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Haidl Rape II Update

Orange County- Defense lawyers in an Orange County gang-rape retrial finished their case Thursday after three days of trying to establish that a girl who has been called a habitual liar would also lie about being sexually assaulted.

But the testimony of one of their final witnesses appeared to undercut some of the defense’s earlier witnesses. For example, the mother of the alleged victim contradicted two of her daughter’s former friends, who had testified that the girl said during a game of pool three days after the incident that being raped was a good way to get presents. Her mother testified that because she and her daughter spent much of that day being interviewed at the Newport Beach Police Department, her daughter wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make that remark.

“Nobody came over to play pool or anything that night?” asked Chief Deputy District Atty. Chuck Middleton during cross-examination.

“No,” Jane Doe’s mother said, sounding mystified.

Nor, she said, was her daughter allowed to use her car for a week after the July 6, 2002, incident – conflicting with a witness’ testimony that Jane Doe had bragged about the presents in her car during that period.

Defendants Gregory Haidl, now 19, and Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann, both 20, each could face up to 23 years in prison if convicted of raping the girl, who was 16 at the time. The suspects videotaped the incident in the Corona del Mar garage of Haidl’s father, Donald Haidl, then an assistant sheriff. The tape, which prosecutors say shows the girl unaware and unresponsive while the three defendants have sex with her, is their primary evidence, but defense attorneys say she was feigning her stupor.

At the time of the incident, all four teenagers lived in Rancho Cucamonga. Since then, Gregory Haidl has returned to Orange County and is now being held in the county jail after violating bail terms.

Jane Doe’s parents, as in the first trial for the defendants last summer, were called to testify about their daughter’s frequent lies to them about where she was going and who she was with. But Jane Doe’s mother on Thursday downplayed the defense’s implication that her daughter would also mislead people about being raped.

Her daughter’s lies were those of “a typical teenager,” she said.

Jane Doe’s father was openly hostile toward defense attorney Joseph G. Cavallo. When Cavallo asked him if he knew Alex Chapman, one of Jane Doe’s former friends, the father paused to think. “You don’t know a girl who’s been friends with your daughter since kindergarten?” Cavallo asked.

“Do you know every one of your daughter’s friends?” the father asked.

Cavallo: “Yes.”

The father: “I doubt it.”

Later, he apologized for the exchange. “Your honor, I apologize, but when he asks me stupid questions like that, I can’t possibly remember who my daughter’s friends were when she was a baby.”

Defense attorneys streamlined their case – as did prosecutors – after jurors in the first trial deadlocked on rape charges against the defendants. The defense spent almost two weeks presenting its case then, and just three days this time.

Their final witness Thursday, a neurologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and UCLA professor, testified that Jane Doe’s movements during several segments of the videotape showed that she was conscious and that she “definitely has the ability to say no.”

Middleton said the defense failed to divert attention from the video of the incident. He said that even if defense lawyers proved Jane Doe had a habit of lying, jurors couldn’t ignore a videotape showing the defendants assaulting her after she had passed out.

Rebuttal witnesses may testify Tuesday. Closing arguments are scheduled to start Wednesday in Judge Francisco P. Briseño’s Santa Ana courtroom.

Earlier this week: In a morning filled with objections and even a rebuke from the judge, the defense in an Orange County gang-rape case opened Monday and immediately challenged the credibility of the alleged victim.

One witness agreed with the defense contention that Jane Doe, as the alleged victim is known in court, willingly participated in the videotaped incident. Prosecutors completed their case last week against the three defendants, accused of raping a 16-year-old girl and sexually assaulting her with objects including a pool cue after she passed out drunk at a Corona del Mar home in the summer of 2002.

Facing up to 23 years in prison if convicted are Gregory Haidl, now 19, and Keith Spann and Kyle Nachreiner, both 20. Haidl is the son of Donald Haidl, formerly assistant sheriff, who quit his post last year.

The three defendants and the alleged victim lived in Rancho Cucamonga at the time of the incident, though Gregory Haidl later returned to Orange County. He is being held in jail for violating conditions of his bail.

An earlier trial ended in a mistrial when jurors – though leaning toward acquittal on most counts – could not reach a verdict.

Jurors in the current trial logged more time in the jury room Monday morning than in the Santa Ana courtroom, as lawyers hashed out which witnesses could be called, what they could testify about and which exhibits could be shown.

Three witnesses eventually testified, two for less than 15 minutes each and the last for almost two hours.

The day’s final witness, a colorectal surgeon from New York, said that unless the girl had been alert enough to relax, the objects inserted into her would have caused massive injury.

“The person must be aware of what’s going on to override the automatic contraction?” asked defense lawyer John Barnett.

“Exactly,” replied Marvin Corman.

During cross-examination, the doctor disputed the prosecutor’s implication that a person who is drunk to the point of unconsciousness could also be relaxed enough to prevent injury.

“No amount of alcohol will permit that because alcohol is not an anesthetic,” Corman said.

The first defense witness was the doctor who examined the accuser hours after the incident and then prescribed the morning-after contraceptive pill for her. Elvira Whiteford testified that the girl told her that she had had consensual sex and hadn’t had any alcohol in the previous 24 hours.

The doctor conceded under cross-examination that teenagers often lie to doctors about their sex lives.

The defense then tried to call another doctor, whose testimony eventually was rescheduled to Thursday after Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Chuck Middleton protested that he had not been told she would take the stand.

After defense attorney Pete Scalisi apologized for omitting the doctor’s name from Monday’s planned witness list, Judge Francisco P. Briseño rejected the defense’s request to ask her questions Monday and then save the cross-examination for another day.

Defense attorney Peter Morreale said the situation wasn’t fair. Two weeks after the accuser finished testifying, he said, the judge had not yet determined whether she could be recalled to the stand to be questioned about her alleged drug use since the incident.

Briseño, his voice raised, countered that defense attorneys had failed to file documents promptly several times during the trial, despite asking the prosecution to provide them with the equivalent information.

“I’m simply asking you folks to live up the standards that you requested,” the judge shouted at Morreale.

“I don’t agree with the court’s assessment,” the lawyer said.

“I don’t care if you agree or not,” the judge replied.

Jurors then returned to hear the testimony of prosecution investigator Michael Welch, who said he tried to report his interviews with the alleged victim accurately. In an interview within months of the incident, he said Jane Doe told him that more than 24 hours before the alleged assault, she had consumed 10 shots of tequila and two or three 6-ounce glasses of rum and cranberry juice.

She has since testified that on that night she had had 10 mouthfuls of rum and a shot of tequila.

The next night, attorneys on both sides agree, she drank 8.5 ounces of gin and a can of beer before the defendants started recording their video.



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