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Trial begins of neighbor charged in death of ‘Megan’s Law’ girl

May 6, 1997

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ One of the first people Maureen Kanka spoke to when her 6-year-old daughter didn’t return home was the man now standing trial in the little girl’s slaying, Mrs. Kanka told jurors Monday.

Jesse Timmendequas, who lived across the street, said he had seen little Megan earlier in the day, Mrs. Kanka testified in the opening day of Timmendequas’ trial.

``He was very normal speaking, calm, very matter-of-fact,″ Mrs. Kanka said of her very first conversation with Timmendequas.

By then, Megan had already been kidnapped, raped and killed, Prosecutor Kathryn Flicker said. Her body would not be found for another day.

The slaying in July 1994 prompted laws in Megan’s name around the country seeking to make sure that people are notified about convicted sexual predators living in their communities.

Timmendequas (pronounced ti-men’-de-kwas), who had two prior sex convictions, is charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty.

Timmendequas lured Megan into his home by asking if she wanted to come inside to see his new puppy, Ms. Flicker said.

``Unsuspecting, trusting, 7-year-old Megan walked into the defendant’s house, unseen by any of the people who might have intervened. Megan walked in. She would never walk out,″ Ms. Flicker said.

Ms. Flicker said it was not the first time that Timmendequas had noticed Megan. ``He had had his eye on Megan _ his thoughts anything but pure.″

Timmendequas’ lawyer, Barbara R. Lependorf, asked jurors not to allow their feelings to influence their view of the evidence.

``The death of a child is emotional. But you have to view this analytically _ not emotionally,″ she said in her opening statement.

She also said the jurors would have to judge the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, many of whom are police officers.

``They are not infallible. They make mistakes,″ Ms. Lependorf said.

Mrs. Kanka testified she wasn’t unduly concerned when she didn’t see her daughter because suburban Hamilton Township ``is such a nice neighborhood.″

She began crying as the prosecutor held up pieces of stained and tattered clothing that police found in Timmendequas’ garbage.

``They were pieces of Megan’s shorts,″ Mrs. Kanka said.

Ms. Flicker had told jurors that the discovery of the clothing prompted police to question Timmendequas, and that hours later he agreed to lead officers to the girl’s body in a park.

The most damaging evidence was a bite mark visible on Timmendequas’ hand when he was being questioned.

``Megan had literally left her mark _ a mark that would conclusively link her to her killer: the defendant Jesse Timmendequas,″ Ms. Flicker said.