A defense attorney portrayed an informant in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial Wednesday as a "master broker for corrupt and bankrupt" jail-house deals who often deceived law enforcement officials.
George Freeman, an ex-convict who claims that defendant Raymond Buckey confessed molestations to him, admitted that he sometimes arranged meetings between officials and prisoners who wished to trade information for favors.
In one case, he said, he arranged such a meeting with a prisoner he considered "a madman."
Defense attorney Daniel Davis, intensifying his cross-examination of Freeman, suggested that when Buckey was placed in a high security cell block, Freeman had the run of the section and was allowed unlimited access to telephones.
Freeman denied that, saying that other prisoners had just as much access to telephones as he did. But he admitted that he frequently telephoned his chief law enforcement contact, Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Dvorak.
Jurors heard Freeman admit his involvement in a long list of crimes ranging from armed robbery to sheep theft.
Freeman acknowledged his many arrests and said he has five felony convictions. But when he was asked to enumerate them, it turned out he was counting five convictions in the same year as one.
As Davis led the witness through accounts of strong-arm robberies, car theft and battery, he asked, "Did you ever do something with some sheep?"
Spectators and jurors tittered as Freeman told of stealing four sheep from a man who employed him in Fresno. He said he planned to sell two and barbecue two.
"Did you have permission from your employer to take the sheep?" Davis asked.
"No," Freeman said. "He was always talking about how nasty they was."
"So you were doing him a favor?" the attorney asked.
"I thought I was," Freeman said.
As laughter rose in the courtroom, the judge interjected: "If this gets any funnier we're going to have to take a break."
Davis then returned to Freeman's record of violent crimes and asked if he ever shaved off his mustache to disguise himself.
"No," Freeman said. "I've always robbed people just the way I look."
Asked whether he told the whole truth when he was first interviewed about Buckey's alleged confession at a preliminary hearing, Freeman said, "I was real nervous and I didn't want to get involved so I left some things out."
Buckey, 29, and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 60, are on trial charged with 100 counts of child molestation and conspiracy.
Davis has been trying to show that Freeman was purposely planted in Buckey's cell for two days in 1984 because of his reputation as a "snitch."
"He's not just an informant," Davis told reporters. "He seems to be a master broker for corrupt and bankrupt deals. . . . He can expect he'll be in the prison system for life and he's building up IOUs."
Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin, asked about Freeman's earlier admission that he lacks credibility, said she will present other witnesses to corroborate his testimony.