The attorney for a man accused of shooting an armored car guard during a foiled robbery attempt has told jurors that he will prove his client's innocence by implicating another man as the gunman: the man's brother.
In opening arguments in the Pasadena Superior Court trial of Alfred Giordano, attorney Robert Swanson said his client was visiting a girlfriend in Orange County on Dec. 31, 1987, when Howard White was shot with a machine gun in Glendale. White, who was an armored car guard for a security company, was left paralyzed by the shooting.
It was Peter Giordano, Swanson said, not Alfred, who attempted the holdup and wounded White, now 34.
Prosecutors have contended that Alfred shot and tried to rob the victim while Peter drove the getaway car. During an earlier trial, the brothers faced charges of attempted murder and attempted robbery. They were dressed and groomed similarly and were sitting side by side when White identified Peter Giordano as his assailant. White said then that he meant to point to Alfred Giordano, instead of Peter, but made a mistake.
Peter Giordano, 33, was acquitted last May of the charges. The same charges against Alfred, 27, ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of conviction.
"A lot of evidence will point to Peter Giordano, and Peter Giordano alone," Swanson told jurors last week. "A man who looks almost identical to Alfred, unfortunately."
During four days of trial, Swanson has called Peter Giordano into the courtroom several times, asking White and others if they are certain it was Alfred and not Peter who assaulted him. Swanson said he may call Peter as a witness, and may ask him whether he was the gunman.
That defense may be formidable, said Deputy Dist. Atty. JoAnn Glidden. Although the brothers' alleged roles in the crime were different, the charges are the same--and Peter cannot be retried for attempted murder, Glidden said.
"There would be nothing we could do," if Peter admits to being the gunman, Glidden said. "He's been acquitted. He has nothing to lose if he comes in here and says he actually did it. But I'm not really concerned about it. I think the jurors are smarter than that."
In her opening statement, Glidden told the jury she would present several witnesses who saw Alfred Giordano shoot the security guard. Glidden said other witnesses--including Alfred's wife--would testify that he confessed to the crime.
"I'm convinced that after you hear the evidence, you'll know this is not a whodunit, but that this was a willful, deliberate, premeditated attempted murder," she told jurors.
Prosecutors contend White was leaving a check-cashing business on San Fernando Road with an empty money bag when Alfred allegedly confronted him with an Uzi machine gun and demanded the money. When White paused, prosecutors said, Alfred Giordano shot him five times, grabbed the bag but dropped it after seeing it was empty and fled to a nearby alley where Peter was waiting in a car.
Although Swanson has made it clear that Peter Giordano plays an important role in Alfred's second trial, the elder brother is now a spectator. He said outside the courtroom Tuesday that if he is called as a witness, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and not answer any questions.
Judge Terry Smerling has said he would conduct a hearing to determine Peter Giordano's rights if he is called as a witness.
"Swanson has me here because of the identification problem," Peter Giordano said. "The evidence does point to me. But if I do take the stand, I don't think I'd want to incriminate myself."
Last week, testifying from his wheelchair, White identified his assailant as Alfred Giordano, who sat alone. "He was the one. I have no doubt in my mind," he told Glidden.
On Tuesday, Sherry Maxwell, who was in a convenience store near the check-cashing business the morning of the shooting, testified she had seen Alfred Giordano, not Peter, walk past her after White was shot.
Another eyewitness who was at the scene also is expected this week to identify Alfred Giordano as the gunman.
But Glidden acknowledged that problems may arise with the prosecution's key witness: Alfred Giordano's wife, Kimberly.
The woman testified during a preliminary hearing that Alfred told her after the shooting that he shot an armored car guard. She also said she saw her husband bury a gun in the back yard of her Lancaster home.
In the first trial she admitted to the previous testimony but altered it slightly by saying she never saw her husband bury a gun.
Both Glidden and Swanson said they are uncertain what Kimberly Giordano will say on the stand. But the prosecutor said other witnesses, such as Kimberly's uncle, will testify that Kimberly told them about Alfred's confession not long after the shooting.
Swanson has long argued that Kimberly Giordano had a sexual relationship with Glendale Police Officer Joseph Jimenez, the primary investigator in the case, and that Jimenez paid her advance reward money to elicit her testimony.
Scott Howard, Glendale's assistant city attorney, said Wednesday that a defense request for a police department investigation of Jimenez was denied. Jimenez in the first trial denied Swanson's allegations.
"We will hear testimony by a woman who has been confused and corrupted by all sorts of influences," Swanson told jurors last week. "The evidence will show that the testimony, whatever it will be, bears more than a little scrutiny."
Alfred Giordano is being held in County Jail without bail.