3 – Brenda Van Dam cross-examination

Brenda Van Dam cross-examination – I
based on transcript from June 6th 2002

mr. Feldman: good morning, ma’am.
Brenda Van Dam: good morning.
mr. Feldman: please tell me if any of this becomes difficult, and i’d ask the judge to recess or we can ask the judge to recess, okay?
Brenda Van Dam: okay.
mr. Feldman: before you came to court today did you talk to anybody about the subject matter of your testimony?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: who?
Brenda Van Dam: Jeff Dusek.
mr. Feldman: approximately how many times?
Brenda Van Dam: once this morning.
mr. Feldman: you have not talked to him about the case but once this morning, ma’am?
Brenda Van Dam: would you repeat that question?
mr. Feldman: yes. are you telling us that you’ve only spoken with mr. Dusek one time about the case, and it was just this morning?
Brenda Van Dam: i’ve talked to him on other occasions.
mr. Feldman: approximately how many?
Brenda Van Dam: that’s hard to give you. i don’t know.
mr. Feldman: ten, 15, 20?
Brenda Van Dam: ten.
mr. Feldman: with regard to those communications, they started back in february, didn’t they?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and most recently, within the past – i guess two or three days — did you have occasion to come down to the district attorney’s office and meet with mr. Dusek with your husband?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and did you, in addition I think you told me yesterday you spoke to mr. Dusek. a couple of days ago, meaning two or three, did you also speak with mr. Dusek concerning any aspect of the case?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: who was present a couple, three days ago when you spoke with mr. Dusek?
Brenda Van Dam: Damon.
mr. Feldman: so you spoke with Damon and mr. Dusek concerning the case, is that about it?
Brenda Van Dam: not at the same time.
mr. Feldman: you were separated, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and during the course of your conversation with mr. Dusek, did he at least apprise you of what questions might be coming to you?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: did he discuss with you the exhibits that were going to be presented to you?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: did he discuss with you some of the cross-examination that might be coming your way?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: prior to coming to court today, have you reviewed any documents of any kind to help you remember what happened?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: please tell us what.
Brenda Van Dam: the statements that were made when Danielle was missing and the prelim statement.
mr. Feldman: when you say the statements that were made when Danielle was missing, are you referring, ma’am, to the police reports?
Brenda Van Dam: the police reports.
mr. Feldman: did you also have the opportunity to review audio tape-recordings of the statements that you made to the police?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: did you review transcripts of audio tape-recordings that you made for the police?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: did you also review reports that the police wrote as you were communicating with them?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: you said that you also reviewed the proceedings at the preliminary hearing; is that correct?
Brenda Van Dam: only my statement.
mr. Feldman: your testimony?
Brenda Van Dam: my testimony.
mr. Feldman: so what you’re telling us then is that on a prior occasion you have testified under oath concerning the subject matter of this case, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and that was at what we call the preliminary hearing, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yell.
mr. Feldman: during the preliminary hearing do you feel that your memory was better than it is today concerning the subject matter of —
Brenda Van Dam: it was about the same.
mr. Feldman: do you feel that your memory has not faded with time?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: when you say no, do you mean to communicate that you feel your memory has faded with time or it has not faded with time?
Brenda Van Dam: it has not faded with time.
mr. Feldman: I want to switch just for a moment. you mentioned to mr. Dusek — mr. Dusek just asked you whether you had given law enforcement permission to tape-record your telephone. do you recall that question?
Brenda Van Dam: i do.
mr. Feldman: do you recall at some point in time, at least understanding that there had been some form of either phone trap, phone trace or phone taps on your telephones?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: directing your attention to approximately the 16th of february 2002, do you recall getting a telephone call, a message concerning your daughter?
Mr. Dusek: objection, hearsay, beyond the scope, third party. the court: counsel, i’ll hear you at sidebar.

mr. Feldman: proceed, your honor?
the court: yes, please.
mr. Feldman:
mr. Feldman: a couple of other points — I want to move on before we break for lunch, then we’ll go chronologically again. were there times in your neighborhood when you would go for walks with the dog and the children?
Brenda Van Dam: there were a few.
mr. Feldman: when you say a few, what number do you mean to communicate?
Brenda Van Dam: maybe two.
mr. Feldman: were there times when, to your knowledge, your husband would go for walks in the neighborhood with the dog?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and would that be a fairly, i don’t know, regular thing to do with the family?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: do you know whether or not, on those occasions when you walked with the dog, whether the dog was on a leash?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and was the dog walked in the direction of Briar Leaf?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and the dog was then walked past mr. Westerfield’s house?
Brenda Van Dam: i don’t know.
mr. Feldman: there is a park at the end of the street, isn’t there?
Brenda Van Dam: yes. mr. Feldman: your honor, you might want to just let me look through these manually.
the court: sure.
mr. Feldman: i’m trying to keep her from having to look.
the court: okay.
Mr. Dusek: those are up here. the ones you’re avoiding.
mr. Feldman: oh, okay. thank you.
mr. Feldman: ma’am, I have in my hand — it’s okay — what’s been previously marked court exhibit 1. do you recognize court exhibit 1?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: this is an overhead of your neighborhood, isn’t it?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: there used to be a pointer — i guess to your hard right. do you see your house in any of these photographs?
Brenda Van Dam: it’s right there.
mr. Feldman: okay. you just said right there?
Brenda Van Dam: it’s in exhibit “b.” mr. Feldman: so, for the record, the witness has pointed to court 1 exhibit “b.”
mr. Feldman: that’s got a big “d” on it, right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: i’d like to direct your attention to the aerial that’s depicted in “a.” i’m trying to tilt it so the jury can see also. can you see clearly photograph “a”, ma’am, on 1?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: do you see it appears there’s a green belt — i’ll call it a green belt — yes, you’re pointing now to an area to the lower right — i’ll call it the lower right side of photograph “a” of court 1, is that a fair statement?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: that’s a park, isn’t it?
Brenda Van Dam: yes, it is.
mr. Feldman: it’s a park where your children would play, isn’t it?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: can you just let — run the pointer up so that the jury can see the distance between your house and that park, if you can, please.
Brenda Van Dam: (witness complying.)
mr. Feldman: not too far, right?
Brenda Van Dam: right.
mr. Feldman: and as one moves, or as you move your pointer, i’ll say from bottom to top, you track it along the sidewalk; is that correct?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and i’ll take this away just for a second. as you move it past to get to your residence, it passes mr. Westerfield’s residence, does it not?
Brenda Van Dam: yes, it does.
mr. Feldman: how frequently would your kids go to the park?
Brenda Van Dam: rarely. they’ve been down there maybe — it wasn’t very often. it wasn’t a routine thing.
mr. Feldman: and from time to time your daughter would play in that park, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman:and from time to time your daughter would play in the park with the neighbor children, isn’t that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: the community of Sabre Springs, one of the reasons you moved there was because you understood it to be a family community, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and one of the benefits of such a community is to have other children to play with for your kids, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: you told us on direct examination that apparently there’s a school that at least was within walking distance from your house, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: so your children’s — i mean, this is grammar school, it’s called Creekside, isn’t it?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: that’s within walking distance of your house, is it not?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman:and from time to time your daughter would go walk to school with her brother, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and she also would walk up the street to another neighbor’s house, isn’t that true?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: that would be Taylor, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: who is Taylor?
Brenda Van Dam: Taylor is Danielle’s friend from school.
mr. Feldman: and Taylor lives around the corner of the hill, isn’t that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes, it is.
mr. Feldman: i should have left the photo up, i’m sorry. redirecting your attention to exhibit 1 — i’m sorry, i know this has done well for mr. Dusek but i’m mechanically handicapped. do you see up the hill, as i just described it, where you are — sorry, ma’am, excuse me. do you see the area that —
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: can you — i tried to give you the pointer back. if you could please show us?
Brenda Van Dam: it’s around this corner and up here.
mr. Feldman: okay. you’re pointing to a photograph which is “d” in exhibit 1; is that correct, ma’am?
Brenda Van Dam: that’s correct.
mr. Feldman: and when you say “here,” you were pointing to the area i thought?
Brenda Van Dam: this is our house, and then as you walk around this corner and up the hill to Taylor’s.
mr. Feldman: all right. when you said “this is our house,” you had the pointer at the “vd”; is that correct?
Brenda Van Dam: that’s correct.
mr. Feldman: you moved the pointer up what appears to be the sidewalk upward on the photograph, correct?
Brenda Van Dam: correct.
mr. Feldman: and then when you said she walked up the street, we can see my hand moves to the left, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: correct.
mr. Feldman: i’m just trying to describe it for the record, ma’am?
Brenda Van Dam: okay.
mr. Feldman: that’s right across the street, isn’t it, from mr. Westerfield’s residence?
Brenda Van Dam: yes, it is.
mr. Feldman: I think you told mr. Dusek — i’m just going to leave that up there for now — that you were aware that mr. Westerfield had a motor home?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: how did you know that?
Brenda Van Dam: because he leaves it in front of his house.
mr. Feldman: in fact, he left it in front of his house so frequently that from time to time the neighbors complained about it, isn’t that right?
Brenda Van Dam: correct.
mr. Feldman: and you yourself had conversations with, for instance, Rich Brady?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: about that it was kind of an eye sore because it was always there, isn’t that correct?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: also with regard to where your daughter could walk, was there another friend who she took — Sarah from whom she took piano lessons?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: was there a friend named Sarah?
Brenda Van Dam: there was a friend named Sarah.
mr. Feldman: where does Sarah live in relation to the others, if you can tell us?
Brenda Van Dam: Sarah’s house is actually not on here.
mr. Feldman: well, is it correct that your daughter would walk two doors down to her piano lesson, for instance?
Brenda Van Dam: yes, she would.
mr. Feldman: and that from time to time she would walk to Sarah’s house?
Brenda Van Dam: i don’t think she’s ever walked to Sarah’s house.
mr. Feldman: okay. the winnebago — i’m sorry, the motor home that was problematic that i just talked to you about involving your discussions with Rich Brady, not only would you complain about what an eye sore the motor home was, wouldn’t Rich also complain to you about what an eye sore it was?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: your relationship to Rich Brady, what’s your relationship to him, ma’am?
Brenda Van Dam: i’m friends with his wife.
mr. Feldman: and he’s also the source for your marijuana, isn’t he?
Brenda Van Dam: i got it from him that night, yes.
mr. Feldman: that night — i’m sorry. did you just tell us that from Rich Brady on february the 1st you purchased marijuana?
Brenda Van Dam: no.
mr. Feldman: you said you got it from him on that night. could you please tell me what night you’re referring to?
Brenda Van Dam: i rephrased — i phrased it wrong, but what i had on that night did come from Rich Brady.
mr. Feldman: when did you get it?
Brenda Van Dam: i don’t know.
mr. Feldman: was it a week before?
Brenda Van Dam: honestly, i don’t know.
mr. Feldman: was it in time to use for the 25th when Denise and Barbara came over?
Brenda Van Dam: i don’t know.
mr. Feldman: by your answer “i don’t know” do you mean to communicate that it’s possible that it could have been, or you just don’t remember whether or not that’s the case?
Brenda Van Dam: i don’t remember whether or not it is the case.
mr. Feldman: is that motor home — i’m sorry, back to the motor home. that motor home, in your view, mr. Westerfield, he’d leave his motor home sitting there for so many hours that it did provoke some kind of a neighborhood reaction, isn’t that right?
Mr. Dusek: objection, vague as to when.
the court: be more specific and i’ll allow it, counsel. sustained.
mr. Feldman: in the several months preceding the disappearance of your daughter, it’s correct that in your view mr. Westerfield could leave his motor home sitting in front of his house for so many hours when all he had to do was drive it off and move it around so that it could make it legal?
Mr. Dusek: still vague as to when.
the court: overruled. you can answer. you may answer, ma’am.
the witness: apparently, mr. Westerfield knew how many days he could leave it in one position and how many days in another and he took that to his advantage.
mr. Feldman: what do you mean by that, ma’am?
Brenda Van Dam: he would move it from one spot to the other.
mr. Feldman: i’m sorry. when you said “one spot to the other” what does that mean?
Brenda Van Dam: it would be in front of his house or on the side of his house.
mr. Feldman: so if it was in the front of his house, he could leave it for a period of time, and then if he moved it to the side of his house it could be there for an additional part of time, is that right?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: and just as part of your community there are covenants, restrictions and restrictions about what people can and can’t do?
Brenda Van Dam: yes.
mr. Feldman: so the presence of the motor home at a specific location is permitted by your covenants and restrictions.
Mr. Dusek: objection, your honor.
the court: sustained. you need not answer, ma’am.
mr. Feldman: would this be appropriate?
the court: yes.

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