- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Defense lawyers on Tuesday withdrew a request to call as a witness the 6-year-old daughter of a reality TV producer charged with killing his wife in Mexico.

The move by attorneys for former “Survivor” producer Bruce Beresford-Redman came amid unspecified concerns about the girl’s ability to testify in defense of her father.

A hearing was under way to determine if Beresford-Redman should be returned to Mexico to stand trial for aggravated homicide. He could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities claim he killed his wife during a family vacation at a swank Cancun resort in April 2010 and placed her body in a sewage cistern.

After months of attempting to discredit Mexican authorities and attacking the case, Beresford-Redman was making another attempt Tuesday to persuade a U.S. magistrate judge that he should be freed.

Federal prosecutors want to show there is probable cause the producer killed his wife and that he should be sent to Cancun to stand trial.

Tuesday’s hearing came 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.

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

Calling the couple’s 6-year-old daughter to testify during the hearing could have been problematic.

Witnesses are not generally called during extradition proceedings, and calling a child witness might have presented issues of who would question the girl and whether her testimony should be conducted in a closed session.

Statements filed by her therapist and one of Bruce Beresford-Redman’s attorneys suggested the girl would have testified 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.

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.

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.

Bruce Beresford-Redman also 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.


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

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