SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A defense attorney was found in contempt Wednesday and ordered to jail for refusing to answer questions about a financial portfolio in the case of a former caretaker accused of killing an 89-year-old Rancho Bernardo man and draining his bank accounts.
Deputy Public Defender Terry Zimmerman, the former attorney for Denise Goodwin, refused to answer questions about why, when and how she came into possession of the financial portfolio, citing attorney-client privilege.
In April 2012, Zimmerman filed the portfolio with the court and it was released to prosecutors. Last month, the District Attorney's Office filed a motion asking the defense to disclose where Zimmerman got the financial documents.
On Wednesday, Judge Charles Rogers sanctioned Zimmerman for refusing to answer questions about the portfolio, ordering custody but suspending that jail time until at least Sept. 10.
If the Public Defender's Office has filed a writ with the 4th District Court of Appeal by that date, the custody order would be further stayed until Sept. 16, when Goodwin's trial is scheduled to start.
Rogers said he intended to order custody until Zimmerman answered the questions being posed by prosecutors.
Goodwin, 46, is charged with murder and a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain in the death of Gerald Eugene Rabourn, who disappeared in October 2010. His body has not been found.
Goodwin was hired through a senior service to care for Rabourn's 91-year-old wife, Carolyn, who died of cancer on Sept. 29, 2010. At Goodwin's arraignment in August 2011, the prosecution alleged that Rabourn trusted Goodwin with all his assets, and within days of his wife's death, the defendant began converting those assets for her own personal use.
Goodwin allegedly dissuaded family members from contacting police by giving them inconsistent reports regarding Rabourn's whereabouts after his wife's death.
Police said there was an abrupt end to Rabourn's family contacts, cell phone use and financial activity after Oct. 21, 2010.
Mary Weaver, Rabourn's daughter from his first marriage, testified at a previous hearing that she tried in October 2010 to convince her father to move to the Midwest, but he said "he was planning to live with Denise."
Weaver said an attorney she spoke with told her that her father and Goodwin had come to his office to change his will, but the attorney reassured Weaver that Goodwin couldn't get any of her father's money.
She said she last spoke to her father on Oct. 19, 2010, but didn't report him missing until the following February, when she didn't get a birthday card from him.
Goodwin was arrested in July 2011 as she boarded a plane for a European vacation. She has been held at the Las Colinas Detention Facility without bail since July 12, 2011, and faces life in prison without parole if convicted.