Schwartzmiller May Be Too Cool For Own Good

It’s safe to say that things in Judge Edward Lee’s San Jose courtroom have moved far beyond PG-13.

The jury trial of accused child molester Dean Schwartzmiller just wrapped its first week, and there has been no shortage of crass, bizarre, uncomfortable, pornographic moments scattered throughout the last five days.

The slightly nauseating circumstances seemed obvious to just about everyone in the fourth-floor courtroom — except the defendant.

Schwartzmiller, who is representing himself on charges that could land him behind bars for the rest of his life, has remained mild-manned and almost nonchalant while cross-examining the alleged victims of his sex crimes.

Joey R., now in his 40s, was on the stand Friday. He repeatedly asserted during his testimony that Schwartzmiller, 65, molested him numerous times when he was a teenager.

It was evident the witness was emotionally distressed and at times incoherent. This didn’t seem to faze Schwartzmiller, as he plodded through a rambling set of questions that lasted nearly two hours. The exchange was agonizing.

In Perry Mason-style, Schwartzmiller ended almost all his questions by instructing the witness, “‘Yes’ or ‘no,’ please.”

It was not so black and white for teary-eyed Joey R., though. And in a rookie move, Schwartzmiller, more often than not, would let the witness talk on after he’d finished answering a question.

“We talked about you not molesting me again. You even went to church,” Joey R. said in between gulps of water. “I didn’t know how to fight off evil. I had no skills for that.”        

Prosecutor Steven Fein, for the most part, made few objections. His passiveness, at first was frustrating: The witness was obviously in agony. But then it became clear that Fein is playing a smart game — he is letting Schwartzmiller hang himself in front of the jury.


Julie O’Shea




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