Prosecutor Patrick McKinley is expected to wrap up his arguments today for the guilt portion of David Attias’ murder trial.
California Highway Patrol Sergeant David Robertson, the investigating officer in the case, will be the last witness the assistant district attorney will call. Robertson began his testimony Monday afternoon.
Defense attorneys Jack Earley and Nancy Haydt will begin their arguments on Monday, May 20. Their client, who turned 20 years old last week, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the nine felony charges against him, including four counts of second-degree murder. Attias, a former UCSB student, was arrested in February 2001 after his car hit and killed four people and injured a fifth on Sabado Tarde Road.
Robertson’s testimony Monday focused on the way he conducted the investigation and contacted witnesses after the incident. McKinley also showed the jury portions of the IVTV videotape of the aftermath – shown in its entirety two weeks ago – in which the resolution was changed to make clear who Attias is in the film.
Other testimony from the veteran investigator focused on the streetlights on Sabado Tarde Road and the conditions in Isla Vista on the evening of Feb. 23, 2001. McKinley showed a video of Robertson driving from Francisco Torres, where Attias lived in 2001, down Camino Corto to the scene of the collision on the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde.
Robertson also explained that the posted speed limit on a residential street in a high-density neighborhood is not always the legal speed to travel at. He said basic speed law madates that a driver cannot travel no faster than is safe, depending on conditions.
Roberston said a safe speed limit on Sabado Tarde Rd. on a Friday night, when school is in session, would be around five to 10 mph.
Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy Sandra Brown also testified on Monday and gave jurors a quick introduction to the “raver” lifestyle. Brown, who has had training with raves and the drugs commonly present at raves, gave definitions for such terms as “k-hole,” “e-tard” and “glowstick” to the jurors, who are older than the age usually expected to attend raves.
Many of the character witnesses McKinley has called have testified about Attias’ enthusiasm for electronic music or about how much he talked about drugs. The prosecution has also aimed to characterize Attias as a frequent participant in a drug-saturated rave scene.
Brown described the gatherings as “underground parties [featuring] DJs playing techno music on dual turntables,” and testified that drugs were fixtures of the rave scene.
“Most of the drugs kids take at raves are hallucinogenic. To increase the experience of the drugs, people will do dances with the glowsticks in people’s faces,” she said. “Ecstasy is a hallucinogenic and a stimulant, so people [on ecstasy] will dance and sweat and grind their teeth and want to be touched.”
Brown also said the acceptance of the counter-culture scene draws people to the parties – a point the defense brought up while cross-examining witnesses.
“They can dress up in ways they couldn’t normally. They could be a Teletubby or Big Bird, and everyone would want to be their best friend,” Brown said.
During Brown’s cross-examination, defense attorney Earley attempted to portray the drug element in raves as optional. Earley also drew parallels between elements of the rave scene and features of concerts of previous decades.
“This isn’t new,” Earley said. “It used to be that everyone would light their lighters. And in the ’60s and ’70s, everybody dressed weird.”
Brown said the she was not old enough to know about concerts in either decade.
Earley also asked whether the presence of bottled water at raves was necessarily an indication of people consuming dehydrating hallucinogenic drugs like Ecstasy, citing that anyone who was dancing all night long would be thirsty.
Earley asked, “Have you ever danced all night long?” Brown responded that she had never danced all night long.