Beverly Hills Murder Trial: Key Witness Says Scott Barker Called Tony Takazato a 'Pussy' After Killing Him
For the in-depth story about the Beverly Hills murder, read the L.A. Weekly story "Did Scott Barker Knife Rich Kid Tony Takazato to Save His Girlfriend From Prostitution?"
www.masslive.com Scott Barker
At the Beverly Hills Courthouse last Friday, key witness Chie Coggins-Johnson took the stand again and said Scott Barker, who's on trial for first-degree murder, called victim Tony Takazato a "pussy" and laughed after killing him.
Coggins-Johnson also blamed her continued shaky performance on nervousness. Defense lawyer Bradley Brunon will continue his cross examination of Coggins-Johnson today.
The murder trial involves a bizarre love triangle that went bone-chillingly sideways -- and one that the L.A. media has taken little interest in, although it may speak more to L.A.'s dark side of broken dreams and ugly behavior than another Lindsay Lohan bust.
According to L.A. county prosecutors Amy Carter and Linda Loftfield, Scott Barker, who was 23 years old at the time, was enraged that Tony Takazato had pushed his girlfriend, then 20-year-old Chie Alexandra Coggins-Johnson, into prostitution and pornography. Takazato was also abusive toward Coggins-Johnson, the prosecution said.
Coggins-Johnson and Takazato were once romantically linked, but that turned into a "friendship," the prosecutors said. She lived on and off with Takazato in Beverly Hills. In the early morning of July 20, 2010, that ended.
According to the prosecution, Barker went to Takazato's Trousdale Estates home in Beverly Hills and stabbed him 58 times, leaving Takazato in a pool of blood and with wounds to the face, the arms, the neck, and the back of the head. The fatal wound was a knife thrust to the heart.
Coggins-Johnson was initially at the scene and drove away. Working closely with prosecutors, she later pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon under the theory of aiding and abetting.
Bradley Brunon said in his opening statement that Johnson is a "pathological liar" and Barker did not commit the murder.
On Friday, September 21, Coggins-Johnson took the stand wearing all black and sounding as if she was struggling with a cold.
The key witness explained how she had scaled a fence with Barker, and he got her to knock on Takazato's bedroom window. Takazato woke up, and Coggins-Johnson motioned that they should meet at the front door.
There, Coggins-Johnson told the jury, they talked for a moment or two, and she warned Takazato that he shouldn't go outside because Barker was around and she didn't want them to get into a fight. She then asked Takazato to open his automatic gate so she could leave. He did, and she left.
A few moments later, Coggins-Johnson said, she heard screaming and Takazato yelling out, "What the fuck?! What the fuck?! What the fuck?!" She got into Barker's parked Volkswagen Jetta and drove away.
Coggins-Johnson said she was numbed by what was unfolding.
"I just remember walking," she told the jury. "I felt like I was not there."
She added, "I didn't know what to do. I was confused."
Coggins-Johnson started driving in one direction and then turned around. She said she was looking for a police car she had seen during the drive to Takazato's. But, Barker appeared and she stopped.
"He came out of nowhere... he was right in the middle of the street," she testified, later noting, "I stopped because I almost nearly hit him. I was stunned to see him there. He got into the car and got into the passenger's seat."
Once inside the car, Coggins-Johnson said, Barker "said something sarcastic. He said, '[Takazato] was a pussy.' He seemed to be laughing or giggling."
Coggins-Johnson said Barker then directed her to drive to Malibu, where he cleaned his bloody clothes in the Pacific Ocean and then stashed them, two knives, and two car mats in a nearby ravine.
"I felt very traumatized," Coggins-Johnson recalled her time in Malibu. "I was scared of Scott. I felt very controlled, threatened by him."
They drove back to Barker's apartment in Koreatown, where Coggins-Johnson said her ex-boyfriend took a shower and appeared to clean the inside of his car. They went to a local Ralph's to pick up $400 his brother had wired to him, and stopped to get an ice cream and tacos.
At that point, Coggins-Johnson said, Barker told her, "You cannot tell anyone about this, Chie. I'm serious. I will find out if you do."
Throughout this testimony, Coggins-Johnson couldn't recall certain things and needed to look at a 38-page document she had written for prosecutors in 2010. At times, Judge Elden S. Fox appeared to be frustrated with her constant use of the document, which prosecutor Loftfield noticed and then addressed.
"Are you nervous?" Loftfield asked Coggins-Johnson.
"Yes," she replied.
"Are you scared?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yes," Coggins-Johnson said.
Loftfield's direct examination of Coggins-Johnson ended at around 3:15 p.m. It first started the previous day at around 11 a.m.
After a break on Friday, defense attorney Bradley Brunon started his cross examination, which went for about 45 minutes.
From the get-go, Brunon and Coggins-Johnson clashed. The attorney tried to make the point that she should easily remember one of the most traumatizing events in her young life. Coggins-Johnson stuck to what she told Loftfield.
"Being nervous [on the witness stand]," she told Brunon, "it was hard for me to remember."
At one point, Brunon asked, "Did someone tell you to say it was traumatizing?"
"No," Coggins-Johnson replied. "That's the truth."
Throughout the trial, Brunon has been trying to paint Coggins-Johnson as an untrustworthy witness.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.