[Updated] Former Det. Found Guilty in Cold Case Murder
After an hour of deliberation Thursday, jurors found former Los Angeles Police detective Stephanie Lazarus guilty in the first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend's wife.
Lazarus, 51, was accused of killing Sherri Rasmussen in Van Nuys over 26 years ago.
Sherri Rasmussen was shot three times in the chest and died in a Van Nuys condominium where she lived with her husband, John Ruetten, on Feb. 24, 1986.
The LAPD Chief, Charlie Beck, expressed his condolences to Sherri's family, saying, "We recognize that no verdict by a court can bring Sherri back, nor assuage the grief your family suffered over the past decades. I also want to thank the detectives that followed up on this case. It shows the tenacity of the detectives on the LAPD who will work tirelessly to bring a case to justice, whether that case takes them around the world or across the hall."
The jury listened to read-back testimony on Thursday from prosecution witness Anastasia Volianitis and defense witness Evangelina Flores. Both witnesses were present at the Balboa Boulevard condominium complex the day that Sherri Rasmussen was shot and killed.
The jury consisted of eight women, and four men. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry gave jurors the option of considering first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and acquittal.
Lazarus was an art theft investigator for the LAPD, and retired in June 2009 when DNA evidence was gathered from the bite mark on Rasmussen's arm. Since then, Lazarus has been in jail on $10 million bail.
Lazarus had a sexual relationship in college with John Ruetten, Rasmussen's husband. Ruetten testified in trial that he did not consider Lazarus his girlfriend at the time, and continued to date other women while seeing her.
Rasmussen, a nursing supervisor, was killed three months after marrying Ruetten on Nov. 23, 1985.