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Witness Fired After Kidnap Testimony

July 12, 2002

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SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A flight attendant who testified she had smoked marijuana with the parents of 7-year-old slaying victim Danielle van Dam said she was fired because of the airline’s anti-drug policy.

Denise Kemal, 28, said she was dismissed by Southwest Airlines on June 28, 2 1/2 weeks after testifying at the trial of David Westerfield, 50, a neighbor of the van Dams accused of kidnapping, murder and possession of child pornography. He has pleaded innocent and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Kemal, who is now living in Florida, said losing her job ruined her life.

``I’ve always wanted to fly,″ she told The San Diego Union-Tribune. ``It took me years to get my job.″ Kemal was hired by the airlines in 1998.

The Dallas-based carrier would not provide details about the dismissal but noted company policy states the ``illegal use of drugs, narcotics or controlled substances off duty and off company premises is not acceptable and may result in termination.″

Kemal said her supervisors learned of her testimony after customers mailed in newspaper articles about it.

Kemal had testified she was in the van Dam home Feb. 1, the night Danielle was last seen alive, and smoked marijuana in the couple’s garage before leaving with the girl’s mother to go to a local restaurant and bar.

Kemal said she will be appeal the dismissal because smoking marijuana ``wasn’t an everyday thing.″

Testimony in the trial resumes July 22, following a planned vacation by the judge.

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