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Van Dam Called Provocative

The State

July 09, 2002|TONY PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — Brenda van Dam was drunk and dancing provocatively at a bar with the man who later allegedly kidnapped and murdered her 7-year-old daughter, defense witnesses testified Monday.

The testimony contradicts Van Dam's sworn statements that she was not drunk and never danced with David Westerfield, who is on trial here in the girl's killing.

Defense attorney Steven Feldman has asserted that the sexually permissive lifestyle of Brenda and Damon van Dam may have left their family vulnerable to someone sneaking into their home and kidnapping their daughter, Danielle.

Patricia LePage, who was at the bar with her daughter, said Brenda Van Dam was acting "frisky" and "flamboyant" on the night before her daughter was found missing. She said she saw Van Dam dancing with Westerfield in a manner akin to the movie "Dirty Dancing."

"She was rubbing herself all over him," LePage said. "She was all over the place. She was very much socializing, talking with a lot of people."

Duane Blake, another patron of Dad's Cafe and Steakhouse in Poway, testified that Van Dam and Westerfield were dancing "huggy, huggy" and that Van Dam and her friends appeared "loaded and stoned."

Blake said it appeared that Westerfield was trying to pick up Van Dam while dancing. When Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeff Dusek asked what made him think that, Blake answered, "Because I've been there and done that."

Two witnesses testified that Brenda van Dam tried to interest them in returning to the Van Dam home after the night of drinking and dancing at the bar.

"They were drunk at the time, and they were a little flirtatious toward me," Ryan Tyrol said of Brenda van Dam and her two female friends.

Van Dam, while denying that she danced with Westerfield, had testified that she and Damon engaged in spouse-swapping with friends on at least one occasion. Damon remained at home the night of Feb. 1, when Brenda and two friends went to Dad's Cafe and Steakhouse to dance, drink and smoke marijuana.

Danielle was found missing the next morning. Prosecutors allege that Westerfield--his sexual advances rebuffed by Brenda Van Dam and the other women--left the bar, entered the Van Dam home and kidnapped Danielle.

Also Monday, friends of Westerfield testified that it was not unusual for him to drive his recreational vehicle to the desert on the spur of the moment.

On Feb. 2, Westerfield drove his RV to the Silver Strand, then to the Imperial County desert. He used the trip to dispose of the girl's body, prosecutors have alleged. But the defense says the excursion was innocent.

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