Skip to comments.Barb Easton next witness in the Van Dam Murder Case!!
Posted on 06/10/2002 10:17:56 PM PDT by FresnoDA
By Kristen Green
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 9, 2002
New physical evidence about Danielle van Dam's disappearance and salacious details about her parents' sex life came out during the first week of David Westerfield's capital murder trial.
Legal experts say it's too early to determine the significance those facts will have on the outcome of the case.
The trial moved along fairly quickly, as both Brenda and Damon van Dam took the stand to testify about the events leading up to their 7-year-old daughter's disappearance. Attorneys have said the trial could last as long as 11 more weeks.
"I think there's an enormous amount to learn in this case, and we're not going to know it all until the end," said San Diego criminal defense attorney Knut Johnson, who is not involved in the trial.
The San Diego Superior Court testimony hinted at, but didn't fully explain, the prosecution's theory of how Westerfield, 50, might have entered the van Dam home and kidnapped Danielle.
Westerfield's lead attorney, meanwhile, told the jury that scientific evidence would prove his client's innocence.
In his opening statements, Steven Feldman suggested Danielle could have been kidnapped by any number of people her parents invited into their home to engage in "risque behavior." His strategy, experts say, is to raise questions in jurors' minds about whether someone other than Westerfield could have kidnapped the girl.
But Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek told the jury he has physical evidence that connects Westerfield to Danielle's death. He said the second-grader's blood, hair and fingerprints were found in Westerfield's motor home, which he occasionally parked in front of his Sabre Springs residence. When Danielle was taken from her bed, Westerfield lived two houses from the van Dams.
Dusek told the jury that Danielle's hair was also found in the trash in Westerfield's garage and that fibers similar to those in her bedroom were discovered in the motor home. The prosecutor said fibers found inside the bag in which authorities placed Danielle's body before the autopsy matched fibers in Westerfield's laundry room. Dusek didn't elaborate on what kind of fibers were found.
Danielle's nude body was discovered Feb. 27 under a tree on Dehesa Road, 25 days after her mother went to wake her for breakfast and realized she wasn't in her bed. Westerfield was arrested Feb. 22.
Throughout the first week of the trial, the attorneys showcased two completely different styles, which experts say were indicative of their personalities. Feldman is an animated performer, gesturing wildly during his opening statement and questioning of witnesses. Dusek, meanwhile, projects an image of somber dignity with his deep voice, subdued delivery and chiseled looks.
But it's hard to say whether the men's styles will have much impact on the jury deliberations.
"They're both very competent, very able in the courtroom, and they both know their case," said San Diego criminal defense lawyer Michael Pancer. "One might be more interesting to listen to than the other, but in the end, I don't think that's what matters."
Legal experts said the prosecution put Damon and Brenda van Dam on the witness stand early on to establish the sequence of events the night before Danielle disappeared.
"That's the most compelling emotional testimony in the case," Johnson said.
Damon van Dam testified that he stayed home Feb. 1 to baby-sit the couple's three children while Brenda went out to a Poway bar with two friends.
She testified that David Westerfield was at the bar when she and her friends got there, and that he bought them drinks. She said she doesn't know what time he left the bar.
Damon van Dam testified that he put the kids to bed at 10 p.m. and fell asleep before 11 p.m. He awoke at 1:45 a.m. because his dog, Layla, a Weimaraner, was whimpering. The dog doesn't bark because she grew up on a farm where the dogs had been rendered mute.
He said he let Layla into the back yard to relieve herself and then brought the dog back inside a few minutes later.
When Brenda van Dam returned about 2 a.m. with two girlfriends and two male friends who were also partying at the bar, she noticed a red light flashing on the home security system.
She searched for an open door or window and found a side garage door open. The door had been opened earlier in the evening when she and her friends were smoking marijuana in the garage.
When the couple's friends left about 2:30 p.m., after snacking on cookies and reheated pizza, Damon and Brenda van Dam went to bed.
About 3:15 or 3:30 a.m., Damon van Dam awoke and noticed a red light flashing on the security system. He went downstairs and found a sliding glass door leading to the back yard open 6 to 10 inches. He closed it and went to bed.
Experts said those details will be vital for the jury to understand how and when someone might have slipped in and out of the house.
After testifying about the sequence of events leading up to Danielle's kidnapping, the couple also answered Feldman's questions about their sex lives. Television viewers across the nation learned about Damon and Brenda van Dam's extramarital activities, as Court TV broadcast the trial live.
Brenda van Dam admitted to having sex with her two girlfriends and their partners, and Damon van Dam admitted he had sex with both of Brenda's girlfriends. He also said he didn't tell police that he smoked marijuana the night before Danielle disappeared because he didn't want to get into trouble.
Damon van Dam completed his testimony Wednesday; his wife completed hers Thursday.
It will be the jury's responsibility to decide whether any of the details of their personal life are relevant to the issue of who killed Danielle.
The couple's appearance on the witness stand drew dozens of curious San Diegans to the courthouse to vie for a seat in a courtroom filled with spectators each day.
The van Dams' testimony also was broadcast live by most local television stations, which pre-empted normal programming.
This week could be less interesting for onlookers, as experts believe the prosecution will begin presenting scientific evidence about DNA.
A gag order in the case prevents the attorneys from commenting on the case or releasing a list of the 75 witnesses they plan to call.
Freeper Questions BACK TO INDEX
Did anyone actually testify to blood in or around the van Dams house, or was that just the defense attorney? What about the finger prints in the RV?
Danielle was alive in there? How long? Was she alive in there at 9:30 the following morning, when DW left for the beach?
While a full scale investigation was going on?
Why just one or two Danielle prints in the RV? Were others wipped off by DW?
Why take a blood stained jacket to the cleaners? He had two days. Why not get rid of it?
Why not clean the porn pictures from your hard drive? DW does not act like a murderer trying to cover up.
Can someone just become a child rapist and killer at age 50? Wouldn't there be something leading up to it, some other crimes?
Did Danielle go into the garage the evening of February 1?
Was Danielle or anyone else injured, enough so that they bled profusely in and around the garage, and up the stairs of the home?
How come the VD home wasn't closed off?
What DNA evidence was found in her room and in the RV
Will the VD's testify?
How much does it matter if the luminol would destroy DNA? Especially if they found a spot missed by the cleaner...(westerfield)
Were the showers luminoled?
When did westerfield clean the RV? Before he parked it at his business sunday or saturday and WHERE did he clean it?
Witness statements...what are the guest statements?
Did the vacuum and contents get confiscated for trace evidence?
how much blood was found in the stairway and where?
What 'stairwell' had blood traces ? Basement, upstairs, what ?
Were the sink/shower traps in the VD house removed?
Did Damon "clean" the area, before going to bed, (after the 3:30 A.M. time told the PD and AMW)?
Did he vacuum prior to the arrival of the Police?
If there was a much blood evidence present, as the detective has eluded to. Then why did the VD's put the charade on that
why drag a dead body?
How many people, with the knowledge and/or consent of the Van Dams or other persons answering their door, were in the Van Dam home for any period however brief,...between 9 PM on Feb. 1 and 10 AM on Feb. 2?
Is WESTERFIELD awol and how important is it to this case?
Is westerfield being set up because the VD's live an alternative lifestyle?
Are the Van Dam's guests on the night of the abduction cooperating fully with investigators and is their identity on the public record?
where were the VD's between the time of mom's return home from the bar and the time company left.
Who were the people with the VD's who came from the bar.
Were their backgrounds checked.
Do they know Westerfield
When did daddy VD put Danielle to bed
When, if at all, did they notice that the alarm system showed an open door, etc.
If they did notice something what did they do about it.
If they did nothing, why not?
When did they notice her missing.
If the VD's were involved in swinging, could they provide lists of people they "swung" with, or were they random encounters?
Did the police question or run checks on all known partners.
Did they tell their "partners" about having kids in the home?
What led the cops to Westerfield?
What was in the SW for Westerfields house and van?
Once and for all, were there any witnesses that put Westerfield and mom VD dancing at the club the night of the abduction.
Were Westerfields prints in the home, and if so where?
Have the parents phone records been checked?
Has Westerfields phone records been checked?
How could the searchers have missed the body the first time?
How close did they come to this area? From the descriptions, how could anybody be within 25 feet and not notice it?
Have police examined all the trash (noticeable on TV) from that area? (I want to know what dates they come up with for when the trash was dumped there).
This new blood outside the VDs ... whose? how much? how old? lotsa possibilities here
I said, as of this point...because there as been not one shred of evidence linking DW to Danielle or the house presented...yet. Oh, he bought GS cookies, LOL!
Can you all just IMAGINE what we might have heard, had Judge Mudd not sheltered the Van Dams from ALL the evidence about their years of sleaze...?
Come on guys! One thread is plenty
This is amazing..I guess that would not include those in which computers matches up..this must have to do with ''new'' prints. As far as other threads about it, I'm not seeing that title on my "list" of threads... thanks
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