Claus von Bulow's former mistress, Alexandra Isles, flew back from Europe on Monday, just one day before the prosecution's deadline for producing her to testify at his retrial for attempted murder.
Isles, who testified at the first trial that she gave Von Bulow an ultimatum for leaving his wife to marry her, arrived at Boston's Logan International Airport on a flight that had originated in Frankfurt, West Germany, and had stopped in London.
The 39-year-old socialite and former soap opera actress was met by Rhode Island Assistant Atty. Gen. Marc DeSisto and Rhode Island State Police Lt. Jack Reise, along with several unidentified Massachusetts state troopers.
Isles left the country before the retrial began last month, and her absence had threatened to leave the state's case in shambles.
Superior Court Judge Corinne P. Grande had told prosecutors that they must put Isles on the stand by today or rest their case without her.
"She's here. She came voluntarily. And she came because she wanted to," Assistant Atty. Gen. Henry Gemma said Monday of Isles' return. He said he expected the first order of business when the trial reconvenes today to be a pending defense motion to block Isles' testimony.
Isles was to stay at a Boston hotel overnight and come to Providence this morning. Negotiations to get Isles to return started Friday and were conducted through her New York attorney, Gemma added.
Would Seek Mistrial
Defense attorney Thomas P. Puccio said last week that he would again ask for a mistrial if Isles did not testify because the state mentioned her prominently in its opening statements and during the four weeks of testimony.
Grande had already rebuffed prosecutors' efforts to read Isles' original testimony into the record, saying that they had not tried hard enough to find her.
On Sunday, Von Bulow's stepchildren, who believe that he tried to murder their mother, publicly appealed to Isles to return to testify.
Her damaging testimony helped convict the Danish-born socialite in 1982 on charges that he twice tried to murder his heiress wife, Martha (Sunny) von Bulow, with insulin injections. That conviction was overturned last year by the Rhode Island Supreme Court on state constitutional grounds.
Defense attorney John Sheehan said of Isles' return: "It doesn't surprise me. . . . When they found out that they couldn't (use her 1982 testimony), they made this 'miraculous' effort to get her back."
Von Bulow, reached in his hotel room at the Biltmore Plaza in Providence, said: "I would just say that in view of the fact that the Rhode Island authorities applied for a federal warrant for her arrest on a criminal charge, I'm not surprised" she has returned.
The state charges that Von Bulow wanted his wife dead so that he could inherit $14 million of her $75-million Pittsburgh utilities fortune and be free to marry Isles. The defense contends that Mrs. Von Bulow triggered the comas herself by abusing alcohol, drugs and sweets.
Von Bulow, 58, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the two counts.