Their exchanges were spirited at times but tedious at many others, with the defendant, who is acting as his own lawyer, clearly frustrating Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary E. Staley, who repeatedly admonished Daker to move on with his questioning.
At one point, Daker even asked Spencer Blatz the color of his eyes, and then the color of her own eyes, which Staley stopped.
Daker is charged in the Oct. 23, 1995, murder of Spencer Blatz’s housemate, Karmen Smith, and the nonfatal stabbing of Smith’s young son. He could get life in prison if convicted.
He asked Spencer Blatz several “isn’t it true” questions about the two having a sexual relationship, all of which Spencer Blatz denied. The tactic allowed him to present his side to the jury without actually testifying himself, which would open him to questioning by prosecutors.
“Isn’t the reason this whole case has been brought is you’ve tried to link me to this murder? This is your personal vendetta,” Daker asked Spencer Blatz on Friday afternoon. “You’ve tried to build a case against the defendant for 17 years,” he said later, speaking of himself in the third person.
Spencer Blatz turned to face the jury before answering.
“I really don’t have a personal vendetta,” she said, her voice wavering and falling to a whisper at times. “I hated him for a long time. I was a very angry person. It took me 12 years to forgive him. … This has changed me forever. But looking at the defendant right now, I can say honestly I really do … I do forgive this man for what he did to me. I don’t have any vendetta against him at all. None. I believe he needs to pay for what he did; for killing Karmen and for stabbing Nickolas. … As hard as it is, I do forgive him for what he did to me.”
Daker tried several times to poke holes in her testimony and her credibility, suggesting in front of the jury that she was lying under oath and that she planted a cassette tape she found in her home 10 days after Smith’s killing that had a recording of Daker and Spencer Blatz on it.
Spencer Blatz did admit during questioning that she was not completely truthful when testifying at his 1996 aggravated-stalking trial. He was convicted and spent a decade in prison before being released in 2006.
Spencer Blatz acknowledged she “was not honest” about her education when she testified at that earlier trial.
“I didn’t say I was a high-school dropout,” she said.
He asked repeatedly about threats against her life and that of her daughter that she says Daker made but that she did not report to police.
“He was a young, bright kid,” she told the jury. “He would call back and say he would never do anything to hurt me. … We would not be here today if I would have taken his threats seriously.”
She also acknowledged that in 2008 — after Daker was released from prison in the stalking case — she searched for his name on the Internet and found people on a gaming website talking about him and her, so she signed on and posted comments.
“You were harassing him now, right? You were online stalking the defendant?” he asked, which she denied.
“I was responding to things that were said about me,” she said.
Staley told jurors to expect longer days next week. The trial, originally slated to consume three weeks, will resume at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Before jurors entered the courtroom on Friday, Daker tried to persuade Staley to disallow the guilty verdict from the 1996 trial on grounds that it was prejudicial.
“It puts my character at issue,” he said. “And there are double-jeopardy concerns.”
Staley would have none of that.
“The double jeopardy is just an, an absurd argument,” she said.
Daker also asked her for more money for his defense to pay additional investigative costs, which she took under advisement.
Randy Evans, administrator of Cobb’s circuit defender’s office, said that from the time Daker was charged in this case in 2010 and certified indigent through June 26, 2012, “we have paid $36,904.29 in attorney’s fees.”