After three weeks of testimony, deputy district attorney Patrick McKinley rested his case against murder suspect David Attias on Tuesday afternoon.
California Highway Patrol Sgt. David Robertson, the investigating officer in the case, was the last of a long line of witnesses called by the prosecutor. Numerous UCSB students have taken the stand, including residents and neighbors of Attias in Francisco Torres, and witnesses to the fatal crash for which the defendant stands trial. Law enforcement officials, drug experts and friends have also been called to testify.
Attias, a former UCSB student, is charged with four counts of second-degree murder, four counts of vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of marijuana and one count of gross negligence resulting in great bodily injury while driving under the influence of marijuana for the Feb. 23, 2001 collision on Sabado Tarde Road. Witnesses testified that Attias’ car struck five people that Friday evening at speeds as high as 60 mph, killing Nicholas Bourdakis, Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy. Levy’s brother, Albert, was seriously injured.
Attias pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His defense team will begin its arguments Monday, May 20.
McKinley’s arguments focused on portraying the 20-year-old as a volatile and unstable young man who was immersed in the drug and rave culture.
Since Attias is charged with second-degree murder, the jury does not have to find that the deaths were premeditated. He can be convicted if there is evidence of “implied malice.”
During his opening arguments on April 22, McKinley explained that implied malice is determined in one of three ways: if the defendant committed an act dangerous to human life; if the defendant was aware of the danger; or if death resulted from the defendant’s actions. Finding any one of these three criteria is reason enough to prove a defendant’s guilt.
In court on Monday, McKinley focused mainly on the CHP’s investigation of Attias’ dorm room, parent’s home in Santa Monica and car. The prosecutor showed the jury numerous photographs of the night and day following the collision. The jury also saw a picture of the north tower of Francisco Torres, where Attias lived.
Robertson also testified about the “extremely violent” rap music that Attias listened to, and McKinley played portions of Master P’s Only God Can Judge Me album, which the defendant owned. Jurors appeared baffled as they listened to the song “Ain’t Nothin’ Changed,” with the chorus, “This is for the niggas and the motherfucking drug dealers.”
On Monday, a witness testified that Attias was screaming Master P’s lyrics “Ride or die,” at the scene of the Sabado Tarde collision. Robertson said he found the Only God Can Judge Me album cover in Attias’ dorm room, as well as the lyrics to numerous other “violent” songs during his investigation.
During cross-examination, defense counsel Jack Earley asked the CHP officer if he had any familiarity at all with rap music. Robertson said his 15-year-old son is a fan.
“Have you ever heard of Eminem?” Earley said. “Do you know he sold 15 million copies [of his CD] in 1998 … there’s a lot of cussing, a lot of violence, a lot of inner city stuff … Do you know who buys rap albums?”
“My son,” Robertson said.
Earley also pointed out that in 1998, Forbes listed Master P as one of the highest paid performers of the year.
Court will resume next Monday, May 20 at 10 a.m. in Dept. Two of the Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse.