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Van Dam Jury Scrutinizes Alibi

Jurors completed a fourth day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict in the case of a twice-divorced father of two accused of kidnapping and murdering 7-year-old Danielle van Dam.

The jury seemed to be scrutinizing an interrogation of the defendant by San Diego police that centered on his alibi.

CBS Radio News Correspondent Steve Futterman reports that jurors sent a note to the judge for the first time asking to review some of the evidence in the case.

They asked Superior Court Judge William Mudd to play back an audio tape, made during a Feb. 4 police interview, of David Westerfield explaining that he spent the two days after Danielle's disappearance driving alone in his motor home to the desert east of San Diego and then back to the beach.

The six men and women were expected to return on Wednesday to resume deliberations.

Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek told the panel during the two-month trial that Westerfield's trip -- which covered 550 miles and left little time for sleep or recreation -- made for an absurd alibi and said the defendant was instead likely looking for a place to bury the murdered girl's body.

Danielle's stripped and decomposing body was found beside a country road on Feb. 27, more than three weeks after she was snatched from her bed in the middle of the night.

Westerfield is also heard at one point on the tape using the term "we" in reference to his activities in the desert, which Dusek suggested was a chilling slip by the suspect referring to the fact that Danielle had still been in his motorhome -- dead or alive -- during the hours in question.

The jury, which began deliberating in the case last week with nearly 200 exhibits 116 witnesses to study, had by the end of Tuesday's session spent about 16 hours behind closed doors.

Their request to again hear the 41-minute tape of Westerfield's interrogation, which was also played for them during trial, was the first time they had asked Mudd for help with the evidence in the case that has riveted San Diego and much of the nation.

Danielle was one of at least half a dozen girls across the U.S. west to be kidnapped since the beginning of the year, setting parents on edge even as experts insist that statistics do not show such crimes on the rise.

In the latest case, police on Tuesday found 4-year-old Jessica Cortez, who had been missing from a popular Los Angeles park since Sunday, at a free clinic near her home, taken there by a woman who was not a relative.

In July, 5-year-old Samantha Runninon was grabbed from outside the condominium complex where she lived in the Orange County community of Stanton by a man who was pretending to look for his lost Chihuahua dog. Her bruised and naked body was found the next day and a 27-year-old man has been charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering her.

In June, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was taken from her Salt Lake City, Utah bedroom at gunpoint by a mysterious man in an English driving cap as her younger sister feigned sleep and watched. Elizabeth has not been seen since despite an exhaustive statewide search.

And in Oregon, two girls who lived in the same apartment complex, attended the same school and were members of the same dance team each vanished from a road near the complex in apparent abductions two months apart. Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis also remain missing.

Westerfield maintains his innocence in Danielle's kidnapping and murder and his lawyers suggest that the Girl Scout could have been abducted and killed by someone who moved in the same swinging circles as her parents, Damon and Brenda van Dam.

That line of defense has infuriated the van Dams and their supporters, who have called it an attempt to smear them.

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