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Son’s Therapist May Testify at Dally Trial

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rather than put Michael Dally’s 10-year-old son on the witness stand, lawyers for the convicted killer indicated in court Friday that they plan to call the child’s therapist during next week’s penalty phase of the trial.

But what psychologist John Goulet will be permitted to tell the jury is still in dispute.

At a court hearing Friday, prosecutors said they would not object to Goulet telling the jury about statements Devon and his 8-year-old brother, Max, have made during therapy sessions about their father or slain mother.

“We just think it would be horrible for those children to come in the courtroom,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Lela Henke-Dobroth said.

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Defense attorney James Farley agreed.

“It is my intention to protect these boys as much as I can,” he said during the hearing. But Farley stressed to the court that his primary concern was sparing his client’s life--even if that means putting Devon on the stand.

Michael Dally was found guilty April 6 of murder and special circumstances for planning the kidnap-slaying of his wife, Sherri. The findings allow the death penalty to be considered.

Earlier this week, Farley told the judge that his client was opposed to his children testifying; nonetheless Dally’s lawyers have wavered over whether to use his eldest son or the boys’ therapist as a defense witness. They were waiting to see whether the prosecution would object to Goulet.

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Either way, Farley said Friday, he wants permission to ask questions about the boys’ feelings toward their father--whether they wish to continue a relationship with him and whether they will miss him.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Frawley said those questions walk a dangerous line.

The judge has already ruled that neither side can ask questions of relatives about what punishment--death or life in prison--they would like to see imposed.

Questions about whether the boys would miss their father come too close to testimony already deemed out of bounds, Frawley argued.

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But Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. said evidence about the children’s relationship with their father is significant and clearly relevant for the penalty phase of the trial.

“I think it would be a mistake to limit testimony that would develop not just what the relationship is but how deep it is,” the judge said.

“The people are allowed to present testimony about the impact the death has had on the survivors,” he continued. “I think the relationship with the defendant is significant and I think it would be a grave mistake to limit it.”

The penalty phase is scheduled to begin Monday and last only a day. Arguments in the case are set for Tuesday.

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