Jurors to hear 2 sides' starts

Marisa O'Neil

Sex, lies and videotape will again take center stage in Superior

Court Judge Francisco Briseno's courtroom today with the retrial of

three young men charged with gang-raping a girl in 2002.

Attorneys in the case made it clear to prospective jurors last

week that they will have to watch and evaluate a videotape the three

defendants made of the incident in the Corona del Mar home of former

Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, father of 19-year-old

defendant Greg Haidl. That video, which will be shown to jurors but

not the public, is a key piece of evidence in the trial, as it was in

the first one in 2004.

That trial ended with a hopelessly deadlocked jury. Briseno

declared a mistrial.

Greg Haidl and Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann, both now 20, are

accused of gang-raping a seemingly unconscious 16-year-old girl,

referred to in court proceedings as Jane Doe, on a pool table and

sexually assaulting her with various objects, including a pool cue,

juice bottle and a lighted cigarette.

"It's difficult for anybody to watch the film," said John Barnett,

attorney for Nachreiner. "But [the jurors] promised they can and

will."

After an initial prescreening of nearly 800 prospective jurors, it

took a day and a half for attorneys to agree upon 12 jurors and four

alternates from a pool of 120.

Like the first jury, it comprises eight men and four women.

Attorneys for both sides said the numbers are a coincidence.

"I think it's a very fair-minded, practical, intelligent jury,"

said Chief Assistant Dist. Atty. Chuck Middleton, who is prosecuting

the case.

One wrinkle in the jury selection that's likely to be smoothed out

today is a connection between one of the jurors, who has not been

identified, and Don Haidl. The juror told a bailiff last week he

needed to talk to the judge about a possible conflict, because the

juror works for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who has

received campaign contributions from the elder Haidl.

The juror will speak with the judge about the Haidl link this

morning but has not requested removal from the jury, Middleton said.

"It doesn't seem like a big deal to me," said Middleton, who

learned of the situation from a reporter. "It's an employee-employer

relationship, not a friend thing."

Last week's jury selection represents the first time in

Middleton's lengthy career he has worked with a jury consultant.

The district attorney's office hired Marissa Beyers, a social

psychologist who works with jury consultant J. Lee Meihls, to help

pick the jury for the retrial. Meihls is helping defense attorneys in

the Michael Jackson child molestation case select a jury.

High-profile jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who worked on the

O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson cases, helped the defense select the

jury for this retrial, as she did in the original trial.

Such moves are common for defendants who can afford the high price

tag of such services. But prosecutors don't often make the same move.

"I have done over 170 jury trials in 26 years of practice," said

Pete Scalisi, an attorney for Greg Haidl. "This is the first time

I've ever seen a prosecutor use a consultant."

Defense attorneys hired members of the first jury to act as

consultants for the retrial, a move that stirred ethical debate in

the legal community.

Don Haidl, a successful businessman, has funded his son's defense

and stood by him throughout his legal troubles. Since the mistrial,

Greg Haidl has had a number of minor scrapes with the law, including

the alleged statutory rape of another 16-year-old girl.

Briseno revoked his bail after he was involved in an

alcohol-related traffic accident in October. Greg Haidl will remain

in Orange County Jail throughout the trial but will wear his own

clothes, not a jail jumpsuit, in front of the jury.

During the first trial, defense attorneys sought to discredit Doe,

whom they said was a willing participant and had aspirations of

becoming a porn star. The prosecution argued that she was too

intoxicated to give consent.

Doe, the prosecution's first witness, will testify later this

week. Opening arguments from Middleton and four defense attorneys are

expected to last until the end of the day today.

* MARISA O'NEIL covers public safety and courts. She may be

reached at (714) 966-4618 or by e-mail at marisa.oneil@latimes.com.

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