Skip to comments.Westerfield On Trial (WEEK 1 Recap): Brenda Van Dam, Dad's Bar
Posted on 06/06/2002 10:15:36 PM PDT by FresnoDA
Westerfield, 50, is accused of abducting and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam and could face the death penalty if convicted. The child's mother reported her missing the morning of Feb. 2.
Brenda van Dam told prosecutor Jeff Dusek she disclosed to officers everything about her "open marriage" once they made it clear that it was important.
The mother said she didn't discuss her decision not to disclose information with her husband.
"I would have told (the police) anything they needed to get Danielle back," the mother said.Brenda van Dam said nothing else was taken the night Danielle was abducted.
"I wish they'd taken everything else but her," the mother said tearfully.
Earlier in the day, Brenda van Dam testified there were never any sex parties at her Sabre Springs home.
She later said that during a Halloween party last October, she and her husband had sex with a friend and her husband in the van Dam home.
Westerfield, a self-employed engineer, is accused of kidnapping the second- grader, killing her and dumping the body near rural Dehesa Road, where it was found more than three weeks after she disappeared.
Brenda van Dam broke down a minute into her testimony, when asked to name her children and give their ages, then later while testifying about a father-daughter dance Danielle was scheduled to attend with her father a week after she vanished.
Dusek asked the mother about the first of two "girls nights out" at Dad's Cafe in Poway with two girlfriends. Dusek asked if any men were invited to the Jan. 25 get-together at Dad's Cafe. Van dam said no.
"Was there a sex party at your house when you got home?" Dusek asked, hoping to pre-empt an anticipated defense attack on the mother during cross-examination.
"There's never been a sex party at my house," she responded matter-of-factly.
She also described previous contacts with the defendant -- she had said he bought her a drink at Dad's -- including a visit to his house with Danielle and her younger brother to sell Girl Scout cookies.
While the children were playing in his back yard, she said the twice-divorced Westerfield told her he was interested in her friend, Barbara Easton, who had caught his eye at Dad's.
On the second outing to Dad's, Easton walked right up to Westerfield and began talking to him, van Dam told the court.
Brenda denied dancing with the defendant on either occasion.
Earlier in the day, Medical Examiner Brian Blackbourne was asked about the cause and time of Danielle's death.
The girl's body was so decomposed when found by a volunteer searcher that it was impossible to establish a cause of death, Blackbourne had said Wednesday.
Thursday, he estimated her time of death at anywhere from 10 days to six weeks before the body was found Feb. 27.
Blackbourne also said it was possible that air temperature could be a variable in judging when she died. That led defense attorney Steven Feldman to suggest that especially hot days in late February could have accelerated the decomposition process.
In his opening statement Tuesday, Feldman told the jury that Westerfield could not possibly have dumped Danielle's body after Feb. 6, because he was under constant scrutiny by the police and the media.
"Is it your professional opinion (Danielle) could have been alive Feb. 6?" Feldman asked.
"Based on my observations? Yes," Blackbourne said.
"Feb. 17?" Feldman pressed.
"Possibly, yes," Blackbourne answered.
"Depending on the weather conditions, Feb. 22nd?" Feldman asked.
"That's pushing it for what I can accept," Blackbourne said.
He also testified he checked Danielle's body for signs of sexual assault but found none, primarily because of tissue damage from decomposition and animal activity.
Wednesday, the child's father admitted he lied to police about use of marijuana in the garage of his house the night of Feb. 1 -- hours before his daughter turned up missing.
He also told the court that on prior occasions he engaged in sex with both of Brenda's female friends.
A bartender at Dad's Cafe in Poway characterized Westerfield as a "people watcher," but termed a police report on the behavior of Brenda van Dam and two friends inaccurate.
Sean Brown said he was at work as a bar manager on the two nights that have come up in testimony in the case: Jan. 25 and Feb. 1.
It was Feb. 2 that the Sabre Springs 7-year-old was discovered missing.
Westerfield would talk to a regular customer, "hang out" and watch people as they drank and danced, Brown said. The bartender said he never saw the defendant dance or play pool.
Brown said Westerfield would drink 16-ounce rum-and-cokes.
"I believe David had a few drinks," Brown said of Feb. 1. "He was feeling good. He'd taken the edge off. I don't believe he was drunk."
He said the same about Brenda van Dam.
"I don't think she was drunk," Brown testified. "She was in good spirits but was in control of herself. She wasn't slurring."
Under cross-examination by co-defense counsel Robert Boyce, Brown said a police report containing his statements on the behavior of Brenda and her two friends was inaccurate.
Brown testified he warned prosecutor Jeff Dusek about the discrepancy during the lunch hour -- hours before he testified.
The statement from police indicated the women were "flirtatious toward males" and "partying hard."
Brown testified that the women were having fun as girlfriends do. He said he never saw them act inappropriately.
Brown was dismissed as a witness as the court day ended.
By Alex Roth
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 7, 2002
Danielle van Dam's mother wept about her daughter's death, glared at the man charged with killing the girl and fielded questions about her unconventional sex life during a day of emotional testimony yesterday.
Still referring to her 7-year-old daughter in the present tense, Brenda van Dam sobbed when she talked about the horror of discovering the girl's bedroom empty the morning of Feb. 2.
"Ma'am, I have an emergency," the clearly distressed mother told a 911 operator that day, according to a tape played during the third day of the David Westerfield murder trial.
"My daughter's not in her bed this morning. She's only 7. ... Oh, my God."
When she wasn't crying, van Dam spent much of her time on the witness stand glowering at Westerfield, her one-time neighbor, who is on trial on charges of abducting and killing the child. Prosecutors say the 50-year-old, twice-divorced design engineer is a pedophile.
She described Westerfield as a neighborhood acquaintance whose name she didn't even know until less than a week before her daughter's disappearance, when they went to his house selling Girl Scout cookies.
Van Dam, a stay-at-home mom whose husband, Damon, is a software engineer, also talked about her activities on the night before her daughter was discovered missing. She admitted smoking marijuana with two friends in the garage of her house before the three women went out to Dad's Cafe & Steakhouse, where they drank, danced and played pool until closing time.
Her demeanor shifted dramatically under questioning by Westerfield's attorney, Steven Feldman, who asked her a series of questions about her sex life.
Westerfield's attorneys have argued that the van Dams were irresponsible parents and that their daughter could have been killed by any number of people the couple attracted into their lives.
A day after he grilled Damon van Dam about the couple's sexual and marijuana habits, Feldman did the same with Brenda van Dam, asking whether she had sex with her friends Barbara Easton and Denise Kemal and their husbands.
She acknowledged that she had. She later admitted that she and her husband had sex with Kemal and Kemal's husband, Andy, during a Halloween party in October 2000.
Much of van Dam's testimony was identical to her statements at a preliminary hearing in March. Once again, she gave a detailed account of her activities on the night of Feb. 1, including her encounter with Westerfield at the Poway bar and her discovery upon returning home that an alarm light was flashing in the house.
She gave the following version of her previous encounters with Westerfield and the events of Feb. 1:
Westerfield was a neighbor she sometimes waved to in the street. A year ago she and Danielle went to his house and sold him Girl Scout cookies. She had virtually no contact with him again until Jan. 25, when she ran into him at Dad's. She was with Easton and Kemal, her two girlfriends.
The trio had smoked marijuana that night before heading to the bar, where they happened to spot Westerfield, who bought them a round of drinks. They had little more contact with him before leaving that night.
The following Tuesday, van Dam, her daughter and 5-year-old son went to Westerfield's house selling Girl Scout cookies again. He invited them in, and she asked to see his remodeled kitchen.
While her son and daughter went to his back yard to look at the pool, Westerfield told her his name and asked whether she would be willing to introduce him to her female friends.
"He said to tell Barbara that I had a rich neighbor that I could introduce him to," she testified.
She said she might be going to Dad's that Friday night but would need to get a baby sitter because her husband was planning a snowboarding trip with the couple's older son.
Westerfield informed her that he sometimes hosted "adult" parties. He gave her his business cards; she gave him her home phone number. She left with her children, who she insisted didn't wander anywhere else in the house.
Prosecutors say Danielle's hair was found in a lint ball in the trash of Westerfield's garage.
By Friday night van Dam's husband had canceled the snowboarding trip and planned to stay home with the couple's three children while she went out with her girlfriends.
Easton and Kemal arrived at the house in the early evening, and the three women smoked marijuana in the garage. The door from the house into the garage locks from the outside so the children can't come in while the parents are smoking.
While they smoked, one of the women opened another door in the garage that leads to an outside yard. Van Dam said yesterday that she couldn't remember if anyone remembered to shut that door.
At 8:30 p.m. the three women headed off to Dad's, where they once again ran into Westerfield, who again bought them drinks.
The three women later ran into two male friends, Rich and Keith. The five played pool and danced all night, leaving the bar at one point to smoke more marijuana in van Dam's sport-utility vehicle. By closing time she had consumed four alcoholic beverages three vodkas with cranberry juice and a shot of tequila.
Although two of Westerfield's friends played pool with them at the bar, Westerfield didn't join in. She doesn't remember seeing him leave the bar that night.
The three women headed back to the van Dams' house with Rich and Keith, with Keith interested in "hooking up" with Barbara. The five entered the house about 2 a.m., and Brenda van Dam noticed a flashing alarm light. She later discovered that the garage door leading to the yard was open.
Her friend Barbara went upstairs at one point and snuggled with Damon van Dam, who had been lying in bed. Eventually they joined the others downstairs to eat reheated pizza and cookies.
Brenda van Dam also went upstairs at one point. She said her three children's bedroom doors were open and that she closed them so the children wouldn't be awakened by the voices downstairs. Her husband testified Wednesday that he had left the doors open a crack earlier that night when tucking the children into bed.
About 2:30 a.m. the guests left and the couple went to bed. In testimony, Damon van Dam said he awoke an hour or so later, saw a flashing alarm light and discovered a sliding glass door open downstairs. He said he closed it and went back to sleep.
The next morning, Danielle never came down for breakfast. Her mother went upstairs and discovered that the door to Danielle's room was open and the bed was empty.
Within minutes the parents were frantic, and Brenda van Dam called 911.
On cross-examination, Feldman suggested that the three women were dancing so provocatively at the bar that night and the previous week that strange men began gravitating toward them.
Van Dam admitted telling her friends on the night of Jan. 25: "You guys, you're probably making everybody in this place excited. . . . You probably realize that every man in this bar is probably paying attention to you."
A Dad's bartender testified he had seen Westerfield in the bar a few times. He said Westerfield was a "people watcher."
Yesterday's proceedings were marred by a woman who screamed an obscenity at Westerfield from outside the courtroom while the jury was filing back in after the lunch break.
Deputies escorted the 40-year-old San Diego woman downstairs, checked her record and released her with a warning. The woman, who was at the courthouse for an unrelated hearing, was told that if she returned to the area of the Westerfield trial, she would be arrested.
Testimony in the case is scheduled to resume Monday. The trial will not be held on Fridays.
(HARD PARTY LIFESTYLE EVIDENT IN PHOTOS!!)KIMBERLY EPLER
SAN DIEGO ---- Brenda van Dam broke down several times Thursday at the trial of her daughter's accused murderer as attorneys questioned her for five hours about the most personal details of her marriage and the events surrounding her little girl's disappearance.
Glaring intently at David Westerfield from the witness stand, van Dam spent most of the day recounting the night 7-year-old Danielle van Dam was last seen alive and describing her brief interactions with the man now standing trial for her daughter's murder.
Dressed in a pink shirt with a rose print and a black sweater, van Dam paused for several seconds before answering "three" to the prosecutor's question of how many children she has. She immediately broke into tears.
Her testimony dominated day three of Westerfield's trial on charges he kidnapped Danielle from her bedroom the first weekend in February and murdered the Sabre Springs second-grader. Van Dam's husband, Damon, a software engineer at Qualcomm, testified Wednesday.
Westerfield, a self-employed engineer and twice-divorced father of two, faces the death penalty if convicted. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of child pornography.
The trial, one of the most extensively covered in San Diego County history, is expected to last three months.
Other testimony Thursday included the county medical examiner, who determined Danielle's death was a homicide, and a bartender from the restaurant where Brenda van Dam and Westerfield went the night Danielle disappeared.
Jurors also heard the frantic 911 call Brenda van Dam made the following morning.
Under questioning from prosecutor Jeff Dusek, van Dam testified she did not know Westerfield's name before going to his house with Danielle and her youngest son to sell Girl Scout cookies three days before Danielle vanished.
She said they spent about 15 minutes in his house and the children briefly went outside to see Westerfield's pool.
She insisted the children never went upstairs or into Westerfield's garage when questioned by Westerfield's attorney, Steven Feldman, about whether she really knew where the children were for the entire 15 minutes. Prosecutors have said they found Danielle's hair in laundry lint found in Westerfield's garbage. They also found fibers similar to Danielle's bedroom carpet on his washer.
Brenda van Dam also talked about the night Danielle was last seen alive, how she went out with two girlfriends, how they smoked marijuana in the garage and how she ran into Westerfield at a bar.
She testified the women and two male friends returned to the van Dam home early the next morning and ate some pizza.
Westerfield's attorney then cross-examined her for nearly three hours. Like her husband, Brenda van Dam admitted to having a previous sexual relationship with the two women she went out with the night Danielle disappeared and their male partners.
She said she told police about the relationship after one of the detectives told her it was important for them to know if she had "an open marriage."
"I would have told them anything they needed to get Danielle back," van Dam said.
Feldman repeatedly has attacked the credibility of Danielle's parents, questioning their lifestyle and the company they kept. He has argued that whoever took Danielle likely had knowledge of the layout of the van Dams' home.
Brenda van Dam testified she was never worried about having her two female friends around her children. She described one as a nice woman who never would have done anything to hurt her sons or her daughter.
Jurors also heard the 911 call van Dam made to police after discovering her daughter's canopy bed was empty.
"My daughter was not in her bed this morning," a shaky-voiced Brenda van Dam tells the dispatcher. "She's only 7. I thought she was in there asleep."
The desperation in her voice grows after the dispatcher asks if there is any sign of a break-in. Van Dam says she found the side garage door open when she got home around 2 a.m.
After a slight pause, she adds that her husband found the back door open a crack.
Brenda van Dam, who was on the stand as the tape was played, wiped away tears and gave icy glances to Westerfield, who kept his head down, or talked to attorneys, during much of her testimony.
Children's voices can be heard in the background of the 911 tape. The dispatcher tells van Dam to take a deep breath and think positive thoughts. Brenda van Dam testified police arrived 15 minutes after that call.
Under questioning from Feldman, she denied having a conversation with her husband about whether they should withhold information from the police about their drug use and sexual relationships.
Damon van Dam admitted Wednesday that he initially lied to police but opened up once he realized the "magnitude of the situation."
There was a brief interruption during the afternoon session when a 40-year-old woman yelled "F...you, Westerfield" through the courtroom door. One of the jurors told Judge William Mudd that she was shaken by the experience, but he assured the panel the court would do everything to make sure nothing similar happened again.
Sheriff's deputies said the woman was not arrested.
Earlier in the morning, county medical examiner Dr. Brian Blackbourne wrapped up his second day of testimony. He told jurors Danielle's body looked as though it had been exposed to the elements for somewhere between 10 days and six weeks. Danielle's body was recovered nearly four weeks after she was reported missing the first weekend in February.
Blackbourne also testified he found no evidence of a sexual assault. But he said the body was too severely decomposed to conduct an examination.
Jurors also heard testimony from a bartender who works at the restaurant where Brenda van Dam and Westerfield went separately on the night Danielle disappeared.
Sean Brown testified that neither van Dam nor Westerfield appeared drunk. He said he never saw van Dam or her friends acting in an inappropriate manner. He described Westerfield as a "people-watcher" who seemed to have a "hard shell."
Van Dam testified that Westerfield bought drinks for herself and two friends at the bar.
Testimony in the case is set to resume Monday.
Contact staff writer Kimberly Epler at (760) 739-6644 or email@example.com.
SAN DIEGO Grief-stricken but defiant, Danielle van Dams mother stared down her daughters accused killer Thursday as she tearfully recounted the 7-year-olds shocking abduction.
"I started looking around the house and looking in the beds and in the closet," said Brenda van Dam, her voice becoming soft and high-pitched as she described the morning last February when she found her only daughters bed empty. "But we couldnt find her."
Even with tears streaming down her flushed cheeks, the 39-year-old housewife repeatedly turned toward the defense table and glared icily at David Westerfield, the neighbor accused of murdering Danielle.
Westerfield, 50, an engineer who lived two doors from the van Dams, locked eyes with Brenda van Dam several times, but mostly turned away from her withering gaze. He is accused of snatching the second-grader from her canopy bed in the middle of the night, raping and murdering her. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Van Dam testified on the third day of the trial and the day after her husband, Damon, spent a grueling afternoon on the witness stand. The defense has urged jurors to focus on the van Dams lifestyle the couple engaged in swinging or partner-swapping and their marijuana use. Like her husband, Brenda van Dam admitted on the stand that she smoked pot the night her daughter disappeared and on previous occasions had group sex with some visitors to the family home that night.
And like her husband, she said she openly discussed her private life in hopes of helping the case.
"I would have told them anything they asked to get Danielle back, said van Dam. "None of this matters."
The emotional core of her testimony came when prosecutor Jeff Dusek played the 911 call she made after discovering her daughter missing on Feb. 2.
"My daughter is not in her bed this morning. Shes only seven," van Dam told the operator. As the operator took down her information, van Dam begins to sound more and more concerned. "I dont know where she could be."
After dispatching police officers, the operator told a tearful van Dam, "think positive thoughts and everything will be okay."
A female alternate juror, a mother of young children, began crying as she followed along with a transcript of the call. Brenda van Dam clutched a tissue and stared icily at Westerfield.
Van Dam recounted several encounters with Westerfield, a twice-divorce father of two college students, before her daughters killing. She said she chatted with him Jan. 25 at Dads Café, a neighborhood bar where she and two female friends were dancing. Several days later, she and Danielle sold him Girl Scout cookies.
The defense has suggested that the cookie selling trip might explain why Danielles hair, blood and fingerprints were later found on Westerfields property. But Brenda van Dam cast doubt on that theory, saying Danielle and her younger brother, Dylen, only left her sight for three minutes and only to go into Westerfields backyard to look at his pool.
She said the last time she encountered Westerfield was the night of her daughters disappearance when she ran into him at a bar where she was drinking cranberry and vodka cocktails with two girlfriends.
"He said, Ladies dont buy their own drinks and threw some money on the bar," van Dam said.
She said she and her two friends ordered cocktails, but largely ignored Westerfield who was soon joined by two male friends.
"I felt guilty. I said, Im sorry. I hope were not being rude, but I came here to be with my friends," she said.
Van Dam said she was not sure if Westerfield was still at the bar when she and her friends left close to 2 a.m. She said she discovered a door in the garage open when she returned home. She closed it and after briefly entertaining friends from the bar, went to bed without checking on her children.
On cross-examination, she acknowledged that on one occasion in October 2000 she and her husband had sex with another couple and a woman. Those women were with her at the bar the night Danielle vanished.
"And with regards to those women, both you and your husband have engaged in sex with them and their male partners," asked Feldman.
"Yes," said Brenda van Dam.
While most of the van Dams testimony was consistent, they contradicted each other on what may become a crucial point in the trial. Damon van Dam said that when they turned in for the night at 2:30 a.m., he locked the family Weimaraner, Layla, in his eldest sons room. But Brenda van Dam said she was certain the 60-pound dog was roaming the house because she heard her noisily looking for a place to sleep. Westerfields defense has charged that the assailant had to be someone familiar to the dog.
Judge William Mudd ordered the family and their supporters not to wear button pins showing Danielles picture in court, but Brenda van Dam wore two braided purple and pink cloth bracelets on her right wrist. Purple and pink were Danielles favorite colors.
She looked drawn and nervous as she took the stand and broke down as soon as Dusek asked her how many children she has.
"Three," she said in a quivering voice, before naming Derek, Dylen and Danielle. She noted that Dylen was celebrating his sixth birthday as she testified.
She dissolved into tears in the afternoon after glancing at a court exhibit of photos of Danielles room. Judge Mudd called an early break in testimony and prosecutor Dusek gave her a bear hug. She rushed out into the courthouse hallway where her husband embraced her.
"I missed you," she told him.
Also Thursday morning, medical examiner Brian Blackbourne testified that he could not determine how Danielle was killed, nor whether she was sexually assaulted. Judging by the amount of decomposition, he said that Danielle had been dead anywhere from 10 days to six weeks by the time her badly-decomposed body was discovered along a roadside. She was found on Feb. 27, less than four weeks after her disappearance.
Defense lawyer Feldman seized on the wide window for her time of death, repeatedly pointing out that Westerfield was under surveillance from Feb. 4 until his arrest and therefore could not have dumped her body.
"Is it your professional opinion that Danielle van Dam could have been alive on Feb. 6, 2002?" Feldman asked.
"Yes," Blackbourne said.
"On Feb. 7," the lawyer pressed.
"Yes," the medical examiner said.
"On Feb. 17," Feldman asked.
"Possibly," said Blackbourne.
Do all the Freepers on these threads have alibis for that time frame?
Maybe I'm just cynical, but it occurred to me that the prosecution might have suggested she not be so friendly with "Dave" this time--no waves, smiles, etc. Bad for the case, you know. (But she did call him "Dave" a few times in her testimony.)
We all have calls like that we can use for comparison. We've heard the calls from people who were faking their distress, like Susan Smith, and the ones from people who truly lost their loved ones. Locally, there was a lot of airplay of a 911 call from a woman who helped to murder her husband--in the call she claimed a masted intruder had staged a home invasion and fatally shot her husband, and shot her in the hand. Her voice tones sounded very similar to Brenda's, and she, too, repeated the "Oh my God" several times (3 times in the local case) in a voice that sounded very rehearsed, more like reading lines than in the midst of tragedy.
I would also like to listen to the 911 again--link, anyone?--to see if Brenda did another thing this faker lady did: This OKC woman was breathing very heavily, I think in an effort to simulate stress--but when the 911 op put her on hold (the recording continued--the woman didn't realize that), the labored breaths stopped too. Like an on/off switch.
And--wasn't there some kind of fracas about keeping the tape out of the trial altogether? Which side didn't want it in, does anyone remember?
Q. Is it true that your husband viewed pictures of 20 year olds?
jury admonished to not count that question
questions are not evidence
So, porn on the vD computers too? Why is that not relevant?
It was every thing we have said here more or less...good interview!
In January, 2001, David Faulkner's position at the Museum changed to research associate.
David Faulkner was initially hired by the Museum in October 1975 to manage the Entomology Department following the retirement of lepidopterist Fred Thorne. Previous experience included a year of volunteer work in 1974 in the department following 2 years of association with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History under entomologist Nelson Baker. Interests include the insect fauna of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, especially Baja California. Special emphasis is given to the systematics of the nerve-winged insects (Neuroptera), biogeography of Lepidoptera of the southern Nearctic region, and Forensic Entomology.
A M.Sc. degree in Zoology was received from California State University, Long Beach, with a thesis revising the neuropteran genus Lomamyia. Current research is involved in animal decomposition by invertebrates that can be applied to Forensic Entomology.
David has lectured on various entomological topics in Mexico, South Africa, and throughout the United States. Workshops on Forensic Entomology collecting techniques are presented at homicide investigators training classes for the California Department of Justice and various law enforcement agencies. About 30 popular and scientific articles have been published on a variety of entomological topics.
Brown, John W., H.G. Real, and D.K. Faulkner, 1992. Butterflies of Baja California, Lepidoptera Research Foundation, 129 pp., 8 plates.
Faulkner, David K. and D.J. Sterner, 1997. From hair to infirmary: Health concerns in an invertebrate exhibit, Sonoran Arthropods Studies Institute, v.5:123-127.
Courtroom images flickered across TV screens and the voices of lawyers asking questions echoed from radios Thursday in North County as the first week of the David Westerfield homicide trial ended.
There is even audio available over the Internet for the computer-savvy as the evidence unfolds in the kidnapping and slaying of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam of Sabre Springs during the first weekend in February.
"Everybody's glued to the Westerfield trial," said Detective Gene Burch at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department Encinitas Station. "It's all over the station here. It seems like it's captured the whole county."
At Ranch and Coast Escrow Inc. in Vista, radio sets were on quietly around the offices.
"She was a little girl," said Alicia Thompson, escrow assistant. "How can someone hurt a little girl?"
Thompson and Gena Evans, a receptionist at the escrow company, said workers there want to see how the trial plays out. Children being attacked, kidnapped or murdered is a major problem, she said.
The Westerfield case is a bigger news story, Evans said, "because there are a lot of spaces in between (the case) that aren't adding up."
At Evans Tire and Service Center in Poway, the TV set was off Thursday afternoon because there weren't any customers waiting for service. But the trial drew a lot of interest Wednesday, assistant manager Ruben Rios said.
"That's all they were watching yesterday," Rios said. "They were into it, too."
Even at the Vista jail, where TV programming is controlled, the inmates are watching small parts of the trial, said Lt. Doug Clements, jail watch commander.
"Everyone seems interested in the case, but I don't know how much actual interest they have in the trial because it doesn't affect them," Clements said.
At the San Diego County Sheriff's Communications Center in Kearny Mesa, dispatchers can watch the trial on television during their breaks, said Lt. Jim Duffy, watch commander. He said between calls dispatchers also glance at the silent televisions featuring closed captioning.
Duffy said he thinks the interest at the dispatch center, where the dispatchers routinely handle heartbreaking 911 calls and searches, is a combination of community and professional interest.
Not everyone is watching or listening, including Joan Bagnowski, an employee at the Escondido Antique Mall. "I'm not watching it because I just can't deal with all the graphic information regarding that poor little girl. Or her parents," Bagnowski said.
Two doors down Grand Avenue in Escondido, Lois Moore sat on a bar stool at Pounders Sports Pub directly across from the TV set.
"I kind of want to see somebody get in trouble on this so the rest of the predators on children will get a red flag," Moore said. "I want to see who wins."
Just outside the bar, Pounders customer Mike Henkel said there was just no way to escape the trial coverage.
"Everywhere you go, it's on," he said. "You can't get away from it."
Contact staff writer Jo Moreland at (760) 901-4085 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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