Murder Trial Ending for Local West Hollywood Actor

March 28, 2009

Below is a story I wrote for a class at USC.  The testimony taken is from Thursday, March 12. The jury has recently heard closing arguments — keep your eyes to this space and I’ll have an update on this case.

On the same day in December 2005 that a West Hollywood man was charged with the murder of his wife, one witness testified the man told her he was going to go to jail and might need to change his name and identity.

An UPDATE on this case is HERE.

The man, local actor Chase Bramlage, 29, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder of his wife, who was found stabbed on the floor of the couple’s bedroom.

Bramlage, who was to play multiple characters in a local community college production of “The Laramie Project,” called stage manager Bunny Saavedra-Leslie the morning before the show’s opening night to say he could not come.

“He was a little choked up that he wasn’t … going to be able to perform,” Saavedra-Leslie said on the witness stand.

During the show’s final rehearsal on Nov. 30, Saavedra-Leslie said she overheard Bramlage talking to cast members about how he had to “man up and take responsibility,” and that “something terrible had happened.”

When Keith Swensson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department saw Bramlage at the police station in December 2005, he noticed the man was visibly shaken and slumped over.  After Bramlage gave the police a key to his apartment, officers hurried to the residence while he stayed at the station.

“He appeared to be very upset and was crying,” Swensson said in court.

Most of Thursday’s testimony focused on evidence from the crime scene including a bloody butcher’s knife displayed in court by Christine Pinto, a senior criminalist with the Los Angeles Crime Laboratory.

At the crime scene, Pinto found a rubber glove on the bed, a black plastic trash bag in an open suitcase and the black-handled bloody knife by the victim’s feet.  Another trash bag was found around the victim’s neck.  In the bedroom, police found a bloody index card with handwriting on it and an orange and white capsule noted to be possibly significant as well.  On a kitchen counter, police found an open bottle of Bramlage’s Lamictal medication, which helps people with epilepsy or bipolar I disorder.

Forensic expert John Vanderschaaf testified that the black-handled knife from the bedroom was not the only knife found in the West Hollywood apartment.  On the living room futon two butcher knives, one butter knife and a fork were found.

Bryan Edmonds, a senior criminalist with the Los Angeles Crime Laboratory, found multiple abrasions on Bramlage’s body in addition to red and brown stains on his pants.  Scabs were found on his feet, but Edmonds told Bramlage’s attorney Marcia Morrissey they did not test for blood on the feet.  Morrissey also attempted to place doubt on the abrasions Edmonds found by pointing out he is not a bite mark expert.

Morrissey questioned whether Edmonds would know if the marks he described as scratches and abrasions were caused by a person, a “tree branch or any other objects in the world.”

Testimony in Bramlage’s murder trial will continue next week at the Beverly Hills Courthouse.



  1. […] Good as the Cookies Conviction Reached In West Hollywood Murder Case March 31, 2009 Chase Bramlage has been convicted of murdering Hukuko Kusakari in December 2005 and, significantly,  . . […]

  2. […] Breaking: Chase Bramlage Sentenced in West Hollywood Murder Case May 28, 2009 Chase Bramlage, the West Hollywood local actor who was previously convicted of murdering Hukuko Kusakari in […]

  3. […] Attorney’s Office. Check back to this space for updates on the case, or read about the case here and […]

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