Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Both sides rest case after memory testimony

From page A1 | October 21, 2013 |

The final day of testimony in the Joseph Michael Nissensohn triple-murder trial focused on an expert witness testifying to how memories are formed.

First, however, defense attorney Hayes Gable III called El Dorado County District Attorney Investigator Paul Moschini. Moschini interviewed inmate Luke Johnston twice, the second time on Aug. 21, 2011. The inmate contacted the DA’s office claiming to have new information on Nissensohn. He told Moschini and Deputy District Attorney Dale Gomes, the prosecutor of the trial, that Nissensohn claimed to have beheaded a woman and buried her, in parts, at the Kingsbury Grade. Nissensohn told him, Johnston claimed, that “no one would ever find her.”

Moschini believed Johnston “lacked credibility” and he was “pretty dismissive of Luke Johnston” after the interview. He was then excused from the stand.

Gable called the final witness of the trial, Geoffrey Loftus, Ph.D. Loftus, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, was questioned on how memories are formed and how they are retained.

Conscious perception is fairly accurate, but only a relatively small amount is retained as memories. The reason for this, he said, is post-event information. This is used to supplement conscious perception, “filling in gaps and holes” to “make a more coherent story.” Post-event information could be someone telling the person details or reading about it in a newspaper.

This can develop a “strong, detailed” memory, but, unbeknownst to the person remembering it, is a false memory.

If an event is asked about often, however, the conscious perception will hold, with the person remembering more true details. An example, he said, was a sibling’s name — it’s recalled often and thus easier to remember.

There are three things that make a memory inaccurate, Loftus said. The first is during the event, it is too dark, the person is under stress or not paying attention. The second is retention — the longer it has been since last recalled, the worse the person will remember and use post-event information to fill in the gaps. The final is the technique in eliciting the recollection of the memory, such as using leading questions, which can be post-event information.

The person’s attention during an event can also affect memory. Much like a spotlight beam can only illuminate on small area, Loftus said, a person can only pay attention to so much.

But, Gable asked, what if a person was highly confident about their memory? High confidence, Loftus said, does not necessarily mean that the person is remembering correctly, as they may not realize post-event information had become part of their memory. If decades had passed, the memory would have decayed. If not recalled often, the average time for conscious perception to decay is a year. There would be “little original info, a huge amount of post-event information.” The memory could be “very detailed, completely real-seeming … but little was acquired at the time of the event.”

Gomes’ questions for Loftus focused on money. He confirmed with Loftus that the professor had accepted millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants for his studies, and that he would be receiving between $13,000 or $14,000 plus expenses for the work he did on the case and traveling to South Lake Tahoe twice.

After Loftus was excused, both sides rested their case. The trial will resume on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 8:30 a.m. for jury instructions, closing arguments and deliberation.

Nissensohn is accused of killing Tammy Jarschke and Tanya Jones in Seaside, near Monterey, in 1981, and Kathy Graves in South Lake Tahoe in 1989. He has already served 15 years after being convicted on the second-degree murder of Sally Jo Tsaggaris in 1991. If found guilty, Nissensohn would be classified a serial killer and could face the death penalty.



Cole Mayer

Last Login | Wed Jul 30 08:48:27 2014


Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post



Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8