SB Prosecutors Misconduct, Tapes Conversation Btw Defendant and Lawyer

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Attias Judge Dismisses Evidence By Marisa Lagos – Staff Writer Monday January 7, 2002 Daily Nexus > News > Volume 82, Issue Number 51 At a hearing for David Attias last month, Judge Thomas Adams ruled to dismiss evidence collected by the prosecution, but upheld the 13 felony counts, including four counts of murder, which the former UCSB student is charged with. The 18-year-old defendant, who will stand trial in April, also entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. He faces felony charges for the Feb. 23, 2001 accident in which four people were struck and killed, and a fifth was seriously injured on the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde Road. This past fall, Attias’ defense team moved to dismiss the entire case on the grounds that the prosecution committed “misconduct” on several occasions, including when authorities seized psychological records from one of Attias’ former schools, and taped a conversation between the defendant and his former lawyer. They also requested the evidence in question be suppressed from the prosecution if the case was not dismissed. Judge Adams dismissed the evidence in question, effectively barring the prosecution, but not the defense, from using it in court. Adams refused to dismiss the case because he did not feel the prosecution’s conduct would interfere with Attias’ ability to have a fair trial. Attias will appear again in court on Jan. 23. Jury selection will begin April 5 and the estimated eight-week trial is scheduled to start on April 8. :nav Source:

Attias Judge Sets March Hearing Date By Marisa Lagos – Staff Writer Thursday January 31, 2002 Daily Nexus > News > Volume 82, Issue Number 68 Prosecution and defense teams for murder suspect David Attias haggled over the suppression of evidence collected from Attias’ parent’s home and former school, during a short hearing on Wednesday. The court also agreed to set a final, March 6 hearing date to clear up unresolved matters before the trial begins on April 5. Attias is charged with 13 felonies, including four counts of murder. The prosecution requested that Judge Thomas Adams clarify a Dec. 19 order, in which he granted a motion to throw out evidence gathered from Attias’ former school and the Attias family’s Santa Monica home. Assistant District Attorney Pat McKinley asked that he be allowed to use evidence gathered from Attias’ bedroom, as well as records seized from the school, including psychological records. “If no defense expert is going to use the CEDU [High School] records, I’d like to use them because, one, the defense entered an insanity plea, waiving the [doctor]-client privilege, and two, that record … could have been seized by subpoena,” he said. “It’s not like there’s some bombshell in those records.” Nancy Haydt and Jack Earley, Attias’ defense team, argued that all the evidence collected during both searches should remain suppressed. McKinley also requested that the defense show him their witness list and all documents related to the defense strategy by the March 6 hearing date. Earley said the DA’s office has already had access to some of this material. “[These disclosures] will continue in the next coming weeks, including things the court covered this morning and other matters. I expect most of these discoveries will be done by the March 6 date,” Earley said. “We haven’t had a good fight in this case, and I don’t expect one,” McKinley said. “I certainly don’t want to get sandbagged … [but] an example of what I’m worried about: I can live with the March 6 date, but I don’t want on March 7 [or] March 20 another witness to pop up on the witness list. Many of the witnesses who are in school will still be here [in April], but if we push the trial date off …?” Adams will decide whether or not to grant the prosecution’s requests on March 6. :nav Source:

Judge Denies Motion in Attias Case Superior Court Refuses Defense Request to Suppress Evidence in Pre-Trial Hearing By Jennifer B. Siverts – Staff Writer Thursday March 7, 2002 Daily Nexus > News > Volume 82, Issue Number 91 Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Adams denied a motion by murder suspect David Attias’ defense attorneys Wednesday to suppress evidence collected by the California Highway Patrol at the defendant’s home in Santa Monica. Attias was charged with 13 felonies, including four counts of murder, after he struck five pedestrians and nine vehicles last year on Sabado Tarde Road. Four victims were killed and one suffered serious injuries. Defense attorneys filed the motion Nov. 15, 2001 on the grounds that law enforcement officers obtained evidence from Attias’ parents’ Santa Monica home on an allegedly invalid search warrant on March 2, 2001. They also filed three similar motions on grounds of unlawful search and seizure. Evidence in question includes a psychiatric evaluation from Attias’ high school, items collected from his Francisco Torres dorm room and recorded conversations between Attias and his former attorney. The court suppressed some of this evidence in previous hearings. The search warrant issued by Adams gave investigators authorization to search all rooms in the house, for a variety of property including computers, personal letters, photographs, bills, medical and school records and drug paraphernalia. The warrant was issued to gather information to “show a historical state of mind of David Attias, as well as a history of drug sales and use.” Judge Adams said he denied Wednesday’s motion because Attias’ attorneys did not present a good argument as to why the evidence should be suppressed. Adams pointed out the defense could argue illegal search and seizure against each individual room searched in the Santa Monica home, including those rooms belonging to Attias’ family. However, he said doing so would be a waste of judicial time. “I have a sneaking suspicion the decision would be the same,” he said. The defense cited a portion of the California Penal Code as the basis of the motion, which states evidence can be suppressed if “the search and seizure with a search warrant was unreasonable because … the warrant is insufficient on its face.” Defense attorneys Jack Earley and Nancy Haydt said the warrant was “insufficient” because the language used in the warrant was too broad and gave law enforcement officers the unlawful right to make searches that did not pertain to the crime – violating Attias’ fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures. “We had filed a series of motions earlier and this was basically a follow-up motion from before,” Haydt said. Earley said the motions are procedural and need to be taken care of now so the defense does not have to bring them to the court’s attention later. “We need to make sure we go through all these steps now. None of the evidence collected carries a tenor of information that would sway the jury. Whether we won or lost isn’t really going to change any of the issues at hand,” he said. “It’s like before a fight, there is a warm-up.” The Attias case will proceed on April 5 when the court will hear arguments on pre-trial motions and the trial will begin on April 10. In the meantime, both the defense and the prosecution said they are finalizing their arguments. Attias has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. “There are last minute things that need to be taken care of; we are preparing witnesses, evidence and trial strategy,” Earley said. :nav Source:

Attais Jury Inspects I.V. Interns Stand-in for Victims as D.A. Attempts to Recreate the Accident By Marisa Lagos and Drew Mackie – Staff Writers Monday May 6, 2002 Daily Nexus > News > Volume 82, Issue Number 118 District attorney Pat McKinley, who is prosecuting the case against David Attias, brought the court to Isla Vista on Friday evening in an attempt to give the jury a feel for what the night of Feb. 23, 2001 was like before the incident. Attias, who is charged with four counts of second-degree murder, four counts of manslaughter and one count of gross negligence resulting in great bodily harm, chose not to attend the viewing. Judge Thomas Adams, the jury, McKinley and Attias’ defense team first drove to Fransicso Torres, where Attias lived in 2001, then drove to the scene of the crime. The bus then looped around and stopped on the 6600 block of Sabado Tarde Road, where the court stepped onto the street at about 10 p.m. Police set up a squad car where Attias’ vehicle ended up, and marked nine cars to demonstrate where those he hit were located. Interns from the district attorney’s office stood in the places where the victims were struck, and plaques with Nicholas Bourdakis’, Christopher Divis’, Elie Israel’s, and Albert and Ruth Levy’s names were placed in the street where the victims finally laid. Before they went to I.V. last Friday, the court met in regular session at the Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse downtown, where Adams said the trial is running ahead of schedule. Adams also cautioned the jury that character testimony pertaining to Attias’ behavior prior to the incident should be used to judge the defendant’s mental state, not personality. “Some of the evidence regarding the defendant’s attitude, drug use, whatever – that is coming in for the mental state of the defendant,” Adams said. “You should not consider this as a basis to show that Mr. Attias was a bad person.” Among the character witnesses who testified on Friday was UCSB student Adrienne Selbert, a Santa Monica resident and neighbor of the defendant. Selbert said although she knew Attias was also attending UCSB last year, she only met him the morning of the incident while she was walking through I.V. “We only talked for about five minutes,” Selbert said. “I asked him how he liked school. He said he didn’t like the DP party scene very much and that he didn’t drink. We talked about home, we exchanged phone numbers and then we walked away.” Selbert’s testimony created an image of the defendant that contrasted with the description given by previous character witnesses. She also said she had no qualms about giving Attias her phone number because he “seemed like a nice guy” who was “looking for friends.” “It’s hard finding people who just like to hang out and not party. I thought it would be nice if we could just hangout sometime,” Selbert said. “He was friendly. Maybe a bit jittery but nothing out of the ordinary. He made eye contact with me.” Selbert also testified that she had recently met with a CHP officer regarding a message Attias had left on her answering machine the night of the accident. She said she had not thought the message, which was a hang-up, had been from Attias until the CHP officer had brought it to her attention. The trial continues this morning at 10 at the Courthouse downtown. :nav Source:

Jury Finds Attias Guilty of Murder Phase To Determine Defendant’s Sanity to Begin Friday By Marisa Lagos – Staff Writer Wednesday June 12, 2002 Daily Nexus > News > Volume 82, Issue Number 139 David Attias showed little emotion on Wednesday afternoon as Judge Thomas Adams read guilty verdicts for all four second-degree murder charges to the former UCSB student and a packed courtroom. The jury – who deliberated for six days – found the 20-year-old guilty of murdering Nicholas Bourdakis and Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy on Feb. 23, 2001, when he sped down Sabado Tarde Road, at speeds estimated as high as 60 miles per hour. The jury acquitted Attias of the ninth felony count against him, driving under the influence of marijuana resulting in the great bodily injury of Albert Levy, Ruth’s brother, indicating that they did not think he was under the influence of drugs when the crash occurred. The four manslaughter charges were nullified because Attias was found guilty of the murder charges. The overflowing Santa Barbara courtroom was silent as Adams opened the nine envelopes with the juror’s decisions. Attias mother, Diana Attias, cried silently, and Daniel Attias, his father, looked straight ahead as they heard their son’s verdict. Attias’ lawyers Jack Earley and Nancy Haydt entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which means the trial will enter a sanity phase to determine if Attias was sane at the time of the murders. Each murder charge carries a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison, but the judge will decide if the four guilty verdicts should be considered individually or together, if the defendant is sentenced. Earley said in order to find that Attias was sane at the time of the crash, the court must find that he either understood the nature of his actions, knew the nature of his actions or knew the difference between right and wrong. If the jury decides the defendant was insane at the time of the crash, he will be committed to a mental institution, where he could stay for the rest of his life, or until a judge or jury finds him sane. The jury heard six weeks of testimony from over 100 witnesses. Assistant District Attorney Patrick McKinley called 106 people to the stand, including roommates and acquaintances from Francisco Torres, where Attias lived, students who witnessed the crash, and friends of the defendant and victims. Much of the prosecution’s testimony focused on portraying the defendant as an erratic and sometimes rude young man who frequently used illegal drugs. The defense only called about 10 witnesses, including three psychiatrists and both of Attias’ parents, all of whom testified about Attias’ long history of mental illness. The verdict, Earley said, shows that jurors are hesitant to acquit because of mental illness. He said the sanity phase, which will begin Friday, should last less than a week, and will consist of testimony from the same three psychiatrists and one psychologist who took the stand during the guilt phase of the trial. The doctor’s testimony will differ because they will now be able to tell the jury whether or not Attias was insane on February 23. Earley said they all believe he was. “[The sanity phase] is going to be very brief. We’re basically going to put on the doctors and get their opinion on whether or not he was insane … all of the doctors agreed he was insane at the time,” Earley said. “Now it doesn’t matter if he took his medication or saw doctors at the time [but] whether he was insane or not … We hope the jury remains open and listens to that testimony.” Abby Pollack, Israel’s mother, said she was sorry she was unable to be in the courtroom for the verdict. “We all appreciate what a difficult case this was,” Pollack said. “We want to commend the office of the district attorney and the jury for the incredibly difficult job they did and the seriousness with which they pursued their duty. Given the facts as they were presented to the jury and to us, it seems to me to be a just one.” Katie Ziegman, a cousin of the Levy’s, said she was thrilled about the murder verdict, but angry that the jury acquitted Attias of the charge related to Albert. “That’s not right. He should have been found guilty for that,” she said. “I’m thrilled they found him guilty of the four counts of murder. I kinda felt like I was on the edge of my chair, and finally to hear a verdict … I’m happy.” Earley said the Attias family, who did not comment on the verdict, were “disappointed.” “It’s been in my experience that in all cases like this it is surreal to people … it’s stunning. It’s hard for people to know how to react,” he said. “Obviously we were all disappointed. It’s difficult because no one knows how the jury reached their decision … We do know they believed there wasn’t drugs involved. We’re gonna assume that it was mental illness they were dealing with, but their verdict doesn’t tell us what their belief was … what caused the second degree murder [conviction].” It is difficult to tell how Attias’ mental state has changed in the past year, because he is currently on three heavy medications, including at least one anti-psychotic, Earley said. “Now he’s on medication. That makes all the difference in the world. There’s no delusions, no psychosis now,” he said. Sean Nicholas, a UCSB student and a friend of Bourdakis and Divis, said he was pleased with the guilty verdict. “It hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I’m happy. He got what he deserves … but as much as he does, my friends are still gone. I personally hope he goes to jail, because he was driving down Sabado on a Friday night, driving that fast. I think he knew what he was doing,” he said. “I was expecting a guilty verdict. So many of our friends and so many people saw him do it. No one else made him push down that gas pedal … I was worried the system would fail. I’m glad to see justice prevailed and it didn’t become an issue of buying lawyers.” As long as Attias “doesn’t have the opportunity to hurt other people,” Connor Buckley, another a UCSB student who knew Bourdakis and Divis, said he would be happy with the outcome of the sanity phase. “I think it’s good they found him guilty because he is guilty, and I’m glad to know that he’s not going to have the opportunity to hurt other people, at least for a long time,” Buckley said. “[The insanity plea] is probably a valid plea. I’m not really bitter or needing a harsh punishment. I just need to know that he’s not going to have the opportunity to do it again.” The sanity phase will being Friday at 10 a.m. in department two of the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse. :nav Source:

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