Testimony Begins in Trial of Man Charged in Actress’ Murder
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The man charged with murdering actress Rebecca Schaeffer hung his head and sat perfectly still Wednesday as a movie studio security chief described Robert John Bardo’s obsession with the young star.
John Egger said he tried to talk Bardo into abandoning his quest to see Miss Schaeffer after the young man arrived one day at the Burbank Studios carrying a huge bouquet of flowers and a 5-foot tall teddy bear.
Miss Schaeffer then was starring in the TV series ″My Sister Sam.″
Egger said he never suspected this fan might turn violent.
″He was one of the most lucid and intelligent types of people that I’ve dealt with,″ Egger said.
His testimony came as Bardo’s trial opened without a jury two years after Miss Schaeffer, 21, was shot to death as she answered the door to her Fairfax area apartment.
Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark gave no opening statement but launched immediately into Egger’s testimony.
The witness, a retired Beverly Hills policeman who has headed security at Burbank Studios for 12 years, said in June 1987, two years before Miss Schaeffer was slain, Bardo was brought to his office with his flowers and teddy bear by security guards. He had been begging the guards to take him to Miss Schaeffer, Egger said.
Egger said Bardo carried no weapons, didn’t seem hostile and denied having mental problems.
″He proceeded to tell me now much he was in love with Rebecca Schaeffer and he just wanted to see her and give her the flowers and the teddy bear,″ Egger said.
″I let him know firmly that he wouldn’t get in,″ Egger said, and after finding out that Bardo, of Tucson, Ariz., had taken a bus from his Hollywood hotel, Egger offered him a ride back.
″I dropped him off and told him the best thing would be for him to go back to Tucson. ... He said, ‘I’m going to do that.’
″All in all, it was a pleasant encounter,″ Egger said. ″I felt I’d accomplished something.″
Two days later, he said Bardo called him from a bus terminal saying he was en route home and thanked Egger for ″treating him like a father.″
Bardo’s older brother, Edward, testified that he bought the gun used to kill Miss Schaeffer at his brother’s request and with his brother’s money. He said Robert Bardo, now 21, then was too young to buy a gun.
He said that although his brother once had been committed to a psychiatric facility, he saw nothing unusual in his behavior when he purchased the gun in July 1989. Miss Schaeffer was killed that month.
Another witness, private detective Anthony Zinkus, said Bardo hired him to find Miss Schaeffer and he quickly obtained her address through motor vehicle records. He said he was paid $300 and gave the address to Bardo about a month before the actress was killed.
Miss Schaeffer’s parents, grandparents and friends from Eugene, Ore., sat in the courtroom’s front row.
Bardo, pale and thin, entered with his hand shielding his face and sat with his head hanging down looking at his hands throughout the proceeding.
Miss Schaeffer’s mother, Danna, was asked how she felt about seeing Bardo.
″Sick,″ she said.
Outside the courtroom, she burst into tears.
Bardo, who has a history of mental illness, agreed to have his case resolved by a judge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against him. The maximum sentence he can receive is life in prison without possibility of parole.
His lawyer, Stephen Galindo, has said Bardo’s mental state will be at issue in the trial. Superior Court Judge Dino Fulgoni, a former prosecutor who specialized in psychiatric cases, will decide Bardo’s guilt or innocence.
Miss Schaeffer’s killing in July 1989 stunned Hollywood and focused attention on the increasing threat to celebrities by obsessed fans.