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Former 'Survivor' producer hopes child's testimony can set him free

By Alan Duke, CNN
Former "Survivor" producer Bruce Beresford-Redman has been accused of killing his wife in Mexico.
Former "Survivor" producer Bruce Beresford-Redman has been accused of killing his wife in Mexico.
  • Bruce Beresford-Redman is charged with killing his wife at a Cancun resort in 2010
  • A U.S. judge must decide whether Beresford-Redman will be sent to Mexico for trial
  • The former reality TV producer is jailed in Los Angeles while he fights extradition
  • Monica Burgos Beresford-Redman's body was found in a resort sewer

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Reality TV producer Bruce Beresford-Redman wants a federal magistrate to hear from his 6-year-old daughter Tuesday before deciding if he should be sent to Mexico to be tried for her mother's murder.

The daughter, who stayed in the same room where police say the killing happened, told a therapist she never saw her parents argue during the family vacation, according to a sworn statement by her counselor.

U.S. prosecutors argue that the extradition hearing should not be a "mini-trial" and that it would be inappropriate for the child to be called as a witness. The lawyer for the girl's aunts said they were "stunned and saddened" by the possibility.

Beresford-Redman, once a producer on TV's "Survivor," is in jail in Los Angeles while he fights extradition from the United States to Mexico. Prosecutors in Cancun want to try him for the murder of his wife, Monica Burgos Beresford-Redman.

"We definitely have an uphill battle," defense lawyer Richard Hirsch said.

Mexican prosecutors contend that Beresford-Redman killed his wife "by asphyxiating her" in their room at the Moon Palace Resort on April 5, 2010. English vacationers in an adjacent room told police they heard "a massive struggle" in their room that morning. Her unclothed body was found in a resort sewer April 8.

Beresford-Redman's lawyers accuse Mexican investigators of rushing to judgment in charging the husband because they wanted to protect Cancun's valuable tourist industry. The case is "replete with inconsistencies and unsupported innuendos," Hirsch said.

The Cancun trip was intended to help the couple work out their marital problems caused by his affair with another woman, his lawyers said. But prosecutors contend that it was murder, not reconciliation, on Beresford-Redman's mind.

"The fugitive's continued infidelity provides a strong motive for him to have committed the crime," U.S. prosecutors wrote in an extradition filing. "The fugitive's affair was still an issue with the couple during their trip."

The fact that he brought their young son and daughter along supports his innocence, Hirsch said.

"How absurd it is to think that our client, or anyone, would book a trip to Mexico with his two minor children, have a room in which all of them, the whole family, is staying together, and have this with some motive to commit a homicide," Hirsch said. "It makes no sense in logic, whatsoever."

Prosecution documents describe a loud argument ending with a violent death in the same one-room hotel suite where the children, ages 3 and 5, were staying.

Although investigators have not talked to the children, a therapist who has helped them deal with the loss of their mother questioned the daughter about her memories of the Mexico trip, Hirsch said.

An affidavit signed by the therapist said the girl told her that she never heard her parents argue in Mexico and that she was never left alone at the resort.

"Mommy and Daddy did not yell at each other and never hit each other," the statement quotes the daughter as saying. "Mommy and Daddy never hit each other anywhere, any time."

The girl also told the therapist the family was playing a loud game, filled with yelling and laughing, when her mother walked out of the hotel room for the last time. Defense lawyers said that would explain the noises reported by the neighbors.

"Before Mommy left, she said, 'I love you. I'll be back soon,' " she told the therapist, according to the statement.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, which is pursuing the extradition for Mexico, filed a motion last month objecting to the child being called as a witness.

"It would be inappropriate to bring a 6-year-old child into federal court to answer questions about whether her father killed her mother for the purposes of a probable cause hearing," U.S. prosecutors wrote.

Although they are not a party to the extradition hearing, the lawyer for Monica Burgos Beresford-Redman's sisters also objected.

"The Burgos family is both stunned and saddened by Bruce Beresford-Redman's latest attempt to conceal his involvement in the murder of our sister, Monica Burgos," Alison Triessl said. "We are shocked at his shameless use of our young niece as his alibi when all of the available evidence points toward his guilt. We hope and pray that such abhorrent tactics will not prevent justice from being served in this case."

Hirsch defended having the child testify "under the right circumstances."

"We made it very clear to the therapist, if she thought that this was clinically inappropriate or might in anyway be damaging to this child, then it should not occur, and she made the determination that it was appropriate and not at all detrimental to do this," Hirsch said.

While defense lawyers contend they can explain away the scratches on the defendant's body and blood evidence found in an near the hotel room, the judge could decide to limit their presentation.

"The court should not be distracted by the fugitive's scattershot assertions and should not look behind the procedures used to investigate or prosecute this case in Mexico," U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing.

Defense lawyers say that if Beresford-Redman is sent to Mexico, his chances of getting a fair trial are slim.

"What we've seen from previous trials in Mexico, the chances are very doubtful," Hirsch said.

Bruce Beresford-Redman is a former producer on the CBS reality show "Survivor." He also worked on NBC's "The Contender" and "The Restaurant," as well as MTV's "Pimp My Ride," according to entertainment media company IMG.

Monica Beresford-Redman, a native of Brazil, owned a restaurant in Los Angeles.