Skip to comments.Prosecutor: Westerfield Guilty 'Beyond Possible Doubt'(Many Still Find Van Dam's Culpable)
Posted on 08/06/2002 8:53:49 PM PDT by FresnoDA
SAN DIEGO Calling the murder of Danielle van Dam an "evil, evil crime" that shattered notions of suburban safety, a prosecutor urged jurors Tuesday to convict her neighbor, David Westerfield, of capital charges.
Before a courtroom filled to capacity for closing arguments, prosecutor Jeff Dusek said the 50-year-old engineer snuck into the second-grader's bedroom last February, snatched her from her canopy bed, killed her and then "dumped this 7-year-old child naked in the dirt like trash for animals to devour."
"He's guilty of these crimes. He's guilty of the ultimate evil. He's guilty to the core," Dusek told jurors at the end of a closing studded with drama despite its three-and-a-half-hour length.
Dusek shouted and jabbed his finger at the defense table when he discussed Westerfield and the child pornography the prosecution says reveals a motive in the killing. But when he mentioned Danielle's death, his voice dropped to a whisper, forcing jurors to lean forward when he said, for example, of the moments before her killing, "This was not an easy time. This was not fast."
At one point, he slammed his hand again and again on the jury box rail to simulate, he said, Danielle's head striking Westerfield's headboard as he raped her. The image was too much for Brenda van Dam, Danielle's mother. She leapt up from her seat at the back of the courtroom and ran to the door in tears.
Westerfield's lawyer, Steven Feldman, began his closing late Tuesday afternoon. He is to conclude Wednesday morning and then Dusek will have one final opportunity to convince the panel to convict Westerfield of felony murder, kidnapping and child pornography charges.
The six women and six men who have heard evidence in the two-month long trial appeared to pay close attention to Dusek's summation, which focused on the forensic evidence connecting Westerfield to Danielle's disappearance and problems with his alibi for the weekend she vanished.
A spot of her blood on a jacket Westerfield took to the dry cleaners, Dusek said, "in itself tells you he's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That alone. But it doesn't stop there."
He also listed fiber, fingerprint and hair evidence linking Westerfield to Danielle and said, "all of it comes back to his lap." Of two blond strands found in the defendant's recreational vehicle and genetically matched to Danielle, he said, "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt? Proof beyond a possible doubt."
Dusek pointed to an autopsy photo showing Danielle's badly decomposed remains and ticked off the fiber and hair evidence technicians gleaned from her body.
"From Danielle herself, she helps to solve this case," he said.
Westerfield gazed straight ahead, and in the back row of the courtroom, Brenda and Damon van Dam held hands and stared at the floor. A row in front of them and three seats to their right, Westerfield's sister, who was attending the trial for the first time and was in the company of her husband and son, stared at the image.
Dusek also attacked Westerfield's claim that he spent the weekend Danielle vanished on a 560-mile solo road trip in his recreational vehicle.
"He gives us a bogus story that just doesn't wash," said Dusek, referring to his account of driving from his home to the beach then to the desert then to another part of the desert before returning to the beach.
He said Westerfield spent that weekend sexually assaulting Danielle and then after killing her, searching for a place to dump her body.
The prosecutor listed other potential suspects, including the van Dams, their friends, Westerfield's teenage son and even "the bogeyman," but said each was investigated and cleared.
He criticized what he said were defense attempts to implicate Westerfield's son, Neal, in the crime and said testimony about the van Dam's risque sex life, which included swinging, was irrelevant.
"All the sex, the alcohol, who's doing this, who's doing that. That's got nothing to do with her kidnapping," Dusek said.
With Westerfield's mug shot projected on the courtroom wall next to a passport photo of Danielle taken the day she vanished, Dusek said, "I think at times we've lost track of the other person. We've lost track of Danielle, what happened to her, what he did to her."
The prosecutor downplayed bug evidence presented by the defense suggesting Westerfield was under surveillance when Danielle's body was dumped and therefore couldn't have been responsible.
"Everyone's different, has a different estimation, approximation, some might even say guess," said Dusek. He added, "This is not an exact science. This is not DNA."
The prosecutor told jurors repeatedly that he did not have to prove to them why Westerfield killed Danielle, only that he did, but he said he was certain jurors wanted to know, "Why would a regular, normal 50-year-old guy kidnap and kill a 7-year-old child?"
There was no answer, he said, just another question. Pointing to print outs of some 85 images of child pornography found on computers and discs in Westerfield's home, Dusek said, "Why would a normal 50-year-old guy have pictures of young naked girls?"
With some of the images of elementary-school aged girls, naked and exposing their genitals, flashing on the courtroom wall behind him, Dusek pointed at Westerfield and said, "These are his fantasies."
Westerfield stared toward the empty witness stand, never looking at the photos.
Dusek acknowledged that "if (Westerfield) is the guy, that destroys all our senses of protection."
"That's the scariest part he was a normal guy down the street," said Dusek.
Defense lawyer Feldman promised jurors the heart of his argument Wednesday, but in a little more than an hour before the panel, he seemed to be hoping for a hung jury. He presented jurors with a list of "Jury Responsibilities," several of which seemed aimed at encouraging any panelist for acquittal not to cave to pressure from other jurors.
One "responsibility" read "All of you have the right to have your feelings respected."
Just before court broke for the day, Feldman held up a blank piece of posterboard and said, "This is the only evidence they have of David Westerfield in the van Dam residence."
He suggested the van Dam's swinging lifestyle endangered their children.
"You don't know what pervert is coming in the door when you're in the bar, drunk, making invites," he said.
Easily "skewed" bug speculation and swinging sideshow.
Kind of makes you feel sorry (just a little) for the defense.
Westerfield said the same thing. Good thing for justice he didn't get the job done.
Thank you Fres for the ping and I'll add a bump for good measure.
I keep thinking of that, too. But she's safe and happy now.
Do you remember what # you chose for foreman of this jury? I made a note of my pick but have lost it.......:(
AGREED! My grandchildren ages 4 and 6 can get into my sister's MH all by themselves with out any help - henceforth, when they visit she keeps it locked.
I really hate to say this to a fellow Freeper byt Greg 'you don't have a clue'. I find nothing strange about a man stopping by the dry cleaners on the way home from a trip. I also find nothing strange about a single man taking his motor home on a wandering trip over the weekend.
And the mountain of evidence you cite proves his innocence more than his guilt. Had DW done as you claim there would have been MORE blood and MORE fingerprints and MORE fiber evidence in his environment.
Put your self satisfying emotion aside and examine the evidence with your mind, lest your credibility in other chats be totally discredited.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.