TV producer's extradition hearing to begin in LA

AP News
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Posted: Jul 12, 2011 3:26 AM
TV producer's extradition hearing to begin in LA

A reality television show producer will make his case Tuesday for why he should not be returned to Mexico to stand trial on a charge that he killed his wife at an upscale Cancun resort 15 months ago.

After months of attempting to discredit Mexican authorities and attacking the case, Bruce Beresford-Redman will make another attempt at convincing a U.S. magistrate judge that he should be freed. Federal prosecutors will try to show that there is probable cause that the former "Survivor" producer killed his wife and that he should be sent to Cancun to stand trial on an aggravated homicide charge.

Tuesday's hearing comes 15 months after the naked body of Monica Beresford-Redman was found in a sewer cistern at the resort where she and her family were staying. The couple went on the trip to try to repair their marriage, which had been damaged by an affair Bruce Beresford-Redman had with a co-worker.

His attorneys claim Mexican authorities "rushed to judgment" and built a case accusing Bruce Beresford-Redman based on motive rather than physical evidence.

If convicted in Mexico, the Emmy-nominated producer and co-creator of "Pimp My Ride" could be sentenced to between 12 and 30 years in prison.

Monica Beresford-Redman owned a popular Brazilian-themed restaurant in Los Angeles.

Bruce Beresford-Redman's attorneys want the couple's 6-year-old daughter to testify during the hearing, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian has yet to rule on the issue. Witnesses are not generally called during extradition proceedings, and calling a child witness may present issues of who would question the girl and whether her testimony should be conducted in a closed session.

"Calling a six year-old child to the stand to testify about the events leading to her mother's death is simply inappropriate as a matter of principle and unnecessary in the context of an extradition hearing," prosecutors wrote in a brief opposing the girl's testimony.

In statements filed by her therapist and one of Bruce Beresford-Redman's attorneys, the girl would testify that she never saw her father act violently toward her mother during the Cancun vacation. The girl also told the therapist and attorney that she recalled her mother leaving the hotel room to go shopping on the day she went missing.

If allowed, she is expected to be the only witness called during the hearing.

Bruce Beresford-Redman has been jailed since November, when U.S. authorities arrested him on a fugitive warrant based on the homicide charge filed in Mexico.

His attorneys argue that the producer had no obligation to remain in Cancun while his wife's death was investigated, although federal prosecutors and Mexican authorities both say his return to Los Angeles was illegal and should count against him in the extradition proceeding.

U.S. prosecutors say there is overwhelming evidence against the producer that justifies his being sent to Mexico. In court filings, they cite a resort worker's recollection that he saw someone matching Bruce Beresford-Redman's description attempting to strike a woman during an argument at the hotel. They also point to a noise complaint from tourists in another room that cited screams that appeared to be coming from a woman in distress coming from the Beresford-Redmans' hotel room.

While Tuesday's hearing is the best opportunity for Bruce Beresford-Redman to end the case against him, it is unlikely to be the last time he will appear in court.

He is locked in a fight over the validity of his wife's will and his probate attorneys want him to be called as a witness during a trial scheduled to start Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court. Chooljian indicated last week that she will not rule on whether the producer will be released to testify in that case until after the extradition hearing is completed.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/celebritydocket