Haidl 3 Sentencing Update

The innocent thought this morning's Haidl 3 sentencing would last maybe 20 minutes. Around 11:30 a.m., Judge Francisco Briseno decided it was time for lunch.

Veteran journalists say they haven't seen such a crowd since the 1989 trial of serial killer Randy Kraft. Shouting matches broke out over seats. The Times and Reg sent SWAT teams of reporters. The three defendants--Greg Haidl, Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann--were brought in chained together wearing orange jumpsuits. Haidl's head is almost shaved; he's wearing glasses these days.

Everyone knew that Jane Doe would speak. The surprise of the morning was that two of the three defendants also spoke. Haidl took a deep breath and then read his statement in a plodding manner, almost inaudibly. He apologized to Jane Doe. "It was never my intention to cause you pain," he said. She sat in the front row, looking away. "If there's anything I can do . . . ." he said, and then trailed off. "What happened that night was not planned or plotted," he continued. "It was a miniscule piece of what I was. I wake up everyday and feel bad about the people I hurt. Someone was hurt because of my acts."

Nachreiner seems the most emotional of the three. He too apologized for his "repugnant actions," said "I accept full responsibility" and assured the court that his time in jail "gave him time to reflect on his life." He summed it up: "I was leading a self-destructive life." He was more eloquent, even elegant; his supporters openly wept. Even Haidl pere Don Haidl wiped a tear. Nachreiner said he wants something positive to come from this, maybe teach kids what he's learned. He ended with this to Jane Doe: "My heart goes out to you."

There was nothing from Spann. Moments later his mother explained he's not a good public speaker.

The parents of the defendants also spoke, and each repeatedly offered Jane Doe and her family an apology. Their sons are repentant, they said, and remorseful. What they did back in July 2002 on a pool table in a Newport Beach garage was unforgivable—but forgive, they begged. Don Haidl approached the podium, coughed and in a voice shaped by cigarettes and something like chronic bronchitis—"deep" and "gravelly" don't begin to describe it--apologized to the judge, prosecutors and the family. He said, "The girl and her family are not my enemies. They never were. This has been a complete tragedy." He blasted media reports that his son is a "rich, spoiled kid" as "pure garbage." He claimed Greg has showed remorse every day for his actions.

Despite the sudden show of remorse, the morning's highlight was still the testimony of Jane Doe, who spoke after her parents described how their longtime marriage has been suddenly difficult. Her father remembered waking up to hear his daughter crying in the middle of the night—always the same dream with the same guys. Speaking of the 2004 jury deadlock in the first round of the Haidl case, Doe's mother said, "I felt like she had been raped again—this time by the judicial system."

Doe said she long thought July 6, 2002, the morning after the rape, would be the worst day of her life. But then, she said, the harassment began. The Haidl private detectives tailing her, exposing her, rifling the family trash cans. She was abused on the witness stand by the Haidl defense team, she said. "First they took my life," she said, "and then they took my identity." One of the Haidl detectives was calling out her name on the high school campus. Then came the first trial, in 2004, when a jury returned deadlocked. She was scared—a victim treated as a perpetrator. When the second trial came in 2005, she considered suicide and then decided, "I was not going to let these men take my last breath too." Turning to the Haidl 3, she asked, "When did I become a piece of meat and not a friend?" She called them "sexual predators" who should spend "multiple years behind bars."

One man not present: lead defense attorney Joseph G. Cavallo. After the guilty verdict, his relationship with Haidl Sr. went way south.

This afternoon, after defense attorneys argue for probation, Briseno is scheduled to sentence the defendants. He gave one singular hint about his perspective on the case: "Clearly," he said at the outset, "Jane Doe is completely out of it, unconscious, when she is on the pool table."

Stay tuned.


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