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The Kristine Fitzhugh Case

Tuesday, July 24, 2001 2:30 p.m.

Kristine Fitzhugh 'adamant' about telling parentage truth
Justin Fitzhugh's fiancee says she and Kristine discussed unrelated 'real father' case

by Bill D'Agostino and Adam Levermore-Rich

In an eerily premonitory conversation in 1998, murder victim Kristine Fitzhugh said to her son Justin's fiancee that children should be told the truth about their parentage, the fiancee testified this morning in the continuing Fitzhugh murder trial.

The fiancee, Angelina Whitesell, testified that she lived in the Fitzhughs' Palo Alto home for several summers and began living there full time in mid-1999.

Whitesell recalled a conversation she had with Kristine Fitzhugh as the two took a walk in the summer of 1998.

Whitesell said she told Fitzhugh about a cousin of hers who had recently discovered that the man she knew as her father was not, in fact, her biological father. Whitesell said she asked Fitzhugh if she believed the cousin's parents should have been honest with her.

Whitesell testified that Fitzhugh felt "strongly, close to adamant" that her cousin should have been told the truth about her parents.

Whitesell is herself a music teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District, as was Kristine Fitzhugh.

The prosecution is alleging that Kenneth Fitzhugh's motive for killing his wife is that Kristine was planning to tell their oldest son, Justin, that Kenneth was not his biological father.

Defense attorney Thomas Nolan maintains that Justin's mother never intended to reveal the truth to her son.

Robert Brown, a former Fitzhugh family friend and Justin's biological father, told the jury during the prosecution's phase of the trial that Kristine had called him in 1999 to tell him she had decided to tell Justin the true identity of his father.

The defense has attacked Brown's credibility, citing his admitted substance abuse and criminal record, as well as the fact he initially failed to tell police of the phone call.

Whitesell also testified that she normally arrived at the Fitzhugh home around 1:30 p.m., about the time Kristine Fitzhugh's body was found on May 5, 2000, but she said she was running late that day.

Whitesell's testimony lasted for about 25 minutes, and the remainder of the morning was taken up by the defense's next witness, a blood-spatter expert. He testified that he was unable to determine whether Fitzhugh had been assaulted in the basement or kitchen.

The defense's counter-theory for the crime is that Kristine was attacked not in the kitchen by Kenneth Fitzhugh, as the prosecution claims, but rather in the basement by an unidentified intruder. Kristine's body was found at the bottom of the stairs in the basement, where prosecutors say Kenneth Fitzhugh dragged her after attacking her in an attempt to make her death seem accidental.

On cross examination, the defense expert, officer Michael Block of the San Francisco police department, admitted there was more blood-spatter evidence in the kitchen than in the basement -- but he said he felt the scene was contaminated, which could account for the discrepancy.




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