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
After three hours of testimony, mostly by the Orange County District Attorney's Office regarding Gregory Haidl's Oct. 30 traffic collision, a Superior Court judge on Monday revoked the gang-rape suspect's $100,000 bail.
Despite a strenuous defense, Judge Francisco Briseño, who presided over the original gang-rape trial involving Haidl and two friends that resulted in a hung jury on June 28, somberly ruled that the son of Orange County's former assistant sheriff violated bail by breaking the law (when his car crossed double-yellow lines and crashed head-on into another car) and for testing positive for alcohol (in a post-accident breathalyzer test). The 19-year-old had specifically been warned against violating either provision when he originally posted bail.
Despite several run-ins with the law after his original arrest in the gang-rape case, this marked the first time law enforcement or the legal system has ordered Haidl confined. He was supposed to be in court for Monday's hearing, but his attorney Joseph Cavallo produced a note from a doctor who stated Haidl was too distraught to appear. Shortly before a morning break, Briseño ordered the doctor to appear in chambers and explain Haidl's exact condition. The judge also indicated he would seek confirmation of the doctor's diagnosis from two independent physicians.
The defense wants Haidl to serve his confinement in the private, ocean-view South Coast Medical Center that he reportedly checked in to after the collision. But Briseño indicated he would seek testimony from sheriff's officials about whether the Orange County Jail just steps from the courthouse in Santa Ana is adequately equipped to handle inmates with similar mental-health issues. Briseño said that if he ultimately agrees with the defense that Haidl would be better off at a private facility, sheriff's deputies will keep the defendant under 24-hour guard—with the Haidl family footing the bill.
According to the Santa Ana Police report taken after the collision, young Haidl's 2005 Toyota Scion struck another car on Bristol Street; Haidl blamed spicy Indian food for causing his .024 alcohol reading on the breathalyzer. During the bail hearing, prosecutors revealed the Sheriff's Department seized the device, had an employee cook up spicy Indian food and fed the meal to an official who blew into the breathalyzer, which registered 0.0.
Cavallo shot up from his chair and asked why the Indian-food test was done and who had used the cuisine as an excuse for the alcohol reading. He was directed to re-read his client's remarks to police.
The usually upbeat Haidl defense team looked dejected after Briseño's ruling. A longtime courtroom observer says Haidl's father, Don, always looks miserable, but noted that he "looked more miserable than usual." The elder Haidl was unavailable for comment.
Chuck Middleton, who is handling the Haidl case and is second in command at the Orange County District Attorney's office, said at a post-hearing press conference that the judge's decision was appropriate. Middleton said his biggest concern was the safety of the community.
Middleton said confining Haidl should speed up his gang-rape retrial, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 31. He and two friends are charged with gang raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl on a pool table in Don Haidl's Corona del Mar home. Young Haidl was also arrested in July for the alleged statutory rape of another 16-year-old girl.
Cavallo said after the bail-revocation hearing that he is ready for the retrial. He attacked not the judge or prosecutors but the media for spurring Briseño ruling, singling out Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, who in opinion columns has referred to Haidl as "the punk."
"This boy can't have a real life because of you people," Cavallo said, lashing out at the assembled media. He then listed the things his client has been denied because of bad press, including, "He can't date girls."Check for an update to this story after the November 16 hearing to determine where Haidl will be detained: jail or a private hospital.