Accused Killer of Actress Portrayed as Calm, Rational

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The man accused of stalking and then killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer was portrayed in the opening day of his trial as calm and rational during attempts to see Schaeffer at the television studio where she worked.

"He was one of the most lucid and intelligent types of people that I've dealt with," John Egger, security chief for Warner Bros., said of Robert John Bardo. Egger testified that Bardo showed up one day with a giant teddy bear and flowers, asking to see Schaeffer, who then was starring in the TV series, "My Sister Sam." Egger tried to discourage him from attempting to see the actress.

"He proceeded to tell me how much he was in love with Rebecca Schaeffer and he just wanted to see her and give her the flowers and the teddy bear," Egger said.

"I let him know firmly that he wouldn't get in," Egger said, and after finding out that Bardo, of Tucson, had taken a bus from his Hollywood hotel, Egger offered him a ride back.

"I dropped him off and told him the best thing would be for him to go back to Tucson. . . . He said, 'I'm going to do that.'

"All in all, it was a pleasant encounter," Egger said. "I felt I'd accomplished something."

Superior Court Judge Dino Fulgoni ordered increased security in the courtroom Wednesday, after threats against a witness and others. Spectators returned from lunch to find that a metal detector had been installed outside the courtroom and extra deputies posted. The deputies used hand-held detectors to screen those seeking to enter Fulgoni's courtroom after the larger device failed to work. Men's pockets were emptied and women's purses searched.

Fulgoni, in an unusual announcement from the bench, told the spectators that he ordered the additional security because "there have been threats in this case delivered to responsible people." He said one of the threats was made against a witness in the trial but involved a matter that "has absolutely nothing to do with this case."

Bardo, 21, sat at the defense table throughout the day with his head down, on occasion covering his face with his hand. Schaeffer's parents, grandparents and friends from Eugene, Ore., sat in the courtroom's front row.

Egger and four other prosecution witnesses, including Bardo's older brother, Edward, testified that he appeared rational and unthreatening when he was at the studio and in the months before the slaying. Schaeffer was shot to death in the summer of 1989 as she answered the door at her Fairfax apartment.

Edward Bardo testified, however, that his brother had a history of mental problems and had once spent time in a mental health facility. Bardo's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Stephen Galindo, said outside the courtroom that "psychiatric evidence" will be at the heart of his case.

The case is being heard without a jury under an agreement in which the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty against Bardo.

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