He pauses and stares at his box of Benson & Hedges cigarettes. He swears to quit as soon as the trial is over, then lights another.
"Whatever happens to this kid," he said, "I'm going to blame myself."
He said he feels for the accuser. "It tears me up every day what that family is going through," he said. "That poor girl and her family wandered into this media circus. I just hate to see them go through this."
The defense lawyers won a motion to introduce evidence of her sexual history involving the defendants, although they will not be allowed to bring up other elements of her past.
"Lawyers have to do certain things to ensure success, but I disagree with some of the things they have done," Haidl said. "Then I remember that we're fighting for the lives of three boys. That's got to come first."
Throughout the trial, Haidl plans to be in the 11th-floor Santa Ana courtroom. He's been there virtually every minute his son and lawyers have come to court in the last two years for pretrial hearings.
The only portion of the trial Haidl had planned to skip, he said, was the playing of the video for courtroom spectators -- something the judge has ruled out to protect the girl's privacy. He hasn't seen the video, nor does he want to, he said.
His baby-faced son, given to dressing his beanpole body in short-sleeved white dress shirts and khakis, usually clasps his hands in front of him and wears a look of keen interest during court proceedings. While being led to his preliminary hearing, though, he made obscene gestures at the media with his shackled hands.
Now, his father said, the only thing he has to hold on to is faith in the defense team, and he dreams of the day his son will be acquitted.
But outside court, the father said, the
guilt his son feels for what he's putting his family through threatens to overwhelm him.
In the months immediately after his son's arrest, the father said, the teen told friends he wanted to kill himself rather than subject his family to the humiliation of a trial. After that, a family member was with him at all times, and guns, medicine and knives were removed from the father's house.
Although no longer that desperate, he's far from the carefree teen he was before, his father said.
He said Gregory sleeps only an hour or two at a time, avoids newspapers and TV news and becomes skittish around police cars. The father said that even if his son was acquitted, he wasn't sure what kind of life the young man would be able to have.
Recently, the teen told his father he doubted he would ever be able to have children and make his own family.
"I've never been a negative person," the elder Haidl said. "But this one has buckled the whole family."