Prosecutor details forensic evidence in kidnapping, murder of 7

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

SAN DIEGO -- A man accused of killing a 7-year-old neighbor may have lurked up to an hour in the sleeping girl's bedroom before abducting her, a prosecutor said Tuesday during closing arguments in the suspect's murder trial.

"He gets penned in and hides somewhere, probably in her room," Jeff Dusek told jurors. "The bottom line is, though, he did it."

It was the first time Dusek detailed the prosecution's theory of how the 50-year-old defendant, David Westerfield, allegedly snatched Danielle Van Dam from her home two doors away.

The defense was to present its closing arguments later Tuesday. Westerfield has pleaded innocent to charges of kidnapping, murder and possession of child pornography.

Danielle was last seen alive when her father put her to bed Feb. 1. Her nude body was found nearly a month later east of the suburb of El Cajon.

Dusek said the girl's fingerprints were found on a headboard in Westerfield's motor home, her hair was found in bedding at his house, and her blood was on a carpet in the motor home and on a jacket that he had dry cleaned.

Westerfield also gave a "phony alibi" about where he was the weekend the girl vanished, Dusek argued.

"He tells us where he went most of the time, but he left off big chunks ... all of the incriminating things," Dusek told the jury.

Westerfield sat impassively as the prosecutor spoke.

Dusek said authorities believe Westerfield left a neighborhood bar where he had seen Danielle's mother and sneaked into the Van Dams' house through an unlocked door at the side of the garage.

Danielle, her father and two brothers were asleep but a short time later the mother and some friends arrived.

Westerfield hid, probably in Danielle's bedroom, while they and the father chatted, the prosecutor said. He waited until the parents went to sleep, then fled with the girl through a sliding glass door at the rear of the home, Dusek said.

Westerfield took the girl to his home and then on a trip in his motor home, the prosecutor said.

He did not speculate on where or how the girl was killed.

The defense has argued that the parents' lifestyle, which included marijuana and extramarital sex, might have exposed Danielle to strangers who could have harmed her.

But Dusek said police quickly eliminated friends and acquaintances, as well as Westerfield's 18-year-old son, as suspects.

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