No Rest for the Wicked

Jury takes five, Haidl team takes a pounding

But Briseño appeared unimpressed, perhaps because Mitchell hadn't noted that Doe's head and arms were lifeless and that Doe had not accomplished the reverse cowgirl on her own, but rather with the obvious assistance of two defendants. And while there has been no evidence that the teenagers used anything other than their own spit to lube the foreign objects, forensic testing did find traces of feces on the pool cue the defendants used to repeatedly penetrate the unflinching girl's vagina and anus.

The judge didn't even wait for the porn star to hit the door before making his ruling: no. Briseño said jurors are smart enough to see that the tape resembles a porno and noted that he'd later allow medical experts for the defense to assess the girl's consciousness. If jurors are paying attention, those experts will face an uphill battle on the question of Doe's capacity to resist the Haidl Three. Prosecutors, detectives at three police departments, a famed drug-intoxication specialist, California's attorney general and three judges--including Briseño--have said the girl looked either so intoxicated that she couldn't resist or was unconscious during the incident.

But Scalisi wouldn't retreat. Denying the jury Mitchell's testimony "negatively impacts the defendants' right to a fair trial," he said. Briseño frowned. Scalisi sat down. Cavallo slowly shook his head in frustration.

It won't get any easier. About the same time, the DA's office delivered a bombshell witness statement that amplifies a different theory--the prosecution's. According to Kevin Rogers, a friend of Nachreiner and Haidl, the defendants bragged on July 7, 2002, that they'd filmed a gangbang the night before with a girl they described as "passed out" and boasted that they'd "gotten her with pool sticks." One day later, Rogers told prosecutors, Nachreiner and Haidl were less enthusiastic; they were indeed panicked: they'd lost the Sony Hand-Held camcorder containing the sex video. According to Rogers, the pair said they would "do anything" for its return or destruction. He also remembered that Nachreiner was "upset, irritated and yelling" and that Haidl was so distraught he cried. Teenagers staying in a Newport Beach rental discovered the camera and video. They're no experts, but their reactions to viewing the video are telling: they were so convinced Doe was dead that they turned the camera and video over to police.

A day after Mitchell's star turn in Briseño's courtroom, we got one possible explanation for the evolution of Vanessa Obmann's testimony. On June 2, Hess' colleague Brian Gurwitz carried into court a boom box containing a jailhouse recording the prosecution says contradicts Obmann's denials. The tape, recorded covertly by the Riverside Sheriff's Department without the Orange County DA's knowledge, reveals Obmann's friend Jessy Heidt talking to her incarcerated boyfriend, whom the 49-year-old Cavallo also represents.

When Gurwitz hit play, we heard Heidt tell the inmate Obmann had been bragging that she went to Cavallo's office "all the time!" She continues:

Heidt: And [Obmann is], like, yeah, she goes, "I was trying to hook him up with my mom, but he wasn't gonna have that because he said he doesn't date anybody over 25!"

Inmate: Yeah. [Laughing] He's like that! Heidt: Then she said she's gonna do her internship there. Joe [Cavallo] said he would let her do that because Fox News is all after her, trying to talk to her, because, I guess, she knows a lot of stuff. John Barnett, Nachreiner's attorney, thought so much of the recording that he immediately asked Briseño for a mistrial or, in the alternative, that his client's case be severed from Haidl's. Whether the DA's tape is legitimate or not, Barnett said cryptically, "The damage is done." Cavallo sat silently in his seat, staring blankly at Gurwitz's boom box.
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