General Crime

* Timothy Bindner, A Man Who Was Named As A Prime Suspect But Never Charged In Child Homicide

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Timothy Bindner, a man who was named as a prime suspect but never charged in a series of child abductions in the Bay Area in the 1980s and early 1990s, today became the subject of a court hearing in a Martinez child homicide case.Bindner was a juror on the Erhan Kayik case and, in a brief filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez, Kayik’s attorney Rebecca Brackman argued that Bindner lied in his jury questionnaire in an effort to be seated on the jury.Bindner had allegedly been obsessed with the abductions of 7-year-old Amber Swartz-Garcia, who was taken from her front yard in Pinole in June 1988; 9-year-old Michaela Garecht, who was snatched in front of a market in Fairfield in November 1988; 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff, who was abducted while walking home from school in Dublin in January 1989; and 4-year-old Amanda “Nikki” Campbell, who disappeared near her home in Fairfield in December 1991.Bindner’s involvement in the cases led Fairfield police to name him as a suspect, but police never had enough evidence to charge him and he was never arrested.Bindner later won a $90,000 defamation suit against the city of Fairfield in 1997.Brackman argued that Bindner’s interest in being on the jury and his behavior during jury deliberations deprived Kayik, who was convicted of killing his son, of a fair trial.”This case is a murder case with a child victim, and Mr. Bindner’s prior history shows he has a very intense and personal interest in cases involving child victims,” Brackman wrote.During jury deliberations, Bindner allegedly told the other jurors that he had been choked and used the experience to describe how long it took to kill someone by choking them, which was a matter that attorneys covered at length in the Kayik case, according to Brackman.Jurors also said that Bindner had allegedly been determined to convict Kayik of first-degree murder while other jurors felt that a manslaughter conviction was more appropriate,according to Brackman.Kayik, a 43-year-old Turkish rug salesman, was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in February for fatally choking his son, 16-year-old Volkan Kayik inside their home Thistle Circle in Martinez around July 4, 2007.After killing his son, Kayik buried Volkan’s body in a shallow grave in a remote area in the Sierras off state Highway 89.During trial, Kayik testified that his son had provoked him and he killed him in a moment of anger. Brackman said during opening statements that Kayik was a good man who had worked hard all is life and that he killed his son in a moment of desperation. She argued that he was guilty of manslaughter, not murder.Brackman presented evidence that Volkan had serious behavioral problems and that Kayik had recently suffered a brain injury from a near-fatal heart attack that made it difficult for him to deal with stress, Brackman said.During her opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Colleen Gleason alleged that Kayik had choked his son during a confrontation and then saw blood coming out of the boy’s mouth and chose to kill him because “he was afraid of what would happen to him if he stopped there.” She said that alleged decision made Kayik guilty of first-degree murder. Brackman wrote in her brief that if she had known Bindner’s history, she would have excused him from the jury and that she didn’t find out who he was until just before she had to give her closing arguments.While the jury was deliberating, she discovered that a book had been written about Bindner and his connection to the child abduction cases. The book is titled “Stalemate: A Shocking True Story of Child Abduction and Murder” by John Philpin In her response to Brackman’s motion for a new trial, Gleason argued that Brackman had waived her right to ask for a new trial based on Bindner’s presence on the jury because she had been given the opportunity to excuse him before the jury began deliberating and had not done so.She also argued that the 33-page jury questionnaire written by the defense never asked potential jurors whether they had ever been the victim of a crime or had been charged with any crime. Gleason also argued that no juror misconduct had actually occurred, but even if it did, there was no evidence that it influenced the verdict.Gleason’s brief pointed out that, “Leaving aside whether Juror #5 (Bindner) did have an unhealthy interest in the cases of the four little girls whom he had been suspected of abducting, the defense has not presented any evidence in support of the proposition that his fascination with the little girls in those cases somehow affected his state of mind in this case which involved a 16 yr old boy.”Judge John Kennedy said at today’s hearing he needed more
information before he could make a ruling on the matter. Another hearing is scheduled for June 26 in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.

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