The family of an ex-LA cop convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend’s wife 26 years ago said they plan to appeal the conviction because they say she didn’t get a fair trial.
“The trial was held and the jury came back and I accept that,” said Steven Lazarus, the brother of Stephanie Lazarus who was convicted Thursday of killing Sherri Rasmussen in a jealous rage in 1986.
“But that doesn’t mean that’s the end of it.”
The eight-woman, four-man jury deliberated just under two days before finding Lazarus guilty of the first-degree murder of Rasmussen, a hospital nursing director who was 29 when she was killed.
Prosecutors said the bullet used in the crime came from an LAPD issued .38 caliber revolver with a two-inch barrel, the same one Lazarus bought from the Police Academy just before she became a cop.
But it was DNA evidence on which prosecutors based most of their case. Prosecutors said they connected Lazarus to the crime through a saliva sample taken from a bite on Rasmussen’s shoulder.
Rasmussen’s parents told Dateline NBC that they tried in vain to get LAPD detectives to investigate Lazarus years ago.
When police first interviewed Lazarus’ ex-boyfriend, John Ruetten, they looked to see if he had any scratches or bruises.
The victim’s father, Nels Rasmussen, suggested that cops look at Lazarus too.
“I said would you do the same check with John’s ex-girlfriend?” Nels Rasmussen said.
At the time police refused to investigate one of their own.
Lazarus’ brother believes the strongest piece of the prosecution’s case, the DNA, was tampered with. The envelope containing the evidence was torn, he said.
He said the jury also didn’t get to hear evidence of a possible burglary gone bad, the theory police initially pursued years ago.
“They didn’t get to hear that there was a burglary down the street a couple weeks later, an armed burglary that got interrupted,” he said.
Lazarus is set to be sentenced May 4. She could spend the rest of her life in prison.