September 7, 2005     Los Gatos, California Since 1881
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Nasmeh's preliminary hearing gets under way
By Jennifer McLain
The preliminary hearing for Maurice Nasmeh, a 42-year-old Campbell man who police say is the last person to have seen Jeanine Harms alive, is under way.

On Sept. 1 and 2, friends, loved ones and neighbors of Harms testified in Santa Clara County Superior Court before Judge Edward Lee, the prosecution, Nasmeh's defense attorneys and Nasmeh, who sat in an orange prison suit.

Nasmeh, who was arrested on Dec. 16, pleaded not guilty to the charge of killing Harms. She went missing on July 27, 2001, after a night of drinking with friends in Campbell. Her body has not been found.

On Sept. 2, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police officers Todd Fleming, Michael D'Antonio and Steve Wahl also testified.

Fleming was the first officer to go to Harms' house in Los Gatos after receiving a call of a possible missing person. When he knocked on the door and no one answered, he went inside where he noticed a few things seemed out of place at the well kept and clean apartment, he said on the stand. "Upon initial entry, I walked in the living room. The seat cushions on the sofa were missing," he said.

Fleming described what he saw when he walked through the house, the responses neighbors gave him about that night and what happened after other officers were called over to the house for further investigation.

Wahl, who was the lead investigator in the case for about one month before officer Stephen Walpole took over, also took the stand.

Wahl said that officers interviewed Nasmeh three separate times. The first time Nasmeh was contacted by the police was by Wahl and detective Randy Bishop. They went to the architectural firm where Nasmeh worked.

Deputy district attorney Dale Sanderson asked Wahl what Nasmeh said when he saw the two officers. "Did he say, 'Man, I'm sure glad you're here. I was just about to call you?' " Sanderson asked Wahl.

"He said he wanted to know how we found out his name," Wahl later said. Nasmeh's fingerprint was lifted from Harms' car, which Nasmeh was said to have ridden in while bar hopping with Harms and her date.

Wahl was scheduled to continue testifying Tuesday morning.

At the hearing was Harms' father, Jesus Sanchez, and family friend Loretta Meyer. Other witnesses, including Harms' friends Chigiy Edson-Binell and Janice Burnham and her mother, Georgette Sanchez, are not permitted to sit in on the hearing.

Nasmeh remains in custody.

Judge Lee will decide at the end of the hearing whether there is enough evidence to try Nasmeh for murder.

Dr. Steven Cohen, Dentist

El Camino Hospital

PDF: Download the Los Gatos Weekly-Times newspaper (15 MB)


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