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Blood, prints put slain girl in suspect's RV

SAN DIEGO, California (Court TV) -- Blood spots from David Westerfield's jacket and his recreational vehicle match the DNA of his murdered 7-year-old neighbor, Danielle van Dam, a forensic expert testified at a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

A second lab analyst said Danielle's fingerprint was found on a cabinet above the bed in the motor home.

"How certain are you of the identification?" prosecutor Jeff Dusek asked police fingerprint analyst Jeffrey Graham.

"Absolutely no doubt in my mind that Danielle van Dam made those prints," said Graham.

Westerfield, a 50-year-old engineer who lived two doors down from the van Dams, told police he went on a road trip in the RV the weekend Danielle van Dam was abducted from her bedroom. Three weeks after Danielle vanished, searchers discovered her body in a vacant lot.

Westerfield pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and kidnapping.

Police DNA analyst Annette Peer said tests of tiny bloodstains on the jacket and another on the front curtain of the RV had the same DNA profile as stains on underwear Danielle wore before her February 1 abduction.

After a brief cross-examination, defense lawyer Steven Feldman said he was not prepared to challenge Peer's testimony.

"We will wait until trial to attack this witness's findings," he said.

Feldman's attempt to attack the fingerprint evidence appeared to backfire.

"Do you know how [Danielle's fingerprint] got there?" he asked.

"Danielle van Dam touched that cabinet," Graham replied.

Judge Ronald Domnitz, who will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to try Westerfield, also heard testimony Tuesday about child pornography discovered on four computers and several discs in his home.

San Diego Police Detective James Watkins said there were "less than 100 hundred" images of female children in sexual acts and poses among 64,000 pornographic pictures and over 2,000 video clips he found.

Police allege Westerfield had a sexual motive for abducting Danielle. Her body was too decomposed to determine whether she was raped.

The detective showed the judge copies of the pictures recovered from discs and remote drives found on a bookshelf in his home office. Some, he said, depicted girls having sex with animals while others showed them in bondage.

Officers seized three computer hard drives, a Palm Pilot and a laptop. Watkins said the sexually explicit files were "very highly organized" on the discs. He cited one file titled "BJs" that held photos of oral sex.

Watkins said some images were a cartoon series showing a young girl with her hands bound.

"She appears to be fighting back, asking the person not to touch her, telling the person not to rape her," said Watkins.

He also detailed a series of photos of the teenage daughter of a one-time girlfriend of Westerfield. The pictures, apparently taken on the same day in 1999, show the teenager, also named Danielle, in a bikini near a pool and hot tub. Watkins said that in one shot she is seen with her mother, but in several others she is shown alone with her legs spread.

Under questioning by defense lawyer Robert Boyce, Watkins conceded he did not know whether the material belonged to Westerfield, his 18-year-old son or someone else who had access to the house.

He also suggested police were reading something nefarious into the snapshots of the teenager named Danielle.

"There's nothing illegal about taking pictures of your girlfriend's daughter, is there?" Boyce asked.

No, Watkins acknowledged.

Also Tuesday, another San Diego officer recalled interviewing a clerk at Westerfield's dry cleaner. Detective James Hergenbother said the woman recalled Westerfield, a regular customer, appearing "pretty upset" when he parked his RV in front of the store two days after the girl's disappearance. He handed her bedding and clothing to be cleaned, but did not make his usual small talk, the detective said.

The hearing will continue Thursday morning.

The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 



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