the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for publication in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.  [¶] Nor shall a radio or television news reporter or other person connected with or employed by a radio or television station, or any person who has been so connected or employed, be so adjudged in contempt for refusing to disclose the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for news or news commentary purposes on radio or television, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.  [¶] As used in this subdivision, ‘unpublished information’ includes information not disseminated to the public by the person from whom disclosure is sought, whether or not related information has been disseminated and includes, but is not limited to, all notes, outtakes, photographs, tapes or other data of whatever sort not itself disseminated to the public through a medium of communication, whether or not published information based upon or related to such material has been disseminated.”Evidence Code section 1070 is the statutory counterpart to article I, section 2(b), and contains nearly identical wording.   To avoid needless repetition, we refer only to the constitutional provision.

2.   The court explained, “I need to make a record as to what questions that you would ask or seek to ask, make whatever rulings are necessary and then have the testimony tailored as to what questions will be allowed so we don't get into a dispute in front of the jury․”

3.   Defendant does not contend Rams could not invoke the shield law because defendant was both the source of the information and the person seeking its disclosure.  (See People v. Sanchez (1995) 12 Cal.4th 1, 56, fn. 3, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129 (Sanchez ).)  Delaney considers this fact merely a factor in balancing the newsperson's and defendant's rights, but Sanchez hinted this might remove a newsperson's shield law protection altogether.  (Compare Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 810, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934 [whether defendant seeking disclosure is also the source of the information is a factor weighed in balancing test but considered only after the defendant has met the threshold requirement] with Sanchez, supra, at p. 56, fn. 3, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 906 P.2d 1129, italics added [court declined to address “the issue whether the fact that defendant himself was the source of some of the information rendered it outside the protection of the shield law”].)The issue is troublesome.   The shield law's purpose is to “protect a newsperson's ability to gather and report the news.”  (Delaney, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 806, fn. 20, 268 Cal.Rptr. 753, 789 P.2d 934.)   Where the defendant is both the source of the reporter's information and the person requesting the disclosure, there is no risk the reporter's source (the defendant) will complain her confidence has been breached.  (People v. Sapp (2003) 31 Cal.4th 240, 273, 2 Cal.Rptr.3d 554, 73 P.3d 433.)   Nor is the separate policy of safeguarding press autonomy in any way compromised.  (See Miller, supra, 21 Cal.4th at p. 898, 89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170.)   And, where the defendant is the reporter's source of information, there appears no reason to assume disclosure would hinder the reporter's ability to gather news in the future.   But under Delaney, we may only consider this factor in the balancing stage.   If the defendant fails to meet the threshold test, as here, this factor plays no part in the equation.   But for the foregoing reasons, it may be argued this factor also should be considered in determining whether the newsperson has established the foundational requirements for shield law protection.

4.   Fost required the defendant to meet the Delaney requirements even though the defendant had not sought to obtain unprivileged information on the newspaper reporter's direct examination.   If the defendant satisfies the Delaney test, the prosecution may inquire about unpublished information on cross-examination.   Amicus curiae argue this portion of Fost is inconsistent with Miller and promotes a constitutionally inferior interest-the prosecutor's cross-examination rights-at the expense of the newsperson's constitutional right not to disclose unpublished information.   As amicus curiae acknowledges, however, we need not decide the issue because, unlike the scenario in Miller, the prosecution here sought and elicited from Rams only published information on direct examination.

5.   Defendant complained she did not tell Rams she was present during some of the “planning,” but informed him she was present when Stahl and Godley were “talking.”





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