Brother Goes to Bat for Detective Held On $10 Million Bail

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Los Angeles—Last December, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge set bail for Stephanie Lazarus at $10 million. Now her brother, Steven Lazarus, has broken the family’s months-long silence by calling this amount “way unreasonable” and claiming that his sister is not receiving the proper care for her health while in jail.

Stephanie Lazarus, a 26-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, is accused of having bludgeoned and shot to death a romantic rival in 1986. She was arrested in June, after DNA evidence in the cold case linked her to the death of Sherri Rae Rasmussen.

Rasmussen had married John Ruetten, who had dated Stephanie Lazarus for years, just months before the attack in which she was bound and shot in the torso three times, at close range. Investigators initially believed that she was killed by two men during an attempted burglary, despite the fact that Ruetten and Rasmussen’s father both suspected Lazarus. After detectives reopened the case last year, they were able to test a preserved saliva sample which had been collected from a bite mark on Rasmussen’s arm.

The judge at Lazarus’s bail hearing, Robert J. Perry, set her bail at the unusually high amount of $10 million because he deemed her such a high flight risk. Prosecutors had asked for only half that.

After another hearing, held Friday, Steven Lazarus spoke to the media, breaking the silence that the family had maintained since late last year. He argued that, despite having the obvious means to flee, celebrity defendants such as Phil Spector and Robert Blake were set free on $1-million bail amounts during their murder trials, and that his sister’s exorbitant bail was unreasonable.

“The concept of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t seem to prevail anymore,” he said. He also said that Stephanie Lazarus is suffering from cancer, and is not receiving the testing and medication adjustments which her condition requires.

Yet counsel for the Rasmussen family, John C. Taylor, said that since such strong DNA evidence linked Lazarus to the crime, and since she would face life in prison if convicted, the bail amount was justified.

 

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