Trial starts for man accused of killing child

By Ben Fox, The Associated Press
Wednesday June 05, 2002

SAN DIEGO – The trial of the man accused of killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam opened Tuesday with prosecutors outlining new forensic evidence and the defense seeking to discredit the girl’s parents for giving false statements to police. 

Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek told jurors that investigators found Danielle’s hair in the house and motor home of David Westerfield, the neighbor accused of kidnapping and killing her in February. 

Dusek also disclosed that investigators collected fibers matching carpet in Danielle’s bedroom from inside Westerfield’s 35-foot motor home, where investigators also found the girl’s fingerprints and blood. 

Danielle was discovered missing on Feb. 2, when her parents went to awaken her. An intense search of the region surrounding their suburban home ended Feb. 27 with the discovery of her nude body along a rural road east of San Diego. 

“Somebody dumped her body like trash,” Dusek said. “The evidence will show you who that is.” 

Westerfield, 50, is charged with kidnapping and murdering the second-grade girl who lived two doors away. He also is charged with misdemeanor possession of child pornography. He has pleaded innocent and could face the death penalty if convicted. 

Defense attorney Steven Feldman said the evidence would vindicate his client.