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Attorneys seek to have convictions voided in videotaped sex assault

Lawyers say key evidence was excluded in a sensational Orange County case involving a former assistant sheriff's son and two companions.

September 24, 2009|Dana Parsons

Attorneys for three men convicted in Orange County 4 1/2 years ago of sexually assaulting an apparently unconscious 16-year-old girl while videotaping the incident asked a state appeals court Wednesday to toss out the convictions.

Two of the attorneys said evidence excluded from the trial might have given jurors a different view of whether the defendants, all of them 17 when the assault occurred in 2002, had reason to believe the girl would have consented to the sexual acts. It also could have given jurors a different picture of the victim and her credibility, attorneys Dennis Fischer and Brett Harding Duxbury said.

The girl, identified throughout the trial as "Jane Doe," testified that she would "never, never" consent to the acts depicted on the video, Fischer told the three-justice panel. However, he and Duxbury argued, the excluded evidence allegedly indicated that she had previously engaged in similar acts and that the defendants were aware of that on the night of the assault.

Gregory Haidl, Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann were convicted in 2005 of sexual assault and in 2006 were sentenced to six years in prison. All three have been paroled.

Haidl is the son of former Orange County Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl. The three teenagers were staying at the elder Haidl's home in Corona del Mar, where the incident occurred after the victim drove from her San Bernardino County home to meet them. She testified that she had sex with two of the youths in the days before the incident.

Spann's attorney, Stephen Lathrop, argued separately that his client's conviction should be tossed out because Spann's former attorney wasn't present at two "critical" times when jurors asked the judge for clarification during their deliberations.

Deputy State Atty. Gen. Lise Jacobson said the convictions should stand. She said the trial judge properly excluded evidence in conformance with state rape shield laws.

She noted that the trial judge allowed other evidence that did tend to impugn the victim.

Jacobson also discounted arguments that Spann's attorney had "abandoned" him at a critical point during jury deliberations.

The case produced two highly publicized trials. The first ended in a mistrial when jurors couldn't agree on a verdict.

The centerpiece of both trials was a 21-minute video that showed the defendants having sex with the victim and inserting objects into her.

The justices took the case under advisement.

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dana.parsons@latimes.com

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