Victim's Husband Testifies in Ex-LAPD Detective's Murder Trial - NBC Southern California

Victim's Husband Testifies in Ex-LAPD Detective's Murder Trial

Ex-detective Stephanie Lazarus is accused of killing Sherri Rasmussen in 1986



    The husband of the murder victim admits to a sexual relationship with the defendant, but says they were just friends. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012)

    The former boyfriend of an ex-LAPD detective accused of killing the man's wife more than 20 years ago testified Wednesday about a phone call he received from an emotional Stephanie Lazarus regarding his impending marriage.

    "She wanted me to come over and see her so we could talk,'' John Ruetten told jurors. "She was basically trying to tell me she had deeper feelings for me. She was in love with me.''

    That was June 1985. Eight months later, the body of Ruetten's wife -- Sherri Rasmussen -- was found in the living room of their Van Nuys townhouse.

    Lazarus, a 23-year LAPD veteran, was arrested in June 2009 and charged with murder in Rasmussen's death. Prosecutors claim she killed Rasmussen because she was upset that her ex-boyfriend had moved on with someone else.

    Lazarus Interview, Part 1: "What's This All About?"

    [LA] Lazarus Interview, Part 1: "What's This All About?"
    Former officer Stephanie Lazarus is asked whether she knew John Ruetten and whether she ever met his wife.
    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010)

    "It was clear she was upset I was moving on and getting married,'' Ruetten told jurors Wednesday. "She had obviously had no closure."

    Ruetten, 53, met Lazarus when they were undergrads at UCLA. He testified that he had not heard from her in months before the June 1985 phone call, and that Lazarus had never previously told him she was in love.

    He married Rasmussen in November 1985 and the two moved into the Van Nuys townhouse, where they lived for fours months before she was found dead at the residence. Investigators initially thought the crime was related to a series of burglaries in the area, but the case went cold until 2004 when the coroner re-tested DNA from a bite mark found on Rasmussen.

    Lazarus Interview: "Do I Need to Get a Lawyer?"

    [LA] Lazarus Interview: "Do I Need to Get a Lawyer?"
    Moments after leaving the interview room, former cop Stephanie Lazarus is escorted back in wearing handcuffs.
    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010)

    A DNA sample collected from Lazarus in 2009 matched the bite mark's DNA profile, a criminalist testified earlier in the trial. Prosecutors have said DNA will provide the key pieces of evidence in the trial.

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