Skip to comments.Defense Feldman: Danielle Van Dam Knew Her Abductor: Dusek, Still Talking...Westerfield Waiting
Posted on 08/07/2002 7:08:12 PM PDT by FresnoDA
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SAN DIEGO The person who snatched Danielle van Dam from her bed and murdered her was not David Westerfield but someone the 7-year-old knew and trusted, a defense lawyer told jurors Wednesday.
"The only thing that's logical is that when she woke up, she knew the person in there," said Westerfield's lead attorney, Steven Feldman, in his closing argument. Otherwise, he said, the second-grader would have screamed "bloody murder" last February.
Feldman's claim came as summations in the two-month-long trial lumbered into a second day. After his four-hour closing, prosecutor Jeff Dusek began a rebuttal argument attacking the defense case and urging jurors to disregard what he described as Feldman's encouragement to deadlock. When the prosecutor concludes Thursday morning, the jury of six men and six women will begin deliberating murder, kidnapping and child pornography charges.
In his summation, Feldman argued that insect evidence from Danielle's body exonerated the defendant and said there are innocent explanations for all the circumstantial evidence linking Westerfield, the van Dams' neighbor, to the crime. The lawyer blamed prosecution "spin" and crime scene contamination and even hinted that Danielle's mother may be hiding information from the jury.
With Brenda van Dam watching from the spectator's gallery, Feldman suggested that dyed blonde hairs found near Danielle's blood, fingerprints and naturally blonde hair in Westerfield's recreational vehicle might belong to her mother and could indicate some kind of relationship with the defendant.
If Danielle or her mother were in the RV before the kidnapping, he said, that would be a "fatal blow" to the prosecution case reason enough, he suggested, for her to conceal the truth.
Brenda van Dam, who sat in the last row of the court holding her husband's hand, stared at Feldman but showed no reaction to the charge. At the defense table, Westerfield, a twice-divorced design engineer now facing the death penalty, also remained stonefaced.
Prosecutors assembled a mountain of forensic evidence linking Westerfield to Danielle's disappearance, but Feldman said none of it, not even a spot of her blood on Westerfield's jacket and another in his motor home, proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors, he charged, should spell out how and when the blood spilled.
"I want to know how that blood got there. You have a right to know," said Feldman.
Feldman suggested Danielle might have left the blood along with hair and fingerprints prior to the kidnapping. Westerfield often parked the motor home in the neighborhood and she might have snuck inside to play, he suggested.
"Kids bleed all the time," he said.
He tried to explain away hair and fiber evidence in Westerfield's house as either stemming from police contamination or a visit by Danielle and her mother to sell Girl Scout cookies a few days before the abduction.
He told jurors that there was no evidence "not hair, not fingerprints, not fiber, not nothing" showing Westerfield's presence in the van Dam house. He said several unidentified fingerprints in the home, prints determined not to belong to the defendant, pointed to some other perpetrator.
No matter the trace evidence, Feldman said, the testimony of bug experts who studied maggots on Danielle's corpse clears Westerfield. In a key battleground of the trial, four forensic entomologists studied the insects and each gave a range of when bugs first infested Danielle's body. Those ranges, Feldman charged, overlapped in mid-February, long after Westerfield was under police surveillance.
"The evidence has been introduced that Mr. Westerfield is not guilty. There it is," he said pointing to a chart displaying the experts results.
Feldman also said the van Dams' unconventional sex life, which included partner-swapping, opened their home to strangers who may have done Danielle harm.
The lawyer described Westerfield as a generous, friendly man with a history of healthy relationships with adult women. Of the prosecutor's suggestion that the defendant was upset the weekend Danielle vanished because of a breakup with a long-time girlfriend, Feldman said, "That's going to cause him to change into a child killer? That's completely illogical."
Feldman hedged on the issue of child pornography, asserting that many of the images on computer disks in the Westerfield home were either not of children or not pornography. He noted that violent child rape movies were just a few of 8,000 files of adult pornography. He also urged jurors to look at a defense computer expert's report that suggested Westerfield's teenage son Neal was responsible for some of the pornography.
Several times during the argument, Judge William Mudd interrupted Feldman's argument to correct him. At one point, when Feldman said the prosecution's theory was that Danielle was killed in her bed, Mudd said, "That completely misstates the evidence."
Feldman's summation style was a jarring change from Dusek's closing. On Tuesday and at the start of his rebuttal Wednesday, the prosecutor stood in front of the jury box, moving only to gesture toward an exhibit or point an accusatory finger at Westerfield. His argument was coordinated with a computer slide show of evidence on the courtroom wall. Feldman raced around the well of the court as he argued his case, sifting through papers on the defense table one moment, sitting in the witness chair to make a point the next. Frequently, he stopped his closing for a moment to search for an exhibit. He struggled to display large posterboards of photos, balancing them on his arm or propping them against his face.
At the start of his rebuttal, Dusek told jurors Feldman was trying to "hook" one of the panel members into hanging the whole jury. He urged jurors to question whether they were being rational in doubting the prosecution's evidence. Ask yourself, he told them, "how reasonable is my position if everyone else sees it otherwise."
(Posted with permission of Registered...FDA)
I wonder how many jurors sitting there have thought the same thing?
Juror # 1 has concerns about Brenda's behavior.
That has stuck in my mind for weeks.
Well, that certainly has given me hope. Plus there's some of them who seem to have high intelligence, with a likelihood they can't be fooled by theatrics. I've been wondering which of them objected to not being sequestered?
Then, after my lawyer Feldman sat down beside me, I would have beaten the shitoutta him for being so unprepared for closing statements.
Funny you would say this because I have thought about it. He does have a huggable look about him. He laughs easily and just doesn't look the type.
Now before anyone freaks out about his looks being deceiving etc., I know that it bears nothing on innocence or guilt. But we are all just human and his appearance has to be figured into the total picture.
Sort of along the same topic.......I found it interesting that Damon shaved for the trial and looked much more harmless and un-swingerish than when first caught on film.
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