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'Twilight' Defense Attacks D.A. Office, Asks Dismissal

September 20, 1986|PAUL FELDMAN | Times Staff Writer

Defense attorneys in the Twilight Zone manslaughter trial requested Friday that the case be dismissed because of alleged misconduct by the district attorney's office.

In a 17-page legal brief signed by attorneys for all five defendants, the defense contended that either the current or former prosecutor on the case spoke untruthfully when each gave dramatically different accounts on the witness stand recently concerning the credibility of a key prosecution witness.

The defense said in its brief that it believes the former prosecutor, Gary P. Kesselman, rather than the current prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea Purwin D'Agostino. Kesselman questioned the credibility of the witness, production secretary Donna Schuman, who asserted that director John Landis had said, "We're all going to go to jail" for illegally hiring child actors.

"The stench of perjury, subornation of perjury and cover-up permeates this case," the defense stated. "One might well ask whether this is a trial or a bad joke. Were this a television show, the Bar would protest that it is unrealistic and bizarre."

D'Agostino replied: "I don't think that it merits a response. . . . I cannot believe that such highly priced attorneys are trying so desperately to get rid of a 90-pound woman. I must be doing something right."

The trial of Landis and four associates, who are charged with manslaughter in the deaths of three actors in a 1982 film set helicopter accident, is scheduled to resume Monday after a week's hiatus.

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