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The State

Delay Sought on Sentencing of Westerfield

November 15, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Attorneys for David Westerfield, who was convicted Aug. 21 of killing Danielle van Dam, filed a request Thursday to have their client's sentencing postponed so they can explore the possibility that he killed the 7-year-old before taking her body from her home.

If it can be proved that Westerfield killed the girl in her home, not as part of a kidnapping, it could help him escape the death penalty.

A jury sentenced Westerfield to death after earlier deciding that he killed Danielle while kidnapping her, a "special circumstance" under state law that permits imposition of the death penalty.

Superior Court Judge William Mudd has set a hearing for next Friday to announce whether he will impose the death penalty or sentence Westerfield to life in prison without parole.

Defense lawyers Steven Feldman and Robert Boyce based their request on a story in the October edition of San Diego Magazine that includes a quote from an unnamed source who indicated that police believe Danielle was killed in her bedroom.

The attorneys said they need time to determine the source of the quote and whether prosecutors withheld information from them.

During the trial, prosecutors did not pinpoint when they felt Westerfield killed the girl, who lived with her family in the same upscale neighborhood as Westerfield. The 50-year-old design engineer, alleged by prosecutors to have been harboring sexual fantasies about small girls, did not testify during the trial.

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