Tourist murder trial sidelined by missing transcripts


"We'veemailed this court reporter, we've called him; he has absolutely refused to respond to any inquiry by defense counsel," San Francisco public defender Rebecca Young said.

Young is one of the lawyers representing the six murder suspects. She is talking about the court reporter who's transcribing the grand jury testimony that resulted in their arrests.

The suspects were indicted in the murder of German tourist Mechthild Schroer, who was killed in August of last year by a stray bullet during a shootout among rival gang members near Union Square.

The attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying the court reporter has vanished along with his notes from the proceeding.

"I was only told he had some sort of breakdown and that he couldn't produce the transcript," Young said.

Family and friends of the accused attended the court hearing Monday when the attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the case. They say since grand jury proceedings are confidential, they need to see the transcripts to prepare their cases.

"In that secret proceeding we have no idea what happened or what the testimony was," defense attorney Robert Amparan said.

Patrick Heard, the court reporter, has been disciplined before. He is currently on probation for mishandling stenographic notes from a prior proceeding.

Prosecutor Eric Fleming says Heard has contacted his office and says he will produce the transcripts.

"What we do know is that something prevented him from working continuously on the transcripts but he's back working on the transcripts," Fleming said.

Fleming says he still has no idea what prevented heard from completing the transcripts or where he's been. The defense is concerned about his mental competency.

The judge ruled that the motion to dismiss the case is premature because there is still time before the Dec. 16 trial date to get that transcript completed.

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