By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Sixteen minutes in, the DVD player malfunctioned and went back to the beginning. The defense objected that the judge could not resume watching. The defendants looked close to spontaneous combustion. The judge overruled the defense, ordered a technician to fast-forward to the 16-minute mark and begin again. A minute or so into the replay, someone's cell phone, set to silent, vibrated loudly, ominously in the room.
When it was over, the sullen defendants had slipped several inches in their seats. Defense attorney John Barnett, legendary for devising winning strategies in complex cases, stood and calmly let the court know he was "concerned about this evidence." Among other objections, Barnett last month asserted that the DVD's chain of ownership was uncertain—that someone stole the DVD from Haidl before it was given to authorities.
Nearby, young Haidl poured and gulped three cups of water in rapid succession. He might have felt better if he had remembered the lesson of the Rodney King-LAPD beating case: a video of an alleged crime does not guarantee convictions.
The defense effort to block admissibility of the DVD failed this time. But there's no doubt they'll raise the issue when the court reconvenes November 24.