The David Attias’ defense team rested their case on Wednesday, a little over five weeks after the murder trail began.
Counsel will begin their closing arguments on Monday, June 3, after which the jury will deliberate guilt. If Attias – who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity – is found guilty, the trial will enter an insanity phase to determine the defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime.
The defendant’s lawyers, Jack Earley and Nancy Haydt, said they expect insanity testimony to last only a week, meaning the trial may conclude by the end of June.
Attias, who was a freshman at UCSB last year, was arrested on Feb. 23, 2001, after his Saab hit and killed Nicholas Bourdakis, Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy on Sabado Tarde Road. Levy’s brother, Albert, was seriously injured, but has since almost fully recovered. He will not testify because he has no memory of the crash.
The defendant – who was estimated to have driven down the residential street at speeds as high as 60 miles per hour – is charged with four counts of second-degree murder, four counts of manslaughter with gross negligence while driving under the influence of marijuana, and driving under the influence of marijuana resulting in great bodily injury.
Defense lawyers presented only seven days of testimony and a handful of witnesses since their arguments began May 20.
Attias’s parents Daniel and Diana testified for the defense’s arguments, as well as three psychiatrists and one psychologist.
Mr. and Mrs. Attias testified about how their son’s mental illness permeated his childhood and adolescence. They said their son’s problems made life difficult for the entire family, especially Mrs. Attias. Mr. Attias expressed remorse about forcing his son to stay at UCSB and told the jury, “if I knew then what we know now, things would have been different.”
The doctors testified that the defendant exhibits various symptoms of bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. However, none would specifically diagnose the 20-year-old because of his young age.
The prosecutor, assistant district attorney Pat McKinley, called over 100 witnesses over the first three weeks of testimony, from April 24 to May 15.
Numerous UCSB students took the stand, including Attias’ roommates, friends and acquaintances from Francisco Torres. Much of testimony from these witnesses focused on Attias’ erratic behavior and drug use, which McKinley tried to portray as extensive.
Twenty-eight students testified that they had seen Attias do or heard him talk about drugs like Special K, marijuana, LSD, psychedelic mushrooms, cocaine and ecstasy. The defense has argued that Attias talked about illicit substances to fit into the alleged “drug-infested” atmosphere at UCSB.
I.V. residents who witnessed the crash and its aftermath also testified for McKinley, including IVTV creators Greg Shields and Sevan Matossian, who captured the crash scene on film. The approximately eight minutes of footage was shown to the jury and spectators on May 2, driving many spectators, including family of the victims and defendant, from the courtroom in tears.
Testimony during the beginning of the trial also focused on the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in Attias’ system the night of the incident. McKinley called drug experts to support his allegations that the defendant was under the influence of marijuana when he sped down Sabado Tarde. Earley has argued that the amount of THC in his client’s blood was so minute that the positive results could have been due to the test’s margin of error.
Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist who has met with Attias twice since his arrest, was the defense’s last witness. He repeated on Wednesday much of what other doctors have said, including that Attias had an extensive psychiatric history pointing toward numerous symptoms of mental illness. Stewart also said the defendant was delusional in March during their first interview together.
During cross-examination, McKinley asked Stewart why he had quotations in his report if he hadn’t taken notes or tape-recorded the visits. Stewart said he threw out his notes from the first visit, and wrote up a report immediately after the second one, about six months later.
Stewart also said he thought Attias grossly exaggerated his drug use, after which McKinley put up three overheads in front of the jury that summarized all 28 testimonies related to the matter. Stewart maintained that he thought Attias was a “minor experimenter with drugs.”
McKinley asked Stewart how much the defense was paying him. Stewart said the total bill would probably total around $10,000, as he was being paid $275 an hour.
The trial will continue on Monday, June 3 at 8:30 a.m. in department two of the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse.