Jury hears Bechler in recorded interview
SANTA ANA -- The jurors listened Tuesday to a recording of accused
murderer Eric Bechler talking about having a happy marriage, after they
heard a stripper testify that he hired her for a lap dance about a year
before his wife, Pegye, disappeared at sea.
The prosecution played a two-hour tape of conversations between
Bechler and Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators Roger
Neumeister and Paul Fuzzard, recorded days after the incident.
Bechler, 33, of Newport Beach is accused of bludgeoning his wife,
weighting her body and dumping it into the ocean during a 1997 boating
trip. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintains that his
wife was knocked off the speedboat she was driving while towing him on a
In the recording, Bechler said his wife was menstruating the day she
disappeared and that they had sex twice on the boat. In response to
questions, Bechler said he saw “some blood” and that his wife cleaned
herself with a pink towel. That pink towel was not found on the boat when
investigators checked it a day after the disappearance, according to
John Gage, a Newport Beach police crime scene investigator who checked
the Bechlers’ rented boat, said Tuesday that he found several small drops
of blood on a vinyl cushion and on the stern of the boat. There was no
evidence that proved the boat had been wiped off or cleaned, he said.
On the tape, Bechler said he and his wife had a “very strong and
“We never went to bed angry,” he said. “We always talked things out.”
When investigators asked if the couple got drunk on the boat, Bechler
replied: “We were just happy.”
Also, Traci Nunez, a former stripper, testified that Bechler hired her
in July 1996 to give him a lap dance. He took her to a hotel room and,
although they did not have sex, they fell asleep, Nunez said. She added
that she woke up to find that Bechler had left without paying her.
Another prosecution witness, Pegye Bechler’s cousin Kevin Marshall,
testified Tuesday that two 35-pound dumbbells were missing from a stand
in the garage of the Bechlers’ home about a day after she disappeared.
The dumbbells were mentioned indirectly in the testimony of Tina New,
Bechler’s former girlfriend, who told the courtroom last month that
Bechler said his wife wasn’t coming back because he had dumped her body
using 70 pounds of weights.
Marshall said he had previously seen the dumbbells with the weight
stand in Pegye Bechler’s storage area. But the day after her
disappearance, Marshall said he saw a similar stand in the garage,
without the 35-pounders.
The prosecution presented a photograph of the stand without the
dumbbells. Marshall said the photo was taken by Pegye’s mother, June
Marshall, after he mentioned to her that “it seemed very odd” that the
stand had moved and the weights were gone.
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