A Beverly Hills private investigator hired to trail John Wayne’s daughter in a custody dispute acted as a “free agent” in orchestrating a brutal attack against her, defense attorney F. Lee Bailey argued in court Wednesday.
Bailey, representing Dr. Thomas A. Gionis on charges of masterminding the Oct. 3 assault on Aissa Wayne and her then-boyfriend, Roger W. Luby, portrayed private investigator O. Daniel Gal as “easily offended” and having “a red hot temper.”
Hearing in Third Day
Gionis had retained Gal to monitor the activities of Wayne, his ex-wife, during a 7-month period last year when their battle for custody of an infant daughter, Anastasia, was proceeding through Orange County Superior Court.
Bailey intimated that Gal staged the assault because Luby, 53, had offended him during the months that Gal had Wayne, 33, under surveillance.
Noting that private investigators are often angrily confronted by the targets of their surveillance, Bailey said that most investigators learn to let insults “roll off their back.” But in Gal’s case, Bailey suggested, “it might not roll off his back.”
Bailey’s assertions came in the third day of a preliminary hearing at Municipal Court in Newport Beach to determine whether Gionis, a 35-year-old orthopedic surgeon from Pomona, should be bound over for trial in Orange County Superior Court. Closing arguments are scheduled for this afternoon, after which Municipal Judge Susanne S. Shaw will render a decision.
Gal, meanwhile, remained under arrest in Switzerland, where Newport Beach detectives have flown to try to extradite him to California to face charges of conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon. He was detained by Interpol agents last week on a $1-million arrest warrant.
Two other men, Jerrel L. Hintergardt, 37, an unemployed apartment manager from Burbank, and Jeffrey Kendall Bouey, 35, a swimming pool cleaner from Simi Valley, remained in Orange County Jail on charges that they carried out the attack while in Gal’s employ. Both men, arrested in March, are also being held on $1-million bail each.
Bailey--a flamboyant Massachusetts lawyer who took over the Gionis case this week--has said all during the hearing that his client knew nothing of the attack, and that it was apparently targeted against Luby, not Wayne.
Bailey cited Luby’s legal troubles over a failed real estate deal in downtown Los Angeles as one scenario that could have triggered the incident. He said the only other plausible scenario is that Gal, whom he described as “hypersensitive” and “obsessive,” acted on his own after losing his temper with Luby.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher J. Evans scoffed at both scenarios, saying his office would not have filed criminal conspiracy charges against Gionis “if there had not been a conspiracy.”
Bailey attempted to elicit testimony about Gal’s allegedly explosive personality from Xanthi Gionis, 25-year-old sister of the surgeon, but was prevented from doing so by Shaw, who ruled such character evidence inadmissible under California law.
Testimony on Floor Plan
But Xanthi Gionis’ did testify that Gal got floor plans for Wayne’s Corona del Mar home from Gionis as part of a routine consultation in the custody case surveillance, which Bailey said supported the theory that Gionis did not give him the plans for the specific purpose of an assault on Wayne.
Bouey had testified Tuesday that Gal showed him and Hintergardt a floor plan of Wayne’s home during a meeting to plan the assault. Wayne testified Wednesday that, of the four defendants in custody, only Gionis had been inside her home. This led prosecutors to conclude that Gionis had delivered the floor plan to Gal for purposes of the assault.
Bouey testified that the assault was originally to take place at Wayne’s home, but that it was carried out at Luby’s when she was found there.
Prosecutors have argued that Gionis arranged the attack to influence the outcome of the custody case, which went to trial in November and concluded 2 months later with a judge’s ruling in Gionis’ favor. Wayne regained temporary custody last week, however, pending the outcome of her ex-husband’s criminal proceedings. The couple separated in 1987 after a stormy marriage and were divorced last summer. Wayne is a daughter of actor John Wayne.
Gionis’ defense team also presented evidence Wednesday intended to show their client had nothing to gain by assaulting Wayne and Luby because he already had a solid custody case prepared against her.
George James Stephan, a Los Angeles attorney who represented Gionis in his domestic case, testified that his client had “an excellent case” against Wayne because of charts which showed that she spent as little as 13% of her available time with Anastasia during visitation periods.