Trial Set in 1998 Slaying of Teen

Trial Set in 1998 Slaying of Teen
A white supremacist is accused of wielding a knife in the death of the Ventura girl.
By Holly J. Wolcott
Times Staff Writer

April 2, 2004

More than three years after charges were filed, a judge Thursday scheduled a trial for a white supremacist accused of fatally stabbing a teenage Ventura girl.

During a morning hearing, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Edward Brodie announced that David Ziesmer’s trial would start Sept. 7. Motions filed in the case had caused delays in setting a trial date.

Ziesmer, now 31, has pleaded not guilty to murder, with special circumstances of robbery and kidnapping, and an allegation of committing the crimes to benefit a criminal street gang.

If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Ziesmer was one of six defendants indicted in the 1998 slaying of Nichole Hendrix, 17, of Ventura. To date, four have pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors alleged that three of the suspects kidnapped Hendrix on Oct. 15, 1998, and took her to a Ventura motel, where they sold stolen property in her possession.

Ziesmer, who had been paroled from state prison just days before, decided to kill Hendrix because he feared she would report them to police, prosecutors said. He was accused of stabbing her to death with a pocketknife.

Ziesmer was arrested soon after the slaying on an unrelated parole violation and returned to prison. In September 2000, while still behind bars, Ziesmer was charged with Hendrix’s slaying.

In a hearing scheduled for June 8, Ziesmer’s attorney, Richard Loftus, said he would challenge the state’s death penalty statutes.

In 1977, when the state re-established the death penalty, it required that one of 12 special circumstances be found true to make a defendant eligible for execution. Loftus said there were now nearly 40 special circumstances listed in California’s penal code, which he described as unconstitutional.

Additionally, Loftus said he planned to move to suppress statements his client made to police, and he would ask the judge to ease restrictions on Ziesmer’s jailhouse situation.

Currently, Ziesmer is being held without bail. He is housed alone in a cell 23 hours a day and his telephone and visitation privileges are limited to contact with his mother or attorneys.

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