ASSIGNMENT 4: COVERING A MURDER TRIAL
INSTRUCTIONS: You will write a story based on the following information. Your story should be in inverted-pyramid-style, with a summary lead. The length should be 400 to 500 words. Use correct AP Style, grammar and punctuation.

You are a court reporting covering the murder trial of Frank Biegel, 43, of Long Beach, and Eric A. Knapp, 27, of Long Beach, who are accused of robbing a local service station of $83 in July 2022 and of abducting and murdering the attendant, Larry Totmann, age 17.

Both men are charged with first-degree murder and robbery. They have both pleaded not guilty to the crimes. The defense attorney is Cheryl Miller; the prosecutor is District Attorney Ramon Hernandez; Judge Joshua Sanchez is presiding. The trial is being held at the Governor Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach.

You are covering this trial today, on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The trial began Monday, Oct. 24, with opening statements; this is the third day of the trial. The prosecution is expected to rest its case Friday, Oct. 28, and the defense is expected to begin its case the following Monday, Oct. 31. Your story is for publication in Thursday’s edition of the daily newspaper.

Write a news story based on the following transcript from a murder trial. “Q” stands for the questions of District Attorney Ramon Hernandez, and “A” stands for the answers of Frank Biegel, one of the defendants. The questions and answers are the men’s exact words and may be quoted directly.

GRADING: Grade will be based on how well you summarize the most interesting and important information in the lead, and how well you structure the story throughout. You will also be graded on accuracy, how well you use quotes and AP Style, grammar and punctuation.

Due: 11:59 p.m. Oct. 31

Q: Well, let me ask you this. Did you commit a robbery at a service station on Baytree Road last July 14?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: And did you help take the attendant, Larry Totmann, out to a campground somewhere away from that station?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And did you personally see Eric Knapp, your co-defendant, shoot and kill that attendant?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Describe for us how you and Knapp went about robbing and murdering Totmann.

A: It wasn’t me. It was Knapp that shot the kid, not me. We had gone up to the gas station, got my car filled with gas. While I was . . . I went in the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom some other people drove up in a car, young kids it sounded like, and they had an argument with the attendant about using the telephone. When it was all over, I came out, and I got back in the car while Knapp put a gun on him.

Q: All right. Did the young people who had driven up, did they leave before you got back into the car?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Then what happened?

A: I started the car, and Knapp made the kid take all the money out of the register, and he found a gun hidden under the counter and put it in a box with the money.

Q: Tell us what happened after that.

A: Well, sir, Knapp told the kid to get into the car with us, and, uh, I drove out of town about five miles.

Q: Where was Knapp all that time?

A: He was in the back seat with the kid. He had his gun on him, and the box with the money.

Q: And then what happened?

A: I was driving out toward a campground I use sometimes, and Knapp told me to stop. He told the kid to get out of the car and lay down in some bushes along the road. I didn’t know he was going to shoot the kid, I swear. The kid hadn’t caused us any trouble, and I thought we’d just dump him there so he couldn’t call the cops right away.

Q: But Knapp shot him, didn’t he?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How many times?

A: Four. He fired four shots. I don’t know how many times he hit him.

Q: Did Knapp shoot him in the head?

A: Well, sir, I couldn’t see that. It was dark, and they were off the side of the road. I just heard the shots and saw like blue flames coming out of his gun.

Q: Uh, how far away from Totmann was Knapp when the shots were fired?

A: Not over three or five feet. He was standing right over him.

Q: Did Totmann say anything or try to run away?

A: No, he just kept lying there. He’d done everything we said, and I don’t think he expected it. He just lay there; he never moved.

Q: What . . . well, what did you do after that?

A: I drove Eric home. We had a couple beers at his apartment and divided the money. There wasn’t much, not even a hundred dollars.

Q: What did you do with the gun?

A: The next night we went out and threw both guns down a sewer. It was over on the other side of town, near a ballpark.

Q: Do you know why Knapp decided to kill Totmann?

A: He told me the kid recognized him, that the kid had seen him before. And he . . . he was afraid the kid might’ve seen my license number, the license number on my car.

Q: Why didn’t you try to prevent the murder?

A: How could I? I didn’t know he was going to shoot anyone, I really didn’t. We’d never talked about that. I thought we’d just drop the kid there and leave.

Q: Can you tell us why you’ve decided to confess?

A: The murder wasn’t my idea; I didn’t pull the trigger. I didn’t know Eric was going to shoot the kid. I don’t think I should die, and I thought maybe if I cooperated, I wouldn’t get the death penalty.

Q: Have the police or anyone else promised you anything in return for testifying against Knapp?

A: No sir. No one’s promised me anything, nothing at all. I wish they would