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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Oxnard Man Enters Plea in Slaying

October 03, 2000|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 27-year-old white supremacist accused of fatally stabbing a teenage girl because he feared she would "rat" on him pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and related charges.

The plea, entered in Ventura County Superior Court, comes two months after Oxnard resident David Ziesmer allegedly admitted in back-to-back interviews with investigators to killing 17-year-old Nichole Hendrix.

Prosecutors said in a motion that Ziesmer, a leader of a Ventura skinhead gang, clearly states in Aug. 9 and 10 interviews that he decided to kill Hendrix because he thought she was going to report criminal activity to police.

The alleged confession, which Ziesmer's attorney declined to comment on Monday, came as prosecutors were investigating reports that Ziesmer has been trying from his jail cell to solicit the murder of witnesses in his case.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Bamieh is seeking a court order to cut off Ziesmer's jail communications with anyone but his lawyer.

"The defendant intends on killing witnesses who have cooperated in this case," Bamieh wrote in a recent motion. "He is a member of an extremely violent gang, and he will capitalize on the loyalty of his fellow gang members to ensure that his plans for killing are realized."

Defense attorney Richard Loftus of Westlake Village has not filed a written response to the proposed order but said in court the proposed order is overly restrictive.

At Loftus' request, a hearing on the issue has been set for next week. A temporary order remains in effect allowing jail officials to monitor Ziesmer's phone calls, mail and visits.

In their motion, prosecutors describe Ziesmer as a "shot caller" for his white-power gang, a leader with the clout to order assaults on people.

They allege Ziesmer started trying to have witnesses killed within weeks of being called before a grand jury this summer to testify about Hendrix's slaying.

A continuation school student, Hendrix disappeared on the night of Oct. 15, 1998, after calling her mother from a Ventura motel room to say she would be home soon. Her remains were found six months later in the Ventura County back country.

Prosecutors say Ziesmer stabbed Hendrix with help from co-defendants Michael Bridgeford, 24, of Oxnard, and Bridget Callahan, 28, of Ventura. They also face murder charges and have not entered pleas.

Before the grand jury issued its indictments, prosecutors say, Ziesmer was working from his jail cell to silence witnesses. Their motion states that Ziesmer was trying to get fellow skinhead Donald Scoggins to kill three witnesses, including Callahan.

"We're telling him to hit a grand slam," Ziesmer allegedly wrote in a note to Bridgeford, who gave the letter to investigators.

According to the motion, Ziesmer later told Bridgeford that Scoggins "would do what he was told to do." The motions state that Ziesmer also said his girlfriend, Kellie Rangel, had weapons for Scoggins--two Glock 9-millimeter pistols.

In addition to allegedly admitting in the August interviews to killing Hendrix, Ziesmer admitted wanting Scoggins to kill witnesses, prosecutors said in their motion. But they said Ziesmer assured them he had no intent on following through with those plans.

However, an inmate acting as a confidential informant told prosecutors Ziesmer was lying. "[Ziesmer] told the inmate that everyone was going to pay in some way," the motion states.

Loftus, who was only recently appointed to the case, declined to comment on the motion Monday. He said he hasn't had time to review all the documents yet.

Ziesmer is set to stand trial March 27, and he remains held without bail at the Ventura County Jail.

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