Slaying suspect Maurice Nasmeh has apparently settled into the
daily routine at Santa Clara County's Main Jail in downtown San
Jose, spending 22 hours in his one-man cell reading and writing
letters to friends and relatives.
He spends the other two hours doing some sort of exercise, either
alone or with a small group of other high-security inmates, said his
lawyer, Richard Pointer of San Jose. Or he can watch TV in a
community room outside his cell during the two hours.
``His mind is strong and positive and he understands that it will
probably be two to three years before his case comes to trial,''
Pointer said. ``He is in a much better state of mind than when he
was first arrested. He was very emotionally distraught then.''
Nasmeh, who appeared briefly in court Friday, is in custody
without bail. He had been expected to enter a plea in the murder
case of 42-year-old Jeanine Harms of Los Gatos, who disappeared in
July 2001, after a late-night date with Nasmeh. He was shackled and
wore the red jail-issue jumpsuit of a murder defendant.
He did not enter a plea and is considering a change in defense
attorneys, Pointer told the court. But Pointer, outside the court,
said Nasmeh plans to plead not guilty.
Nasmeh, 40, is talking with high-profile attorney Tony Serra, the
colorful, pony-tailed lawyer from San Francisco, to see whether
he'll take over the case.
Nasmeh's mother, who lives in the San Jose area, is his most
regular visitor. Friends from his job at the Sugimura &
Associates architecture firm in Campbell, also visit. But a brother
who lives in San Jose and sister who lives outside the area have
not, Pointer said.
Pointer said he does not know whether Nasmeh has resigned from
his job. ``He is talking with his employer about that and dealing
with how to handle the assignments he was working on.''
The lawyer said Nasmeh is trying to hold onto the home he owns in
South San Jose and so far has not borrowed against it to pay
On Friday, Pointer made a special request to Santa Clara County
Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler to allow Nasmeh to wear regular
street clothes, not a jail jumpsuit, to his Feb. 18 plea hearing.
Pointer said that, because of the high-profile nature of the case
and intense media coverage, Nasmeh would make a better impression in
a suit. Nadler said he would take that under submission.
``He has already received a great deal of media coverage. His
appearance is a significant thing,'' Pointer told the judge. ``It's
a reasonable request and it will not be a burden on the Department
The request is a little unusual for a defendant's plea entry.
``There's no reason for it,'' prosecutor Dale Sanderson said.
``And it doesn't change the case.''
Jeanine Harms' brother, Craig Sanchez, who was in court Friday
along with a group of Harms' close friends, also said he didn't
think it would make a difference. ``You can put a pig in a suit and
it's still a pig.''
Police believe Nasmeh was the last person to see Harms before she
disappeared on that warm July night more than three years ago. She
and the unmarried architect had been on a late-night date, and he
told police that when he left her home she was asleep on the sofa.
The two met earlier that evening at a Campbell restaurant. Her
remains have not been found.
Police investigators connected Nasmeh to the crime through fibers
from a yarn crafts project of Harms' that were found inside the
cargo area of Nasmeh's sport-utility vehicle.
Nasmeh was arrested Dec. 16 as he left home for work.