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Judge OKs Alleged Child Porn in Trial

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A judge Wednesday ruled that some of the alleged child pornography seized at the home of David Westerfield can be introduced as evidence in his trial on charges of kidnapping and murdering 7-year-old Danielle van Dam.

Westerfield’s attorney, Steven Feldman, had argued that the pornographic images were so distasteful that they would unfairly bias jurors against his client. The images were allegedly contained on computer disks in Westerfield’s garage.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeff Dusek argued that the child pornography was proof that Westerfield kidnapped the girl because he has fantasies about sex with underage girls.

Westerfield, 50, a self-employed design engineer, is accused of abducting Danielle van Dam from her home in the Sabre Springs neighborhood and then dumping her body in a rural area 40 miles away. Prosecutors contend that he suffocated the girl, knocking out her teeth.

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Along with allowing the alleged child pornography as evidence, Superior Court Judge William Mudd ruled that a misdemeanor charge of possession of child pornography will not be dealt with in a separate trial.

Mudd also ruled that defense attorneys can present evidence about the lifestyle of Danielle’s parents, Brenda and Damon van Dam, in an effort to show that the couple often entertained strangers.

Feldman said the evidence is relevant because it shows that others besides Westerfield had access to the home. Westerfield lived two doors from the Van Dams.

The trial is set to begin Friday with questioning of prospective jurors. A 20-page questionnaire with more than 100 questions has been prepared for prospective jurors.

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The girl’s nude, decomposing body was found Feb. 28, four weeks after her disappearance. Westerfield was arrested Feb. 22 after police allegedly found Danielle’s blood, fingerprints and hair in his recreational vehicle.


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