Defense in McMartin Molestation Trial Rests

From Associated Press

The defense rested its case Wednesday in the marathon McMartin Pre-School molestation trial after 10 months of testimony from more than 40 witnesses.

The attorneys for Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, ended their presentation with testimony from the father of the child who was the first alleged to have been molested at the Manhattan Beach preschool.

"On behalf of Mr. Buckey, we will rest our case in chief," attorney Danny Davis announced after the witness left the stand.

"On behalf of Mrs. Buckey, we rest," said attorney Dean Gits.

Other Witnesses Rejected

The lawyers had repeatedly proposed more witnesses. But Superior Court Judge William Pounders ruled them out, citing the need to bring the long trial to its conclusion. It is in its third year.

Outside court, Davis said he felt he had accomplished much but had been severely hampered by the judge's decision to slash witnesses from the defense list.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't present our full case," Davis said. "This has not been a fair opportunity to put on our defense. It's been measured by time, not fairness."

The prosecution immediately began its rebuttal case, predicting it will take three weeks. The first rebuttal witness was William Guidas, a district attorney's investigator who kept Buckey under surveillance in February, 1984, following him from his home to Orange Coast College.

Observed at Day-Care Center

Guidas testified that twice Buckey stopped near a day-care center adjacent to the campus and watched children playing in the schoolyard. Prodded by Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin, the witness said Buckey appeared not to notice some attractive women strolling by.

"I think this is now an accusation of child gazing," an incensed Davis said outside court. "This is silly. This is offensive to someone sitting in this case for two years."

Both defendants testified during the defense case and adamantly denied that they molested any children.

Buckey, 30, and his mother, 62, are charged with 64 counts of molestation and a combined count of conspiracy. They are the only defendants left in a case that began five years ago with seven teachers charged. The district attorney's office dismissed accusations against five teachers after an 18-month preliminary hearing, saying there was insufficient evidence to convict them.

Former Lover

Among the final defense witnesses was a woman who said that she had a sexual affair with Buckey seven years ago and that his behavior in bed was normal. Attorneys sought to show that Buckey had no interest in sex with children and was involved in a normal adult affair.

The father who testified last denied molesting his own child. The defense had made such an assertion early in the case but retracted it this week with Davis saying he now believes the child was not molested by anyone.

The prosecution spent 14 months presenting testimony from 61 witnesses during the trial that has set records for length and cost, which is estimated at $15 million.

Jurors have dropped out due to illness or job problems, and only one alternate remains in addition to the 12 regular jurors. The judge has voiced concern that loss of two more jurors would create a mistrial, and he has urged all lawyers to speed up their presentations.

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