Alfred J. Koll was shot to death in his Pasadena pharmacy on November 3, 1980. Although several witnesses saw the assailant, who wore a motorcycle helmet with a dark visor, or bubble shield, over his face, none was able to identify him. The evidence linking defendant to the killing was circumstantial: in addition to evidence of motive (defendant was facing trial for robbing Koll) and opportunity (the killing occurred during the lunch recess of the robbery trial, a short distance from the courthouse), there was evidence defendant owned a motorcycle and helmet, one of defendant’s fingerprints was found on a bubble shield police recovered from a Pasadena street on the day of the killing, and the phone number of the Koll pharmacy was found in a notebook in defendant’s car.
The Robbery Trial
On August 27, 1979, two men robbed Koll of cash at his pharmacy, located at 939 East Walnut Street in Pasadena. Defendant and James Phillips were charged with the robbery and with felony assault. At the preliminary examination, Koll identified defendant as one of the robbers.
On November 3, 1980, the robbery case was scheduled for trial in a department of the Los Angeles County Superior Court located in the Pasadena courthouse. Koll had been subpoenaed as a witness and was on call if needed. During the morning session, before court and counsel started to select a jury, the prosecutor, Gerald Haney, and defense counsel, Adolfo Lara, discussed a disposition by plea. Haney offered to drop the assault charge if defendant pled guilty to robbery. According to Haney, Lara left the room to talk to defendant, then returned and said, “My guy wants to think about it over—during the lunch hour.” Around 11:30 or 11:45 a.m., court recessed until 1:45 p.m.
At the beginning of the lunch break, a bailiff saw defendant make a telephone call from the hallway just outside the courtroom. Brother Ed Bryant, an