Skip to comments.Witnesses picked for Westerfield penalty phase ( SBR penalty Watch).
Posted on 08/27/2002 8:55:29 PM PDT by dread78645
The judge in the David Westerfield case said yesterday that he has decided which prosecution witnesses will be allowed to testify at the penalty phas e of the murder trial, but he refused to be specific.
Superior Court Judge William Mudd made his announcement following a closed-door hearing with the lawyers. He didn't identify the witnesses or the nature of their testimony. He simply said some prosecution witnesses "will testify, others will not".
Westerfield was convicted last week of kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam. She was discovered missing from her bedroom Feb. 2; her body was found more than three weeks later in a brushy area off Dehesa Road in East County.
Tomorrow, the jury will begin hearing evidence on whether the 50-year-old Sabre Springs design engineer deserves the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Westerfield's lawyers objected to some, if not all, of the prosecution's witnesses. They also opposed airing a videotape of Danielle, which the judge will allow.
Westerfield's lawyers raised constitutional challenges to the death penalty. The judge said he will consider those arguments at a hearing today when he also is scheduled to decide whether to disallow still photography during the remainder of the trial.
The issue arose after a Union-Tribune photographer took a picture of Danielle's parents in the courtroom gallery as the jury returned its guilty verdicts.
The judge said photographer Dan Trevan violated a court rule that prohibits photographing spectators. The newspaper says the van Dams weren't spectators but witnesses who testified during the trial and who have been photographed frequently inside and outside court.
Brenda van Dam hopes to have the foundation running by Sept. 22, which would have been Danielle's eighth birthday.
"With all the other missing children, we felt there's got to be something we can do," said Susan Wintersteen, a van Dam family friend who is helping to organize the effort.
Danielle's parents are prohibited by a gag order from speaking to the news media about any issue related to their daughter until after the sentencing of David Westerfield.
A jury on Aug. 21 convicted Westerfield of kidnapping Danielle from her bedroom and killing her in February. The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday.
Brenda van Dam and five friends met over the weekend at Wintersteen's home, not far from where the girl was kidnapped, to work on the details of what is to become the Danielle Legacy Foundation.
Modeling their group on Mothers Against Drunk Driving, they plan to use the network of volunteers who helped in the search for Danielle to promote child safety and promote programs like the nationwide Amber Alert system, Wintersteen said.
The system, named in honor of Amber Hagerman, a Texas girl killed in 1996, is a way of quickly disseminating information about a missing child through news media and other outlets. It's used in more than a dozen states.
The San Diego effort follows other advocacy and safety groups born out of tragedy. They include the Laura Recovery Center, named for Laura Kate Smith, murdered in Friendswood, Texas, in 1997. The group fields volunteer searchers in child kidnapping cases.
Laura Recovery coordinated thousands of searchers after Danielle was reported missing Feb. 2. One of the volunteers found her body along a rural road nearly a month after the abduction.
Marc Klaas created the Klaaskids Foundation, after his daughter, Polly, was kidnapped and murdered in Northern California in 1993. Another group is named for Carole Sund, who was killed with her daughter, Juli, and the girl's friend Silvina Pelosso while they were visiting Yosemite National Park in 1999.
"A lot of families tend to start an organization in their loved ones memory, so there are a lot of them out there," said Kim Petersen of the Carole Sund Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, based in Modesto. "It can be very healing."
It can also be very difficult. Foundations trying to raise donations often find themselves competing with similar efforts or overshadowed by larger o rganizations, said Klaas, who lobbies, speaks on child safety and helps other groups.
Still, "There's always room for innovation, for fresh new ideas," Klaas said.
Wintersteen, whose daughter was in school and Brownies with Danielle, said one of the group's first efforts will be to distribute identification kits that parents can use to set aside their child's fingerprints, DNA and a recent photo.
Investigators had to scramble to collect such identifiers when Danielle disappeared in February.
"We still feel there is change that needs to be done," Wintersteen said.
...what is tugging us to these threads....to that awful courtTV....
....I truly think it's because we saw injustice under the Clinton administration.....
...and that's what this appears to be....injustice!
His tired, worn fact is haunting....
I'm tired.....and that witchhunt of a penalty trial today was exhausting...
I'll be glad to talk to you tomorrow :)
..but are Nancy Grace, Lisa Bloom, et al, calmly, rationally discussing the merits of the ..''Florida boys case who killed their dad"........
...without displaying the hyperbole of the Westerfield case.
Aren't two young boys beating their dad to death with a baseball bat as hideous as what they say the Westerfield case is about.
makes one wonder......it does
I beg to differ.
I believe her. That was not included in the original trial, but it is relevant to the question of whether he is probably guilty.
Going into the daughter's bedroom and fussing with the niece's teeth in the middle of the night is *not* a normal behavior. I have a daughter who is around Jennifer's age, and I am around DW's age.
There is no way in HELL that I would ever have done anything like that. I went out of my way to avoid ever getting accused of doing anything improper.
If there had been some sort of a problem, I would have called in the girl's mother. Lacking her, another adult female. You don't go messing around with little girls like that. Even back in those days, that was common knowledge. You just didn't do it. Never.
You might change diapers on your own daughter, but you would be hard pressed to ever change the diaper on any other child. Not becuase you weren't willing, but because you didn't ever want to be even remotely accused of doing anything improper. This was no small issue.
If Jennifer's story is true -- which I think it is -- then I think DW may have actually done it.
If you have all the paperwork --2 maybe three weeks.
I got mine in the Navy; The ship was going to make a port-call in a non-NATO country (NATO members accept military ID + orders in lieu of passports).
We got them in 5 days, but that was with a paper-pusher from the State department.
My last renewal took about two weeks.
DW's own daughter was also in that room that night. He'd truly have to be some kind of wacko to try something with her in there and as I heard it, a lot of people in the house. If the girl bit him as hard as she said, I'd think it would have been obvious, maybe bleeding. He would have had to explain that.
I'm not putting the girl down. She sounded sincere but she did say she signed that statement because the lady LE wanted her to.
I'll admit I'm naive about such kinky things. I have led a sheltered life.
But that is not Justice, is it?
If Danielle had been in there that weekend, the dogs would have gone crazy. They did not. That's my opinion.
Yes, there are some folks that want to go with the "plant".
It's posible --but I go with the kids playing in the MH from last year.
Danielle L & Jennifer's prints ware found from 14 months ago !
I have read the DA was extremely anxious to get somebody arrested so he could look good and win the nomination for the upcoming election. In politics, anything goes.
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