Spectators will listen to the testimony of a child kidnap victim via a sound system in a room separate from the courtroom to protect the young witness from being traumatized, a judge ruled Wednesday.
First Circuit Judge Robert Daines granted prosecutors' request to bar the public and reporters from his courtroom when a 7-year-old girl testifies in a preliminary hearing against the man accused of kidnapping her - Thomas C. Headley, 31, Snowville.Headley was arrested June 1 and charged with the March 24, 1987, abduction of Torrey Healey, then 6, from outside a Garland, Box Elder County, school. Prosecutors say the girl was dropped off several hours later in Malad, Idaho, about 60 miles away.
Frank J. Harvey, 45, Elma, Wash., was originally convicted of the crime and sentenced to a minimum 16-year prison term. But, earlier this year, the judge granted a motion for a new trial for Harvey. All charges against Harvey were dismissed after Headley's arrest.
During Wednesday's hearing, clinical psychologist Gary Sazama testified that putting the victim on the stand in front of courtroom observers would cause emotional trauma to the young girl. The more spectators in the courtroom, the more intense the trauma of testifying would be for Healey, Sazama said. Ideally, it would be best for the victim if she didn't testify at all.
Prosecutor Joe Bunderson requested that videotapes of Healey recorded shortly after her release from the kidnapping incident be admitted in the court proceedings. He also requested that defense attorneys not be allowed to cross-examine the girl on statements made in the tapes.
Sazama urged the judge to prohibit cross-examination, saying that questioning the girl on her videotaped testimony "would do as much damage short of remolesting her, as we can do."
A recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down the use of a partition in a courtroom to protect a child witness from a defendant may impact this case, Bunderson told the judge.
Daines continued the preliminary hearing until July 19 to allow time for him to review the Supreme Court decision.
The judge granted a motion by the prosecution ordering Headley to shave off his mustache so he will more closely resemble the young victim's description of her kidnapper.
This is the second time Healey will be required to testify against an accused kidnapper. She testified last year against the Harvey during his trial. The psychologist said the court experience and kidnapping have had a lasting impact on the girl.