I need help on research on David Westerfield?
I have a research paper on David Westerfield. He kidnapped and murdered Danielle Van Dam. I have a lot but i need just a little more info. Also, I can't find stuff about the defense side and their strategys and the prosecuting side and their strategys.
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
On the evening of February 1, 2002, a Friday, Brenda Van Dam and a couple of her friends went out to a bar. Her husband, Damon Van Dam, stayed behind to look after Danielle and her two brothers. Damon put Danielle to bed around 10:30 p.m., and she fell asleep. Damon also slept, until his wife returned around 2:00 a.m. with four of her friends. The six chatted for approximately a half hour, and then Brenda's friends went home. Damon and Brenda went to sleep believing that their daughter was safely sleeping in her room. The next morning, Danielle was missing. The couple frantically searched their home for her, but never found her. They called the police at 9:39 a.m.
Law enforcement officials interviewed neighbors and soon discovered that Westerfield and another neighbor were not home that Saturday morning. Westerfield eventually arrived home driving his SUV approximately 8 AM Monday. From that point on, he became the prime suspect. Westerfield stated that he didn't know where Danielle could be, and that he was at the same bar that Brenda had attended with her girlfriends. Brenda was able to confirm this, but denied that she and Westerfield had danced together, as he had claimed. Two eyewitnesses testified to seeing them dance together, however. At the trial, Brenda said she could not remember if she danced with him or not. Two days after Danielle Van Dam went missing a haggard and bare-footed David Westerfield showed up at a dry cleaners dropping off two comforters, two pillow covers, and a jacket that would later yield Danielle Van Dam's blood. When law enforcement first interviewed Westerfield he did not mention going to the dry cleaners.. Westerfield then said that he had driven around the desert and the beach and stayed at a campground. Law enforcement put Westerfield on 24 hours surveillance from February 4, as they found it suspicious that he had given his RV a cleaning when he returned from his trip. The RV, his SUV, and other property was impounded for testing on February 5.
About three days before Danielle Van Dam's disappearance, Danielle and her mother, Brenda, sold Girl Scout cookies to Westerfield who invited them into his home and chatted with Brenda.
On February 22, police arrested Westerfield for Danielle's kidnapping after two small stains of her blood were found on his clothing and in his motor home. Danielle's severely decomposed body was found February 27. His attorneys suggested the police were in a rush to solve the case, and had never considered other suspects. Westerfield did not have a criminal record.
 The trial
Westerfield pleaded not guilty, and went on trial on June 4, 2002. During the trial, Westerfield's lawyers, Steven Feldman and Robert Boyce, suggested that child pornography found on Westerfield's computer might have been downloaded by Westerfield's 18-year-old son, Neal. Neal denied this.  Part of Westerfield's defense focused on the lifestyle of Danielle Van Dam's parents. The defense suggested that the couple were known for letting each other have sex with other people, and claimed that this lifestyle might have brought the kidnapper to their home. . Westerfield's lawyers charged that he was improperly interrogated for more than nine hours by detectives who ignored his repeated requests to call a lawyer, take a shower, eat, and sleep.
The trial lasted two months and concluded on August 8. On August 21, the jury found him guilty of kidnapping and first degree murder. He also received an additional conviction for a misdemeanor charge of possessing images of subjects under the age of 18 in a sexual pose on his computer.
There was an outrage after the trial when the evidence of the prior plea talks surfaced in the media. Many people were concerned Westerfields attorneys misled the jury by fabricating the unknown kidnapper scenario when they clearly knew their client was involved in the crime because he knew the location of the body. Bill O'Reilly who hosts "The O'Reilly Factor" talk show on the Fox News Channel called the conduct of Westerfield's attorneys "an outrage". He promised to file an ethics complaint with the San Diego Bar Association against Westerfield's two lead attorneys, Steven Feldman and Robert Boyce. 
The science of entomology was a major focus during the trial. Three entomologists, consulted by the defense, testified that flies first laid eggs on Van Dam's body sometime in mid-February - long after Westerfield was under police surveillance. On the other hand, one of these entomologist, David Faulkner, conceded under cross-examination that his time estimate was based mostly on the fly larvae, and that his research could not determine a maximum time her body was outside. The other forensic entomologist, Neal Haskell, using a weather chart prepared by forensic artist James Gripp, stated that the warm temperatures made it likely that insects immediately colo