A San Diego jury has just convicted David Westerfield of kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam.
The panel deliberated for 10 days before finding Westerfield guilty today of kidnapping, first-degree murder and possession of child pornography.
The verdict followed a two-month trial that featured testimony from more than 100 witnesses.
The sentencing phase will begin next week. Westerfield could face a death sentence. Prosecutors said blood from Danielle was found on his jacket and they called that evidence the “smoking gun” linking him to her disappearance.
Danielle vanished after her father put her to bed on February first and her nude body was found nearly a month later along a rural road east of the city.
Westerfield, a divorced 50-year-old engineer, lived two doors down from the girl. He told investigators that he was on a motor home trip at the time the second-grader vanished.
Prosecutors said they found Danielle’s fingerprints, hair and blood in his motor home.
At trial, they claimed that he had sneaked into the house and waited for Danielle’s parents to go to bed before snatching the sleeping girl.
The defense focused on the Van Dams´ use of marijuana and swapping of sex partners, arguing that their lifestyle could have allowed strangers into the house that had opportunity to commit the crime.