JOHN DE BELLO
`BACKGROUND: John DeBello was the manager of the Mezzaluna restaurant at the time of the Bundy murders, and he testified before the grand jury and in the preliminary hearing, but not in later proceedings.
Two Mezzaluna employee witnesses, Tia Gavin and Karen Crawford, testified that DeBello was one of two managers present on the night of June 12th, the other was Richard Arbolino, a person who was never heard from in the official proceedings. The Mezzaluna was a relatively small restaurant (3 waiters on that Sunday night) and so it is somewhat strange that it would have two managers. This is most easily explained by the idea that either 1) one of them was there for a special purpose (as to invigorate a failing business), or 2) there was an anticipated change of management and the crime occurred at a moment when there was an overlap, while the old manager indoctrinated the new guy. I favor the second of these possibilities. [DEBELL04.JPG]
DeBello testified that he had been the manager for a year (since June 1993) and said (prelim.), "I'm a general manager of the restaurant. I do all the hiring, firing, and make sure that the food comes out good, all the time, consistent. And I'm there from morning to night, usually." He had hired Goldman the previous February, and had signed Goldman's timecard at the end of his shift on Sunday night. On the morning after the murder he heard about the crime from the media, and went to the scene; it was he who first identified Goldman's body and gave police the connection to the Mezzaluna. And, it was he who represented the management of the restaurant in court in the first two weeks after the murder. But after that, DeBello was never publicly heard from again. The telephone book for the fall of 1993 lists Arbolino, but not DeBello.
From the foregoing it appears to me that DeBello was the earlier manager of the Mezzaluna, was the de facto manager at the time of the murders, had expected to leave at about that time, and was grooming Arbolino as his successor.
GENERAL RELIABILITY AS A WITNESS: DeBello was an imperfect witness. In a couple of instances, he made mistakes that were of a non-suspicious nature, which might make some people think that his other testimony is of questionable reliability.
Specifically, in the grand jury he identified the other waiters working on June 12th as "Tia Smith and Heather Nygren." The first of these was actually Tia Gavin. In the preliminary hearing, DeBello at first says that Stewart Tanner was not working on the 12th, but later corrects himself when he realizes that the 12th was a Sunday, and the restaurant's Sunday schedule had Tanner as the bartender and Crawford (the usual bartender) working the reception station.
Both of these errors are surprising, insofar as DeBello characterizes himself elsewhere as an unusually attentive manager, and uses the fact to explain why he noticed Karen Crawford go outside where she discovered Juditha's glasses.
CONTRADICTIONS: There are several instances in which DeBello's testimony appears to obscure material facts in the case, and these seem to me to me more suspicious than the simple errors cited above. [DEBELL14.JPG]
In one case (Shapiro's cross-examination in the prelim) DeBello claimed that he saw Karen Crawford pick up the glasses at 9:10 or 9:15. And yet, Crawford consistently says that she found the glasses as a result of Juditha's phone inquiry, and that call was documented by phone records as occurring at 9:37. DeBello says that he saw Crawford pick up the glasses "on the sidewalk" by the valet station, whereas Crawford is very specific that she picked them up "in the street" beyond the (24" wide) gutter. DeBello described the glasses that Crawford picked up as being wire frame with clear lenses (not sunglasses), even though he was inside the restaurant when she recovered them and it was night. (DeBello says he did not see the glasses after Crawford brought them inside the restaurant.) Insofar as DeBello did accurately describe these details, he apparently did get a close look at the glasses, but possibly closer and under better circumstances of visibility than he claimed.
Then, in DeBello's grand jury testimony, he says that he talked to Goldman briefly "at the bar" after Goldman got off work, and before Goldman chatted with co-workers. (In fact, he says, "I was speaking to him behind the bar that evening. That is the last time I spoke to him.") But Crawford said that when Nicole called (at 10:45 -- just 5 minutes before Goldman left the restaurant), Crawford drew Goldman away from a conversation with DeBello and Arbolino who were having dinner at the table by the front door. Again, a contradiction between DeBello and Crawford. In the criminal trial (2/7/95), Tia Gavin says, Goldman "was sitting with John DeBello and Richard Arbolino, the managers at the time." A contradiction between DeBello and Tia Gavin. (Also notice "at the time," which implies that DeBello and Arbolino were not both still the managers when this was said, eight months after the crime.)
SUSPICIOUS INTERJECTIONS: We see on p. 59 of Lange and Vannatter that DeBello tells the police, "In conversation, victim Goldman states to the witness that he had been seeing victim Brown socially..." But, in the criminal trial Karen Crawford says of the relationship between Nicole and Goldman, "My understanding of it was that it was very causal, at most. [They just knew each other.]" This is another contradiction between Crawford and DeBello. (The idea that Nicole and Goldman were little more than acquaintances was confirmed by several media interviews with Nicole's girlfriends in the weeks after the murders.)
DeBello further insinuates that Goldman had a dangerous relationship with Nicole when he also says for his police report, "Prior to Goldman's departure [from the Mezzaluna Sunday night], the witness [DeBello] admonished Goldman to use caution in his relationship with Nicole Brown. The witness feels that although Goldman listened to this advice, he seemed 'non-affected' by it."
There was also a misunderstanding in the police report when the detectives gathered all Mezzaluna employees together for a group interview, and out of that there came the concept that Stewart Tanner had said that Goldman told him that he "volunteered" to take the glasses to Nicole. But, when asked about this explicitly in the preliminary hearing, Tanner said that he had never said such a thing. Asked to explain how it was so written in the report, Tanner said that many people were talking at the same time while the detectives were making their notes. Someone, but not Tanner, injected the "volunteered" concept, and that could have been DeBello. [DEBELL32.JPG]
AN IMPROPER MEETING: Between the time of the grand jury and the preliminary hearing there was a meeting of Simpson case witnesses at a restaurant/bar on San Vicente called "Mama's" (now long defunct.) My informant attended, is not sure at whose invitation she went, but says that at the meeting were Kato Kaelin, Jill Shively, John DeBello, Karen Crawford, and one or two other witnesses. It was somewhat like a support group, and the witnesses freely talked about themselves and their Simpson case experiences with the others.
I do not believe that such a meeting was exactly illegal, but it was highly irregular and/or improper. My informant got an attorney days later and when he heard about the meeting he forbade her to go to another -- although another such meeting was scheduled. My own interpretation of this is that someone -- DeBello, I think -- was trying to steer the witness's "recollections" to create a rendition favorable to his purpose.
A PATTERN: From all of this, I see a pattern in which DeBello untruthfully appears to obscure his association with Goldman on Sunday night, is the source of confusing information about the glasses, attempted to create the false impression that Goldman had an intimate (and dangerous) relationship with Nicole, and may have injected the concept that Goldman "volunteered" to take the glasses. I also note that DeBello was in a position -- according to Gavin and Crawford -- to keep Goldman in the restaurant as long after his shift as he wanted, for social reasons. (You do not walk out on a social conversation with your boss without cause, and according to Goldman's plans, he did not have an immediate cause.) DeBello is the person who hired Goldman in February (just after the Wasz incident) and was in a position to determine that Goldman would work that Sunday night, and to have an assignment which would cause him to get off work at 9:30. In short, DeBello had a leash on Goldman, and could influence him to take the actions he actually did take that night.
DeBello was also in a position to coordinate the action with other participants at other locations, since he knew as soon as it happened that Juditha's call inquiring about the glasses came in, and knew immediately when it had been arranged that Nicole and Goldman had agreed to the delivery of the glasses that night. Cell phone technology of that time would allow DeBello to immediately and inconspicuously relay such critical information to conspirators positioned at the condo.
DE BELLO'S ROLE: It is my opinion that DeBello was the only person in the court proceedings that was, in fact, a part of the conspiracy to kill Nicole and frame Simpson. It is a basic principle in interpreting testimony that there are two sources that one does not take at face value: 1) the defendant, and 2) the killer. (These are often, of course, the same person.) So, if DeBello was part of the plot, his testimony is contrived to disguise the truth, not elucidate it. [DEBELL52.JPG]
A possible specific way in which DeBello interacted with Goldman in the critical few minutes before 10:00 is described in the speculative article, "Critical Phase" at our site, http://www.wagnerandson.com . That article also explains why the garage door opener was stolen; shows why Nicole changed her plan for picking up the glasses from the time she talked to her mother to the time she called Goldman five minutes later; why Goldman himself was so anxious to deliver the glasses that night; why the bath was drawn and the bed opened while there were preparations for entertaining in the living room; why "mommy cried"; why the knife was on the kitchen counter; and most interestingly, why the ice cream cup was on the banister, away from all other indications. All in one tidy package that works if DeBello is in on the plan.
DeBello's complicity also would explain the mystery of Juditha's glasses. (In view of the circumstances of the glasses, Juditha appears to be mistaken in believing that she lost them upon alighting from the car before dinner. The fact that they "had mud on them" was also inconsistent with the place where they were found.) DeBello says that it was his practice (common in upscale restaurants) to schmooze up the guests. ("On occasion I would say, 'Hello. How's everything? How's your dinner this evening? Is everybody enjoying themselves?'.") And, in fact, he knew whom the four children in Nicole's party were related to, indicating that he had performed this courtesy for Nicole's dinner party. This is typically done first and most thoroughly during the ordering phase of the meal, and so Juditha's reading glasses are expected to have been on the table where DeBello could have purloined them. (If not, how could Juditha have ordered from the menu?)
De Bello had the opportunity to take the glasses and later put them in the street where they would be discovered, but do that late enough in the evening that they would not be run over in the street. If he was complicit in the conspiracy to murder Nicole he also had the motive to create a cause for Nicole to leave the safety of her condo after 10:00 o'clock at night -- to get the glasses from Goldman.
Considering that so many mysterious details are cleared up by the hypothesis that DeBello was "in on the deal," I am inclined to think that he was.
SPECIFICALLY: If De Bello was part of the conspiracy, I think he did the following specific things to facilitate the plot... [DEBELL57]
* Was a point of coordination with Margot, the limo company, and out-of-town visitors.
* Hired Goldman expressly as a goat to be groomed for a role and eventually sacrificed.
* Purloined Juditha's glasses from the dining table at the beginning of the evening, put them in a planter box outside where they would be safe (but where they became muddy) until after 9:00 o'clock, when they were planted in the street in front of the restaurant for Crawford to find a few minutes later.
* Encouraged Goldman's dreams of opening his own club or restaurant, and fostered the idea that doing favors for a rich woman like Nicole would help.
* Scheduled Goldman to work an early shift on the murder night, and then detained him (socially) after work and until the call came from Nicole asking him to bring the glasses that night.
* Made brief cell phone calls to conspirators in place at Nicole's condo advising when 1) Juditha had been told that her glasses were found, and 2) when Goldman left the restaurant with the glasses.
* Broadcast much misinformation after the fact to obscure the true details of the crime and to create an early suspicion that Goldman might have been a cause of jealousy for Nicole's ex-husband.
Dick Wagner ( Van Nuys, CA (9/05/02) DEBELLO2.doc